Arts Go South?

Well, last week was the week that city council was supposed to vote on the resolution that could be the first step toward getting a major new performing arts center on the southern shores of Town Lake. The resolution called for the city manager to negotiate a long-term lease of Palmer Auditorium to a local nonprofit, Greater Austin Performing Arts Center, which would then pursue the renovation of the Great Turtle of the Colorado into the local equivalent of Lincoln Center. But despite a hefty turnout of both supporters and opponents in council chambers and some serious discussion about the impact of the resolution, the council opted not to vote as scheduled. The earliest the matter could be reconsidered is two weeks, but the delay could be even longer, so don't hold your breath in the hopes that it might persuade our municipal leaders to "PAC Up the Turtle" or whatever you want them to do. Won't happen.

But while there's no news on Palmer's fate, that doesn't mean there's no news at all about the current local move toward more culture in South Austin. This column has been remiss in reporting two recent purchases by major cultural institutions in the country once known as Bubba-land. Back in January, Texas Folklife Resources, the folks who make it their duty to document, present, and preserve the folk arts and traditional culture of our fine state, bought a home for themselves. The address is 1317 South Congress, which not only gives them a pretty view of the Capitol, but it makes them neighbors of the Continental Club, which is bound to come in handy at some point. The 3,300-sq.-ft. building dates back to the Thirties and requires some renovation, but restoration specialist Gregory Free and architects Sinclair Black and Henry Panton are on the case, helping to modify the building to TFR's needs.

Scarcely a week after the Folklife folks announced its purchase, Austin Lyric Opera came forward with the news that it too had bought a home in South Austin. ALO snagged the former Barton Springs Bar and Grill at 901 Barton Springs Road for its new headquarters, rehearsal space, and community music school, this last being the first of its kind in the state. The onetime restaurant boasts 18,000 sq. ft., which will give the company plenty of room for administrative offices and still allow it some 5,000 sq. ft. in which to rehearse productions. This part of the building will be named the Ducloux Rehearsal Center in memory of ALO's founding music and artistic director Walter Ducloux, who died last year. ALO estimates that it will need $2 million to cover the costs of renovating the building, but it says that it has over half that amount already raised. It expects to be able to move into its new home in April of next year.

No Treasure This Year

Arr, matey, stow away the parrot and the peg leg; ye won't be sailing with Long John Silver this season (outside a fast-food joint anyhow). Austin Theatre for Youth, which had scheduled Treasure Island as its final show this season, has postponed the production. The company had been set to run an adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel May 1-10 at the McCallum Fine Arts Academy Theatre, but something about the size of that venue apparently didn't fit this project. Executive Committee member Melanie Barnes is quoted as saying "the Board feels it is best to relocate the production to a more suitably sized facility." Call 459-7144 for more info.

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More Articulations
The Harry Ransom Center has acquired all the professional and personal materials of profoundly influential acting teacher Stella Adler

Robert Faires, April 30, 2004

It's the end of an era for the city of Austin's Art in Public Places Program as Martha Peters, administrator of the program for 11 of its 18 years, departs to direct a public art program in Fort Worth.

Robert Faires, July 18, 2003

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