Bass Delay Gives Groups Room to Play

UT delays Bass Concert Hall renovations for local art schools

To the ballet, opera, and symphony, UT President Larry Faulkner might as well have been the governor in some old movie calling with a stay of execution for the condemned prisoner. His announcement last week that UT would delay the closing of Bass Concert Hall for fire and safety renovations from April 2006 to April 2007 gave those Austin arts organizations a new lease on life. With the opening of the Long Center for the Performing Arts pushed back to the fall of 2007, a forced exit from Bass in the spring of '06 would have left Austin Lyric Opera, Austin Symphony, and Ballet Austin with no place to play for the 2006-2007 season. UT's move – which "reflects the university's continuing commitment to construction of the Long Center and the university's desire to maintain a mutually beneficial partnership with the city's performing arts organizations," according to a letter by UT Performing Arts Center director Pebbles Wadsworth – gives the trio a reprieve and returns the possibility for a smooth transition from Bass to Long. That's if Long Center construction keeps to its timeline. Another delay and those organizations are out of a home again. So why did the Texas State Fire Marshal Office grant UT a fourth waiver on this long-called-for addition of fire exits and improvements to Bass' sprinkler system? Reportedly because the university has already begun working with architectural and engineering firms to develop a plan for fire and life-safety enhancements.

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