The Austin Chronicle


By Robert Faires, April 16, 2004, Arts

Long Center: Take Two

Joe Long wasn't kidding. The man whose name will adorn the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts was telling the crowd gathered inside Palmer Auditorium in no uncertain terms that the time had come for the center to be built. The occasion was the first public showing of the new designs for the center developed by TeamHaas and Zeidler Partnership, but the midday event on Monday, April 12, was also clearly the launch of the big push to raise the remaining $30 million for creating the Long Center before demolition of the auditorium is scheduled to begin in October. Long himself was exhorting the 200 or so Austinites in attendance to cough up some cash for the cause, and not just because he and his wife already have a $20 million investment in the proposed facility; the philanthropist and former banker has taken a new leadership role in the campaign for the center, chairing its board of trustees. And it was clear from his demeanor that he's ready to get on with it, and we should be, too. Like a coach at halftime who won't accept anything less than victory, he made clear this facility was for the community, and it needs the support of the entire community. "Everyone plays a part" was the mantra, and that line will be seen everywhere the Long Center is mentioned in the next six months. To drive the point home, he held up a marketing poster showing a 9-year-old girl who raised $23.40 for the Long Center selling lemonade.

Thirty million in six months might daunt a lesser bunch, but Long and his followers have received $5 million from four anonymous donors just since the first of the year. Those gifts will need to be matched, which is tremendous incentive for others to give, and the board claims to have identified 138 prospective donors who could contribute as much as $28 million.

Architect Stan Haas made the design presentation, which accentuated the dramatic look that will be achieved by retaining the 290-foot structural steel ring that supports the Palmer Auditorium dome. Almost half the ring will extend in front of the 2,500-seat Dell Foundation Hall, encircling a great open plaza already christened the City Terrace. Standing inside the ring and looking up did give one a sense of impressive space and almost classical grandeur, and so we wouldn't miss out on the view from the terrace, Haas dramatically opened the curtains facing Auditorium Shores and let the sunlight flood in. Haas also reiterated that the new design would focus extensively on recycling elements of the old venue – including the foundation and stage house – at considerable savings for the Long Center. For more information, call 482-0800 or visit

The Line's Roar

There was only one Al Hirschfeld, only one artist who captured so much personality, expression, attitude, atmosphere, drama, in an elegant line. He was the theatre's singular Old Master, and as clichéd as it may be to say, we'll never see his like again. We can, however, revisit his legacy this weekend through a film documentary of his life and a conversation with two people who knew him best: his widow, the theatre historian Louise Hirschfeld, and his daughter, Nina West. Both will be in attendance on Saturday, April 17, when the Zachary Scott Theatre Center screens The Line King, the award-winning documentary about the amazing Al Hirschfeld. Ms. Hirschfeld and Ms. West will speak with the audience following the 3:30pm screening. Tickets are $25, but students and teachers will be admitted free. For more information, call 476-0514 x1 or visit

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