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Collin County looking into creation of arts district

By Maxine Shapiro, KERA 90.1 commentator

Dallas, TX – I was very pleased to hear that the residents of Collin County know that it takes more than business and retail to make a community. The Arts are what give it its soul and character. For KERA Marketplace Middays, I'm Maxine Shapiro.

Allen, Frisco, McKinney, and Plano have set in motion a project that will enhance their combined cities, more than any new shopping mall could ever dream of. A proposed arts district, titled Arts For Collin County, is at the very early but ever-so-exciting stages of planning. Last week, they finalized their public forums on the issue. Robbie Robinson, chairperson of Arts for Collin County, enthusiastically commented that it was all good.

At a luncheon honoring the contributors of the Plano Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Robinson described this project, what has already been accomplished, and the hurdles that lie ahead. What thrilled me the most is that the fastest-growing county in Texas, not to mention the 11th in the country, has seen the importance of filling this void in their own backyard. Robinson cited that Plano is the only city in Texas with a population over 100-thousand that doesn't have a large theatre. The other three cities fall right behind.

The concept, which is barely in the elementary stages, is huge and all encompassing. It's to include visual and performing arts theatres and facilities, educational programs and, a library, centrally located and capable of expansion. Their dream of an art campus should not shrink.

The question on everyone's mind is: how and who will fund this? In 1998, Plano passed a $20 million bond for such a project. From what I was told, the money is still sitting there. More recently, a new $50 million bond was not passed. The idea of all four cities funding and building this vision sounds monumental, if not ludicrous. But that's what visions are about.

In July, a presentation will be given to the four mayors. And it might be another five more years before it debuts. I hope to be one of the first to stand and say, "Bravo!" For KERA Marketplace Middays, I'm Maxine Shapiro.

Marketplace Midday Reports air on KERA 90.1 Monday - Friday at 1:04 P.M.