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March 23, 2017

Study will assess feasibility of performing arts center

Photo/Lasley Centre
A scene from the Lasley Centre for the Performing Arts production of “The Nutcracker.”
If we can make this work, that would be a wonderful addition to the community.
— Holder Trumbo, Scott District supervisor
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Fauquier soon will learn if it can support a multimillion-dollar performing arts center.

The county board supervisors on March 9 committed $30,000 to co-fund a study to determine the feasibility of such a project.

Kalie Lasley, executive director of the Lasley Centre for the Performing Arts at Vint Hill near New Baltimore, will contribute an additional $30,000 toward the analysis.

“We have what we think is a great idea,” said Ms. Lasley, who came up with it about two years ago. “It’s really just a concept, which is why we’re doing a feasibility study.”

She and others in the local arts community will create a nonprofit called the Piedmont Conservatory for the Arts to oversee the study and project.

That group will receive Fauquier’s $30,000 donation and choose a company to perform the analysis, “with county guidance,” County Administrator Paul McCulla said.

Discussions have begun with a firm that specializes in such studies, said Ms. Lasley, who declined to identify the company.

The analysis should take about three months, she added.

While no location has been chosen for a center, it would require 20 to 30 acres, she said.

Based on her and others’ experience, Ms. Lasley has little doubt the need for a performing arts center in Fauquier.

Two years ago, for example, Ms. Lasley had hoped to book her group’s annual “Nutcracker” performance at the Hylton Performing Arts Center near Manassas.

But, that didn’t happen because Hylton gives preference to Prince William County-based dance groups, Ms. Lasley said.

That partly convinced her Fauquier needs its own center.

As an alternative to the Hylton center, Ms. Lasley has used the Fauquier High School auditorium.

“When we go to Fauquier High School, Fauquier High School is very good to us,” said “But, the theater there is quite antiquated.”

“We’ve been talking about this for at least a year,” Fauquier Economic Development Director Miles Friedman said.

After learning about the project, Mr. Friedman contacted Supervisor Holder Trumbo (Scott District), who represents the New Baltimore area.

The more he learned about the concept, the better it sounded, Mr. Trumbo said.

The Scott District supervisor polled his four fellow board members about Fauquier co-funding the study and none objected, he said.

A performing arts center could meet the space, training and educational needs of Fauquier groups and beyond, Mr. Trumbo suggested.

It could accommodate larger performances, bigger art shows and expanded school programs, including perhaps those offered at Lord Fairfax Community College, Mr. Trumbo suggested.

“If we can make this work, that would be a wonderful addition to the community,” said the supervisor, who believes the project would be bankrolled with private money.

While Fauquier effectively has protected rural land from development, “you can can’t be an open-space museum,” Mr. Trumbo said. “We need parks; we need historic preservation, and we need performing arts.”

A performing arts center would “enhance” Fauquier’s “quality of life,” Mr. Friedman said. “That adds a selling point to the county” that would help attract and retain businesses.

Fauquier has used county money to support other economic development studies. This county and Loudoun each contributed $30,000 for a study that determined an equine quarantine facility at Dulles International Airport would be boon to the region’s economy.

With that kind of facility, horses could be more efficiently imported and exported, according to the study. That would allow them to participate in regional events, generating work for area breeders, trainers and others in the equine industry.
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Kay G. · April 3, 2017 at 5:16 pm
Fauquier County is a wonderful place to live... but it is lacking in some quality-of-life professional venues. A performing arts center at Vint Hill would be fantastic - they have the space for it. It's a draw not only for young people to be educated in the expansive arena of the arts, and to perform and exhibit, but if is like the Hylton Performing Art Center in Manassas, it will also bring in top-quality productions from music, to theater, to dance for ALL to enjoy. If it were to be in Vint Hill, it's well situated to pull from Prince William, and even Loudoun and Rappahannock. I for one, am greatly looking forward to the results of the study!
Rover 530 · March 28, 2017 at 12:16 am
A multimillion dollar performing arts center in Fauquier County? Needing 20-30 acres? Why do they need 20-30 acres? That's huge for an area like this. Big parking lot? Don't think a facility of this size could fit appropriately inside Warrenton. What if it fails due to lack of interest and/or participation? Will we have a 20-30 acre white elephant with multimillion dollar building that may not be able to be used for other purposes? With a tight county budget and a population adverse to spending money on things that offer little or no return on investment, why did the BoS spend $30,000 on a 3-month study? Couldn't the total cost ($60,000) of the study be borne by private contributions? the results of the study could then be presented to the BoS for their deliberation and disposal without cost to taxpayers.

As for the Addison Lightfoot Auditorium not being suitable for performances, the auditorium has almost perfect acoustics. FHS was recently renovated. There is plenty of parking. It is already a community resource that is paid for. As stated elsewhere, Highland also has a fine facility conducive to the performing arts. The new Hazel Building slated for Lord Fairfax CC has a convertible space that can be used for small performances and exhibits.

On the surface, this feels like a Fairfax enterprise in Fauquier. Let's hope the study/survey reaches the whole of Fauquier and not just those with a special interest.
truthanyone? · March 27, 2017 at 1:09 pm
And how is ANYTHING at Fauquier High antiquated? Didn't we just spend a gazillion dollars there a few years ago?
truthanyone? · March 27, 2017 at 1:08 pm
citizen observer. Oh no. We actually agree on something. That must mean it is truly a horrible idea. 30k to appease the 1%'ers of Fauquier County? Sounds like broadband to me!! Culpeper has a much livelier downtown with a movie theater and better restaurants and the state theater failed miserably. Why would a performing arts facility in no man's land do better?
citizen observer · March 24, 2017 at 10:57 am
Yet another potential waste of taxpayer money. How about they pay for a movie theater and bowling alley too.

I would prefer they spend money enticing some good businesses to this county to help with the tax base. They're 0-2 with Costco is a good example of misplaced priorities.
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