Glowing reports issued from a community meeting held last week to assess the interest of the general Fuquay-Varina population in having a cultural arts/conference center in town.
The sponsoring Cultural Exploratory Committee (CEC) had been advised by Rodney Swink, the facilitator who would be presiding over the gathering, that at least 75 to 80 people should attend for the idea-sharing meeting to be meaningful. A total of 120 showed up.
“It was wonderful,” said Marilyn Gardner, a CEC member and long-time advocate for cultural arts in the community.
“I was very excited about the meeting,” said Mayor John Byrne. “The community has been interested in the cultural arts for a long time. It’s good to know there is so much support now.” He noted, too, that the town board recently included a cultural arts center in its five-year plan for capital projects. It is shown in the fifth year of the plan.
Naomi Riley, executive director of Downtown Fuquay-Varina and a member of the CEC, and Ms. Gardner both delighted in the mix of longtime residents and newcomers drawn to the community gathering.
“I wish we could do something like this once a year so older residents could meet the new, make new friends,” Ms. Riley said.
At the meeting, participants were divided into small groups of five to 10 and asked to share their own ideas relative to the community’s need for cultural arts and a meeting place. They were then asked to look for areas in which the most interest was shown in their group and develop a recommendation to present to the meeting as a whole. And so the meeting progressed. Ms. Riley was still assessing the areas of greatest interest Monday morning.
Ideas ranged from a 600-seat auditorium where conferences could be held and dramas performed to space for a quilt show or an art exhibit, a large area for story time, even accommodation for an opera.
The CEC has already asked for bids from companies that would be interested in doing a feasibility study for an arts and conference center for Fuquay-Varina. And the organization has raised $14,000 toward the study cost, estimated to range from $28,000 to $30,000.
Ms. Riley said it is not yet known whether the town will participate in this initial move toward an arts and conference center. Some commissioners have talked of the possibility of such a center being a public/privacy undertaking.
The CEC plans to take its report on the “interest” meeting to the town board Nov. 5.
Commissioners Charlie Adcock, Ed Ridpath, and Bill Harris attended the community meeting along with Mayor Byrne and Planning Director Mike Sorensen.