‘Seeing is believing’: Buddy Holly Hall groundbreaking a sign of what’s to come

If “seeing is believing” — as has been expressed by Tim Collins, chairman of the Lubbock Entertainment and Performing Arts Association — doubters may be gaining faith in construction plans for the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences.

 

An overflow crowd of more than 200 made their way Thursday to an official, 75-minute groundbreaking ceremony for an eventual world-class performing arts center at 1300 Mac Davis Lane.


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Fearing possible rain or wind, and in need of a stage for performances by Ballet Lubbock and Miller (Elementary School) Honors Choir, Collins approved the use of a large tent on the north side of Mac Davis Lane. It stayed filled for almost an hour of supportive speeches, with visitors then strolling outdoors to watch 41 of LEPAA’s board members and business partners use shovels to move the first dirt.

Collins told A-J Media that, within two weeks, Lee Lewis Construction will operate backhoes to work on a basement for Buddy Holly Hall.

Construction, said Collins, is expected to last 33 months.

The venue is on target to open in January or February 2020.

That, however, also heavily depends on a successful fundraising campaign, with LEPAA still seeking $60 million in donations.

Had LEPAA stuck to an original plan revealed more than four years ago, pointed out Collins, construction could already have begun. Initial plans called for a budget of $85 million. LEPAA has raised more than that.

However, the first feasibility study for that building anticipated an annual operating loss of approximately $950,000.

That may be similar to what many new performing arts centers accept, said Collins. But he added that he “couldn’t sleep knowing the new arts center could lose a million dollars a year.”

A suggestion to raise money for an endowment to reduce losses eventually gave way to making the arts center emerge a profitable venue.

Changes in Buddy Holly Hall plans occurred with the acceptance of Ballet Lubbock, Lubbock Independent School District and United Supermarkets as “resident partners.”

Earlier this month, LEPAA contracted with United to not only oversee all concessions and a first-class catering business on site, but to also operate a new 100-seat bistro serving lunch and dinner every day.

Ballet Lubbock must raise $9 million to cover its share of construction, and LISD verbally committed to a minimum annual figure to lease the facility.

Changes found the construction budget for Buddy Holly Hall rise to between $153 million and $155 million. LEPAA had raised more than $93 million by April 1.

Collins denied that LEPAA hit a fundraising wall. Rather, he said many possible contributors were waiting to see physical progress. Collins said Thursday’s groundbreaking will, for many, give the project “validity.”

Meanwhile, a number of arts educators, Texas Tech and LISD leaders, business executives and Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope spoke in favor of Buddy Holly Hall for a variety of reasons.

David Henry, speaking for his late grandmother, Louise Underwood, stressed she never viewed Buddy Holly Hall as competition for the nearby Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts. Rather, Henry urged Holly Hall planners to “not be afraid” to maintain their present course.

If a world-class performing arts facility is built as planned, said Henry, “We won’t have to convince people to come to Lubbock. They will flock here.”

Pope referred to the physical and mental courage of those who first settled Lubbock, and applauded those who introduced the arts here. He emphasized that a performing arts center of this magnitude would help Lubbock as a whole, as well as its future generations.

Yvonne Racz Key, Ballet Lubbock artistic director, said she “never has been more proud of the people in Lubbock.”

Lubbock Symphony Orchestra maestro David Cho said he and the musicians “look forward with great anticipation to when we can perform here for the first time.” Meanwhile, Galen Wixson, newly hired orchestra president and CEO, apologized for sounding like a “geek” before pointing out that the large auditorium at Buddy Holly Hall has a “Noise Criteria” number of 15.

“Only a very few halls in the country can claim that. It means this venue really is quiet enough to hear a pin drop. So the acoustics for our orchestra already have me very excited.”

Robert Taylor, United CEO, mentioned his firm’s plans, but no doubt pleased a great many who have been following the arts center’s progress for years when he concluded simply, “And it’s going to happen.”

Also speaking were Texas Tech Chancellor Robert Duncan, LISD Superintendent Berhl Robertson Jr. and Amanda Kuhn, president of Ballet Lubbock’s board of directors.

The attractions at the 218,000-square-foot facility will include, but are not limited to:

n Helen DeVitt Jones Main Theater — 2,200 seats comfortably rise over four levels, with two VIP lounges. (The current Civic Center Theatre capacity is 1,377 seats.)

n The Crickets Studio Theatre — 425 seats, concession and lounge area, dedicated lobby and private west entrance.

n Multipurpose Room — 6,000 sub-dividable square feet functional for receptions, banquets, lectures, meetings and rehearsals.

n Ballet Lubbock Pre-Professional School — 22,000-square-foot dance center, office and storage space.

n Christine DeVitt Main Lobby — Visual experience featuring spiral staircase. Serves as main entrance to Buddy Holly Hall. Accommodates 300 seated people for banquets, weddings and other events.

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Jeff Ross 3 months ago
Only in Lubbock.
 

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