A Performing Arts Venue for Roswell or Not?



Would Roswell benefit if it had a state of art, multi-use performing arts venue?

By Scott Hitch, Board Member - Roswell Arts Fund

In downtown Greenville, South Carolina, the Peace Center for the Performing Arts has transformed a neglected six acre parcel on the wrong end of Main Street into a sparkling jewel. The Peace Center has stimulated the development of thriving hotel and retail establishments, creating a walkable and livable destination from a once-blighted and under-used area.

Cities age. Sometimes they become blighted. Just like the furniture and decor in your home, cities can benefit from periodic repair, refreshing, and implementing bold revitalization plans.The Arts are a source of vibrancy and rebirth for weary cities. A new performing arts venue can enliven tired locations and help carry cities on the rise to the next level.

Here in Atlanta, the Woodruff Arts Center, a central place for the arts, was built to honor arts patrons who died in the 1962 Orly plane crash. Visionary leaders knew what the arts could do for the community. Since 1968, Woodruff has played a key role in making Atlanta a global center for culture, tourism, and inspiration.

Aurora Theatre opened modestly in 1996 in a converted hardware store. The City of Lawrenceville banked on the positive economic impact the arts have on a community, and, along with private leaders, expanded it in 2007 by transforming a 100-year-old church into a multi-million-dollar theatre. Aurora has become the cornerstone of revitalization in Lawrenceville. This year, a $26 million-dollar expansion was announced that could make this venue as famous as the Kennedy Center.



Sandy Springs, Mableton, Sugar Hill, Springfield, Thomasville, Hapeville. Each of these cities in our region have made a new performing arts venue the backbone of their renovation efforts. The arts attract a well-educated work force, a critical benefit and key incentive for new and relocating businesses. Studies report that a Performing Arts venue increases the number of knowledge class employees and, consequently, generates employment income. For example, the San Antonio Symphony generated $222 million in annual employment income. The final and most critical factor driving Amazon’s decision on where to build their new headquarters was access to talented knowledge class employees.

Using the arts as an economic development tool has found success across our country in rural and urban areas: Pittsburgh, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Denver, Chattanooga, Columbus - a list far too long for this column to complete.

Would Roswell benefit if it had a state of art, multi-use performing arts venue? The answer is, unequivocally, YES! On behalf of the City of Roswell, Roswell Arts Fund has completed a Performance Space Feasibility Study. The final results of the study will formally be reported in January 2019, and indicate a clear need for such a space, and an audience yearning for the opportunity to engage with the performing arts in new and exciting ways here in Roswell.

Imagine a performing arts venue in Roswell with the potential to complement our robust restaurant scene, increase tourism, embody our local pride, strengthen our brand, and activate our Modern Spirit. Southern Soul. According to the Americans for the Arts Economic Prosperity Calculator, and based on predicted operational and attendee expenditures, a new performing Arts Venue in Roswell could produce 108 new FTE jobs, $2.2 million household income, local government revenue of $144,000, and state government revenue of $200,000.

Cities across the country, small and large, in need of redo or update, realize that a vibrant arts scene creates social capital, spurs local economies, and strengthens an entire community. We think Roswell should be one of those enlightened cities.

Let us know your thoughts. board@roswellartsfund.org