Because we have been promised a community arts center to replace the now defunct Soapstone Center for the Arts, many residents seem to be of the opinion that the building on Rainbow Drive next to Wonderland Gardens will serve that purpose. It will not.
It is strictly a Regional Performing Arts Center designed to bring outside acts into the community. There is a 500-seat theater and a 100-seat black box performance room in the building. There are also dressing rooms, offices and a practice room.
Nowhere are there classrooms for painting, ceramics, dance, drawing, etc. This is not the community arts center we were promised, although the funds set aside by Commissioners Porter Sanford, William C. Brown and Jacquie Scott for such a center have been used in the building of this performance arts center. Additional bond funds that were to go to a community performance arts center have also been funneled into the building of this center.
Not in the foreseeable future is there to be the promised South DeKalb Arts Center, as the funds for it have been used for the Performing Arts Center. The north end of the county has Spruill Center for the Arts, the west side has Callanwolde and the east has Art Station.
South DeKalb remains without any hope of a community-operated arts center.
We have been told that a Parks and Recreation Center building will be put up in Exchange Park for the purpose of arts classes. That, of course, will not be community-run but overseen by Parks and Recreation.
While it saddens me that the dream Porter Sanford had is not coming true, I feel the least we can do for the memory of his efforts is to name the Rainbow Drive Building "The Porter Sanford Regional Performing Arts Center."
Becky Blankenship is a resident of South DeKalb and an advocate for the arts.