Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - September 10, 2010

Kudos to the Firehouse Arts Center fundraisers

There were smiles all around at the City Council meeting Tuesday night when a check totaling $250,000 in contributions toward the new Firehouse Arts Center was presented by Bill Butler, president of the Cultural Arts Council, and Debbie Look, director of its Firehouse Arts Center Foundation arm. The donation adds to the $2 million already raised by the nonprofit in direct contributions, stock transfers, pledges and other gifts. Although the foundation will be wrapping up its work over the next several months, donations are still being accepted. A signed brick at the center's outdoor patio costs $150 and one of the 226 seats in the auditorium can be "sponsored" for $500. Those who contribute $5,000 or more will be recognized on the general donors' wall in the main lobby.

Debbie Look and Susan Andrade-Wax, director of Pleasanton's Parks and Community Services Department, which has oversight responsibility for the Firehouse Arts Center, led the media on a tour of the new facility last week. It's truly a spectacular complex, from the acoustic-friendly auditorium to the open lobby and art studios and classrooms in other parts of the building. The Opening Night Gala next Friday night, sponsored by the privately-funded Cultural Arts Council, is sold out. However, Andrade-Wax's department will host a public ceremony next Saturday starting at 10 a.m. with tours of the new center after that.

Then it will be down to business with performances by master jazz guitarist Earl Klugh on Friday, Sept. 24, celebrated composer musician Mose Allison on Saturday, Sept. 25, and award-winning pianist Evelyne Brancart in a Chopin Piano Concert on Sunday, Sept. 26. More performances, lectures and concerts follow with the center's Supervisor Rob Vogt intending to offer programming at least five nights a week from Wednesdays through Sundays. Local artists and their exhibits will be at the center every day.

As Mayor Jennifer Hosterman said Tuesday, the opening of the Firehouse Arts Center shows why Money Magazine recently named Pleasanton as one of the top 100 cities in America.

Parade? What Parade?

Main Street was closed from 1:30 to 3 p.m. last Friday for a parade. But if you blinked, you might have missed it. City staff agreed to close the street to accommodate the Marine Marching Band as part of the weekend's Scottish Game festivities. In years past, that included Scottish dancers and other exhibitions downtown, but this time it was just the band. A video we took timed the band at 1 minute 22 seconds, and that included a view of the band approaching and another as it marched by. Parking was restricted on Main Street during this time, at least three vehicles were ticketed, squad cars and uniformed police officers patrolled the "crowd," which included many merchants who took the time to watch the band go by since their customers couldn't reach Main Street to shop. While we like marching bands, this one needed to march somewhere else where it would have been less disruptive of a busy business day.

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