Where Should Lafayette’s New Heymann Center Be Located?
Where will Lafayette choose to build a new Heymann Performing Arts Center? That's a question that many around the region are asking. And many are expressing the opinion that choosing the perfect location should be studied, vetted, discussed, and debated before the first shovel of dirt is turned over.
Members of the Lafayette City Council as well as leaders in Lafayette's arts and creative community are making a push for expert input into choosing where Lafayette's new Heymann Performing Arts Center should be located. In a press release from the Acadiana Center for the Arts, those desires were expressed quite eloquently as to why the process of choosing the location of such a major investment in Acadiana needs outside input from experts in the field.
The Heymann Center has served as Lafayette and Acadiana's "municipal auditorium" since 1957. The structure was designed by renowned architect A. Hays Town and is revered by performers as an "amazing place to play".
Those involved in the arts want to make sure the "new" Heymann Center not only has the acoustic and aesthetic attributes of the current facility but they want to make sure where that facility is located offers the region the best chance for growth in the arts as well as economically.
Lafayette City Council Chairwoman Nanette Cook is authoring a resolution for the December 6th meeting of the Lafayette Council that will ask that body to participate in funding a public process to study the relative impacts of various potential sites for the "new" Heymann Center.
The two most talked about locations for the venue are in Downtown Lafayette and another site across from the Cajundome on Congress Street. But of course, there could be other sites and locations that need consideration as well. That is what the ordinance that Council Chair Cook is hoping an expert study will reveal before a final decision is made.
Incoming Council Chairman Glenn Lazard seems to echo the concerns expressed by Cook that such a large investment in the community shouldn't be made without meticulous planning and input from not only the experts but from the members of the community as well. Lazard said in the ACA press release,
Which site provides that answer on where investment will provide the greatest ROI to create a more vibrant community has yet to be determined.
As you might imagine, different interests have different reasons for supporting one specific location versus another. In an article published in the November 29th edition of the Lafayette Daily Advertiser newspaper reporter Andrew Capps explained some of those positions. Needless to say, the stakes are very high as they relate to the future of Lafayette remaining a hub for arts and culture in Louisiana.
As far as the Acadiana Center for the Arts' position on the "new" Heymann Center, Director Sam Oliver said,
AcA’s role is not to take sides in advocating for one site versus another, rather our role is to take a proactive and non-partisan approach as the regional arts council and as LCG's official partner for arts and culture to ensure good process and good decisions are made regarding this major cultural project.
Should Councilwoman Cook's ordinance be approved as part of the December 6th meeting of the Lafayette Council the next steps will begin the process of securing funding and then hiring experts to study the feasibility of the proposed locations and to organize community meetings to collect input from the public.
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