GROW TALLAHASSEE POSITION ON PERFORMING ART CENTER PROPOSAL BY THE SHERIDAN FOUNDATION
Performing Arts Center proposals are not new to the City of Tallahassee, with a history of missed cultural opportunities. In 2009, a plan for a 2,000-seat performing arts center was discussed as an essential addition to ease the lack of cultural life within the city. Critics successfully cited FSU’s Ruby Diamond and FAMU’s Lee Hall auditoriums as similar in capacity and functionality. That, along with a $113 Million price tag was enough to strike the downtown project from the agenda.
In 2018, Community Redevelopment Agency and the Leon County commission awarded $1.8 Million to a locally formed group, TLH Arts, to pursue a location for a performing arts center. Grow Tallahassee supported TLH Arts initiative to utilize allocated funds and finally bring a performing arts center to Tallahassee.
The recent acquisition of the Northwood Centre site by the City of Tallahassee has been primed to become home to the Tallahassee Police Department. The 29.5 acre parcel has also attracted the attention of The Michael H. and Judy W. Sheridan Center for the Arts Foundation as a potential home to a new performing arts center project.
The 450-seat auditorium proposal by The Sheridan Center is asking for a public-private partnership, one where the city would donate five acres of the recently acquired 29.4-acre Northwood Centre and, in return, the non-profit Foundation will cover construction and operating costs through private donations as well as public fundraisers. The site is attractive for this type of development due to its size and accessibility along the North Monroe gateway. The proposal also includes a 150-seat, black box-style performance stage, multi-use room, and a catering kitchen suited for events and banquets up to 100 guests.
According to The Sheridan Foundation, the cost analysis for this project is approximately $9M. A grant from Michael and Judy Sheridan of $5 Million, as well as a contribution from David and Jane Watson of $1M, have been established with plans to raise $3 Million through a capital campaign. The Sheridan Center is expected to sustain itself with income from grants, patronage, rental and ticketing fees.
Our position on local art initiatives is clear: the more the better. Grow Tallahassee welcomes this generous proposal by The Sheridan Foundation, a highly respected and a credible donor. We strongly recommend the City Commission to direct the staff to pursue this option and will fully support future steps surrounding this initiative.