Sunday, June 26, 2011

Groundbreaking Celebration

A large tent was erected on the site for the groundbreaking celebration for the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Located across from City Hall, the tent's entrance was right where Magnolia bumps into South Street. I was directed to the media check in table where Jordana Lipkin gave me my press lanyard. The tent was air conditioned, but it was so hot out that everyone was waving their programs to stay cool.

There were rows of white folding chairs, all of which had "Reserved" signs. I bumped into Mark Baratelli of We took photos of ourselves shoveling the dirt. His face popped up periodically on video monitors so I was hanging out with "the talent." We joked about all the reserved seats. No one was sitting. It seemed that, like the Emperor's new clothes, the event was so exclusive that no one would be allowed to park their butt. The first act on the stage was a string quartet from the Orlando Philharmonic which is ironic since the performance hall will not benefit the Orchestra since it isn't an acoustically designed hall. It will only be good for traveling Broadway shows that use microphones.

The second act, "Sovereign Brass" also had performers from the Orchestra. I wondered if any local performer at the groundbreaking would ever benefit from the new stage. A little girl in a black dress watched the musicians mesmerized.

Andrea Canny
joined Mark and I in our prime viewing spot. By now the tent was crowded full of several hundred people. Mayor Buddy Dyer started his speech with a quote from Michelangelo that I rather like...

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” He said that over 200 businesses have opened since the Amway Center opened. Many of them might be the bicycle driven handy cabs. He stressed that Arts and Culture are the soul of any city, and I couldn't agree more. The tourism industry helped put the whole package together. I just hope they sprinkle enough pixie dust to somehow make the financial numbers work out. In three card Monti we eventually find the Ace of hearts if we bet enough money. Don't we?

Davis Gaines sang "This is the Moment," and for a moment, I believed. There was an orange band of sand in front of the stage. Several people walked on it and the orange crust broke showing the white sand beneath. We speculated that it might be some Tibetan sand art or perhaps it was an indication of the front wall of the new building. Our questions were answered when Buddy Dyer and city commissioners all lined up with shovels to break ground in the orange sand. Cannons fired sending streamers over the crowd and two tent panels were torn open showing huge bulldozers which fired up ready to work.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

No comments: