Our turn

The ceremonial shovels have been cleaned and are back in storage. The tents have been taken down. Now, construction begins on what many are predicting will become one of Hancock County’s crown jewels.
Over the next 15 months or so, what remains of the old Central Auditorium will become the heart of the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts. Over time, there’s no reason to doubt the center will become a regional attraction for all things music, dance, theater and art.
The transformation will be obvious to anyone who travels West Main Cross Street.
The project, already several years in the making, had been mostly a behind-the-scenes effort until last Tuesday when a groundbreaking took place.
It’s taken leaps of faith and creative partnerships among the Findlay City Schools, The Community Foundation, The Arts Partnership of Hancock County, the city, the University of Findlay, and others to get to this point.
It has also taken a huge financial commitment. Many corporate and private interests have lined up to see the project through, including Marathon Petroleum Corp., Fifth Third Bank, and Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell.
In all, $13 million of the $15 million project cost has been pledged.
But Ed Reading, chairman of the Hancock County Performing Arts Center’s board, was right when he said the “public portion” of the fundraising campaign is the most important.
Having area residents buy-in to the project, by supporting it financially and in other ways, is consistent with the board’s belief that the entire community must be a partner if the center is to become a success.
So far, businesses and private donors have pledged 84 percent of the cost. The public portion, $2 million, will provide the remainder.
Many people, way too numerous to mention here, have worked hard behind the scenes to keep the original Central Auditorium from demolition and arrange a deal that allowed its purchase for $1 from the school district. Others proposed ideas, drafted early designs of the center, and contacted potential donors.
Reading has said support for the center has been universal and that the early efforts have turned what was a dream into reality.
But in many ways the work has just begun. Now, it’s the community’s turn to get involved. In coming days, more information will be provided on ways the community can support the project. Residents can keep track of the progress of the project by visiting www.FindlayForTheArts.org.
We encourage everyone to take part in this exciting chapter of Findlay’s history.

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