It’s Debatable: Holly Hall Would Be Boon for Lubbock

By: Tim Collins
From: A-J Media

Originally Published: March 21, 2015 – 3:15pm

Over the last several months, a lot of buzz and much excitement have surrounded the future of The Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences. Many milestone achievements have been accomplished through the tireless efforts of our many supporters and volunteers.

On the surface, The Buddy Holly Hall appears to simply be an entertainment venue. If that were all this new project was intended to be, it would certainly have significant value to the residents of West Texas, but there is much more involved in the project.

The latest design boasts three balconies with 2,200 seats. The main hall will have the versatility to feature musical theater on the weekend, host a conference during the week, and then convert to a symphony hall before the next weekend.

In every instance, The Buddy Holly Hall will maintain acoustical quality to satisfy the finest vocalists and musicians in the world.

Visitors will experience spacious and comfortable seating with unimpeded sight lines. The beautiful lobby will be versatile enough to host a business luncheon, a wedding reception, or a festive dinner and dance for 300 of your closest friends.

Concessions will be available on every floor, and special attention has been given to minimizing the lines to the restrooms.

Arts and entertainment are important tools in recruiting talented professionals to move to our community. A vital and attractive downtown is important in recruiting and retaining business.

The Texas Cultural Trust recently reported the arts generate $5.1 billion for our state’s economy and $320 million to the state’s sales tax revenue. The operations of The Buddy Holly Hall will add more than $3.5 million each year to Lubbock’s sales tax revenue and will create 36 new jobs.

Yes, in the task of building a world-class performing arts center, we are well on our way. If that were all that the project was intended to be, it would be a notable achievement. The truth is, the vision for The Buddy Holly Hall has always been so much more than just a performing arts center.

The Lubbock Entertainment/Performing Arts Association board of directors, developers and architects knew from the beginning this facility could do more. It was clear an effort of this magnitude needed to have an impact reaching farther than just the arts community. We have said from the beginning we wanted to touch a broad cross-section of the residents of Lubbock and the South Plains.

The recent agreement with the Lubbock Independent School District is a monumental step toward accomplishing these lofty ideas.

The positive impact of arts education is well-documented. Students who take arts classes have as much as a 15 percent higher pass rate on standardized tests. Dropout rates fall as much as 50 percent for at-risk high school students who complete more than one arts-related class during their four-year high school career.

LISD is home to more than 29,000 students, and more than 80 percent are enrolled in a fine arts program. LEPAA and LISD partnering means The Buddy Holly Hall will be a place to expand artistic horizons, perform in a state-of-the-art venue and inspire educational excellence and future professional success for some 23,000 students.

In order to accommodate these students, we have designed some essential additions to The Buddy Holly Hall. A second 400-seat theater, although much smaller than the main hall, will provide a unique setting for student performances from elementary through high school levels.

This theater will also be used for University Interscholastic League (UIL) competitions and smaller theater productions.

When not in use by the district, the space will be an attractive option for those needing to lease space for a lecture series or business meeting. The room will have all of the audio/visual capabilities needed for any presentation.

In addition to the smaller theater, we have added a 6,000-square-foot multi-purpose room. This space will open into the main lobby to add even more room for pre-function or private events. It can be closed and divided into warm-up space for band and orchestra competitions or serve as meeting rooms for a school or business conference. These new spaces are being dedicated for use by LISD on an as-needed basis.

LISD expects to have some type of student activity in the building almost every day of the school year. We are excited to see this tremendous injection of energy and vibrant activity to downtown Lubbock. That is positive outreach!

“If you build it, they will come.” Of course, that’s a paraphrase of a line from a popular movie, but I have found for most guests, if they come, you will have to feed them.

Quality concessions were mentioned above, but food service for those luncheons and special events is another great amenity incorporated into The Buddy Holly Hall.

LEPAA is currently negotiating with a food and beverage provider that will operate a full-service catering kitchen and a bistro café.

The catering facilities will serve the special functions in the building and will provide catering for entertainment events. The ability to serve a meal during a business conference is a critical component to attracting those activities.

On a show night, a fine meal before that special performance will greatly enhance our patron’s experience.

I am especially excited about the bistro café. Even with the addition of several new restaurants, a vibrant and thriving downtown must have a great selection of varied choices. The downtown business community will have a beautiful and inspiring setting to entertain clients or to grab a quick bite while remaining close to the office. Later on, imagine dinner on the outdoor patio while listening to a string quartet or serenade.

The Buddy Holly Hall will be a place where student performers from LISD and Texas Tech can perfect their skills. It’s tremendously exciting to imagine the futures that will launch from these stages.

As you can see, our project has evolved and grown. We know this expansion will enhance our ability to reach more people and to serve a broader interest group in the community.

As with all worthy efforts, this growth has additional costs. The final estimates are not complete, but at LEPAA we feel certain the extra effort will pay great dividends to the future of our city and to the success of The Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences.

You can follow our progress or make a donation by visiting our website at LEPAA.org

Tim Collins is the Board Chairman of the Lubbock Entertainment/Performing Arts Association.