Allen ISD opens arts center after three Collin cities fail

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on April 18, 2012 at 5:14 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 18 at 5:17 PM

Allen ISD Performing Arts Center

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ALLEN — The Allen ISD has built something that three cities, an arts commission, and almost $60 million could not — a performing arts center.

The $28-million facility isn't something you would find at most high schools in Texas, or across the nation for that matter. And unlike plans to build a regional arts hall in Collin County, the road to this building was smooth.

The Allen ISD Performing Arts Center is about the same size as Richardson's Eisemann Center. It can hold 1,500 people for concerts, theatrical productions and lectures.

Allen taxpayers decided years ago to have only one big high school in the district. As a result, new buildings are built large enough to accommodate 4,000 students in three grades.

“The Arts of Collin County project wasn't going to erase the need for what we needed here," said Dr. Ken Helvey, Allen ISD superintendent.

So how did the school district have success when the regional effort to build an arts hall failed?

Mary Grube, executive director of the Arts of North Texas says there's a simple explanation. “The Allen ISD had full funding from the start. It was backed by the community, and only one entity — the Allen School board — had to approve it," she said.

The Allen ISD Performing Arts Center is getting the same accolades that once described the plans for the regional arts hall. The descriptions include “state of the art” and “world class.”

"The fact we had one community behind the project and the ability to ask for all of the funding at once probably gave us a great advantage," Superintendent Helvey said.

Of course, the school district's performing arts center is not permitted to sell alcohol, like a regional arts center would be able to do. Even so, the superintendent says the district will benefit financially by renting the facility out for a wide array of events.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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