Advocate editorial board opinion: Community-minded institution won't let 'lights go out'

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Feb. 4, 2012 at 4:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 3, 2012 at 8:04 p.m.

Victoria College, since its creation, has always met the needs of the community. We are fortunate to have this wonderful entity looking after the well being of the Crossroads.

Recently, the college enlarged its capacity to train process technicians, meeting the needs of new industry, including Caterpillar Inc. and the outpouring of business from the Eagle Ford Shale drilling. This is just one example of the college serving the area.

Now, the college is pursuing a multi-purpose facility to meet the needs of the arts and of business.

The recent announcement in the Advocate that the Victoria Performing Arts Center would be selling the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts to Victoria College was, at first, shocking. But after considering this change of ownership and management, we consider the move an excellent one if it goes through in the 90 days of assessment by the college.

As VC President Tom Butler said, the goal in the acquisition is to have the center used more and to serve in the revitalization of downtown Victoria.

And Robert Hewitt Jr., chairman of VPAC, commented that he wanted the Center to shine brightly at all times. He said he did not like the center's colorful lights to be dark at night, indicating a lack of use.

We share that vision.

A vibrant performing arts center would bring more foot traffic downtown, serving to benefit the arts, as well as business and the continuing growth of downtown, especially now in the middle of the city's Main Street program.

We were even more elated to find out that President Butler has experience he can bring to the table in managing such a multi-use facility, like the performing arts center.

Butler was at Northern Virginia Community College prior to coming to Victoria.

There, on the Annandale campus, he helped to manage a facility that included a two-story auditorium/theater, exhibit area, an attractive meeting space and a gymnasium that was rented out for various uses.

Butler explained that in Virginia, all funding comes from the state.

"There was no local tax," he said. "And the state did not want to fund the operation, so 100 percent of the funding came through revenues, so we had an eye toward covering all of our costs."

We can see Butler and his team accomplishing the same thing in Victoria.

The Leo Welder Center for the Performing Arts also has a great exhibition area that possibly the Museum of the Coastal Bend could share some of its exhibits, impressive meeting rooms that businesses could use for corporate or other meetings, a good-sized auditorium for theater and other performances.

Butler said his team will be meeting next week and with current users of the Center to see what their needs are.

We are confident that Victoria College will be an excellent owner/manager of the Center.

We hope the deal goes through, and we look forward to a vibrant performing arts center, one where the lights would never go out prematurely.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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