05/14/06 — Plan for Paramount gets rave reviews

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Plan for Paramount gets rave reviews

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 14, 2006 2:05 AM

Another turn in the Paramount Theater saga means more reaction from Goldsboro and Wayne County residents -- and the latest news has been met with excitement.

Members of the arts community said they were happy to hear this week's news that a non-government group will take over the Paramount project.

Mayor Al King announced Tuesday that a "group of private citizens" is planning to take over reconstruction efforts that had reached a stand-still due to lack of funds. He added that while nothing is yet set in stone, he believes the group will make the project a success.

"The group still has some things they need to get together," King said Tuesday. "But within the next few months, you're going to see some things going on down at the Paramount."

King called the news a "dream come true," and said he hopes to be attending performances at the theater within the next few years.

Prominent members of the arts community said they agree with King -- the news is a step in the right direction.

Wayne County Arts Council Executive Director Alice Strickland said a performing arts theater is something the community needs, especially those groups that rely on performances to bring in revenue.

"It's vitally important that we have a performing arts center for these groups to pick up and carry on," she said.

And news that a new Paramount is one step closer to becoming a reality is coming at the perfect time.

"It just means that these groups can carry on before they lose heart," she said. "It's just wonderful."

Center Stage is one of the groups of which Mrs. Strickland speaks. Sandra Evans, president of the organization, said the past year has been hard for the arts community -- tickets sales are down and it has been hard to find adequate space and lighting for some performances.

"It's been a huge burden on Center Stage this year to find a place to perform that is comparable to the Paramount," she said, adding the financial impact the lack of a theater brought on has been noticeable.

Barton Baldwin, the incoming president of Stagestruck, added many performances have been moved out of Wayne altogether.

"Some groups are traveling out of county to perform and that shouldn't happen," he said.

When members of these organizations read the latest news, they were elated.

"I'm thrilled that it's going to be moving along," Mrs. Strickland said. "It's one of the most necessary amenities in the community, and we miss it."

Mrs. Evans agreed.

"I think it's a wonderful idea that these people are coming together," she said. "We would be just ecstatic to see the Paramount back."

King said he firmly believes the group will come through and that a new theater might only be a few years off.

For now, the members of the group have asked to remain anonymous.

Mrs. Strickland said while she doesn't know who the members of the "private group of citizens" are, she is excited they have decided to make reconstruction of the Paramount a priority.

"I don't know any details, but I just commend them on taking a step and moving forward," she said.

Mrs. Evans said she doesn't know who is spearheading the project either, but her organization is willing to support the group in any way they can.

"We just want a place to perform," she said.