The opening of the renovated Reg Lenna Civic Center in 1990 was the start of the brick-and-mortar renovations in Jamestown.
Much has changed around the civic center in the 24 years since it reopened after its facelift in 1990. The arts district in Jamestown has never looked better and the Reg has been joined by the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena and the Robert H. Jackson Center as venues that can handle a large number of people.
Whether it is ticket prices or the types of performances, downtown's brick-and-mortar projects are struggling to deliver on their potential. While it is important that city residents support the programs that are here, it is equally important for people like Eads to find ways to engage people who so far prefer their living rooms to the sterling venues that have been built.
More buildings aren't needed to create the thriving downtown Jamestown once was. Packed houses are possible, as we've seen with recent Lucille Ball Comedy Festival performances by Martin Short, Paula Poundstone and Billy Gardell. People with the vision to fill those buildings to capacity are what we need - and Kathleen Eads, the first executive director of the new Reg Lenna Center for the Arts, appears to fit the bill.
Eads has been on the job for less than a month, but she is saying all the right things. To her, the role of an arts center has always been to serve the community, then to augment and enhance where possible. She refers to the Reg Lenna Civic Center as "everybody's place," stating a preference to see the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts become a venue that is highly utilized by the community, both in attendance and production. Eads wants the Reg to host more theater, a little dance, classical music to augment current community programming, a family series to function as an afterschool matinee and a family night out, as well as unique, touring acts such as Golden Dragon Acrobats' Cirque Ziva.
It will take time for Eads to stamp the new Reg Lenna Center for the Arts with her unique vision. We hope the center thrives under her leadership.