When Mayor Joe Nelson comes to call with money for a concert hall, Utah Valley State College President Kerry Romesburg will have the door wide open.
"Boy, is it open!" Romesburg said Tuesday. "I really do think this is a great idea. He has proposed it. We have embraced it."Romesburg said the mayor has visited with him several times proposing that Orem raise the money and solicit donations to build such a venue at UVSC. The hall would be used for ballet performances, symphony concerts and other cultural activities.
Nelson said he found out during his campaign for office that people in Orem want such a facility. He realized after attending a grandson's concert in Salt Lake City that Utah County has nothing like Symphony Hall. He said that's a shame, especially given the depth and range of talented people who live in Utah County.
"I'm kind of throwing out ideas here," Nelson said. "It's going to take many people to do something. We're just now looking at setting up a committee and maybe involving the county (government). We're ready to start doing that."
"We've even gone so far as to discuss where it could be," Romesburg said. "The real question is can the city and private donors do this?"
It could be located on 16 acres recently donated by EsNet Management Corp. north of the campus, south of 800 South. Or it could be located on the north end of campus beyond the David O. McKay Special Events Center where a fine arts building is indicated on the campus master plan.
Romesburg said he would be thrilled to see Orem move ahead with the idea because it could be years before anystate funding becomes available.
"It's just not a priority for them," he said. "It's something we couldn't do for years and years without some help."
Romesburg said the Special Events Center is too large - with 8,000 seats - and the student center theater is too small.
"There's nothing in between. We need a midsize facility."
He said Brigham Young University is too heavily booked and is not available for Sunday performances.
The outdoor SCERA Shell is subject to closure from bad weather. The Provo LDS Tabernacle is not designed for ballet or orchestral performances, Nelson said.
"We would want something acoustically perfect. Frankly, this would be a step above what is available. I imagine it will probably be expensive, but I'll let a group decide how much we'd want to spend," the mayor said.
A concert hall would provide a home for organizations such as the Utah Valley Symphony Orchestra and the Utah Regional Ballet, Romesburg said. "They don't have a home, either one."
Romesburg said he and Nelson have talked about a hall with a capacity for around 2,000 people.
"If you got much bigger than that, you could go into the Special Events Center."