Sunday, January 5, 2003

The Schuster Center alternative

Shaping culture in 2003

When Dayton's $121.5 million Schuster Center for the Performing Arts opens March 1 with a star-studded gala, patrons will be looking up at a blue domed ceiling with fiber-optic lights depicting the constellations on the night of the first Wright Brothers flight 100 years ago. The glittering Cesar Pelli-designed center, timed to coincide with Dayton's "Inventing Flight" celebration, is poised to draw 500,000 people to 200 performances in its first full year of operation.

Its 2,300-seat Mead Theatre will be the new home of the Dayton Philharmonic, Dayton Opera and Dayton Ballet. For the first time, Dayton will have a stage large enough to mount Broadway productions such as The Phantom of the Opera (June 18-July 12). Patrons can park in the Schuster's garage, and get a bite before the show in a trendy bistro in the Wintergarden, a seven-story, block-long glass lobby graced by 30-foot palms.

It's the linchpin in Dayton's evolving entertainment district: five upscale theater spaces on downtown's "Avenue of the Arts." Schuster Center backers hope that Dayton will become a major regional player in the arts. And with Interstate 75 slated for orange barrels from Sharonville through West Chester Township beginning in March, theater-goers might opt to drive north to Dayton - rather than fight their way south to Cincinnati.

25 forces that will shape culture in 2003
1. The big economic squeeze
2. Clear Channel's dominance
3. Suburbanites: Will they roam?
4. The plea for racial healing
5. The media's message
6. A whole new ball game
7. Edgy art center opening
8. Tall Stacks rolls back
9. Will tourists go home happy?
10. How Fine Arts Fund carries clout
11. You can't fight City Hall
12. Laura Long: Downtown force
13. The CSO's growing empire
14. Rosenthals' big impact
15. Northern Kentucky development
16. Museum Center's main man
17. Lobbyist Weiland
18. UC at crossroads
19. The Nederlanders make a comeback
20. MidPoint: Rebuild the city on rock 'n' roll
21. The Schuster Center alternative
22. Another public art project goes to bat
23. The brain drain
24. Local film community gains focus
25. Dancing around visa problems
The wild card of 2003: War
2003 dates to keep in mind

DEMALINE: The arts
KENDRICK: Alive & Well
Get to it!