What a wonderful afternoon we had at The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. Yes, that’s right, it doesn’t open until September 2014. The ubiquitous Suhail Arastu, board member of Musical Bridges Around The World, arranged a tour of the facility with new President and COO, Michael Fresher. A group of about 30, numbering among us the leadership and management of arts organizations from around San Antonio, signed our legal waivers and were led on a 30 minute tour of our newest state-of-the-art entertainment complex.
The Zachry-managed construction site is an impressive one. Not only the massive scale of the project, but it was also neat as a pin, all things considered. All that remains of the original Municipal Auditorium is the beautiful facade and domes that will be incorporated into the entry, which boasts a 5-story atrium. Anyone following the ongoing project knows the details, such as the mechanical floor that changes the traditional raked auditorium configuration to a level floor in 23 minutes flat, at the push of a button. Or that there will be an outdoor amphitheater that will seat 600, where interior performances or even Spurs playoff games can be simulcast on the large outdoor screen. Or that in addition to the traditional grand proscenium theater, there is also a “black box” theater that can be configured to any use, whether that be performance-oriented or the ballroom for your next gala. AND both spaces can be programmed and run concurrently due to the fact that the acoustics will be the best available anywhere and infinitely controllable. As Fresher joked, “It will be the best in the country on the day we open… the day after I can’t speak for.”
Michael Fresher is a breath of fresh air — no pun intended. Hailing from Connecticut, he brings that quick and bracing northeastern sensibility to bear. He seems to be able to maintain a no-nonsense forward momentum all the while, and able to crack a joke with ready wit. His most recent gig was as COO/CFO with the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford, doing double duty as the GM for Bushnell Management Services. Before that, he was VP of Finance and Controller for Madison Square Garden — CT. He brings a deep well of experience to the table that will be essential to deliver on the promises of the Bexar County Performing Arts Center Foundation — the nonprofit charged with running our “community’s gathering place where generations can experience the power of the arts.”
Having the opportunity to savor the space in this way was definitely one of those once in a lifetime experiences. I am not too jaded to say that it was thrilling to stand on the massive stage, look deep into the pit, gaze into the flies, look out into the majestic auditorium and imagine the constellation of performances that will be conducted there in San Antonio’s not too distant future. And everyone else there felt the same way — you could see it in their eyes. The time has come for San Antonio to have a performing arts complex such as this one — truly World Class.
After the tour, we were treated to cooling gin cocktails from The Brooklynite’s own Jaret Pena at the still distinguished Maverick-Carter Mansion in the shadows of the Tobin. Paul Carter was there to graciously share his family legacy before we all popped over to the Radius Center for delicious bites and more socializing. The frosting on the cake was father and son, local jazz legends George and Aaron Prado performing. I highly recommend that you attend a performance whenever and wherever you can! Of course you can always tune in to hear Aaron on FM 91.7 KRTU, San Antonio’s premiere station for jazz.
Thank you to all who made this special afternoon possible. Thanks for sharing, Suhail — this one is unforgettable!
For more photos from our visit, click here.