By Betsy Dolan
It was fitting that Rosenberg’s Development Corporation would reference a well known movie line in making its decision to partner with Imperial Performing Arts to transform their historic downtown area into a cultural arts district. “If we build it, they will come,” said RDC Chairperson Bill Knesek said at the regular meeting on February 8.
The partnership between RDC and Imperial Performing Arts, which is currently based in Sugar Land, will involve three phases: establishing the Rosenberg Arts Center in the old bookstore at the corner of 3rd Street and Avenue G., restoring the historic Cole Theater to its original art-deco style and the designation of historic downtown Rosenberg as a sanctioned “Cultural District” by the Texas Commission on the Arts. Several downtown merchants addressed the RDC asking that they approve the measure in order for the downtown business community to grow.
“We have gone as far as we can go,” said Noel Valdez, owner of Red Queen’s Attic. “I believe that this plan will transform Rosenberg into a destination city, it will give the city an identity and allow all of the downtown businesses to grow.” “I can remember when downtown Rosenberg was the place to be,” said Tim Kaminski who owns a bakery in Rosenberg. “Right now I don’t have a reason to come downtown on the weekends but I would like to spend my entertainment dollars here.”
RDC agreed to a two year commitment with Imperial Arts, earmarking $250,000 for each year of the project. During the first year, $100,000 will go toward renovation of the Rosenberg Arts Center and $150,000 in underwriting for the RDC. The following year $100,000 will go toward renovating the Cole Theater and $150,000 in underwriting for the RDC. The Rosenberg Arts Center is expected to open no later than Sept. 2012 and will offer live performances, films, art exhibits and arts education programs.
Ram Estrada, Director of Fine Arts at Lamar CISD, told the RDC that there are very few public places where children can view art and that the partnership with Imperial Arts will provided educational benefits for the district’s children.
“It adds quality and vibrancy to life,” Estrada said. “It could be a huge resource for music and art teachers in LCISD and for children who otherwise may not be exposed to the arts.”
When completed, the Rosenberg Arts Center will showcase live performances, films, art exhibits and arts education programming. The Cole Theater will offer major opera productions, theater, concerts, films and community events.
Imperial Arts is committed to 60 events per year and 10 years in Rosenberg.