To the Editor: The Arts Jinx

Good Drumming

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This column was prepared for the February 4, 2004 issue of U.S. 1


Between the Lines

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To the Editor: The Arts Jinx

I very much enjoyed Richard Rein’s column (January 21) about the Arts

Council’s futile attempts to expand its facility and the question of

whether the project is "jinxed." Certainly, it would be easy to

imagine that it is, considering the number of expansion projects in

downtown Princeton (the Library, Palmer Square, the University itself)

that have breezed along while the Arts Council’s relatively modest

project has gone nowhere and remains mired in controversy.

One reason for the failure has gone largely unnoticed or, at least,

unspoken: the true inflexibility of the building itself. Here is an

edifice that is architecturally undistinguished on the outside, and

scruffy on the inside. Its rooms seem designed to be as small and

unusable as possible (try producing even a one-set play in the

upstairs "theater"), and many of the Council’s undertakings have long

since outgrown the facility.

The Arts Council building stands on a piece of land so small that the

building can hardly be expanded enough to accommodate all the

Council’s activities. One has to wonder why the Council is so

committed to holding on to this building, for it is obvious that the

answer to the Council’s problem is either to construct an entirely new

building or, if that is prohibitively expensive, to move to a building

nearby which can accommodate its programs. Fortunately, such a

building already exists: the Valley Road School.

That building, just up Witherspoon Street in Princeton Township, was

first a public school and then the temporary seat of the Township

government. It is now essentially vacant. For a Council that offers

classes. Valley Road has classrooms. For a Council that would like to

put on shows, it has the Township’s former meeting room, with far more

potential as a theatrical space than the Council’s present theater.

And there is ample free parking.

If the trustees of the Arts Council and its supporters are willing to

spend so much time, effort, and money on refurbishing an unusable

building at one end of Witherspoon Street, they can surely make better

use of those assets by refurbishing a newer and more usable building

at the other end – and the Arts Council’s present neighbors will

applaud such an appropriate and public-spirited gesture.

Marvin Harold Cheiten

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Good Drumming

Thank you for Richard Skelly’s enthusiastic and inspiring article on

Drum Circles (January 1). Some 20 people came out for our last circle

with Elena Fernandez. Drumming circles embody what we are about at the

Princeton Center for Yoga & Health. In a relaxed, smoke and

alcohol-free environment, people of all ages and abilities can come

out, try something new, meet new people, and have a good time.

The next drumming circle is Friday, February 20, at 8 p.m. No

experience necessary!

Deborah Metzger

Center for Yoga & Health

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