Performing Arts Center Gains Support

OCEAN CITY –The proposal for a performing arts center in Ocean City received further support at a tourism commission meeting last week, as local business owners voiced the need for increased cultural tourism.

Rina Thaler, President of the Art League of Ocean City, presented her ideas for cultural tourism, maintaining the importance of art in Ocean City.

“We have seen tremendous growth and demands for art in Ocean City,” Thaler said, citing the success of the Art League and the demand for more venues.

Thaler explained the importance of adding variety to the town through increased visual and performing arts. “I can tell you, selling Ocean City is like selling any other product,” Thaler said, encouraging the commission to think outside of the box.

Thaler gave full support to the proposal for a performing arts center applauding the idea of a separate arts center. The proposal was presented to the tourism commission last month by Peck Miller and outlined plans to build a performing arts center adjacent to the convention center. “We would further propose that more space be devoted to the visual arts,” Thaler said.

Thaler noted the cramped quarters in which the Art League of Ocean City currently operates out of and suggested that a segment of the performing arts center be dedicated to the visual arts, noting the importance of combing both visual and performing arts. “We have a great opportunity to create something new here,” she said. Thaler went on to cite the economic benefits of cultural tourism, and the potential a performing and visual arts center could hold for the town.

Local business owner Leighton Moore was also present to voice his support of arts in Ocean City and the performing arts center.

“I’m not in favor of another penny going into the building,” Moore said, referring to the Convention Center expansion. Moore said that while the Convention Center is successful, a separate venue focusing on the arts in more important at this time.

Moore agreed that cultural tourism could bring a wide base of tourists to the town. “We need to get them back into this town and we need to do it soon,” he said.

Tourism Director Mike Noah explained that plans to proceed with a performing arts center are underway. Another Convention Center Study will be performed, examining the feasibility of a separate performing arts building. The study is anticipated to take 12 weeks.

Dr. Leonard Berger, local hotelier, agreed with the merits of the performing arts center. “We need a performing arts center and we need it separate,” he said.