Charles Pointe Development Could Boost Arts Locally Convention Center, Amphitheater Proposed For Bridgeport Project

Clarksburg Exponent Telegram

by Pam Marra, Lifestyles Editor

BRIDGEPORT (Sunday, March 24, 2002, Page I7)

Bridgeport City Manager Kim Haws said a background in fine arts helps him do his job a little better.

"In my opinion, the arts provide a balance for everything else in life. They help give you a perspective that can be hard to define," said Haws, who plays the violin and has been involved with orchestras in the past.

Because of their importance, anything that can be done to help further the arts in the area would be welcome, he said, including construction of the proposed convention center and amphitheater at Charles Pointe.

"We’re still in negotiations with the management firm, so I can’t be 100 percent certain, but I’d certainly think those facilities would be options for anyone wanting to hold fine arts programs, exhibits and possibly concerts," he said. "I’d support any facility that helps to encourage exposure to cultural arts or fine arts."

According to Gabriel Fiest, executive director of the Greater Bridgeport Conference and Visitors Center Inc., the Charles Pointe facilities are vital to the growth of the area.

"The upcoming arts and entertainment-related projects, both those at Charles Pointe in Bridgeport and those in Clarksburg, are very important to an area’s quality of life.

"Not only are they good for the citizens of the surrounding areas, but they also help to attract visitors, new businesses and those considering where to live – all of which has a positive economic impact on the area," Fiest said.

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Timms knows how important an artistic environment can be to children.

His three daughters, now grown, have all been involved in theater and dance. One is now in theater in Chicago, another in New York, and a third, though now married and living in Bridgeport, appeared on stage in performances across the world.

"The arts can bring so much to life. I’ve seen that with my daughters. The Charles Pointe facilities could maybe help focus more attention on the arts here, and that would be great for everyone – kids and adults," Timms said.

Timms said several things are being kept in mind regarding construction of the conference center and amphitheater.

"There’s a lot of traveling art exhibits out there, excellent ones. But to host them, a building has to have certain criteria, such as a secure environment, humidity control, that sort of thing," he said. "Those are all things we’re looking at because we know this area has potential for a wonderful cultural climate."

Timms said improving the arts environment in the area is a win-win situation.

"When companies look at places to relocate, one of the things they consider, along with schools and recreation, is the cultural aspect.

"Whether people want to be spectators or participants, any developments we can do along those lines is good for the local economy as well as to the quality of life," Timms said.

"Anything that boosts interest in the arts can only help a community."