Chavez Theater Supporters Skeptical of Council Vote
Former opera director fears classical music venue is still at risk
EL PASO —
At noon today the Abraham Chavez theater stood and listened.. while men and women discussed its future just a few blocks away. The idea that city council would save the theater, even refurbish it, had to sound exciting to music lovers...including a speaker named Prentice Loftin . He told council in open session, "It's
a very unique and valuable structure with great possibilities that can serve us well for decades to come."
Within moments after Loftin spoke, council voted unanimously "yes" to a resolution that reads, "Council is committed to the preservation and restoration of the Abraham Chavez theatre and is opposed to the demolition of the facility to make room for other purposes."
Wasn't this just what Prentice Loftin had come to hear? He seemed strangely subdued.. as he left the chambers, skeptical of council's willingness to stand by its vote. Another option in front of the city is to destroy the Chavez and put an arena in its place that accomodate basketball, concerts, and other events.
You may know the name Prentice Loftin... for 13 years he was director of the El Paso Opera...inside the Chavez theater. It was some of the best live entertainment El Pasoans have ever enjoyed...in part because the Chavez was built in the 70's as a true acoustic theater.
A few blocks east of the Chavez stands the Plaza Theater, which itself was rescued and refurbished by the El Paso Community Foundation. It's truly a beautiful and grand venue, but not a theater built for music, musicians, or people who prefer music at its acoustic best. And yet the plaza is now home to the opera and the symphony
Loftin's fear is that donors to the arts...people and companies that now support music at the plaza...may be reluctant to shift opera and symphony programs back to the Chavez.. even if music does sound better there.
LOftin tells us, "I am concerned there's going to be pressure placed on city council that they will end up putting the arena up right here and my concern there is we will not have a place for classical music. And when i say classical music i mean a theater that has actual acoustics, not a place that has actual acoustics, not microphones and speakers so that things can be heard."
Until city council backs up its pledge to save the the Chavez theater with the money to do it...supporters fear the future of El Paso's only dedicated acoustic theater is still in peril. Prentice Loftin shoud know: this is just the first act. It's the last act when heroes and theaters live and die.