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Our Dream - The History of the Byrnes Performing Arts Center

In 2000, Arlington voters passed a $54 million bond issue that included building the new high school. A separate measure to build a performing arts center fell short of the 60 percent requirement for approval.Groundbreaking

Enter those who had a vision. The campaign to build a theater at the new high school without asking for a property tax increase was launched.

The school board sold some lumber and the shell of the building was built. The Arts Alive! steering committee was formed in 2002 and set its fundraising goal at $2.5 million. The volunteers had a vision, and now they had an extremely sizable mission.

Construction of the buildingContributions came from inside and outside the community. Arlington gave $500,000 and state grants added $375,000. Residents Brent and Connie McKinley contributed the first $100,000, the last $100,000 and $100,000 in between. Every penny represented the belief of all those school, city and arts leaders and volunteers that the cultural, economic and educational benefits from creating a state-of-the-art theater in Arlington would be beyond measure.

The venue reflects the passion for the arts that brought it to life. Arlington glass artist Kurt McVay created a chandelier for the foyer, as well as a wall of glass tiles honoring the theater's top donors. A gleaming concert Steinway grand piano, which comes with an amazing entertainment resumé, was donated by the Boulton family. A bronze Ghighlieri statue of an eagle entitled "Freedom" was donated by Dr. Wayne Smothers and his wife Marcia.

On the opening night of the Performing Arts Center, School Board President, Kay Duskin announced that the Guests sitting in the audiencePerforming Arts Center would now be officially called the Linda M. Byrnes Performing Arts Center in honor of the Superintendent of Arlington Public Schools whose vision and determination were key to getting the Performing Arts Center built. Once Byrnes was in the theater, signs that read "Welcome to the Arlington Performing Arts Center" were secretly switched out for ones reading "Welcome to the Linda M. Byrnes Performing Arts Center" and a framed picture of the superintendent and written dedication were installed.

Image of the Linda M. Byrnes Performing Arts Center

The completed Linda M. Byrnes Performing Arts Center