Theater worthy of support

The exterior of The Washington Center for the Performing Arts would be enhanced if the state Legislature heeds funding advice from the state Department of Commerce.

Commerce officials last week said an $816,000 state grant for the performing arts center ranked second on a list of 13 projects recommended for state funding in 2013.

The next governor and state Legislature shouldn’t hesitate to include the grant in the 2013 state budget.

The Washington Center is the premier theater venue in the capital city and is worthy of state support at this crucial time in its history.

The city owns the building and is responsible for major maintenance that can’t be postponed any longer. The synthetic stucco-style exterior is leaking in several places and must be replaced. The roof and the building’s mechanical systems also need to be replaced.

What the state grant would do is take the renovation project to a higher level. For instance, a canopy slated for construction along the front of the building would be expanded to the alley and customized windows would be installed over the canopy to help erase the building’s somewhat institutional-looking facade.

The center’s entryway would be upgraded to include stone, and additional poster display windows and a permanent marquee sign would be part of the building’s new exterior.

The city has yet to settle on a financing plan for the bulk of the $4.4 million construction project, which is set to begin after the theater’s 2013 regular season. City officials are still awaiting word on a second, $500,000 grant request from the state Department of Commerce.

But the announcement of the state grant should help build momentum and public support for the sorely needed project.