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THE completion of work on the plaza of Bartholomew County Public Library next year will be celebrated through an event that will bring back pleasant memories of a Columbus institution and foster hopes that it can be sustained for years to come.
Construction officials project that the $1.2 million refurbishment of the downtown landmark designed by famed architect I.M. Pei could be completed by the end of January. That will provide a stage for a free concert by the nationally known hip-hop/classical fusion duo Black Violin on June 27.
The performance, which is possible under the sponsorship of NTN Driveshaft in coordination with the library and Columbus Area Arts Council, harks back to the days of Popfest, the annual summertime extravaganza that attracted thousands to the library plaza each year over a 30-year span that began in 1980. The event, which was sponsored for much of its life by Salin Bank, was terminated in 2009 when the bank withdrew its support.
The free annual event was, indeed, an expensive proposition. It featured the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra along with a number of local musical groups. But its value to the community was unquestioned. The crowds that gathered on summer evenings ranked with those drawn by Ethnic Expo and even the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair.
The possible return of an annual concert on the plaza is an exciting development, not only in that it enhances the library but is in keeping with the efforts of Mayor Kristen Brown’s administration to promote arts and entertainment in the community.
Gatherings such as those for Popfest in the past and the anticipated concerts in the future are the fulfillment of Pei’s vision for the plaza. The work underway is intended to complement his original concept of a community gathering place. For instance, the update will include better access to electricity on the plaza, an important element in any concert. Gone will be the long snakes of electrical cords the library staff had to string through the building and across the plaza for past events.
Funding is obviously a critical element for the success of ventures of this magnitude. If this is to be an ongoing event, the private sector will have to step to the plate. It certainly has in the past, and the community is the better for it.
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