“Can we remove the reference to the 6th St Marketplace as a ‘fiasco?’”
When the CenterStage Foundation commissioned Roy Proctor to write a commemorative history of the Carpenter Center to coincide with the venue's rebirth as the Carpenter Theatre, it seemed like a perfect fit. The foundation was buying the legitimacy of Proctor's name (before his retirement in 2004 from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the 40-year journalism vet was arguably the region's most prestigious arts writer and critic), and got to tell a great story -- the up and down history of one of Richmond's most prominent performing arts venues, a place he covered for years.
But both parties quickly learned that they had very different books in mind. When Proctor turned in his history assignment, the CenterStage Foundation objected to much of what he wrote. A lot of what he wrote.
“In a word, I was shocked,” Proctor wrote to the foundation after he saw its point-by-point objections to his final submission. “What I was expecting was a document that, above all, would be concerned with factual accuracy. What I got was a document that, judging by stylistic evidence, seems to have been written by a number of people, then pieced together and sent my way in a form that shows no prevailing editorial intelligence. ... a document that is full of image protection, p.r. apple-polishing, historical revisionism and a disregard for the truth when it doesn't fit some agenda or other; a document that, if all of its proscriptions, suggestions, etc., were carried out, would have so little journalistic integrity that, in my view, it wouldn't be worth the paper it was printed on.”
We may never read Proctor's tome. The rejected manuscript belongs to the foundation, which is currently searching for another author, one who isn't as much of a journalist. But, below, in a Style Weekly Web extra, we can get a few hints about the book's contents -- and the foundation's spin-at-all-costs style -- through this revealing correspondence between Proctor and foundation board member Susan Fitz-Hugh and Marketing Manager Erin Rodman.
CenterStage: As a policy, the Foundation doesn't negatively comment on any Downtown development projects - and the book is meant to commemorate our project's history, not critique activity in other parts of Downtown. At times it feels as if the author makes negative, glib and critical comments of Richmond events and institutions, including the project, and we do hope to achieve a more neutral tone in talking about our neighbors.
Roy Proctor: I'm sorry you feel this way. I don't see it in these terms. In any case, I was never under any mandate to enunciate foundation policy. I think the book is written very much within the bounds of responsible journalism.
CenterStage: One of the reasons we were so excited to work with Roy is because we heard some of the many entertaining and humorous stories he told regarding his experiences with performers and performances at the Carpenter, and we'd like to see more of that in the sidebar stories. We feel that readers are less interested in the administrative and operational details.
Proctor: This is addressed in responses to several of your comments further on.
CenterStage: We are very sensitive to the racial history of Richmond and how that racial history is portrayed, and certainly want to be respectful and appropriate in referencing racial issues. I would like to have a discussion with the author and the editor regarding the industry standards on language and context before the manuscript is completed.
Proctor: I, too, am sensitive to racial history and to coverage of events with racial overtones. I have written hundreds of stories about matters involving race, beginning in the racially charged mid-1960s, with no controversy whatsoever. The small amount of writing on racial issues in the book -- primarily in the “Gone With the Wind,” integration and urban theater sidebars -- is fully in accord with the ways in which racial issues are treated by responsible journalists today.
CenterStage: References to the arts groups and the Foundation are not capitalized in many instances throughout the book. Typically, within our industry, we capitalize them (as I just did in this sentence) such as the Symphony, when referring to the Richmond Symphony. This might be a question of style and format - what is technically correct?
Proctor: I don't know what “industry” you're talking about. I'm in the journalistic industry and subscribe to its standards. KD and I agreed from the get-go that we would adhere to Associated Press style, which is practically universal in the United States, and that's what I've done. When I refer to the Richmond Symphony, I capitalize it because it's the proper name of the symphony. When I refer to the symphony on second reference, it become a common noun and is not capitalized. Ditto theater. It's Loew's Theatre and Loew's, but referring to it simply as “the theater” on second and subsequent references would be lower-cased. I feel strongly that AP style should govern the book's stylistic choices.
CenterStage: Similarly, we have questions about the industry standards for discussing the work of people who may or may not still be living, or whose families may need to be alerted to the book.
Proctor: Again, I don't know what “industry standards” you're talking about. My only standard is the standard of good journalism, which dictates that I write accurately and fairly and not take personal considerations into account. I've never alerted any family to the fact that I'm writing about a family member, living or dead, and I've never heard of any other journalist who has felt compelled to do that, either.
CenterStage: We feel the term “worthies” is used often and may not be the most accurate way to refer to those active in the Carpenter over the past 3 years.
Proctor: The term “worthies” is one I've used in print hundreds of times over the years. It's very much a part of my personal journalistic style. By any dictionary definition, it refers to worthy, admirable or prominent people. There's nothing derogatory about it. I would not change it in any of the contexts in which I've used it here.
CenterStage: We have a fear that the number of mentions of the News Leader and Richmond Times-Dispatch are so numerous that the copy reads as a recount of newspaper clippings. Is there a way to minimize the number of mentions?
Proctor: Newspapers, with their day-in-day-out, on-the-spot, you-are-there reporting, are an incomparable source for the kind of writing we're dealing with here. They reveal the truth and essence of a situation in a way that any number of after-the-fact interviews with image-conscious people or document perusals cannot. When we conceived the book, I told you that I would recommend eliminating footnotes in favor of building attributions, where necessary, into the text unobtrusively as journalists are trained to do. You appeared to agree that this was the proper course and that it would make pages of detailed footnotes unnecessary. The attributions here have been minimized and minimized and minimized some more to what I would consider an irreducible minimum. Some credit must be paid to sources, especially writers of major sources, and I would not feel comfortable reducing them further.
CenterStage: Will Wilson Butler and the architects be a part of the Park 4 series?
Proctor: Absolutely. As I understand it, you're lining up a face-to-face interview in Richmond with architect Bruce Hermenn [Herrmann] and possibly one or more of his local associates on my behalf. This interview should play an important role in Part IV along with coverage of the September opening and the 13 resident companies. I'm looking forward to the interview with [Herrmann].
CenterStage: We wish the anecdote was not such a violent one, and believe it sets a negative tone for the book. Is there a different anecdote that Roy might like to share?
Proctor: I think the anecdote about the commotion in Loew's on my first visit there is a perfect way to set up the context for what the building had been and what it is becoming again as a component in Richmond CenterStage. It immediately grabs the reader's attention, but in a very legitimate way, journalistically speaking. Anyone reading the entire introduction would hardly come away with the thought that the tone of the book is negative. It ends with the word “rejoice!” and gives the reasons for rejoicing, which are spelled out in much greater detail later in the book. I oppose changing it.
CenterStage: Can we not use the word “mockery” to describe the theater? (bottom of page 1)
Proctor: Why? The word describes perfectly the Loew's that I encountered from 1974 to 1979. I oppose changing it.
CenterStage: Can we not refer to CenterStage as “costliest [project]?” (end of second graph, page 2)
Proctor: Again, why? I have a vast knowledge of Richmond theater history going back to the building of the New Theatre in 1784, and Richmond CenterStage is indeed the most expensive and extensive arts project ever achieved in downtown Richmond. I oppose changing it.
CenterStage: The correct name is Gottwald Playhouse, not Libby Gottwald Community Playhouse as referenced at the end of page 2. The longer name may appear in older documents but has since been shortened... The “BrightLights” in Genworth BrightLights Education Center is one word with a capital B and L.
Proctor: Of course I'll change the name to Gottwald Playhouse, and I'll be happy to change the spelling of BrightLights. I was not aware that the name of the playhouse had changed. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.
CenterStage: [The] author refers to 2 resident companies not based in Richmond -- all resident companies are based in Richmond so we need to clarify with the author.
Proctor: On the face of it, I would not consider a roadshow presenter based in Chicago or an opera company based in Norfolk as being based in Richmond. I don't think readers would, either. Just because a company has an office here doesn't mean it's based here. If you can make a compelling case that Jam Theatricals and the Virginia Opera are “based” here, I'll be happy to change it. Otherwise, as a matter of accuracy, I wouldn't. This complaint seems to me to have more to do with some p.r. objective than with reality.
CenterStage: Top of second page - the paragraphs discussing the rivalry between Eberson and Lamb tease a very interesting story that we'd like the author to explore a bit more. After reading, we were left wondering how Eberson got chosen over Lamb and why Lamb began a design? If there is more intrigue and drama to the relationship between these two men, we'd like to see it. I realize space is limited, but we feel another paragraph or at least a couple sentences that answer these questions are crucial.
Proctor: I'd love to know why Lamb was announced as the architect and Eberson ended up being the architect, and I've spent a lot of time trying to find out why through research, but I'm afraid it's one of those things we'll never know. As often happens in history, decisions of this sort are often made quickly and the reasons are simply never recorded. What may have happened was that Loew's Inc. chose Lamb, Lamb became unavailable for some reason, and Loew's Inc hired Eberson instead, but that's only my conjecture based on the fact that both Eberson and Lamb designed many of the 350 theaters for Loew's Inc. I've read books contrasting Eberson and Lamb, and I've read Bosley Crowther's biography of Marcus Loew, and I've done a lot of sleuthing online, and the answer is simply not forthcoming. However, within the parameters of the first section of Part I, I think I've handled this in a way that is will satisfy as well as intrigue the reader.
CenterStage: Page 3 - can we remove the reference to the “all-white” throng in graph 2.
Proctor: Why? To do so would be racially insensitive and offensive to black readers, who are not about to embrace “GWTW” in any way, shape or form because of its romanticized view of slavery. It's very necessary here to make clear, without comment, that all the hoopla surrounding the 1940 Richmond premiere of “GWTW”: was strictly white ritual. I oppose any change.
CenterStage: Page 5 - can we remove the reference to “pretty” children in graph 4?
Proctor: Why? Although I feel that it is my prerogative as a journalist to make such word choices -- after all, what parent would take his “ugly” child to a screen test? -- this particular word choice is not a big issue with me. I'll take it out if you wish. Just reconsider it and give me the word.
CenterStage: Page 11- can we remove the reference to the 6th St Marketplace as a “fiasco?”
Proctor: Again, why? By any objective standard, the 6th Street Marketplace was a fiasco. However, if you prefer that I substitute the wording “ill-fated project” for “fiasco,” I'll consent to doing that. Let me know.
Gone with the Wind sidebar
CenterStage: We feel strongly that the piece over all commemorates an event that is not necessarily a positive one. If the tone can be changed so that it doesn't seem to convey a celebration of segregation and all its sentiments, we would consider leaving it in the book. I realize there are some great accompanying photographs. The last 5 graphs of the piece are great as is.
Proctor: But life is not just about positive events, the description of which differs depending on whose perspective you're tapping. History is built largely on conflict, not accord. That's what makes life, in retrospect, so interesting. To whitewash history is to falsify it and do a disservice to history. I've read over this sidebar several times to try to detect a “celebration of segregation and all its sentiments,” and I fail to see it. This sidebar treats a significant chapter in Richmond cultural history, and, in my view, it does so with perspective and telling detail. I don't detect any bias here, only straightforward and honest reporting and analysis. I oppose any change.
CenterStage: [This] is very interesting and a wonderful piece for the book depicting exactly the type of historical activity we want to commemorate. Can we remove the 4th and 5th graph to make the piece tighter and more fluid?
Proctor: I never saw this book as a matter of the commemoration of historical activity, whatever that means, and I was never told that that was its intent, either. However, that doesn't seem to bear on the issue at hand. This sidebar is short as it is, and removing the fourth and fifth paragraphs would, in my view, destroy the continuity and make it less interesting to the reader. I oppose shortening it.
CenterStage: We feel it's important to mention the Thalhimer's lunch counter sit-in and subsequent integration - it can just be one sentence - in this sidebar.
Proctor: This, to my mind, seems dictated by some unspecified agenda that has nothing to do with the book. Civil rights demonstrations were occurring all over Richmond in all kinds of venues during that era, and the fact that part of Richmond CenterStage is being built in the skeletal remains of a Thalhimers department store really has no significant bearing on the subject of the book. I oppose a change.
Drew Eberson sidebar
CenterStage: We feel the 5th graph is very negative and does not provide relevant commentary - can we remove it?
Proctor: I fail to see what's negative about this paragraph. I had some wonderful quotes with telling details from Eberson at my disposal, and I was happy to use them in a way that I think will be fascinating to [the] reader while remaining within the context of the sidebar as a whole. Again, the important thing is the glorious result of the restoration of the building, and the whole book expresses that. I oppose removing the paragraph.
CenterStage: Can we discuss including a facts and figures sidebar on Eberson's Loews theaters - how many remain open, how many were built, etc.? We feel that information about his other designs is the most sought after by those who tour the facility and we think that interest translates to readers.
Proctor: We can discuss it, but I'm afraid it won't get us anywhere. I spent many hours trying to come up with a definitive list of Eberson's “atmospheric theaters,” of the ones that still exist and of the ones that have been restored, and I came up with nothing definitive. I conducted an e-mail correspondence with a librarian at a university archive devoted to movie palaces, and she told me that such lists had never been compiled. Even if one had been, it probably wouldn't be up to date. From what I know and could surmise, I feel safe in writing that he designed more than 100 atmospherics, most of which have been destroyed. Beyond that, I cannot go.
CenterStage: We want to confirm [from] the author that the facility was actually called the Virginia Center for the Performing Arts as of 1983 - there is some discrepancy in our records.
Proctor: The Virginia Center for the Performing Arts was called that from the moment plans were announced to restore the Loew's building. A June 11 1980 News Leader story begins: “Carroll Saine has been named chairman and James Wheat vice chairman of the board of directors of the Virginia Center for the Performing Arts, a new cultural organization here.” Bruce Miller confirmed for me that the unrestored building was called the Virginia Center when Theatre IV presented its three-play season there in 1981. Numerous other stories in the 1980-83 period refer to it as the Virginia Center as well.
CenterStage: There is a lot of focus on the cost of everything. We'd enjoy more discussion of the activities that occurred on stage and back stage, and the patron experience overall. CenterStage: Why does the book give an edge to reporting on theatrical disasters like “The Twelve Dreams of Christmas”? CenterStage: Remove last sentence from 2nd graph on page 3 - these are the sorts of $$ details that we do not think enhances the narrative. CenterStage: The information on George Stevens is great and very interesting but we feel some of it is superfluous and takes away from the flow of the narrative. Could we remove the 2nd and 3rd graphs on page 5? CenterStage: Can we remove reference to Helmut Wakeham on page 7 and just make reference to the Board Chairman. CenterStage: Joel Katz - has he been contacted to participate? We feel its important to discuss his participation. CenterStage: Can we remove the “expansive” reference in the last graph of page 11? CenterStage: We feel pages 12-14 give an inordinate amount of credit to Joel Katz regarding the need to renovate the Carpenter, without illustrating all others who were involved in the development of a plan for a full scale performing arts facility. Also, the bulleted list of theater deficiencies is the best way to convey the information. CenterStage: We would like to see the author's citation for Feb 21, 2001 announcement, as the Foundation has different dates that mark the beginning of the CenterStage project. CenterStage: We'd like the author to speak to 2 of our Board members, who were Carpenter Board members, so that the latter Carpenter activities are not written from Joel's perspective. CenterStage: We'd like a more “just the facts” approach to Executive Director writing - less editorial. CenterStage: There is a lot of focus on Litrenta and the Mosque, without linking it to the Carpenter. And directly drawing the link so that readers understand because the Carpenter was built for the purposes of a movie house, it was too inefficient for the performing arts groups - making the case for a large scale renovation.
Proctor: There is some focus on economics, but, from the opening pages, I don't think it's at the expense of conveying what the experience of that building was all about for either patrons or performers. After all, the rise and fall of Loew's, the rocky road the Virginia Center traveled in its first five years and the civic controversies leading to the creation of Richmond CenterStage can only be explained, finally, in economic terms, and they are crucial to an understanding of the theatrical history of the period. I can cite dozens of places in which the book conveys what the center's experience was for both performers and audience. As any journalist knows, the problem with asking people what kind of experience they had at a play or concert or even a theater results in a namby-pamby response not worth quoting. Ask a dull question, as journalists are wont to say, and you'll get a dull answer. If you get too specific in a case where a theater presented many thousands of plays and concerts, you end up saying a little bit about everything and not much about anything.
Proctor: Because, as the sidebar devoted to “Singin' in the Rain” and “Stop Cheatin' on God's Time” points out, they're inherently more memorable and interesting. But that's not to say the productions and concerts in which [everything] proceeds according to clockwork are not more satisfying. They're just less reportable. In the case of “Twelve Dreams,” its flop led to the demise of an executive director as well.
Proctor: Again, I detect some hidden agenda at work here. The figures about the losses Richmonders sustained when Turk May went bankrupt are specific, and their inclusion, which takes very little space, is a matter of good and complete reporting. I oppose eliminating the sentence.
Proctor: You mean Ted Stevens, right? I assume you're referring to the two paragraphs beginning “This is especially . . .” and ending “as its star.” I just read the two paragraphs, both singly and in the context of the Stevens section as a whole, and I think the paragraphs are crucial links in the narrative that led to Stevens' downfall. On reader-friendly as well as journalistic grounds, I oppose removing them.
Proctor: Why would you want to remove his name? It takes very little space, and I included it as a matter of sound reporting. I oppose removing it.
Proctor: Joel's participation in what? Very early on, I had to make a crucial determination. Would I base this book on the historical record, which is reflected most fully and accurately in the reporting of events as they occurred? Or would I do a lot of interviews with people on all sides of the issues and try to write it from that perspective? I discussed this with several journalist friends and decided that going the second route would open up a real can of worms. I decided that the story could best be told, especially within the space limitations facing us, by basing it on the published record. I don't regret that decision, and I don't think you would, either, if you considered all the ramifications of doing otherwise, especially in view of your request further down to eliminate all mentions of Don Harrison and Save Richmond. I would love to have interviewed Brad Armstrong - he's an especially neat guy, in my view - but, had I done so, sound journalism and basic principles of fairness and balance would have dictated that I interview Harrison as well.
Proctor Why? Are you thinking that readers would interpret “expansive” as fat? I looked at it more as large than fat. I like the way I summed up Joel physically and otherwise in very few words - just as I did Stevens, Crowley, Litrenta, etc. - but this is no huge sticking point with me. If you would prefer that I call Joel a “gregarious man with an expansive personality,” I'd be happy to do so. Just let me know.
Proctor: Part II is designed to focus on the four men who determined the success or failure of the Carpenter (first Virginia) Center - the three executive directors plus Litrenta - and each involves a narrative. In reading back over pages 12-14, I think they tell the story in a very readable way. To divert reader attention with a lot of other names would weaken the narrative in the Katz section. How would you do it and maintain reader interest? I'm all for fairness, but I'm also determined not to make the book a catch-all of names that would lose the reader. Give me some suggestions for “crediting” others, and I'll see what I can do within reason, but it will make a somewhat longer section.
Proctor: The open meeting called by Richmond Renaissance to announce plans for what was then called the Virginia Performing Arts Complex was held Feb. 21, 2001, at the Carpenter Center. Will Jones on the T-D reported the meeting as happening “yesterday” in his account published Feb. 22, 2001.
Proctor: Just asking: How would their perspective be different? And is an apparent desire not to write from Joel's perspective part of some agenda? I have no objection to talking to two board members and trying to incorporate some of what they say into the narrative, provided what they say is interesting, but I'd like to have a good indication of where this is leading before I begin. Please let me know.
Proctor: This is so vague that I don't know what it means. My concern is to write accurately, colorfully and analytically from a journalistic standpoint. Please let me know what you mean by citing specific examples.
Proctor: Again, I'm not sure what you're getting at. Litrenta presented at both the Carpenter Center and The Mosque from 1988 on, and his presenting in the two venues in intertwined. I don't think I'm singling out The Mosque to the exclusion of the Carpenter Center. In writing this, my emphasis always was to concentrate on the Carpenter Center. Also, the book makes abundantly clear that, from the time the Carpenter Center opened in 1983, it was not adequate to accommodate many large roadshows as well as large concerts, ballets and operas. In my reading of the manuscript, I think I've made a very forceful case for the adaptation that has resulted in Richmond CenterStage.
Timeline - Part 2
Proctor: I wrote it that way to set up Part III, and I don't see anything negative about it. Frequently your negative, obviously, is my informative. However, if this remains a sticking point with you, I'll be happy to change the timeline entry to read simply “Carpenter Center closes for renovation.” Please let me know what your considered decision is.
CenterStage: Why does the book give an edge to reporting on theatrical disasters like “The Twelve Dreams of Christmas”?
CenterStage: Remove last sentence from 2nd graph on page 3 - these are the sorts of $$ details that we do not think enhances the narrative.
CenterStage: The information on George Stevens is great and very interesting but we feel some of it is superfluous and takes away from the flow of the narrative. Could we remove the 2nd and 3rd graphs on page 5?
CenterStage: Can we remove reference to Helmut Wakeham on page 7 and just make reference to the Board Chairman.
CenterStage: Joel Katz - has he been contacted to participate? We feel its important to discuss his participation.
CenterStage: Can we remove the “expansive” reference in the last graph of page 11?
CenterStage: We feel pages 12-14 give an inordinate amount of credit to Joel Katz regarding the need to renovate the Carpenter, without illustrating all others who were involved in the development of a plan for a full scale performing arts facility. Also, the bulleted list of theater deficiencies is the best way to convey the information.
CenterStage: We would like to see the author's citation for Feb 21, 2001 announcement, as the Foundation has different dates that mark the beginning of the CenterStage project.
CenterStage: We'd like the author to speak to 2 of our Board members, who were Carpenter Board members, so that the latter Carpenter activities are not written from Joel's perspective.
CenterStage: We'd like a more “just the facts” approach to Executive Director writing - less editorial.
CenterStage: There is a lot of focus on Litrenta and the Mosque, without linking it to the Carpenter. And directly drawing the link so that readers understand because the Carpenter was built for the purposes of a movie house, it was too inefficient for the performing arts groups - making the case for a large scale renovation.
CenterStage: We feel it's a little too meandering - can we remove graphs 3 and 6?
Proctor: Smith's quotes, which were taken from a present-day interview for this book as well as an extensive interview I did with him in 1988, offers a fascinating look into a side of the audience that most theatergoers and concertgoers never see. To remove the third and sixth graphs would destroy the narrative and lessen the sidebar's reader interest. I oppose removing them.
CenterStage: We feel that this piece is too critical of the urban show genre and would like to remove it from the book, unless the focus is more on African American theater and the role of the Carpenter. The second half of the piece is very interesting however, and we would like the author to consider altering the first half. Also, Nick Litrenta is painted in a more positive light than we feel he warrants.
Proctor: As this sidebar makes clear, Richmond became a test market for urban theater, Litrenta became one of its main and most successful boosters, and almost all the urban shows were presented at the Carpenter Center. This was indeed a vital part of Richmond's cultural scene and the Carpenter Center's cultural history. It was also a kind of theater that Richmond's so-called mainstream audience had little awareness of. As for its being too critical of the urban show genre, did you ever see one of these shows? The deficiencies of the genre, by conventional theatrical standards, were universally acknowledged, even by many of its proponents. As the sidebar makes clear, urban theater succeeded on one very valid theatrical level even as it failed on another, but that failure was irrelevant. In terms of what its practitioners set out to do, it succeeded gloriously, and the sidebar makes this distinction clear. I oppose altering the sidebar, much less removing it, and I don't have any idea what painting Litrenta “in a more positive light than we feel he warrants” means. You must be marching to the tune of some agenda that I'm not privy to.
CenterStage: Sidebar on the artifacts we found during renovation (ticket stub, pay stub, etc).
Proctor: I think this is an excellent suggestion, but I don't see a sidebar in it. What I do see is a photo or two of the objects with extended cutlines? Do you have photos of the objects now? If so, you should give them to Chris. Since the first three parts are virtually put to bed, maybe we could include this spread in Part IV in some context such as reminders of the past. If you wish, please feel free to suggest that to KD or Chris. In general, Chris is handling the photos, etc., involving cutlines and, per our contract, I'm writing the cutlines as well as all the other written parts of the book.
Part 3CenterStage: We feel the Foundation's “story” is missing. The historical narrative is well captured, but by and large we do not feel the Foundation or CenterStage's “story” is represented just through the reporting of the RTD, which I believe much of this narrative was culled from. We want to provide access to readers that they've never had before, and we hope this book is the platform for that but we feel Foundation perspective is absent.
Proctor: I disagree. Within the space limitations of a 96-page book that combines text and pictures, I think the foundation's story and Richmond CenterStage's story is very much there, although perhaps not with the p.r. spin and self-congratulatory tone that you would like. If you wanted an account with a lot of p.r. bells and whistles, then you shouldn't have chosen me. I don't do that kind of writing.
CenterStage: The focus on TheatreVirginia on page 2 and 3 feels like an unnecessarily large part of the narrative. I would be happy to discuss details further.
Proctor:The demise of TheatreVirginia and its place in the Richmond CenterStage scheme of things is one of the most dramatic chapters in the entire saga of Richmond CenterStage and all that went before it. It played out on the Times-Dispatch's front page for weeks, and I did almost all of the reporting. I think the length is justified, and I oppose changing it.
CenterStage: Booty Armstrong played one of the most important parts of the development at the Foundation and the performing arts center, as was Jim Ukrop - have they been interviewed?
Proctor: As explained on a preceding page, I made an early decision not to interview principals in Part III. Doing so fairly would have been unwieldy and would have had no real pay-off within our space limitations. I think the route I have chosen is the more compelling way to tell the story.
CenterStage: Has the author interviewed Brad Armstrong, Jim Ukrop, Jon King, Bob Mooney, Chuck Metzgar, Martin Rust, Charles Peters, Jim Murray or Jim Hartough? These are some of our long term Board members and we feel they can tell our story and add a missing perspective to the narrative.
Proctor: See preceding discussions.
CenterStage: There is no mention or focus on the economic development and new businesses, and the growth of the city, which is what spurred the development of the project. CenterStage is a catalyst for all the activity that has taken place in the neighborhood. The corporate community - led by Booty - led the charge.
Proctor: This was outside the purview of the book I envisioned and, quite frankly, in my view, would have been deathly dull to readers. Again, I detect some kind of agenda at work that has little to do with responsible journalism.
CenterStage: We would like to include the quote from Mayor Wilder that appeared in the RTD that essentially states that he never thought the first project funded out of the City of the Future money and completed would be Richmond CenterStage.
Proctor: I read all the press coverage of Richmond CenterStage from 2001 to the present in all media, and I encountered many colorful quotes by Wilder, but I do not recall this one. Can you lead me to it so I can consider it?
CenterStage: We would be happy to provide as much of the Board minutes we can to the author to review to develop his own opinions about how and when decisions were made.
Proctor: Within the limitations of this book, this is unnecessary, would be far too time-consuming and would have a very limited pay-off. If you detect inaccuracies of fact in Part III, I'm very interested in learning of them and making corrections.
CenterStage: We would like City Council to receive some attention as to their role in supporting the project was and is key.
Proctor: I did give the City Council and various members of the city administration some attention in writing this.
CenterStage: We would like to erase all mentions of Save Richmond and Don Harrison.
Proctor: This suggestion smacks of historical revisionism at its worst. No respectable journalist would consider such a request.
CenterStage: We feel we need to provide clarification of the timeline of the Foundation's name changes from VAPAF to CSF.
Proctor: Was there a specific date on which VAPAF became CSF? If so, I'd be happy to revise the copy to include it. I pegged it only to the month because I could find no specific date.
CenterStage: We don't want to include the $$ amounts from the Pauleys or from Genworth for BrightLights.
Proctor: Why not? This was big news at the time, and the $3 million donated by the Pauleys was what put the $20 million fund-raising drive over the top. It's a vital piece of the narrative. I oppose leaving it out on journalistic grounds, which are really the same grounds a historian would use. After all, good journalists are instant historians.
CenterStage: The Foundation did not hire SMG.
Proctor: This is something I talked to Erin about because I was unsure about it. What is the correct terminology to describe the relationship? I'll be happy to sharpen this up for the sake of accuracy. Also, I went on SMG's Web site but could not find out what SMG stands for. Is it one of those companies that go solely by their initials with no reference to the words they apparently abbreviate? This would appear to be the case here.
CenterStage: Jim Ukrop is not the supermarket magnate (page 1 Part 3) - he is a banker.
Proctor: The Web site for Virginia Business says he's chairman of both Ukrop's Super Markets and First Market Bank. I used the supermarket designation because he's much better known in that role in the public mind. Should I identify him as supermarket magnate and banker James Ukrop? Or is the Virginia Business profile, which is not dated but apparently recent, out of date now?
CenterStage: The Foundation considers Sept 11, 2001 as it' inaugural meeting and the beginning of the project (not Feb 21, 2001).
Proctor: The project was announced at the Carpenter Center meeting on Feb. 21, 2001, but another portion of the book notes that the fund-raising drive began on Sept. 11. I don't think the dates I have used in the book are incorrect, but I can understand how the date of the foundation's inaugural meeting would be different from the announcement date. My interest here is in being accurate. The important date, from the reader' standpoint, is Feb. 21, which is the date that plans for the complex were announced to the public.