While it has always been in the back of the minds of the Avalon Foundation’s leadership to eventually find a new performance venue for their ever-growing number of concerts and attendees, board members and staff realistically assumed it would take decades before a building with of state-of-the-art amenities could become a reality.
That prediction changed dramatically six weeks ago.
Finally getting around to returning a phone call from a fellow attorney in Washington D.C., Avalon Foundation president, Denise Bode, was expecting to answer a minor legal question on land use in Talbot County, where she and her husband have a second home. What she received instead was the confidential notification that an anonymous client had committed to donate up to $35 million for a new performing arts center in Easton.
Perhaps more disorienting for Bode, as well as for Bob Rauch of Rauch, Inc., who had also been contacted about the proposed project, was the suggested timeline for both the gift and the construction schedule. The project would need to be fast-tracked and open at approximately the same time when the web giant Amazon would be opening their new East Coast offices in Virginia.
Being the professionals they were, both Bode and Rauch quickly discarded any thoughts of who the philanthropist was or why the peculiar timeline. Their job was to make the offer happen.
The following evening, Bode assembled the board’s executive leadership to outline the specifics of the offer. Within 30 minutes, a draft memorandum of understanding was approved, and by 11 pm that night, the project had been assigned to the Rauch team of engineers and architects.
But all that has not stopped the Talbot County rumor mill from its own speculation on the project’s donor and motivation.
Since Amazon announced their intention to move to the Washington, D.C. area, economists have projected a specific “Amazon effect” for the region. With the potential of thousands of affluent professionals flooding into the District, there will be a significant ripple impact for Talbot County as those families seek out vacation homes or weekend retreats.
Experts cite the example of Marin County as a good comparison. Marin, a mostly rural county just north of San Francisco, was invaded by newly-rich Silicon Valley executives seeking reprieve from the congestion of Bay Area. This phenomenon not only made real estate prices go sky high but dramatically increased funding for the arts.
In many take years, perhaps decades, to uncover the source of funding for the new performance complex, but those same experts suggest that the donor’s desire to significantly improving the Avalon’s capacity could well be linked to a savvy strategy to win over these tech millionaires early in the game.
Late last week Rauch made good on its first commitment of their contract by providing the Avalon board draft schematics of the facility and well as rough renderings of its interior, including some spaces already named for well-known VIPs in Talbot County.
This seemed to the Spy to be an excellent time to receive an official download from Denise and Bob on this remarkable turn of events for the Avalon and the community it has faith served for almost one hundred years.
This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information on the Avalon Foundation or to make a donation to their current capital campaign please go here.
Editor Note: Dear gentle reader, if you have been able to suspend your disbelief to the very end of this article, we must make it clear that this is entirely fake news to celebrate April Fools Day.