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Officials consider Forsyth County arts center
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FORSYTH COUNTY -- At a recent work session, Forsyth County commissioners discussed moving forward with a feasibility study for a proposed arts center in the county, but took no action. 

The county will look into the issue and discuss it again in six months. 

“Basically, what the feasibility study will do is [look at] if there is there a market for the facility, a recommendation for the appropriate size and type of facility based on existing and future demand,” Procurement Director Donna Kukarola said. “It will also help identify the best location characteristics for the facility. That’s very important to the success of the facility.” 

A study would also take into account capital and operating cost, existing facilities in the county and an assessment of the impact on the local economy. 

“It would include the size, because the information we asked is could it be an arts or cultural arts center, or would it be a little bit larger to house graduation or concerts or a music venue,” Kukarola said. “One of the biggest challenges we would have as a county is to determine what we want." 

Funding has not been determined, but the study would cost between $25,000 and $35,000. Two firms had previously submitted. 

District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said when the county was purchasing Lanierland in north Forsyth, where she used to work at as a general manager, a study determined the county should not keep the venue structure. The area is now being developed for a park. 

Deputy County Manager Tim Merritt said part of the reason not to keep it was keeping it full. 

“One of the big points that came back with that feasibility study was in today’s environment to get a well-known, recognized performer, the county would have to guarantee a certain number of sales, and that’s in the hundreds of thousands,” he said. 

Issues with such centers losing money in other places and looking into a private-public partnership were also discussed. 

Commissioners also discussed partnering with the city of Cumming for a project on city property, but Mills said the county would still want to do the study first. 

Adding the matter to a straw-poll in the primaries for the 2018 midterm elections was also considered.