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Drive still on for Lehi arts center

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PROVO — The man who promised to have $10 million raised by June 2001 for a fine arts center at Thanksgiving Point missed the target.

But Ray Carter isn't giving up.

He believes it's still possible to raise $15.2 million for a 1,800-seat fine arts center that could rival Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City.

"We're ready to get going again," Carter said this week. "We have the brochures ready for mailing to the general public, and we're reorganizing to concentrate on the fund-raising."

Carter said the 2002 Winter Olympic Games essentially took most of the donor money he was hoping to get for the fine arts center.

Once the games have gone, Carter believes more money will become available.

He has a standing offer from a well-known Salt Lake foundation for a $6 million matching grant, and a number of private donors pledged to help, he said.

Alan and Karen Ashton have promised to donate four acres at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi for the center, which would sit west of the existing greenhouse.

"We still have it on our master plan," said Paul Eddington, spokesman for Thanksgiving Point.

Eddington said the fine arts center would not compete directly with the newly opened Barn for shows and activities.

"They'll actually compliment one another with the fine arts center designed more for symphonies and large scale productions," said Carter.

Carter has been the chairman of the Lehi Arts Council. He's working on a contract with the council to permit him to continue doing the same types of things without serving as chairman. He's still quite serious about seeing the fine arts center built.

Utah County Commissioner Gary Herbert said he hopes Carter can pull it off.

"We (the county arts committee under his direction) are supportive. I think we all know the challenge is money and to be of the same kind of building as Abravanel Hall, I think it'll take the whole community working together," Herbert said.

"Personally, I have concerns as to how many performing arts centers we can support. I know there are a number of efforts going forward; Ray's is one. Provo's is another. I think Orem was talking with Utah Valley State College about something like that. If one emerges ahead of the others, I think the other communities would throw their support behind it."

Carter said he wants the money raised this year and the ground breaking to occur before fall. Construction should then take about 18 months.

E-MAIL: haddoc@desnews.com