The Rat's opinion on what we should do with Railroad Square

Parts of Railroad Square will be sold off if the city doesn't intervene. We all know what that means – more and more cheap, unneeded student housing. It makes more economic and social sense for an arts district to belong to all of us (we are the city, after all) and not just one family.

And the family is offering the city the option to buy the property. The entire property. So that it belongs to all of us. Why would the city ever say no to that?

Say “no” to a property that is unique not only because of its beautiful location between our two great universities, but also because it is on the south side of the railroad tracks that have traditionally divided our city along racial lines?

“No” to a property that could fully become what it organically became – a place where both sides of the trail could come together for play, camaraderie and joy?

“No” to a site that could become the centre of a performing arts village – a modern interpretation of the idea of ​​a performing arts centre that has been around for 40 years?

The city could argue that the municipal art park is simply too expensive an undertaking.

For 50 years, one family has supported an entire arts district with little to no support from the city, even though the space is often touted as one of Tallahassee's top tourist attractions. The city certainly has more money to spend than a single family.

As for a performing arts village/center that the city can't fund – for 27 years, the dilapidated old Mickee Faust Clubhouse served as the de facto performing arts center. Our dingy little space had three performance spaces, one outside under the stars. We were ADA accessible, our stages and tech areas had ramps, our performances were closed captioned. Even though only one of our spaces had air conditioning, we hosted some of the most well-known and long-lasting performing arts organizations in Tallahassee. We hosted people young and old, people of all colors, all nationalities, LGBT+ people, people with disabilities from all over the world.

Mickee Faust was a small performing arts center. And we did all of this as a volunteer, nonprofit organization and on a shoestring budget. A budget that was maybe the cost of two of the new sky boxes at FSU Stadium.

Surely the city has more money than Faust.

Enough to buy the place. Enough to reserve part of the land for a performing arts village; enough to repurpose existing structures with the help of private donors and convert the rescued buildings into theaters, rehearsal rooms and workshop spaces.

Our newly designed performing arts park would be busy all day and night. Everywhere you looked, there would be something exciting to eat, drink, play, see and do. And guess who else could use the extra space a performing arts village could provide – FSU's High Flying Circus. Imagine that – poles would be set up on the grounds of the village for aerial artists. They also perform with fire.

For 37 years, Terry Galloway performed with the Mickee Faust Club in the guise of a giant, cigar-smoking rat who claimed to be the evil twin of the fat rodent from Orlando – 27 of those years were spent at Railroad Square.


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Anna Harden

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