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Transformation of Wells Fargo center

  • Pastor Diaz walks across the balcony of the Ruth Finley Person Theater, which is undergoing a remodel, in the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, in Santa Rosa, on Friday, June 21, 2013. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

THUMBS UP: There's been no shortage of attention given to the Green Music Center, new home of the Santa Rosa Symphony. But let's not overlook what's happening at the symphony's previous home — the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. The center, which has served this region's arts needs for more than 30 years, is undergoing its own facelift. Construction crews are working to complete a $2.8 million renovation of the Ruth Finley Person Theater in hopes of meeting an Aug. 14 deadline, in time for a Patti LaBelle concert two days later.

The problems they're addressing are no secret. The theater was built in 1974 as a church. The operators of the arts center have been working around certain quirks — including a backstage baptismal font — ever since they took over the theater in 1981.

The three-month project is intended to covert the 1,600-seat theater into a more useful venue. <NO1><NO>The audience can expect to see improved sightlines and acoustics and more space on stage for dancers and other acts. This is just the first phase of a four-part, $10 million project to upgrade the center. <NO1>Other phases will include renovation of the bathrooms, replacement of the roof, improvements to the outdoor areas and installation of an elevator. <NO>High praises for all of that.

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