By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Sept. 2 — Performing Arts Luray (PAL) took another step in its evolution last month, as the non-profit secured an annual donation, erected new signage and renamed its performing arts center in Downtown Luray.
“It is with great honor the Board of Directors of Performing Arts Luray announces the renaming of our building. It is hereby known as ‘The Rebecca J. Graves Regional Center for the Performing Arts‘,” PAL president Lowell Baughan stated during an Aug. 21 ceremony in front of the center. “Thank you Luray Caverns and the Graves family for this privilege.”
According to Baughan, Luray Caverns Corporation, on behalf of the Graves family, donated “a sum in excess of $25,000” toward the cost of the new signage, plus “they made an annual pledge in support of PAL to acquire the naming rights”. He stated that the initial annual donation to PAL was made in March 2020.
While the annual donation will go toward general operating expenses, the new signage includes an electronic sign that will replace the existing illuminated sign on the Broad Street side of the center. The new sign will be about the same size as the existing sign and will also be used to promote upcoming performances. Baughan said the new electronic sign should be in place sometime later this month.
Among those in attendance during the 20-minute ceremony on Aug. 21 were John Graves, Rod Graves and Rebecca Hudson, who gave a brief biography of their mother, describing her as “a musician, community leader, and business woman.”
Luray Mayor Jerry Dofflemyer, although unable to attend, had his sentiments and memories of Rebbeca J. Hudson read during the ceremony.
“I had the honor and pleasure of knowing Mrs. Graves for many years and fondly remember her as a gracious and refined lady dedicated to her family,” the mayor’s letter reads. “She was a loyal member of Christ Episcopal Church and served as organist for many years. As a lifelong member of her beloved Daughters of the American Revolution, she was a faithful member of her local chapter and was recognized for her work with the state organization by being elected to the office of State Regent. Mrs. Graves was also involved in many different organizations that benefitted our community.”
PAL’s president stated that the performing arts group wanted to name its center “for a local musician and community leader, rather than for an organization or company.” When the building at the intersection of Routes 340 and 211 Business was first converted from a bank to a performing arts center, it carried the BB&T name and logo due to the terms attached to the sale of the property. Once that agreement changed, the BB&T portion of the center’s name was dropped.
“Given all the contributions to our county, we felt Mrs. Graves was the perfect person,” stated PAL vice president Dale Houff, as he conveyed during the ceremony the importance of naming the building after an individual in the community.
Following the ceremony, a portrait of Rebecca Graves was unveiled and later hung in the lobby of the center.
“On behalf of myself, the Town Council, and the Town of Luray, I wish to take this opportunity to thank Rod and John Graves for their generosity in helping to ensure that this venue remains an important anchor for our downtown revitalization effort,” Mayor Dofflemyer stated in his remarks. “I can think of no better tribute to your mother’s memory than renaming it to the Rebecca J. Graves Regional Center for the Performing Arts.”
All three of the new signs that will be placed at the center were ordered more than a year ago, according to Baughan. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused factory closures and shipping delays that, in turn, delayed an announcement and unveiling until this summer.
The pandemic has also shuttered the live performance venue for the last 18 months.
“Except for a few outdoor events on the Plaza this past summer, we have been ‘dark’ since March of 2020, which has obviously affected our revenue stream,” PAL’s president stated. “Currently, the Board of Directors is discussing the resumption of indoor events relative to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Page County. Our earliest potential date for an indoor event is Oct. 2, featuring Colorado-based musician Brent Gordon, who grew up in Luray.”