Sorting out center formalities

Published 6:00 am Monday, December 14, 2009

I don’t know, we have this perfect name that perfectly describesa local county facility. Everybody is happy and then “Wham!” Somestuffy New Yorker tries to throw cold water on the situation.

Earlier this year, in an attempt to upgrade the image of thelivestock and multi-use facilities on Beltline Road to coincidewith the opening of the county’s new RV park next door, a decisionwas made to change the name of the entire county complex to one abit more palatable to those with a more discriminating taste. Thusin October, with great fanfare, a new name – Lincoln Center – wasunveiled to a crowd of onlookers and dignitaries.

Be it wedding receptions, charitable balls, formal high schooldances, horse shows, barrel running competitions, livestock eventsor just sitting around the RV, one has to admit the name LincolnCenter has a nice ring to it. A formal invitation just has moreappeal if it quotes the “Lincoln Center” as the location ratherthan saying “join us for our celebration at the Multi-PurposeFacility on Beltline Road.”

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Signs were changed; stationery and business cards printed; TheDAILY LEADER took pictures and included them with a story both inprint and on our Web site. Everyone was excited, except for a groupof New Yorkers who happened upon our story. At last Monday’s boardmeeting, supervisors were presented with a letter suggesting thecounty was violating the rights of some performing arts center inNew York City that uses the same moniker – Lincoln Center. It seemssomeone in the Big Apple is afraid that our local use of our countyname on our center would be an infringement on their trademark atworst, or at least confusing at best, to the performing arts worldin general. The New York Lincoln Center attorney demanded thatLincoln County immediately stop using the same name!

Supervisors were perplexed and a few sarcastic commentsmade.

But cooler heads prevailed and an invitation was suggested forthe New York Lincoln Center folks to come down and visit ourLincoln Center folks to work out a solution. There may have been asuggestion that free use of the RV center could be arranged.

The controversy is making headlines across the country via theAssociated Press. In New York, a neighborhood online publicationpicked up our story Friday. And from that Web site another NewYorker commented on his own Web site, “Are people really going toconfuse a venue that hosts opera and ballet with one thatspecializes in livestock shows and high school proms? The Yanksdon’t care … Is that really the way to treat the state thatreared Eli Manning?”

We were wondering if any other communities are in violation ofthe Lincoln Center trademark, so we did an Internet search.

Interestingly enough, we found many Lincoln Centers across thecounty. One in Spokane, Wash., and another in Dallas; however, theyuse the French spelling – Centre’. Fordham University has theLincoln Center Bookstore (although it is located near the New YorkLincoln Center) and the City of Tallahassee offers the LincolnCenter for social and human services. Kirkwood Community College inCedar Rapids, Iowa, has a Lincoln Center, as does Wayandotte, Mich.In Topeka, Kansas, they have the Lincoln Center for Obstetrics andGynecology – hmmm, no confusion likely there!

I don’t know, I think I see opportunity here. An arts allianceof sorts could be formed with the two Lincoln Centers – one Northand one South. After all, Brookhaven’s namesake is Brookhaven, NewYork!

I can visualize one center that excels in the performing arts,the other in the equestrian and bovinean arts.

Think of the T-shirts, the coffee mugs and the ball caps thatcould be sold, not to mention those little globes with snow insidethat you shake.

With consolidation being a popular topic in these tough economictimes, we could merge the two Lincoln Center boards into one! Itjust might be the incentive to turn the tide on the governor’ssuggestion of moving the Mississippi School of the Arts toColumbus.

Next month our local students from MSA will be performing atCarnegie Hall in New York – a place where they now regularlyperform. Here is a bone to throw to the New York Lincoln Centerfolks: we could change the name of the RV portion of the facilityto Carnegie Park!

Carnegie Park at Lincoln Center.

Now that is a name that has some class. It just rolls off thetongue, and looks mighty impressive on a formal invitation.

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602, orsend e-mail to