Neely owners say music school remains open for foreseeable future



by Ron Gholson

The Neely Arts Center – referring to the extensive program of music school instruction operated on the renovated first floor of the old Neely Theater – is a going concern in good financial condition that continues to offer a full range of lessons and will do so indefinitely, according to owners Randy and Debra Beason.

They were responding to an article that appeared in the March 21 edition of The Blount Countian reporting that, because of the Beason’s move to Jackson County to take on other family and property responsibilities, a group of local concerned citizens had formed to “rescue” the business, which has become an important downtown anchor, from being sold and jeopardizing the continuation of the music school.

“We’re still here. We don’t need to be rescued. All classes are going forward and there are no plans for that to change,” said Randy Beason. He said the spring concert for music school students is coming up May 18-19. That will go forward as planned, and the music school will carry on afterward with no change in routine lessons.

He said that as a result of the initial article, some students had asked him if their lessons would be discontinued, or if the school location would be changed.

“It concerns me that they think that, and it also concerns me that kids who might be thinking of taking lessons might think that we’re not going to be here to teach them. As I said before, we’re still here, and there are no plans for that to change,” Beason said.

According to Beason, the Neely Theater building is for sale, though not listed at this time. In talking to him about various possible scenarios for the building and the music school business, three possibilities developed as a result of the questions posed and answers given.

1. The building could be sold and the music school business along with it. Under this scenario, the music school would continue operation under the new owner with the Randy Beason continuing as both consultant and music lesson instructor for an agreed-upon period of time, if the new owner so wished.

2. The building itself could be sold, but sale would not include the music school business. In that case, Beason said, the music school would be relocated to another site in Oneonta, and would continue offering lessons unabated, with Beason himself directing its operation. He said contingency plans for such a scenario, should it arise, are already in place.

3. The building may not sell in the foreseeable future. In that case, the music school will continue to operate right where it is and as it is indefinitely, he said.

Currently, Neely Arts Center offers both private lessons and group instruction in the following instruments and disciplines:

Private lessons: banjo, bass, drums, dulcimer, guitar, piano, theater, tumbling, violin, and voice.

Group classes: dance, guitar, karate, kindermusic (age: newborn to 7 years), theater, tumbling.