A major performing arts facility had long been a dream of Palm Beach County residents. Efforts to build an arts center began here in the early 1950s. The first step in this direction came with the arrival of the Palm Beach Playhouse, later the Royal Poinciana Playhouse. In 1968, a local arts pioneer, Mary Howes, along with a group of other residents, formed Fine Arts Festival, Incorporated. They sponsored six benefits to raise funds to build an arts center that would accommodate major opera, orchestra, ballet, and theatrical productions. They got as far as commissioning the late architect John Volk to draft a model. A feasibility study was conducted, and land was optioned next to the current site of the West Palm Beach Auditorium. But it became apparent that the community was not yet ready to support such a major undertaking.