A year ago, Prince George's County Executive Parris Glendening proposed a major performing arts center for the county, perhaps similar to the open-air Wolf Trap Farm Park in Fairfax County or the Kennedy Center in the District.

Strong interest in the project soon materialized, according to Tim Ayers, Glendening's spokesman, with "about a half a dozen offers" to donate land for it.

But some basic questions still have to be answered.

The most basic is whether there is a market for such a facility in the county. If the center is found to be worth building, then its size, location and cost must be determined.

The eight-member Performing Arts Center Advisory Board hopes to choose a consulting firm by early February to study these questions, according to board Chairman Bill Meyers. This month, the board narrowed the list of firms under consideration from 11 to six.

All the bids for the study submitted by potential consultants "came in under $150,000," the amount set aside for it by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. That "was a very pleasant surprise," Meyers said.

If the center is built, some planners think it will be in a high-traffic area, such as near Rte. 301 or the I-95 corridor, where large tracts are available.

But county officials have declined to speculate where the facility might be located until the consultant determines whether a market exists.