The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday October 20th

ArtsCenter's Tighter Budget Streamlines Concert Series, Staff

To alleviate a $50,000 deficit, the Carrboro ArtsCenter eliminated two positions and temporarily cut back its concert program.

The Carrboro ArtsCenter, a nonprofit organization that provides a wide variety of cultural activities for the community, is suffering from a $50,000 deficit that will curtail its evening concert series and lay off two ArtsCenter employees, according to former Entertainment Director Ron Royster.

"Our number one priority is to get the ArtsCenter operating in the black again," said Colin Bissett, executive director of the ArtsCenter.

Bissett said the reduction of concerts is only a temporary measure to allow the Carrboro ArtsCenter Board and staff to develop a strategic plan.

"The board and myself arrived at this decision after a long debate," Bissett said. "There is no need to worry; the center will continue to play a vital role in meeting the community's need for music."

The major changes at the ArtsCenter also involve the elimination of two positions: that of entertainment director and evening manager. Connie Gray, the former evening manager, will be replaced with a team of house managers.

As for the entertainment director, the loss of this position will signify the initial reduction of the ArtsCenter's concert series. Bissett will take over the position from Royster with the long-term goal of finding sponsors.

But Royster said he is afraid the ArtsCenter's reputation might suffer as a result of the cuts.

"Unless something changes, I fear they're going to lose support from the community," he said. "The concert schedule as we know it will cease to exist. Who's going to book it, promote it, run it? It's a full-time job."

Royster said the ArtsCenter has a long history of supporting up-and-coming artists before they become famous, having hosted such performers as Garth Brooks, The Pixies, Arlo Guthrie and Joan Baez in the past.

This year performers included Christine Kane, the Transactors Improv Co. and the N.C. Songwriters Co-op.

Rhoda Wynn, board secretary for the ArtsCenter, said that despite the restructuring, the staff remains positive about the future.

"We will be moving in new and interesting directions," Wynn said. "We want to try and create something that the audience never expected."

Royster agreed that the community comes foremost in planning. "The ArtsCenter should be like a palette -- an access to the community. Anybody can come and draw on it."

Royster said "anybody" also means a lot of local artists, not just musicians. During Royster's tenure, the ArtsCenter hosted events like an independent women's film festival and a dance performance featuring local choreographers.

Despite the popularity of such events, the ArtsCenter still found itself with a major deficit -- something Royster attributes partly to the recession following Sept. 11 and partly to the costs inherent in running such a venture.

Still, Royster added that if anyone is able to come up with a solution, it's going to be the ArtsCenter staff.

"I really loved working with the staff there," he said. "They are really dedicated people, and they do it for the arts -- they sacrifice a lot."

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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