The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday March 27th

Kidzu and ArtsCenter seek joint location

Both sites would like to expand

Two downtown establishments designed to allow children to get creative are considering sharing a location in the future. Leaders of Kidzu Museum and the Carrboro ArtsCenter have tentatively discussed pairing up in a building, but executive directors from both organizations emphasize that nothing is anywhere near being set in stone. "The No. 1 priority of the ArtsCenter is to build a new ArtsCenter," Executive Director Jon Wilner said, adding that if the two nonprofits ultimately ended up housed together, it would be "the icing on the cake." In the meantime, the museum and the ArtsCenter are focusing on acquiring new facilities - regardless of whether or not the space will be shared - because both organizations are extraordinarily tight on space. "Kidzu's biggest priority at this time is to find an expansion site that will allow us to fulfill our mission and be the best kids' museum as possible," Executive Director Cathy Maris said. But both directors said the potential for synergy between the two facilities is realistic and opens up the possibility for combining programs. Wilner said one night he had a dream that the ArtsCenter, Kidzu and an arts magnet school associated with Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools were combined into one building. "I thought, 'Boy, wouldn't that be incredible to create an instant destination for our families right here in our community, serving kids of every conceivable age?'" Kidzu's programs are focused for children 8 years old or younger, while the ArtsCenter's programs are geared toward children 6 years old and older. The ArtsCenter also caters to artistic adults. "We're exploring if there's an overlap there, and if there is, then that's terrific," Maris said. "The ArtsCenter has always been very supportive of Kidzu's efforts as a new nonprofit." Kidzu moved into its current location at 105 E. Franklin St. in March 2006, and within 12 months it served more than 29,000 visitors. "The very limited space we have now is limiting our ability to serve the needs of our visitors as fully as we want to," Maris said. Kidzu is able to house only one exhibit at a time, which Maris said "presents some challenges." "The museum knew from day one that the space we are currently in was a starting space," she said. The ArtsCenter owns the building at 300 E. Main St. and will either renovate or add on to its building if the organization does not move. The ArtsCenter serves 60,000 people each year, at least half of them children. The center offers a drama conservatory, children's and family art programs, concerts, theater productions and two galleries. When plans were made for the redevelopment of the entire 300 Main Street block by Main Street Properties of Chapel Hill LLC, Wilner saw an opportunity. Wilner said, "We need a new building since we're bursting at the seams." Contact the City Editor at


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