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Friday November 26th

ArtsCenter reveals cutting-edge plans for largest gift in organization's history

<p>A performance at the ArtsCenter's Earl &amp; Rhoda Wynn Theater. Photo courtesy of Daniel Mayer.</p>
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A performance at the ArtsCenter's Earl & Rhoda Wynn Theater. Photo courtesy of Daniel Mayer.

The ArtsCenter in Carrboro plans to build a "state-of-the-art" facility to serve as a venue for performance, creation and arts education after receiving $1.6 million, its largest ever gift.

The ArtsCenter announced Tuesday in a press release that it received a significant contribution from The Nicholson Foundation, a New Jersey-based foundation focused on strengthening community-based early childhood development programs.

“This gift will go towards a Capital Campaign for the construction of a new ArtsCenter facility on Jones Ferry Road in Carrboro, N.C.,” according to the press release. “This building will provide a hub for new innovative programming through a cutting-edge facility that includes state-of-the-art visual and performing arts studios and promotes more opportunities for creative community engagement.”

Daniel Mayer, executive director of The ArtsCenter, said the new facility will have performance spaces, studios, classrooms and makerspaces. 

“There is a need for an organization where people can go and sing, throw pots, paint, draw, do improv,” Mayer said. “There is a need for a place where students can go to learn about the arts and the creative process. We provide that home and want to continue to play that role for Carrboro and Chapel Hill.”

Mayer also said the new facility will feature an outdoor space, where community  members can create in a natural setting.

“The total space is 1.3 acres, and about 50 percent of the space is an intermittent stream,” Mayer said. “We will be leaving that as a natural space and exploring the relationship between art and nature, through art installation and art classes."

Mayer said the ArtsCenter prides itself on being a community-driven space, and the new facility will strengthen that philosophy.

“We will continue to have a program where we work with community-based organizations, like theater groups and choral groups and dance groups, with an even better facility,” he said. “The current space has served us well, but it’s a 1960s grocery store that was converted into a performance space in the '80s. This is a new-purpose-built ArtsCenter that is a great opportunity for everyone, and will serve a lot of different needs.”

Lauren Toney, Company Carolina's director of operations, a student-run theater group on campus, said this was great news for the theater community.

“Our community has been really bustling with theater and performance art lately and there’s more and more groups trying to get involved,” Toney said. “With that comes a lack of resources, as always. Especially as students, we never have any resources, so this seems like it will be great for us.”

Toney said there are virtually no spaces on campus that are easily accessible to student performance groups, and the ArtsCenter has historically been a staple of the community.

“We’re actually using the ArtsCenter for both of our venues this semester,” Toney said. “We just don’t really have any resources on campus anymore. In terms of other venues on campus, they cost thousands of dollars. The ArtsCenter is one of the only affordable places nearby, so it’s great to know that they’re the ones getting the money."

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