The ArtsCenter, which strives to educate and inspire people of all ages and to encourage their participation in the arts, is moving from its current location next to Cat’s Cradle to a new facility on 400 Roberson St.
Wendy Smith, development director for the ArtsCenter, said the organization hopes to begin construction in the early fall and move into the space during late spring before their summer arts camp begins.
The ArtsCenter is the single largest employer of artists in Orange County, according to their website. The cultural hub offers after-school classes for youth, special events such as performances and skill-building courses for those of all ages.
On May 24, 2022, the Carrboro Town Council held a hearing regarding the ArtsCenter’s application for a special use permit to move to its proposed new location.
According to a decision from the council, state-certified property appraiser Tom Tolley found that the proposed new location “would likely enhance the residential and commercial values of the nearby properties based on the nature of the proposed use.”
The Carrboro Town Council voted 6-1 in favor of the ArtsCenter’s relocation and renovation request in a meeting on June 7.
Smith said the ArtsCenter hopes the new space will allow for more inclusivity in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
She added that the current space is two stories and not entirely wheelchair accessible. The layout at the new location, which will only be one story tall, is projected to be more accessible.
“In this new building, people will be able to access all the spaces, which is great,” Smith said.
Catherine Lazorko, communication and engagement director for the Town of Carrboro, said she has previously taken painting and drawing classes at the center.
She said she is interested in the ArtCenter’s potential for collaboration with its future neighbor, the Orange County Southern Branch Library — a part of Carrboro's 203 Project, which began construction earlier this month.
“You can look at this development as an exciting new cultural corridor, you know, all within walking distance," Lazorko said. "The ArtsCenter, near the 203 Project, as well as the thriving downtown with places to catch live music, dining and bikeways create a great central location."
Lazorko said the ArtsCenter is a reason for Carrboro's recognition as one of America's top small arts towns.
"It’s been a wonderful community hub of creativity, exhibition, and performance for nearly 50 years," Lazorko said. "It’s part of the fabric of the thriving art scene in Carrboro."
The ArtsCenter plans to have sustainable development for its' new location by repurposing an existing building instead of starting from scratch. Renovations for the ArtsCenter will also include green design features and purpose-built, adaptable spaces equipped for modern technology.
Michael Parker, a member of Chapel Hill's Town Council, said he served on the board for the ArtsCenter for six years, ending in December of 2020.
He said he believes the ArtsCenter has always tried to be as sustainable as possible.
"The building that it’s currently in doesn’t lend itself to invest," Parker said. "I know during my time with the organization we did what we could given the facility we had.”
UNC student and art enthusiast Lizzie Murphy said she has visited the ArtsCenter before and is excited about the new space. She also shared that she values sustainability and is looking forward to the ArtsCenter’s green renovations.
“Most people don’t really think about that side of art," she said.
An exact opening date for the new ArtsCenter building may be announced later this year.
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