by Jordan Green

Monitoring the economic pulse of the Triad


A new report estimates that an investment of almost $80 million to develop a Theatre District in downtown Winston- Salem could generate millions of dollars in increased annual spending in the city.

The estimated cost of the proposed district — including a 500-700-seat theater, a National Black Theatre Hall of Fame, a renovated Stevens Center, a new Central Library and a new downtown park — does not include real estate, infrastructure and fundraising, according to an announcement by the Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County.

The report, which was unveiled on Tuesday, was funded by a $30,000 grant from the NC Arts Council. It calls for clustering arts and cultural venues along Spruce Street around an “iconic park.”

Greg Scott, a local lawyer who served as chairman of the Winston-Salem SmART Initiative Downtown Theatre District Committee, emphasized in a prepared statement that no part of the plan devised by 85 committee members is set in stone.

“We are talking about at least a 10-year timeline and lots of decision-makers and organizations who will be involved,” he said. “But one thing we all agreed on that clustering arts activities and creating a distinct, vibrant theater district can spur economic activity downtown, create jobs, raise tax revenues and be a substantial boost to our arts community and the quality of our residents,” he said.

Two Winston-Salem architectural firms, Walter Robbs Callahan & Pierce and Calloway Johnson Moore & West, provided consulting on the project.

The report estimates that a new National Black Theatre Hall of Fame and a renovated Stevens Center would draw an additional 138,000 new audience members to downtown. Based on an Americans for the Arts study that found that the average arts attendee in Forsyth County spends $27 in event-related spending beyond the ticket price, the new report estimates that the developments would bring about an additional $3.7 million in additional spending, including $1.3 million in restaurants and $876,300 in retail shops.

The subcommittee led by the Walter Robbs architecture firm estimated that development of the Theatre District would spur $40 million to $50 million in private investment, including a 160-room hotel with supporting restaurant and conference spaces, 40 high-rise condominiums and 40 artist lofts, along with street-level retail space.

The state grant used to finance the study was matched by local organizations such as the NC Black Repertory Co., the Winston- Salem Symphony, Piedmont Opera, River- Run International Film Festival, Twin City Stage, DataMax Foundation and the local arts council.


More than 151 employers, dozens of them representing Fortune 500 companies, are expected at the 39 th Annual Career Awareness Fair at the Corbett Sports Center on the campus of NC A&T University on in Greensboro on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, contact the office of career services at 336.334.7755.