Arts Council to sell Arts Council Theatre on Coliseum Drive to local church
Winston-Salem, NC (April 13, 2018) — The Board of Trustees of The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County has approved the sale of its theater on Coliseum Drive to Harvest Bible Chapel of Winston-Salem, a non-denominational congregation that meets at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. The parties have set a June 1 closing date.
Jim Sparrow, president and CEO of the Arts Council, said sale of the theater has been a part of The Arts Council’s long-range strategic plan for some time. “The theater was built in the 1950s and increasingly has become problematic from maintenance, management and financial viewpoints,” said Sparrow. It is the home of The Little Theatre of Winston-Salem and The North Carolina Black Repertory Theatre.
Sparrow said the needs of Arts Council organizations have changed dramatically with performance groups requiring widely different venues for audiences of 50 to a few hundred to a thousand or more. “Operation and maintenance of the aging Arts Council Theatre on Coliseum with its large capacity and old-style fixed seat design has put a dent in our budget for years. Consequently, the Board made a decision to sell it and to cluster theater activities in and around the Milton Rhodes Center in downtown Winston-Salem where we can create efficiencies and best serve the diverse needs of the arts community.”
The two theater groups now in residence will remain for at least two months after closing while they transition to new space. “We have worked closely with lLittle Theatre and Black Rep on transition, and the tentative plan is for both to have administrative offices and rehearsal spaces under the same roof downtown. Making sure our partners have the facilities and support required for their missions is of utmost concern to us.”
Little Theatre will have a full season in 2018-2019 in new venues that will include Hanesbrands Theatre. The North Carolina Black Repertory Theatre will be hosting the semi-annual National Black Theatre Festival next year. Being located downtown in the heart of the theater district promises to be an advantage for administering the festival, ticket sales and being available to the thousands of attendees, Sparrow said.
“There are a lot of moving parts involved in the sale and transition that we have to sort out,” said Sparrow, “but the Board felt this was an opportune time to move forward with a sale and deal with sustainability issues which have to be a priority for our Arts Council and for every nonprofit. The spirit of cooperation, and even excitement, by our affected partners at this crucial juncture in the life of our arts community, is helping assure this,” said Sparrow. “We will emerge with a more robust arts community and cultural ecosystem than ever before,” said Sparrow.
“We will use the proceeds from the sale in a thoughtful way and take steps toward a sounder financial position,” said Sparrow. A portion of the proceeds will be used to pare down The Council’s bond obligation remaining from the 2010 capital campaign and up fit Reynolds Place in the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts into a flexible, multi-purpose performance space that meets the venue needs of a wide range of Arts Council members. “Good business practice also requires that we replenish our reserve fund,” said Sparrow. “As I see it, we have challenges, but we also have tremendous opportunities.”
Winston-Salem’s vibrant arts community enriches the lives of area residents every day and accounts in large part for the recognition it continues to receive as a great place to live, learn, work and play. It raises funds and advocates for the arts, sponsors events in conjunction with other arts organizations, promotes and funds arts education, creates cultural and learning opportunities, prompts creative dialogue, develops social capital and aids economic development.