NCBRC gets a new home
Staff will soon be busy packing at the North Carolina Black Repertory Company as they get ready for a big move. The organization will be moving from its current location at 610 Coliseum Dr. to a prime location, 419 Spruce St., in downtown Winston-Salem by Aug. 1. The move comes after The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County announced its intention to sell the Coliseum location in January.
“It’s not something that we necessarily want to do but must. We’ve looked at a number of places around the community and have settled on the 419 building,” said Nigel Alston, executive director of the North Carolina Black Repertory Company. “It’s a good location. It’s in the heart of the arts district and its downtown so we’ll be right there in the middle of the action.”
John Singleton, a former board of directors member, said that the move is good for the organization.
“I say that this move represents an outstanding opportunity for the NCBRC to continue to connect to our community and bring outstanding performances to theatre lovers throughout the Triad.”
Alston said the move brings about mixed emotions after being at the theater for so long, but he looks forward to being downtown. The organization has been in the building for the past 30 years, excluding a temporary move out for renovations at one point.
“It’s been home for about 30 years, so you become attached to it. A lot of good things have happened while we were there and performing in the theater,” he said.
Founded in 1979 by Larry Leon Hamlin, the North Carolina Black Repertory Company is the first professional Black theater company in the state. The nonprofit organization is universally recognized for its artistic and administrative achievements and its international outreach program, the National Black Theatre Festival. NCBRC produces Black Theatre classics, up and coming African-American writers, along with the annual presentations of Langston Hughes’ “Black Nativity” and Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration.
One of the biggest challenges the move will create is finding a place large enough and suitable enough to hold the audience for the annual “Black Nativity” play. While it was typically held in the old building, Alston said they are now having scour the community for a suitable theater.
“We pretty much know the venues in the community because we’ve used them for other things. HanesBrands is a venue that we’ve been using and will continue to use. The challenge is “Black Nativity” because that’s a much larger production, but we have to find the right location with the right stage size, lights and setup. At this particular point we are looking at Wake Forest University,” Alston said.
Nationally, the company is recognized for its artistic and administrative achievements and its international outreach program, the National Black Theatre Festival. In previous years, NCBRC would have satellite stations downtown for people to pick up tickets and buy tickets for the event. That will no longer be needed.
“The host hotel is downtown, and the gala is right there. We’ll be in the hub of things in terms of the offices now,” Alston said. “This move brings us from the outskirts of downtown, in terms of the art scene, to the middle of it all on a daily basis and not just during the festival year.”
The organization also houses the Teen Theatre Ensemble, which works to develop, train and showcase the theatrical talent of local teens, and a broad range of community outreach programs and partnerships.
Alston said despite the move there are some exciting things planned for the upcoming year.
“We’re also branching out into some other places in terms in terms of taking “Black Nativity” on the road. Last year, we worked with the Winston-Salem Symphony to do an event after Thanksgiving and we’re looking forward to doing that again. We have some other things similar to that that are outside the community and look forward to taking them on the road.”
For more information, contact NCBR at 336-723-2266.
Chanel Davis, a journalism graduate from N.C.A&T SU, is a freelance journalist based in High Point who has worked in the industry for the past five years.