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CoastLine: Arts & the Economy — What Will CFCC's Fine Arts Center Mean for Competing Venues?

This broadcast of CoastLine originally aired on July 30, 2014.

Arts and the local economy:  will a new performing arts venue, the largest in the region, edge out smaller theater companies in the competition for ticket buyers? 

Or will the facility expand the audience for the artistic community as a whole?

It was 2008 that voters approved a 164-million dollar bond for Cape Fear Community College.  A portion of that money is earmarked for a 1500-seat Humanities and Fine Arts Center that is slated to open next year in downtown Wilmington.   

On today’s CoastLine, we explore how a new venue might affect the local economy – and how producers and theater managers plan to grow their audiences.    

Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts, the oldest theater in Wilmington, is situated just blocks away from the site of CFCC’s new Humanities and Fine Arts Center.   

Joining us in the studio is Tony Rivenbark, the man who has run Thalian Hall for the last 35 years.  He’s responsible not just for keeping Wilmington’s historic landmark functioning both financially and operationallyhe also regularly appears in productions after making his Thalian Hall stage debut in 1966.   And he just published a book documenting the history of the iconic landmark beginning with its opening in 1858.   That book, Thalian Hall, goes on sale August 11th.    

Also with us in the studio:  Shane Fernando.  He's played just about every possible role in the local theater communityboth in front of audiences and behind the scenes with just about every local theater company.  He’s immediate Past President of Thalian Hall’s Board of Trustees, and he’s the new programming consultant for the Hall, which means he’s in charge of booking Thalian Hall’s Main Attractions series.   After working for nine years at UNCW – most recently as Director of Campus Life Arts and Programs, Shane Fernando is the newly-appointedand firstDirector of Cape Fear Community College’s Humanities and Fine Arts Center.  He also happens to be a regular commentator here on WHQR. 

Listen to Segment 2 here — featuring Tony Rivenbark and Shane Fernando.

Gwenyfar Rohler, the owner of Old Books on Front Street, joins us for Segment 3.  She also writes the Live Local column and theatrical reviews for Encore Magazine.  And she's recently started contributing to Salt Magazine.  She's here to talk about her stage adaptation of what NPR's Bob Mondello calls "the worst movie ever made."  Death Bed:  The Bed That Eats will open at Big Dawg's Cape Fear Playhouse in October. 

Listen to Segment 3 here — featuring Gwenyfar Rohler on "Deathbed: The Bed That Eats"

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.