Winston-Salem, NC (January 10, 2019) -- The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County will begin renovation of The Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts on Spruce Street. Portions of The Rhodes Center will be closed during the construction.
Reynolds Place, which is now a community events venue, will be converted into a 240-seat multi-functional, black box theater and become the primary performance venue for both the North Carolina Black Repertory Company and Little Theater of Winston-Salem. The existing separated gallery, lobby and conference room space on the main level of the Spruce Street entrance will be opened up and integrated to create a unified and dynamic space containing an expanded gallery, a patrons-services center and an arts gift shop for works by local artisans.
Christine Jones, The Arts Council’s Senior Vice President for Facilities and Chief Operating Officer, said The Rhodes Center will remain open during renovation. Maximum efforts will be made to minimize inconvenience to Rhodes Center occupants and visitors. The Sawtooth School, which occupies much of the second floor, will not be significantly affected by the first floor renovation. Associated Artists and The Hispanic League have offices on the first floor and will be relocated to new offices elsewhere at The Rhodes Center. Jones estimates that construction will be completed by mid to late July.
“We will segregate the construction area so Sawtooth School students and visitors can still use the main Spruce Street ‘horseshoe’ entrance with close proximity to The Arts Council parking lot. If they prefer, they may still use the existing Marshall Street entrance,” Jones said. “We will procure temporary space for Associated Artists and Hispanic League until their new office spaces on our campus are ready.”
Patrons of Coffee Park Arts, the popular coffee shop, snack bar and gathering place located near the Spruce Street entrance, will be pleased to know that its spot will not be affected. Tommy Priest, owner, noted that access will not be impeded. “In fact, we have talked to Arts Council representatives who have agreed to let us offer “curb service” on a trial basis. Pull into the horseshoe on Spruce and we will bring your coffee to you. Little bit ‘retro,’ especially convenient for downtown folks coming to work. And a little bit fun!” said Priest. Coffee Park already has a drive-by operation in a converted Airstream at 1206 Reynolda Road.
Randy Eaddy, Arts Council President and CEO, said, “By necessity, we will have to make some adjustments, but we are not going to let that bother us. When we sold the aging, high-maintenance Arts Council Theater on Coliseum Drive, we promised the two resident companies there – Little Theatre of Winston-Salem and North Carolina Black Repertory Company -- that we would provide as a replacement a highly desirable venue for them in Winston-Salem’s downtown Theater District. We are making good on that promise in short order, and we have been working closely with both groups to make sure we meet their needs and expectations. They are cornerstones of our arts community and have been great partners.”
The Arts Council has provided new administrative offices and rehearsal space for both of these organizations in its newly renovated 419 Spruce Street building, currently known as “The Arts Council Extension” or “ACE” Building.
The University of North Carolina School of the Arts will also stage some performances in the new Rhodes Center theater while its primary theatrical venue, Performance Place, is still closed for renovations. The School of the Arts already has presented productions in The Arts Council’s Hanesbrand Theater, also part of The Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts.
“We’ll have an ongoing relationship with the School of the Arts,” Jones recently told The Winston Salem Journal. “They will still have space needs for about 18 months. They’ve expressed a desire to use the new Rhodes Center space, so we solicited their input on the technical issues and also on what would make the new theater conducive for teaching purposes. We’ve also been able to save money by making changes that their team recommended.”
Winston-Salem, known as a City of Arts and Innovation, and Forsyth County have a robust arts community that enriches the lives of area residents every day and accounts in large part for the recognition they continue to receive as a great place to live, learn, work and play. The most recent studies available showed that Forsyth County’s nonprofit arts industry supports 5,559 full time equivalent jobs; accounts for more than $129 million in resident household income, and generates more than $14.8 million in local and state tax revenues.