Coming to the stage: Staunton Performing Arts Center plans still on track

Judy Mosedale sees a Staunton that is able to build on its theater-destination status.

“Once we get the Main Stage open, we have Blackfriars across the street bringing people in town for one night, and then people can stay a second night and take in another show. The two really should work hand-in-hand,” said Mosedale, the executive director of the Staunton Performing Arts Center, the plans for which include the 525-seat Main Stage Theatre and a smaller 125-seat cabaret-style venue.

The effort to rehab the 1912 building that has been known for decades as the Dixie has been ongoing since 2000. Fundraising for the $11.4 million renovation is now in the silent phase. About $3.5 million in contributions and state and federal grants has been accumulated to date, meaning there’s still a ways to go, “but we’re getting there,” said Janie Ballurio, the president of the Center’s board of directors.

The project has been broken up into two phases. The Arcadia Building, located next door to the Dixie and purchased by the Center in 2008, is the focal point for phase one, the idea being that the Arcadia would serve as the home for support spaces for the Main Stage, including much-needed dressing rooms, green rooms and other offstage and backstage space.

More stories from the December 2010 issue of The New Dominion Magazine are online at TheNewDominion.com.

Phase two would restore the Dixie to the 1936 Art Moderne decor that came with a post-fire renovation done by Warner Brothers, a former owner of the theatre building.

The economic slowdown had a dampening effect on the project as was the case for similar kinds of projects nationwide. Mosedale has sensed in recent weeks a new momentum to the project.

“A lot of people are moving to the area from areas that have theaters like this, and they expect this kind of entertainment. We expect to see a resurgence of support with the economy picking up to give us some new momentum,” Mosedale said.

Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.


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