The word is out! Centre Stage-SC is currently in negotiations to purchase the East Park Baptist Church, located at 12 Ebaugh Ave, Greenville, SC 29607, in the burgeoning Laurens Road Corridor. At the Planning Staff Report to the Greenville Planning Commission last evening, the Commission approved the new Zoning Designation of FRD (Flexible Review District); Centre Stage can now move forward with its plans to finalize purchase of the property and begin renovation of the existing facility. The theatre is currently waiting on due diligence results to come in on the 1.5 acre site and will be seeking additional funding to complete the project.
Glenda ManWaring, Executive and Artistic Director of Centre Stage, says, “I am thrilled about this exciting and essential new phase in Centre Stage’s 33-year old long history and about the approval of the new FRD zoning, moving us one step closer to securing this facility. It would be a tremendous asset to our Centre Stage programming and community outreach endeavors.”
Centre Stage seeks to purchase and renovate the former site of the East Park Baptist Church to support our growing program and its positive impact on the Upstate. Our goal is to create an artistic space that is in harmony with our mission to produce diverse theatre, support local artists, and provide dynamic outreach opportunities.
Centre Stage exists to engage and enrich the community with innovative approaches and uncompromising theatrical integrity. Our Main Stage at 501 River Street in downtown Greenville is a perfect venue for our large theatrical shows as well as rental space for a variety of needs. But it’s time to grow. Our new facility called Off Centre will provide an opportunity for local actors and creative artists of all skill levels and economic backgrounds to experience the power of collaboration.
This new creative venue will enable us to provide the much needed, and often requested, space for teaching studios, recital stage, gallery space and other artistic and educational endeavors. It will enable Centre Stage to expand existing programs including our emerging Applied Theatre initiatives, introduce a more user-friendly creative environment, and offer better access to the creative arts for the public. Off Centre will become a most valuable community resource for all aspects of the arts.
Uses will include:
- Business Office for Staff
- Performance Arts Centre for up to 250 patrons, which will also include backstage space, storage space and a versatile workshop. The Fringe Series will move to Off Centre.
- Creative Training Centre, which will include multiple theatrical rehearsal spaces and potential dance studios, fine arts studios and musician studios.
As monetary fund’s become available, CS would like to turn the area behind the Creative Training Centre into an inspirational artist garden. This would be in partnership with adjacent property owners.
The theatre would also like to partner with the City of Greenville for the future of the Swamp Rabbit Trail to beautify and enhance our adjacent properties. As the Trail expands, CS could be an area of interest along the Trail, with biker/pedestrian-friendly leisure areas.
Laurens Road Business District Improvement:
Centre Stage seeks to be a large part of the Laurens Road/Midtown Business District growth. This important area adjacent to downtown is in the process of being the next corridor to be revitalized, and CS will be at the heart of this endeavor with the new Off Centre space, directly next to the possible future expansion of the Swamp Rabbit Trail. New developments nearby include Willy Taco and the large Northpointe complex with the proposed Harris Teeter Grocery Store, multi-family residential units and commercial space. Off Centre will be a growth-catalyst in this rapidly-expanding area of Greenville.
Support for Off Centre:
Centre Stage has sought and received Ebaugh neighborhood backing and approval of the Off Centre Project. Neighborhood engagement and open-forum meetings have resulted in overwhelming community support of Centre Stage and the vision. Residents are excited that the historic church will not be razed and are anticipating the revitalization of the buildings as well as the site.
Neighborhood resident Cat Williams says, “Although we are sad to see the church leaving, we are very much in support of Centre Stage purchasing the property. We are excited to bring in an organization that is culturally relevant and that will encourage the growth of arts in our district. We, as a community, are thrilled with how involved and responsive Centre Stage has been in addressing our needs and concerns and feel confident about the positives of the project.”
Centre Stage also has the support of the Metropolitan Arts Council. “The Centre Stage expansion plans will be a welcome addition to Greenville’s outstanding array of cultural amenities. The new space will allow the theater to provide additional, more alternative programming as well as studio space for visual artists, which is in high demand. Patrons will be able to experience live theater in a new, innovative facility which will also provide much-needed space for new educational and outreach programs at Centre Stage,” says Alan Ethridge, Executive Director of MAC.
Centre Stage also has the backing of our Board of Directors. Newly-elected Board President, Pam Foster, says, “It is an exciting time for Centre Stage and the city of Greenville! With the acquisition of this new property and our expanded programming, we will increase artistic offerings to the fine people of the Upstate. I am thrilled for Centre Stage and grateful for my involvement!”
Former Board President and longtime Board Member Mike Chengrian mirrors Pam’s excitement: “We have worked a long time to make Centre Stage an artistic success and a cultural asset to the city. This new building is going to enable us to do even more artistically and give us an even greater presence in the cultural heartbeat of the Upstate. This is a big deal for the city of Greenville!”
New Board Member and community philanthropist Bev Whitten agrees, “Purchase of this property will enable Centre Stage to expand its productions and educational offerings in addition to providing another cultural center for the Greenville community. It will create more opportunity to collaborate with other non-profit organizations on special projects, as well as give availability for studio, exhibit and recital spaces for local artists and arts teachers of all disciplines. The theater’s presence in this location should attract lovers of all the arts, thus enhancing the vitality of the E. Washington Street/ Laurens Road area.”