TR Robertson -A recent tour of the construction underway at the Dea Hurston New Village Arts Center in Carlsbad, 2787 State St., led by Co-Founder and Executive Artistic Director Kristianne Kurner and her staff, showed the major changes that are taking place at this popular North County theatre complex. One of the changes patrons will notice immediately if they park in the large parking area behind the theatre and next to the Amtrack station. That change is a building length mural painted by Phoenix artist Clyde. The murals’ theme is reflections, depicted by a variety of images on the building wall.
Entering the front entrance, the first notable change is the theater’s new open space featuring all the various amenities the theater offers. Construction was still underway, but you could see the new ticket facilities at the main entrance, which will be located next to a history hallway showing the 21 years NVS has been in existence. In front of the open area, which will be filled with tables and chairs, a large bar now appears which features wood from the original Bauer Lumber building that once occupied this area. This is next to a large area that will have art from local artists and is next to a small stage area planned for multiple uses during the year. These gathering places will also have a library and a visual arts gallery on the walls. The stage will allow for a variety of productions such as improv, readings, karaoke, and other performances. NVA Staff members Joy Yvonne Jones (Associate Artistic Director), Ahmed Kenyatta Dents (Associate Artistic Director) and Rae Henderson-Gray (Managing Director) spoke about the various new spaces, highlighting the future for performances and exhibits in the new spaces.
Photos by Mikki Schaffner
In a room located next to the performance stage the Sahm Foundation Art Education Center will be located. Director of Education Samantha Ginn gave information about the plans for bringing in the community and schools and expanding the use of the Ed Center. These plans include continuing the Nuro Diverse program NVA is already involved with as well as adding programs like Improv for Seniors, Cabaret Nights, Musical Theatre and Dance and much more. NVA will be working with four schools in Carlsbad, and they plan to add additional schools. Samantha pointed out the open ceiling area with the expose wooden beams from the Old Bauer Lumber Building adding that keeping the history of this building was something NVA wanted to make sure stood out. January 9th classes will begin in the Art Education Center.
The tour of the lobby and adjoining areas finished with a visit to the addition of new restroom facilities that have been added. This spacious area is divided into several rooms, each being decorated with tiles in colors matching some of the plays and musicals that have been staged at NVA.
After a tour of the lobby and other areas, the group adjourned to the main stage and seating area. The 100-seat capacity will remain, but the stage area had been expanded. Additionally, sound, lighting and projection has been upgraded. Kristianne introduced the staff and the construction company who will be guiding the new facilities in NVA, (picture and titles attached). She also introduced the first production to be held on the stage and the additional productions. Beginning January 27th “The Ferryman” will open on the new NVA stage. This play, by Jez Butterworth, is a Tony Award winning Best Play (2019) and will be the first United States production after their Broadway run. Following “The Ferryman” will be “The Roommate,” then “Singin’ in the Rain.” The “1222 Oceanfront A Black Family Christmas” is also performing around San Diego County and plans a performance on the Conrad Prebys Stage in late December.
In a question-and-answer session, Shannon Miller, President of Conan Construction, pointed out that there were some supply and material issues, but they have progressed in a timely manner to meet the opening deadline. He also said the City of Carlsbad and the NVA Theater staff have been great to work with. Conan Construction, a Carlsbad company, won the bid to remodel the NVA Theater. Kristianne said the building is owned by the City of Carlsbad, but they have a 10-year lease and a 25-year extension. The remodel is underwritten by The Next Stage, a $2.5 million fundraising campaign supported by the Conrad Prebys Foundation and the Sahm Family Foundation. The stage is now called the Conrad Prebys Theatre Stage, and they are sponsoring the 21st Season for NVA.
Kristianne also pointed out that the NVA facilities are available for community and corporate events. She said, “The COVID shutdown led to a re-evaluation of the vision for the theatre, which has led to the reassessment of what we want the theatre space to look like.” This in turn led to applications for the grant to remodel and update the theatre. Samantha Ginn added, “The Pandemic was hard for artists and this remodel feels like a rebirth with all of the theatre renovations being added.” Rae Henderson-Gray added, “Singin’ in the Rain” will allow NVA a chance to fully show off the new sound, lighting, and projection upgrades.”
The opening events for the Dea Hurston New Village Arts Center include the Dedication and Ribbon Cutting on January 27th at 10:30 am and the Grand Re-Opening Community Celebration on January 28th from Noon-4pm. For more information go to www.newvillagearts.org or call 760-433-3245.