As a writer, when I heard our little town of Pittsboro, North Carolina was getting a theater/arts center, my synapses started to tingle. Shows! Movies! Classes! Our town needs a space for creatives to gather, plus a space open some evenings to hopefully encourage all the shops to stay open “late” too. (Currently shops and coffee places close at 5 or 6 each evening.)
Pittsboro attracts and fosters creative minds. The town’s middle school is named after poet George Moses Horton. Bluegrass musician Tommy Edwards runs a shop in town and lives just a few blocks from it. Folk artist/chainsaw artist Clyde Jones creates his “Critters” in Bynum, a pocket community within Pittsboro. (Remember he strolled into my freelance writing class at the Bynum Front Porch?) I’ve taken classes at the Woodwright’s Woodworking School. Potter Mark Hewitt fires his kiln just east of town. There are too many other creatives to name. (Check out the Chatham Arts Council for more.)
Between all of these creative disciplines, how did we not have an arts center? The closest theaters and arts centers are the Temple Theater in Sanford (my love and I went to the Christmas Carol here and loved it) and the ArtsCenter in Carrboro. These are about a half hour drive in opposite directions. What’s located directly in between them? Pittsboro.
I learned that the couple opening the center are my neighbors. So I did the neighborly thing and invited them over! Craig Witter and Tammy Matthews open the Sweet Bee Theater at the Pittsboro Center for the Arts this Saturday, February 4, with an all-day open house and two shows.
Craig and Tammy both work full-time jobs, so this theater endeavor is being born from their spare time. They met with me last month, the night before Tammy left on a multi-week trip to Indonesia. She just returned last week. Now we’re only a few days away from opening night. These two are a force! Read more in my article “New Community-Supported Arts Center and Theater in Pittsboro” or click the logo below.
When patrons arrive for movies, plays, and concerts, they won’t enter through the front door. The Sweet Bee Theater has a separate side entrance. The theater’s entry balances concessions and a ticket booth perched on one side, and the performance area on the other. A graded ceiling over the audience seating slopes down to the stage space, where exposed brick has been painted black in prep of the backstage area.
Individuals visiting the Center for an art or writing class, a recording session in the south booth, or to pick up art supplies, enter through the main doors. Having more than one egress will allow the Center to juggle multiple creative spaces at once.
The bright main foyer’s wide windows provide natural light to a petite art gallery. Currently two hip-high half-walls divide the gallery from the classroom, and Craig has plans to re-purpose old barn windows and install them from the half-walls straight to the ceiling. He’s in talks with a local textile artist to create patterns for the windows, which will decoratively divide the classroom from the gallery, and at the same time create a focal point that will catch the eyes of passersby.
I’m glad this story caught my eye.