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ScottCLT

Lack of theater district

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I am in Minneapolis right now staying in a hotel near the Hennepin Theater District. The fact that Charlotte doesn't have a theatre district stricks me as a downfall. Instead of just having The Comedy Zone and Blumental, they have a street that is probably 10 blocks long with nothing but theaters here. Dennis Miller, Ed McMahon, Lyle Lovett, Chris Rock, among a plethora of other famour actors/comedians/musicians all on the Marquees of the many, many theatres. This place seems like it's NYC compared to Charlotte. We only attract the occasional celebrity downtown, and when we do, it's a big deal. Here in MN, it's just another show at a theater. I've seen theater districts in so many different cities that seem so vibrant compared to Charlotte.

I know Charlotte's Theater scene is lacking, but do you think a "theater district" will ever evolve? Would we be able to support a theater district if we had one? The fact that the Moving Poets is really "moving" to a different city is a bad sign. I only wish we could have a place like Hennepin St. (Minneapolis) in Charlotte.

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I feel the same, it's a shame that Charlotte does not embrace the arts as much as it should. For a city of it's size and population, we should have at least a decent amount of art entertainment venues. I mean, Houston has the 2nd biggest theatre district, and the metro size is smaller than that of LA, Miami, Chicago, Philly.

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Minneapolis benefited greatly from Prince and all of the artists whose careers he help to start with his "sound of Minneapolis". Charlotte has never had anything like that.

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Minneapolis is also twice the size of Charlotte. And although I love MPLS, does having the Orpehum and State in the same block constitute "a district"?

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Charlotte's Tryon Street will be pretty close to a theatre district. Spirit Square, Carolina Theatre, the Belk Theater/Blumenthal Arts Center, and the new theatre on Wachovia's campus.

I'm not so sure I'd say Charlotte doesn't support the arts just because they are not closer together, or because the street is better known for office towers than theaters.

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I think our problem with Theaters is the same that we had 10 years ago with nightlife. We had none to speak of unless you wanted to drive all over the city. Everything has always been so spread out that people go to what is near them -- there were some bars near SouthPark, others near Montford, some on Independence, etc. There was no single place to go.

Now downtown is busy on most any night, weekends especially. We have a higher concentration of bars, restaurants, cafes, etc. (not enough for me, but a very definite change). Our theaters are all over the place too -- Queens Road, 36th Street, Spirit Square, Stonewall Street. Many aren't near anything else, so you drive to the venue, watch the show and drive away even if you night isn't over. I suspect a lot of people (me included) would go to more events if there were more to do around them or if they weren't scattered all over the place.

The shows I have seen recently at Spirit Square have been packed -- Amadeus, Bill Maher

The show I saw at Moving Poets, Seven Deadly Sins, was great, but the theater is pretty uncomfortable, is "flat" so seats in the back were pretty bad, and just had no character (the venue itself). Part of what I like about real theaters is the ambiance, the setting, and the true theater vibe. To me, haning out in a warehouse is more suitable for seeing a band than this type of production.

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Minneapolis is also twice the size of Charlotte. And although I love MPLS, does having the Orpehum and State in the same block constitute "a district"?

No, but there are more than that. Along Hennepin there are probably 10 or 12 theaters in between 5th street and 10th. I didn't count the exact number, but it was way more than 2.

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No, but there are more than that. Along Hennepin there are probably 10 or 12 theaters in between 5th street and 10th. I didn't count the exact number, but it was way more than 2.
There are four. The following is from the City of Minneapolis website:

As part of a master plan to turn Hennepin Avenue into the region's premier theater district, the city has invested millions in the past decade to bring these theaters back to life. The city purchased the 1921 Historic Orpheum Theatre in 1988 and extended the stage; brought back the marquee; restored terra cotta walls, friezes, plaster reliefs, sculptures and murals; and added a 2,000-pound Italian chandelier. The result is a dazzling premier stage for theatrical productions and concerts. The theater opened in 1993.

Also owned by the city, the Historic State Theatre was restored to past grandeur, with a marquee stretching across the entire fa

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If there is one thing Charlotte doesn't need, it is more theatres. Companies can't get people to come to the ones we have now.

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I would also love more theatre in this town, but RW has a point. Moving Poets is closing up shop and is leaving Charlotte for lack of support and the rest are barely hanging on. I have not been to one show since moving here that had anything close to a full house. We need to work on preserving what we have before we can attract anything new.

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I'm confused then. Part of the reasoning for Wachovia adding a theater to their development was because Blumenthal is booked to capacity. Shows are having to skip CLT because there aren't any available slots there.

I've been to shows at Ovens, Blumenthal, Belk Theater, Spirit Square, the Arenas (new and old) and I can't remember a time where the place wasn't filled at least nearly to capacity. I didn't know a whole lot about Moving Poets, other than what I read in the paper last week, but do we think their demise was due to an overcapacity of venues? Their big complaint was that Charlotte's just too provincial for their avante-garde product. Like I said, I never saw them so I'm not speaking from personal experience, but it sounded like a whole lotta sour grapes to me.

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I think the size of the crowd at your show, depends on the show itself. If you are going to "fringe" entertainment, then perhaps what you are seeing is a lack of popularity (or tolerance depending on the subject matter). If you are attending more mainstream entertainment, then I suspect the crowd reflects this as well. Charlotte shows tremendous support for the arts...we traditionally rank at the very top of US cities in arts giving per capita. As Charlotte grows, so will it's appetite for more avante garde art. Until then, we should really be happy with what we have and with what's in the pipeline.

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I'm confused then. Part of the reasoning for Wachovia adding a theater to their development was because Blumenthal is booked to capacity. Shows are having to skip CLT because there aren't any available slots there.

I've been to shows at Ovens, Blumenthal, Belk Theater, Spirit Square, the Arenas (new and old) and I can't remember a time where the place wasn't filled at least nearly to capacity. I didn't know a whole lot about Moving Poets, other than what I read in the paper last week, but do we think their demise was due to an overcapacity of venues? Their big complaint was that Charlotte's just too provincial for their avante-garde product. Like I said, I never saw them so I'm not speaking from personal experience, but it sounded like a whole lotta sour grapes to me.

The handful of large venues will always do well showing popular traveling shows. It is the smaller venues Like the Perch, Actor's theatre, etc. that suffer from a lack of publicity, funding, etc.

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And as I stated earlier, I think a lot of it has to do with theaters being in random outer areas, not in an entertainment core. After the show you still have to get in your car and go somewhere else if your night isn't over.

Moving Poets was in a warehouse. It was uncomfortable for the show i went to see, Bistro chairs and tables suck after an hour or two on a concrete floor. I liked the show, but I think better venues would help. Or venues in areas where people actually go for nightlife. Hence the ones mentioned that are selling out -- they are right downtown.

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Well this gets back to the age old discussion that we keep having here, (go look at the saving the arts district topic) in that what exactly is downtown? It it an entertainment district, a community, an office park, etc. The big problem with downtown and Charlotte in general is that any potential place for a theatre district has long been torn down by urban renewal. And the stuff that replaces it is simply far too expensive to use except for the largest best known shows. Unfortunately by the late 70s, most of the old single screen theatres and places with stages had gone to showing XXX films and by the end of the 80s most of these places were torn down to make way for gentrification. It was easier to push down an old theatre than to try and save it for the future.

A good example of that is at the corner of The Plaza and Central. There was a great 1920's movie house there that served the community for decades, but as that neighborhood declined and became seedy, it became an XXX place, The Plaza ######cat. Later, First Union bought it, pushed it down, and replaced it with a parking lot and that ugly drive thru only branch. It would have fit in well in that neighborhood if it were there today. One of the ones that did survive this is the neighborhood theatre in Noda. It too was an XXX place but fortunately it survived the call to push it down and it's still there today. But as you mention, its just one theatre in a location that has an uncertain future as an artsy area, (which is the other problem).

It might take a couple of generations before Charlotte matures enough to have a well known theatre district.

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Well this gets back to the age old discussion that we keep having here, (go look at the saving the arts district topic) in that what exactly is downtown?

It might take a couple of generations before Charlotte matures enough to have a well known theatre district.

As I read the thread the same thing was in the back of my head. We shot ourselves in the foot a number of times in our growth cycles. Lack of vision, wrong vision, maybe more conservative--this way is better vision.. Whatever the case we're just now waking up to the reality of what we have, or don't have. It doesn't mean we can't have it but it does mean it will take work and effort to rebirth the thoughts and make them sustainable.

I'm just glad to see DT not going to sleep so early and I think the trend will continue. Which if anyone wants some awesome desserts my father-in-law is the new head pastry chef for Taverna/Sonoma group and he's working really hard to come up with some unique desserts and they are planning on staying open after the theaters exit (which is a change).

-a

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Well this gets back to the age old discussion that we keep having here, (go look at the saving the arts district topic) in that what exactly is downtown? It it an entertainment district, a community, an office park, etc. The big problem with downtown and Charlotte in general is that any potential place for a theatre district has long been torn down by urban renewal. And the stuff that replaces it is simply far too expensive to use except for the largest best known shows. Unfortunately by the late 70s, most of the old single screen theatres and places with stages had gone to showing XXX films and by the end of the 80s most of these places were torn down to make way for gentrification. It was easier to push down an old theatre than to try and save it for the future.

A good example of that is at the corner of The Plaza and Central.

Another example -- beside the parsonage of St. Peters on S. Tryon used to be the old Eastern Federal offices and screening room. I looked at it about 15 years ago. It was built in the 20's, i think, and housed their offices and a screening room on the second floor that was used for showing new flicks to local theater owners. It as a beautiful 2 story brick building -- i think it was around 10,000 SF but maybe more. It is a great place to park now if you are going to the convention center. First Union tore it down, and now is building a theater across the street. Lets hope we are learning our lessons and save a bit of our history -- you never know when you will need or want what you wasted.

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