News Column

Tanger Center delay leads to musical chairs

August 3, 2014

By Dawn Decwikiel-Kane, News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.

Aug. 03--GREENSBORO -- News that the new downtown performing arts center will open in 2017 instead of 2016 will mean a third year of venue changes for Greensboro Symphony performances and Bryan Series speakers.

But last week's announcement came as no big surprise to the symphony's top administrator.

"It probably was very optimistic to think it would be designed and built by 2016," said Lisa Crawford, the symphony's president and chief executive officer.

"We were looking at September 2016, and now it's May 2017," Crawford added. "It's not that much different."

Symphony concerts will be a staple at the 3,000-seat Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, to be built on land bordered by North Elm and East Lindsay streets and Summit Avenue.

The Tanger Center will replace aging War Memorial Auditorium in the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, which will be demolished in late September to make way for premium parking.

But the Tanger Center's construction schedule was pushed back so that the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro could obtain a $25 million bank loan to guarantee its portion of financing for the $65 million project.

The foundation has raised more than $35 million in private pledges that will come in over 10 years. The city will provide the remaining $30 million.

Two of War Memorial's local customers -- the symphony and Guilford College's Bryan Series -- already had moved their 2014-15 season of programs to other venues.

The Bryan Series, which features talks by well-known people in the arts, humanities and public affairs, will move to a 3,100-seat theater-style configuration in the coliseum arena.

The symphony will hold its classical and pops concerts at the coliseum, Aycock Auditorium at UNCG, Dana Auditorium at Guilford College and Westover Church.

Now, the symphony will do the same for 2015-16 and 2016-17.

"We will talk to the different venues, find out what's available and work from there," said Crawford, who doesn't expect the venue changes to hurt season ticket sales.

Bryan Series organizers initially worried about moving to the coliseum arena, said Ty Buckner, Guilford College's associate vice president of marketing and communications.

"But it's been very positive," Buckner said.

The larger venue offers more seats -- about 3,100 instead of about 2,400 in War Memorial. So far, the Bryan Series has sold more than 2,400 season tickets, said Suzanne Ingram, Guilford College's assistant director of communications and marketing. The series will open with actor and director Ron Howard on Oct. 23. Single tickets will go on sale Aug. 15.

Despite the delays, the symphony and Bryan Series organizers look forward to holding events in the new Tanger Center.

The symphony has long pushed for a better venue than War Memorial. Crawford said she hopes the symphony will perform a special concert for Tanger's opening.

"It's going to change the face of the symphony," she said. "It will raise the bar of what we do and what people think of us and, hopefully, will take us to the next level."


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Source: News & Record (Greensboro, NC)

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