In your “Culture Watch” column of July 25 [“The State of Asheville Culture”], you rightly point to an encouraging sign for local professional theatre—No Shame Theatre: “Our theater scene is increasingly more professional, active and vibrant. With locally oriented community projects like No Shame Theatre, as well as the willingness of practically every local theater company to take on locally created productions, it’s safe to say that local theater is as good as it has ever been.”
I feel compelled to point out that the No Shame project is only one of myriad efforts by the North Carolina Stage Company to improve the chance that Asheville will indeed become “the Broadway of the South.” Other projects include The Family Passport, which ran Saturday mornings from June to December 2006, and The Catalyst Series, now entering its fourth season. The Catalyst Series alone has offered Asheville’s performing artists a much-needed community garden. Now entering its fourth successful year, The Catalyst Series has been host to 35 different productions and over 100 local and regional artists for theater, dance and music. All the NC Stage takes in return for the use of their space and inclusion in their marketing is a small percentage of box office receipts.
During this time of growth and change in Asheville, it is important to recognize the influence of the selfless generosity of the NC Stage. Through their Catalyst Series, a great many original works have been generated, new artistic collaborations have become possible, and artists who might otherwise have abandoned Asheville have found reason to remain. The Catalyst Series demonstrates that for artists to thrive, we must commit to more than costly building projects. We must commit to a kind of creative generosity. The countless production companies and individuals who have generated so much quality work for our community did so in the converted basement of an old city building. The edifice did not make the difference, the willingness to give a home and hope to visionary artists did.
I applaud NC Stage for the kind of leadership they have shown through this example. I encourage your readers to take a cue from them and do the simple things that they can do: Tell others, seek to use what already exists in new ways, provide a viable artistic home for the people who make Asheville an arts destination—the artists and their fledgling companies.
To get a glimpse of the depth and breadth of the work from NC Stage and Catalyst Series companies, come to the first annual Performathon on Saturday, Aug. 25. Call the box office at 350-9090 or go online to www.ncstage.org to learn about this festive event. Become a part of an effective, affordable arts community.
— David Novak
Editor’s note: Novak is artistic director of A Telling Experience, currently presenting its sixth Catalyst Series production, Mom’s The Word.