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Fundraising for Lee Street Theatre performing arts center kicks off at Cooper's

Plans for a new performing arts center continue as Lee Street Theatre’s capital campaign enters its public phase with a kickoff event at Cooper’s Restaurant from 5-10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13. The Lee Street Theatre board and volunteers will be waiting tables, giving all of their tips to the capital campaign. In addition, Cooper’s will donate 10 percent of the evening’s proceeds.
Entertainment will be provided by Patsy Parnell, Kent Bernhardt, Tripp Edwards, Becca McKinley, Matthew Brown, John Brincefield, Lynne Harrell, Becky Lippard, Carol Harris, Graham Carlton, Matthew Newton, Mary Ann McCubbin, Nadirah Dance Company and Now are the Foxes improv company.
Lee Street Theatre is buying a warehouse at the corner of North Lee and Kerr streets – in what is being called the “Nolee District” (for North Lee) – which will be transformed into a flexible black box-style performing space that will feature a studio area for dance and acting classes, a bar and lounge area, a green room and a scene shop. It will not only be a venue for the Lee Street Theatre company but also for the well-established St. Thomas Players, which currently uses the Florence Busby Corriher Theatre for their performances, and for other performances as well.
Fundraising has gone well since June, says Justin Dionne, managing artistic director of Lee Street Theatre, who adds that an announcement will be made at Cooper’s about how far along the campaign is. The news is good, he adds.
“There are a lot of questions, and on Thursday, it’s a chance for us to present everything. The drawings will be there, and we will present ways for people to give.”
For $1,000, contributors can become “building block donors” and have their name on a block.
Rick Anderson McCombs is the new chair of the capital campaign and says the group appreciates every dime contributed.
“We’re real excited to have him on board,” Dionne says. “His energy and knowledge will be awesome.”
A major streetscape project on North Lee Street, funded by the North Carolina Department of Transporation, is underway now, Dionne says, and the theatre project is coordinating with that effort.
“We’re trying to brand and revitalize that area,” Anderson said, building on the groundwork in the area by John and Glenn Ketner. “We’re trying to be good stewards of the arts.”
Lee Street Theatre is excited not only about the capital campaign but the new season, Dionne says, which includes “The Complete History of America (abridged),” a play by Dr. Janice Fuller and a play by Nora Ephron. Lee Street Theatre has also been involved with putting on original works by local artists or artists with local connections like Denise Stewart. Her “Dirty Barbie” debuted with Lee Street Theatre at the Looking Glass Artist Collective. Stewart’s one woman-play has gotten plenty of attention since. emerging as an audience and critical favorite at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Stewart will be returning this year to help workshop original plays written by local playwrights.
“We want to be the fringe of Salisbury,” Anderson McCombs said.
“We want to be one more place to foster local talent.”

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