“This will brand downtown as the performing arts center for Wilmington and our region,” said Shane Fernando, director of Cape Fear Community College’s soon-to-be Humanities and Fine Arts Center. “This facility will become the performing arts hub for our region.”
In an effort to expand its humanities and fine arts department, CFCC budgeted $44 million from the funds raised in a bond referendum passed by New Hanover County voters in 2008.
“The [existing]fine arts classes are housed in a smaller run down facility,” Fernando said. “It’s very remarkable what the students and teachers already do in that space. [The new center] will give the fine arts a home. It will be an improvement for the humanities and fine arts program.”
The 159,000-square-foot building will include a community performing arts center that seats 1,500 people. The center will also include a black box studio theater seating 150 people, an academic wing, housing about 25 classrooms, scene and wardrobe studios and computer labs.
The center’s mission is to uphold the school’s academics while promoting the downtown community.
“First and foremost, is the center’s academic mission and then the performing arts center’s mission as a community center,” Fernando said.
Though the center will not be operational until mid-2015, CFCC has selected Fernando, who previously served as the director of the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Life Arts, as its director, to help oversee its completion. A date to determine the building’s staff has yet to be decided, however.
With the new facility, students within the department will be able to obtain real world experience and new opportunities that were not possible with the department’s current space.
“This is an incredible laboratory for them to connect what they learn in the classroom with real world experience,” Fernando said. “This will be their facility to run and work in. They will be serving in administration offices and crew. They will be running the building with me. They will be active participants on the operation of the facility.”
CFCC offers fine art classes in its north and downtown campuses, something that disconnects the academic community, said Brandon Guthrie, department chair of the Fine Arts and Humanities program.
“Right now, our classes are spread out between various fields. It’s really disconnected. It doesn’t feel like it’s working together,” Guthrie said. “We will be more centralized to have intellectual dialogue between students and teachers.”