Editor’s Note: This is the correct version of an older article that ran incorrectly last week. Due to a technical error the article used by Mike Floyd as background material was accidentally sent to the newspaper. We apologize for the error and any confusion that resulted in what turned out to be the final days of Mike’s life and his final submission for the paper. He loved writing entertaining and informative features for our readers’ enjoyment. We will miss him.

COVID 19 had a devastating impact on the performing arts during 2020 and 2021. From Broadway to Nashville, shows shut down and venues lost millions.

The Caswell Civic Center, modest yet beautiful, took the hit, too, and their tiny marquee on Main St. stayed blank for those months. It was a long 24 months.

But not anymore!

According to school superintendent Dr. Sandra Carter, the Civic Center is up and running, available for rent. Carter says that the ‘big room’ has been well-maintained and has already been rented for numerous shows and functions. She also states that her office has been working on available grant money, which would offset some of the operational costs of the 912-seat showcase. Dr. Carter’s office manages the center which was built in 1979 for a $1.2 million dollar price tag.

Anyone familiar with the center’s colorful history, certainly remembers a long list of popular shows to choose from. Former director, Lee Fowlkes, along with his secretary Foy, kept the joint jumping for years, passed away in 2016 and the flow of entertainment slowed as Fowlkes’ marketing skills and diligence were sorely missed.

The list of past performances includes the band, Alabama, the Shirelles, Riverdance and numerous blue grass shows. Broadway shows that headlined have been: ‘Barnum,’ ‘Annie,’ ‘Chorus Line;’ ‘The Buddy Holly Story,’ ‘Babes in Toyland.’ and the ‘Nutcracker.’

The intimate little theater with its stadium seating has had many great moments. With the increased interest in local children performing at the elementary school level, and on up, the civic center stands as the perfect venue to host these productions.

Who knows what talent there is among the local populace?

“The facilities at the civic center are more in line with a larger performance so being able to perform in that space will give the kids more opportunities to learn about how those spaces function and work with a larger audience. Those are always great opportunities to begin with and the elementary schools are also a good timeframe to start with the kids,”comments Julia Fair, talented music teacher at Oakwood and North elementary schools.

“Being able to rehearse the kids over there and get them there will be a challenge to figure out how to bus them to and from. And the kids will need time to get comfortable with the stage, itself. It’s a different level of performance settings,” adds Fair.

In her experience, having shows in larger types of venues with actual theater systems (stage lights, sound systems and curtains) allows the kids to learn about different jobs and different roles within the theater. As students get older, they gain more experience and responsibility with those roles. In Los Alamos, NM, where Fair previously taught theater, she had a large high school group of students who could run the stage and the production after working daily with the facility. She is expecting no less from her local theatrical troupe here in Caswell County.

Fred Motley, local and renown theatrical producer, was involved with many of the shows that came through the civic center in its glory days. He also was an usher at many of the productions and is very familiar with the excitement each show brought to town.

“I’ve had the experience of when the center was being programmed and utilized. It allowed the people in Danville and surrounding regions to see traveling, Broadway headliner shows at a reasonable cost. It generated excitement and vibrance! That is what the arts and performance does for a community!” says Motley.

“It is an underused venue. It needs to be ungraded to OSHA standards for the performing arts and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a venue for national acts, even though that’s what we would like. We already have competition from DPAC, the Tanger Center, and the new casino in Danville, Caesars Virginia,” says Karen Williamson, Executive Director of the Caswell Arts.

“I would love it to be used for local theater like the Kirby Theater does in Roxboro. We have local people who are actors, singers, dancers, producers and writers and there’;s no local venue for them to perform. And that’s a big hinderance of what I trying to accomplish at our arts council,” addsWilliamson.

It appears that the forward gears are engaged for the Caswell Civic Center to start moving in the right direction.

It is a valuable piece of landscape for the cultural development and appreciation of the Caswell County community.

It can also be a positive force when utilized. For more information about the Civic Center, bookings or upcoming events, call (336) 694-4116 or email civiccenter@caswell.k12.nc.us. (mailto:civiccenter@caswell.k12.nc.us?subject=Web%20Inquiry)