HART breaks ground on another theater

By Shelby Harrell Staff Writer | Sep 28, 2013
Photo by: Shelby Harrell Daniel and Belle Fangmeyer are pictured at the groundbreaking for the future Daniel and Belle Fangmeyer Theater. The new theater will be named after the couple since they contributed $200,000 to the project.

Daniel and Belle Fangmeyer were overwhelmed Saturday afternoon during the ground-breaking ceremony that took place next to the Haywood Arts Regional Theater.

After seeing a sign that said “The future site of Daniel and Belle Fangmeyer Theater,” it became a reality that the new theater at the Shelton House would be named in their honor.

“It overwhelms me, the name,” Belle said. “We love the community.”

The Fangmeyers contributed $200,000 to the development of the new theater, said Steve Lloyd, executive director of HART.

“It’s our honor to help provide this for a lot of people,” said Daniel. “We love the theater. It’s a very important thing for people to have. It helps the community — it helps everything because people gravitate toward the theater.”

Daniel and Belle were able to contribute a large portion of money after selling their home in Florida. HART’s Stage II fund drive began last summer and currently, theater has raised a total of $650,000 toward construction.

The $1 million project will begin construction in March 2014 and is expected to be complete by next fall. Lloyd said he was already planning the spring 2015 season for both theaters.

“It’s exciting but it’s much more complicated,” Lloyd said about planning for two theaters. “I’m looking forward to bringing in really talented people and take more chances with a new type of theater. The theaters we have are more traditional, and the new one can be more experimental. It just kind of gets your imagination going.”

Joe Sam Queen and his daughter Sara are the architects behind the project. According to them, the new theater will match the current theater in terms of physical look but will include much more flexibility.

“It will be the second barn in the meadow,” Joe said. “It will have the same look and feel as the original one. But this one is going to be flat-floored, making it more flexible. You can use it as a pavilion or as a contemporary theater.”

“It’s like a hybrid theater,” Sara added. “It will be dynamic all year round for the community and for the museum.”

The new theater will include a bistro/café, and a 150-seat flexible theater space, which can be reconfigured in many ways including dinner theater and cabaret.

Lloyd said he thought that attendants would be appreciative of having a café at the theater.

“We get complaints that there’s nowhere to go eat after the shows because everywhere had their kitchens closed,” Lloyd said.

The facility will allow HART to double its performance schedule and become an area attraction, which should play a major role in the economic development of the region. HART’s Theater currently cannot run full time because of the scheduling of the single theater space HART owns. This means that HART is closed nearly half of the 26-week tourist season.

However, the Daniel and Belle Fangmeyer stage will allow HART to rotate between the two spaces, offering performances every week on one of the two stages. It will also free up space for outside groups and individuals to rent the facilities for other functions.

Lloyd said Waynesville’s tourist development authority would also be able to market the area to the avid theater-goers since there will be a play showing year-round.

HART is continuing its fund raising efforts in hopes of having the majority of the costs of construction paid for before the facility is completed. This will free up funds for theater staffing and programming. Anyone interested in contributing to HART’s Stage II Campaign can send donations to HART P.O. Box 2014, Waynesville, NC 28786. HART is a non-profit charitable organization.