A former Carlsbad lumber yard has undergone a $2.8 million renovation to become the permanent home of the award-winning New Village Arts Center.
The 21-year-old theater company had been using the 9,400-square-foot building at 2787 State St. since 2007 on a year-by-year lease but gained the security it lacked when the City of Carlsbad agreed to a 20-year term, said Kristianne Kurner, founder and executive artistic director of New Village Arts.
“We never really knew if we could stick it out here for the long term,” Kurner said.
With its home base secure, New Village Arts turned to making the building “reflect the exciting and diverse and adventurous work we were doing on the inside,” Kurner said.
Ahmed Dents, associate artistic director, said the center’s new look is “kind of clubby” to fit in with its neighbors in Carlsbad village.
From the outside, the center presents itself to the community with walls of glass that give passers-by a glimpse of the work happening inside.
“Already people are stopping and looking in the window,” Dents said.
A Cultural Center
Inside, the stage of the 100-seat main theater that was the centerpiece of the arts center was extended to provide more room for bands and orchestras used for musical theater performances.
New lighting, sound systems, curtains, and a sound-deadening door also were added to the main theater.
The rest of the building was completely reimagined.
The lobby – now called the Patrick Farley Slainte Lobby – was reconfigured to add a 60-seat performance state, the White Family Next Stage, which will feature live music, poetry readings, cabaret performances and karaoke.
“We’re going to do everything we can do in that space,” Dents said. “We want to do open mic, poetry reading, everything like that.”
The remodeled lobby will also double as a cultural community gathering space where people can come in a work on small arts projects, Kurner said.
“The lobby itself is now going to be open during the day so people can come in and gather,” Kurner said. “Our hope is that it’s one of those things where families come in here, multiple generations come in and make some art.”
Another new addition is the Sahm Family Arts Education Center.
“We now have a space specifically dedicated to all of our education classes,” Kurner said. “We’re able to do much more with education.”
Classes will be offered from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. six days a week.
Wooden beams from the original building were left exposed, and in another nod to the building’s history, reclaimed lumber was milled down and used in the construction of the bar and box office in the lobby.
The overall color scheme is neutral tones so the focus will be on the art work, Kurner said.
The exceptions are the four restrooms, which are ablaze in color with each paying tribute to a particular theatrical performance
Along with the physical changes, the theater has a new name – the Dea Hurston New Village Arts Center, named in honor of Dea Hurston, a San Diego patron of the arts, philanthropist, playwright and an outspoken voice for underrepresented communities.
Kurner said the building will be the first arts center in the country to be named for a Black woman in the past 50 years.
The arts company also is creating a Dea Hurston Fellowship program for high school, college and professional minorities, expanding on an existing fellowship program that Hurston established.
“Dea has been a patron of the arts over the last 30 years,” Dents said. “It’s really fitting that the building is named in her honor.”
A formal opening was scheduled for the end of January with the first theatrical show on the main stage scheduled to be performances of playwright Jez Butterworth’s “The Ferryman,” which won a Tony award in 2019.
“We’re actually going to be the first theater company in the world to produce the play outside of London and Broadway,” Kurner said.
New Village Arts Center
Headquarters: Carlsbad Village
Founder and Executive Arts Director: Kristianne Kurner
Business: Arts center
Notable: New Village Arts attracts more than 20,000 patrons to Carlsbad Village each year.