By Emma Castleberry
On Saturday, February 23, Hendersonville will welcome a new arts institution to its South Main Street community. The Center for Art & Inspiration will open at 125 South Main Street, the former location of the Flat Rock Playhouse Downtown. A project of theatrical writer and producer Jeanie Linders, The Center will include a Malaprop’s Bookstore/ Café pop-up and the Artful Cup Coffee Bar, which will serve coffee made with local beans from Independent Beans Roasters. “The Center is designed as a community destination for Western North Carolina residents, as well as tourists from other areas,” says Linders. Linders grew up in a town about the same size as Hendersonville, which taught her about the impact of the arts on a community both culturally and economically. “My 35 years in entertainment marketing has taught me a lot about creating an artistic experience,” she says. “I have watched a lot of multi-million dollar shows tank because the writer, director or producer thought the concept was more important than the audience. We will test a lot of art and events and hopefully our community will tell us what they want from The Center for Art & Inspiration.”
Linders calls The Center “a meet-and-greet place, where people can enjoy the activities and classes scheduled.” Locating to The Center from Ft. Lauderdale, Dream Child Productions will bring a season of shows for children under the direction of founder Andrew Fiacco. The Center will also feature Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre and The Center Stage “Star” series, under the direction of Broadway veteran Jimmy Ferraro. “We are bringing in a wide variety of professional entertainment to Hendersonville,” says Ferraro. “Just like the name, The Center will be a community gathering place for art and inspiration.”
The Center will also install a “Subway Therapy Wall,” an interactive project originated by Matthew “Levee” Chavez in the New York Subway. Chavez will be at the Center’s opening event to post the first note on the wall. “Our mission is to be a creative force in downtown Hendersonville in theatrical, musical and storytelling performances, literary and arts experiences,” says Linders. “This is an endeavor that takes a village. I truly believe that the universe has provided the team essential to create my vision. We may wear funny hats at meetings, but we are grounded by a base of knowledge and enthusiasm for making this project in Hendersonville a massive success for our community.” Tickets are now on sale for all scheduled shows at TheCenterAI.com. Special pre-opening discounts, group sales savings and other information are available by calling 828.697.8547.