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Arts Complex Planned for Carolina Square

Carolina Square rendering

This artist’s rendering depicts the rebuilt Carolina Square, formerly University Square. The Core@Carolina Square arts facility will be on the ground floor and total nearly 8,500 square feet and include an innovation lab, studio and theater. It is expected to open in August 2017. (Art courtesy of UNC)

What alumni since the 1960s have known as University Square in downtown Chapel Hill is undergoing a rebirth as Carolina Square, and on Wednesday the University and the town detailed a key component in the new development.

An arts-oriented facility, The Core@Carolina Square, will total nearly 8,500 square feet and include an innovation lab, studio and theater. It is envisioned to be the home for artists-in-residence to collaborate with faculty, students and the community.

“The arts are such a strong creative force here at Carolina,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “I believe every space on campus should support the artistic process. The Core@Carolina Square will create another vibrant place where our students and faculty innovate and connect with artists, each other and the broader community.”

The Core@Carolina Square is designed to build on the success of Carolina Performing Arts’ Arts@TheCore initiative, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded project that integrates the performing arts into Carolina’s mission of teaching, research and public service. Emil J. Kang, UNC’s executive director for the arts and head of Carolina Performing Arts, conceived Arts@TheCore and has spent the past decade building Carolina Performing Arts into a performing arts presenter. Kang worked with Cousins Properties and Chapel Hill town leaders to create the new project.

“We envision The Core@Carolina Square as an incubator for artists and audiences to share creative experiences and to serve as the home for our artists-in-residence,” Kang said. “These shared experiences will be immersive, interactive and intimate, all qualities that resonate with our desire to bring artists and audiences closer together.”

Folt said The Core@Carolina Square is expected to cost more than $5 million and that the University has designated $4 million toward it. It will include two flexible spaces: an adaptable black box-style performance and creative space, and a separate rehearsal space. As a research space, it will host artists, in collaboration with scientists and technologists, to experiment with ideas and advance new projects. As a performance space, it will present an annual program of public performances, including experimental dance and theater, jazz, cabaret and Saturday morning programs for families. A separate studio will serve as a rehearsal space for visiting dance companies, theater groups, students and community groups. The venue also will allow students and faculty to explore the intersection of arts and academics more directly by holding artist-student workshops and seminars.

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt ’92 (ABEd, ’00 JD) gave several examples of the collaborations the new space could support. One was how computer science students and faculty working in the field of big data could work with artists to address issues, including privacy of personal information. Dancer and choreographer Hope Boykin with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater already is planning to work with Dr. Stuart Gold, head of UNC’s division of hematology and oncology in the department of pediatrics, to produce work for children undergoing treatment for cancer and for their families.

In addition to The Core@Carolina Square, Cousins Properties and Northwood Ravin have designed Carolina Square to include retail, office and residential space as well as a public green space, which also will be utilized for performances and entertainment.

The Core@Carolina Square is slated to open in August 2017.


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