North Raleigh News

Wake Forest could upgrade Renaissance Centre

Town staff is requesting $1 million to upgrade the Renaissance Centre over the next three years in an effort to attract big-name performers.

Public Facilities Manager Mickey Rochelle submitted the request as part of Wake Forest’s 2015-2020 Capital Improvement Plan, which is part of the budget process.

The Board of Commissioners prioritizes requests from staff, and those priorities help guide the budget.

“The building does limit the town,” said Parks and Recreation Director Ruben Wall. “There are certain acts that we can’t have there because of the size of our stage and the lighting.”

Under a three-year plan, staff wants to first spend $67,000 on new lighting and stage improvements. The request also includes $50,000 to raise the ceiling above the stage to help with acoustics and $16,000 to renovate an upstairs area into traditional dressing rooms.

The first year, staff would also buy new video and audio equipment at a cost of about $28,500. Other funding would help better connect the annex adjacent to the Renaissance Centre.

The second year, 2016, would focus on the exterior of the building. A marquee would cost $225,000, according to the request.

In the final year, the town would spend $275,000 to raise the ceiling in the bulding’s main meeting area.

Wake Forest bought two adjoining buildings for $1.2 million in 2013 to create the center, which serves as a performance venue and community space.

At the time, the space had been a privately owned event hall. It was ideal for weddings and large parties, but it has proven less than ideal for hosting professional musicians and theater companies.

Renaissance Centre Manager Pam Stevens said the small stage has made for a challenging first year for the venue. There are problems with acoustics, and while staff has done what it can to help the situation, she said, upgrading the space is the only way to provide a better experience for audiences and performers.

“We’ve done the best we could with what we have,” Stevens said.

The town regularly hosts movie screenings and other events at the center, in addition to performances.

By the end of 2014, staff expected to have hosted about 50 ticketed events. Thousands of people have passed through the doors in the center’s first year of operation.

The Renaissance Centre operates as part of the town’s overall budget but wasn’t expected to be a major source of revenue for the town when it opened.

Ultimately, Stevens said the goal is to make the Renaissance Centre a place music groups and theater troupes want to be.

“We would be more attractive to performers,” she said. “That would be the biggest compliment.”

Hankerson: 919-829-4802;

Twitter: @mechelleh

Have your say

Residents can share their thoughts on a $1 million proposal to upgrade the Renaissance Centre at the March 17 meeting of the Board of Commissioners. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 301 S. Brooks St., Wake Forest.