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McGregor Hall Closed Through March 28; Perrys & Kingsmen Concert Rescheduled

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-Information courtesy McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center

We find ourselves in unprecedented times, and we’d like to update you on what we at McGregor Hall are doing to support local, state, and national efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19. We are absolutely committed to the safety of our staff, our patrons, our volunteers, and our community, and are thus adhering to guidelines recommended both by Governor Cooper’s order and by the Centers for Disease Control.

These measures include:

•McGregor Hall will be closed to the public through March 28, 2020. Our box office will be closed during this time, and all scheduled events will be either canceled or rescheduled.

•The Angelina Ballerina school field trip performance originally scheduled for Thursday, March 19, is canceled.

•The Perrys and Kingsmen concert originally scheduled for Friday, March 20, has been rescheduled for Friday, June 12 at 7 p.m., and all currently issued tickets for that event will be valid for use on June 12 with the same reserved seating.

During this closure, a professional cleaning company will thoroughly clean the entire interior of McGregor Hall, with particular attention paid to restrooms, food service areas, seating, and high traffic areas. As always, we welcome you to reach out anytime with questions via [email protected], via Facebook messenger, or by leaving a message at (252) 598-0662.

We look forward to gathering with you again as soon as possible to enjoy the finest in live entertainment on our stage. Until then, be sure to check both our Facebook page and www.mcgregorhall.org for updates. We are indeed grateful for your support.

The Kingsmen & The Perrys to Perform Gospel Hits at McGregor Hall

100.1 FM / 1450 AM WIZS; Local News broadcasts M-F 8am, 12pm, 5pm

-Information courtesy McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center

The Kingsmen and The Perrys, two gospel music greats, will be performing at McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center on Friday, March 20, 2020, at 7 p.m.

For more than half a century, no group has secured such a far-reaching legacy as The Kingsmen. Through the late 1970s and 1980s, they recorded hit after hit, including “Old Ship of Zion,” “Beautiful Home,” and “Saints Will Rise.” In 1981, “Excuses” became The Kingsmen’s biggest hit of the era, steady at number one for 18 months, making it the longest-running number-one song in Southern Gospel Music History.

If you have ever seen The Perrys in concert, you have undoubtedly sensed the power and conviction with which they sing. From the high-octane, hand-clapping hit, “I Wish I Could Have Been There,” to the anointed anthem, “If You Know Him,” the Dove Award-winning group has been delivering soul-stirring performances across North America for nearly five decades.

Tickets for this event may be purchased by:

DROP-IN: 201 Breckenridge Street, Henderson, N.C. Monday – Friday 1:30 – 5:30 p.m

CALL: (252) 598-0662 (M-F 1:30 – 5:30 p.m.)

CLICK HERE: www.McGregorHall.org  (Use the eTix official site, online fees apply)

(This is not a paid advertisement)

Town Talk 02/20/20: Hopper Discusses McGregor Hall’s Municipal Funding Request

THIS STORY IS PRESENTED IN PART BY DRAKE DENTISTRY

Mark Hopper, operations director of McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center and chair of the Embassy Cultural Center Foundation, appeared on WIZS Town Talk Thursday at 11 a.m.

Hopper discussed McGregor Hall’s recent open-ended request for funding from the City of Henderson and Vance County, supporting the proposal with information gleaned from a recent economic impact study completed by the Municipal Research Lab at NC State University.

With an operations budget of approximately $500,000, Hopper said the center is maintained by one full-time employee, three part-time employees with a combined 20 hours per week and the help of volunteers who “go above and beyond.”

“That is an extremely lean budget for a facility like ours,” Hopper said. “Most facilities like ours our operating in the $800,000 to a million-dollar budget range.”

Providing a brief history of the building of McGregor Hall, Hopper explained that the Embassy Cultural Center Foundation fundraised for the $9 million center. Six months before opening, one pledge fell through, according to Hopper, and the Center owes a remaining $2.9 million through a low-interest USDA loan with an approximate annual payment of $124,000 a year.

The center is now requesting assistance from the City and County to offset this debt payment every year. An exact dollar amount was not specified in the request.

Hopper said McGregor Hall, with seating for 1,000, is breaking new ground as the only performing arts center in the state with over 750 seats not connected with an educational institution that does not receive any kind of municipal funding.

While McGregor Hall staff and volunteers are proud of being a pioneer of sorts, Hopper said management of debt, City and County funding and increased staffing are essential for continued growth and sustainability.

“Our primary goal is not really an artistic one,” Hopper expressed in a sentiment that he has shared in previous interviews with WIZS. “Our primary purpose in our formation was an economic one. We intended to be an economic stimulus in downtown Henderson.”

According to the results of McGregor Hall’s economic impact study, the center is achieving that goal. During the 12 month study period prior to April 2019, McGregor Hall was directly responsible for injecting $2.4 million into the Henderson economy and was responsible for 5.5% of all economic growth in Vance County over the past three years.

“Taking that kind of economic presence out of the Vance County and Henderson economy right now would be absolutely devastating. We want this to grow and get even bigger. We are starting to see some really exciting things going on in downtown Henderson and we feel we’ve had a big part in making that happen,” stated Hopper.

To hear the interview with Hopper in its entirety, go to WIZS.com and click on Town Talk.

Town Talk 02/18/20: Daeke Discusses Potential McGregor Hall Funding

THIS STORY IS PRESENTED IN PART BY DRAKE DENTISTRY

Garry Daeke, Henderson City Council member, appeared on WIZS Town Talk Tuesday at 11 a.m.

Daeke briefly mentioned the upcoming Focus 20/20 Regional Economic Development Summit to be held at McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center on Thursday, February 20, 2020, and discussed the success of another downtown entity, Sadie’s Coffee Corner.

“What a great venue, and a great community space where people can come together,” said Daeke. “Sadie’s is a great place for anyone and everyone to come together in downtown, relax and enjoy good food and drinks.”

In light of a recently completed economic development study quantifying McGregor Hall’s impact on the local economy, including increased traffic at downtown business and restaurants, McGregor Hall representatives requested City and County funding to assist with its remaining $2.9 million debt.

The results of the study, prepared by the Municipal Research Lab at NC State University, were sent to Vance County Manager Jordan McMillen and former City of Henderson Manager Frank Frazier. While McGregor Hall did not list a specific monetary amount in its funding request, it pointed out the following, as indicated in the study:

  • McGregor Hall is directly responsible for injecting $2.4 million into the Henderson economy during the 12 months preceding April 2019.
  • McGregor Hall is directly responsible for 5.5% of all economic growth in Vance County over the past three years.
  • McGregor Hall, with a 1,000 seating capacity, is the only performing arts center with over 750 seats in NC (not connected with an educational institution) that does not receive any kind of municipal or county funding.

With an annual budget of $491,839 as of 2018, McGregor Hall currently operates with one full-time employee and three part-time employees. The rest of the blanks are filled by numerous volunteers and donors, a feat that Daeke admitted will be hard to maintain in the long-run.

“I don’t think it can continue, in my opinion, with the level of quality they provide now with just so many volunteers,” Daeke said. “It’s very important that the McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center continues to grow, thrive and be a pinnacle centerpiece for Vance County.”

Providing a history of the construction of McGregor Hall and other Breckenridge buildings, including the Henderson Police Department, Daeke stated that the City has already invested quite a bit of money into the project and suggested the County may be the place to turn to for additional funding.

“The City has a couple of million dollars in the facility already whereas the County was not involved in that funding,” explained Daeke. “The County benefits greatly from the sales tax [generated by McGregor Hall], the City to a lesser degree. For every $3 that’s generated by McGregor Hall, $2 goes to the County and $1 to the City.”

Daeke said the impact study has helped to shine a light on the extent of McGregor Hall’s economic reach and believes the County appreciates the results as well.

“A very fair and economical way of helping would be for the County to step up and provide some help; they get return from it. I do think the County sees its role in continuing to help McGregor Hall.”

To hear the interview with Daeke in its entirety, go to WIZS.com and click on Town Talk.

‘One Noble Journey’ to Pay Tribute to Black History Month at McGregor Hall

100.1 FM / 1450 AM WIZS; Local News broadcasts M-F 8am, 12pm, 5pm

-Information courtesy McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center

In celebration of Black History Month, McGregor Hall will feature “One Noble Journey: A Black History Month Tribute” on Tuesday, February 18, 2020. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m.

ONE NOBLE JOURNEY is a moving play telling the story of Henry “Box” Brown, an African American born into slavery in Louisa, Virginia. Henry devised an ingenious escape plan — sealing himself in a wooden box for shipment to friends and freedom in Philadelphia.

Tickets for this event may be purchased by:

DROP-IN: 201 Breckenridge Street, Henderson, N.C. Monday – Friday 1:30 – 5:30 p.m

CALL: (252) 598-0662 (M-F 1:30 – 5:30 p.m.)

CLICK HERE: www.McGregorHall.org  (Use the eTix official site, online fees apply)

(This is not a paid advertisement)

McGregor Celebrates Valentine’s Day, Music & Black History Month This Feb.

THIS STORY IS PRESENTED IN PART BY DRAKE DENTISTRY

-Information courtesy McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center

Don’t miss these special events at McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center in downtown Henderson this February:

ABBAMANIA: An ABBA Tribute!

  • Friday, February 14, 7:30 p.m.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day at McGregor with a night of ABBA!

Come enjoy a rock musical which takes you back to the disco era with one of the best pop bands in history – ABBA. “ABBAMANIA” features nine incredible musicians and singers performing 21 of ABBA’s hit, with all the costume changes, choreography, live band, backup singers, and the big studio sound.

The New Century Saxophone Quartet

  • Sunday, February 16, 2 p.m.

Part of the 2020 Classical and Chamber Performance Series!

Internationally acclaimed, New Century Saxophone Quartet has performed in Carnegie Hall, the Villa Schoenberg in Zurich, and the Academy for the Performing Arts in Hong Kong. They have appeared on television and radio across the United States and offered two command performances for President Clinton in the White House. The Quartet features Henderson’s own, Michael Stephenson.

ONE NOBLE JOURNEY: A Black History Month Tribute

  • Tuesday, February 18, 7:30 p.m.

ONE NOBLE JOURNEY is a moving play telling the story of Henry “Box” Brown, an African American born into slavery in Louisa, Virginia. Henry devised an ingenious escape plan — sealing himself in a wooden box for shipment to friends and freedom in Philadelphia.

Tickets for these events may be purchased by:

DROP-IN: 201 Breckenridge Street, Henderson, N.C. Monday – Friday 1:30 – 5:30 p.m

CALL: (252) 598-0662 (M-F 1:30 – 5:30 p.m.)

CLICK HERE: www.McGregorHall.org  (Use the eTix official site, online fees apply)

(This is not a paid advertisement)

McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center Requests City, County Funding

100.1 FM / 1450 AM WIZS; Local News broadcasts M-F 8am, 12pm, 5pm

Mark Hopper, chair of the Embassy Cultural Center Foundation, provided WIZS News with additional information regarding Wednesday’s story on McGregor Hall’s funding request to local government:

McGregor Hall did not list a monetary amount in its funding request. We are hoping to have help with our debt service on the building, of which $18 million has already been paid privately ($12 million for construction of Perry Library and $6 million for construction of McGregor Hall). $2.9 million in debt remains and is financed through a low-interest USDA loan.

Letters and information packets were sent to both Jordan McMillen, County Manager, and Frank Frazier, City Manager in the first days of this year. Each letter was accompanied by the results of the study of McGregor Hall’s economic impact on Henderson and Vance County as prepared by the Municipal Research Lab at NC State University for the 12-month period preceding April 2019.

Important items:

  • McGregor Hall intentionally waited to submit this kind of funding request to the city and county until we could do so responsibly with proof that we are achieving our stated primary purpose of economic revitalization in downtown Henderson and Vance County. According to the Economic Impact Study:
    • McGregor Hall is directly responsible for injecting $2.4 million into the Henderson economy (scope of the study was limited to the City for manageability) during the 12 months in question.
    • McGregor Hall is directly responsible for 5.5% of all economic growth in Vance County over the past three years.
    • Of all of McGregor Hall’s direct revenue, over 39% comes from nonresident patrons and purchases, proving McGregor Hall’s status as a primary tourist magnet.
    • Major event days at McGregor create massive upticks in restaurant and hotel traffic.
  • McGregor Hall is the only performing arts center in the state we’ve identified with over 750 seats (McGregor is 1,000 seats) not connected with an educational institution that does not receive any kind of municipal or county funding.  We currently operate with one full-time employee (Technical Director) and three part-time employees with a combined 20 hours per week (two box office staff and janitor).  Our annual budget in 2018 was $491,839.
    • The Paramount Theater in Goldsboro has two full-time employees and 25 part-time employees.  The room seats 400. The City of Goldsboro handled all construction costs and is responsible for all debt service. Additionally, they receive $180,000 annually in combined city/county funding for operations to help fund their $480,000 annual budget.
    • The Theater at the Arts Center in Fuquay-Varina has two full-time employees and 14 part-time employees. The room seats 300. The facility’s construction costs were funded by the city. All of the facility’s upkeep and the entire annual budget of $725,000 is funded by the city.
    • The High Point Theater has six full-time employees and three part-time. It seats 750. The city funded its original construction in 1975 and has funded several additional renovations since. 100% of their $1.3 million annual budget is provided by the City of High Point, offset by an average of $800,000 in annual ticket sales.

There are many other examples, but these are representative of the norms.

There is no comparable model for what we are accomplishing with this facility through the sacrificial work of passionate volunteers and donors. We are defying the odds, writing a new playbook, and making Henderson way more than a punchline for the jokes of people in the Triangle. We are making life better for citizens in Vance County and helping to create and sustain businesses and their accompanying jobs.

What other current economic revitalization project in our town and county can prove that it’s making this kind of difference? What would happen if 5.5% of our economic growth in Vance County suddenly disappeared?

At the end of the day, we are a group of citizens trying to make where we live a better place, and asking nothing in return for it except help in achieving our goal.

McGregor Hall Funding, County Budget Topics of Commissioners’ Meeting

THIS STORY IS PRESENTED IN PART BY DRAKE DENTISTRY

Vance County Manager Jordan McMillen provided WIZS with the following summary of the Vance County Board of Commissioners’ meeting held Monday, February 3, 2020:

McGregor Hall Funding Request: The committee discussed a funding request McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center recently made to both the City and County. The county manager provided a review of a recent economic impact study indicating McGregor Hall has an estimated annual economic impact of 2.34 million in additional restaurant, hotel and other spending within the City and County.

Mark Hopper, from McGregor Hall, was present and provided an overview of the performing arts center operations as well as their outstanding debt which is a $124,000 annual debt payment ($2.9 million over 40 years). This is preventing them from growing and providing a higher level of programming.

He noted that a higher level of programming has a cost between $25,000 and $30,000 per show and is unsustainable with McGregor’s desire to keep ticket prices below $35 for the local citizens. He also noted that ticket sales alone are not the primary revenue generator of any theatre and that the most successful performing arts center in the United States (Durham Performing Arts Center – DPAC) also receives local government funding.

In addition to this, he mentioned a recent review of similar facilities in North Carolina which indicated that McGregor Hall was the only one without local government support. The committee members discussed whether other grants, organizations, or endowments could be helpful in supporting McGregor Hall in the future.

The city and county members discussed the need to review McGregor Hall’s audit, and was agreeable to considering a specific request from McGregor during budget deliberations, but made no commitments (City or County) on any funding for McGregor Hall at this time.

Downtown Wi-Fi: The City members seemed receptive to the idea of contributing to this effort. This was the shortest item discussed during the committee meeting and we anticipate the city folks will get back to us on what, if anything, they can contribute. Our board believes free downtown Wi-Fi is needed, and they would like both city and county working together on this.

Audit: The audit went well – no material weakness findings and the financials are in order. We did dip into our general fund balance to the tune of $2.2 million last year, but $1.7 of that was the purchase of land for economic development which was anticipated.

Even with this, our unassigned fund balance was just over 28% at the end of June 2019 and our target is to stay above 25%. We need to be careful from a budgeting standpoint going forward because revenue growth has been very minimal compared to the funding requests and needs that we see each year.

Although we go into each budget looking to keep the tax rate the same, there were some items added last year that could have necessitated a tax increase. That will make this upcoming year’s budget more challenging without a tax increase – but we will get into those numbers soon. We will discuss the upcoming budget in more depth at our Planning Retreat on Monday.

Litter Cleanup: We heard a great presentation on what NCDOT is doing to combat litter. Over time, fewer prisons are participating in litter cleanup, but NCDOT is still spending $20.9 million a year to combat the problem. The bulk of this is paid to contract companies who cleanup along our roadways.

It was interesting to see that in Vance County alone, 64.97 tons of roadside litter was cleaned up by NCDOT.  Also, we have had a lot of success recently reporting roadside litter problems to NCDOT through their online portal www.ncdot.gov/contact. In some instances we reported it and they cleaned the road up the very next day.

To see more information on the Vance County Board of Commissioners, including meeting agendas, proposed budgets and reports, visit www.vancecounty.org/departments/board-of-commissioners/.

‘ABBAMANIA’ Taking Over McGregor Hall This Valentine’s Day

100.1 FM / 1450 AM WIZS; Local News broadcasts M-F 8am, 12pm, 5pm

-Information courtesy McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center

Celebrate Valentine’s Day at McGregor Hall with a night of “ABBAMANIA: An ABBA Tribute” on Friday, February 14, 2020. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m.

Come enjoy a rock musical which takes you back to the disco era with one of the best pop bands in history, ABBA. “ABBAMANIA” features nine incredible musicians and singers performing 21 of ABBA’s hits, with all the costume changes, choreography, live band, backup singers and the big studio sound.

Tickets for this event may be purchased by:

DROP-IN: 201 Breckenridge Street, Henderson, N.C. Monday – Friday 1:30 – 5:30 p.m

CALL: (252) 598-0662 (M-F 1:30 – 5:30 p.m.)

CLICK HERE: www.McGregorHall.org  (Use the eTix official site, online fees apply)

(This is not a paid advertisement)

Fairytale Characters to Take Over McGregor Hall!

100.1 FM / 1450 AM WIZS; Local News broadcasts M-F 8am, 12pm, 5pm

-Information courtesy McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center

McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center is gearing up for its presentation of “Into the Woods,” a fully staged Broadway-style musical presented with a live, professional orchestra.

Evening performances include Sat., February 1, Fri., February 7 and Sat., February 8 at 8 p.m. Matinee performances will be offered at 2 p.m. on Sun., February 2 and Sun., February 9, 2020.

Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece “Into the Woods” is a modern twist on the beloved fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, entwining the classic stories of Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and Little Red Riding Hood with an original story about a baker and his wife wishing to start a family and live a more wonderful life. The moral of this story? Be careful what you wish for!

Tickets for this event may be purchased by:

DROP-IN: 201 Breckenridge Street, Henderson, N.C. Monday – Friday 1:30 – 5:30 p.m

CALL: (252) 598-0662 (M-F 1:30 – 5:30 p.m.)

CLICK HERE: www.McGregorHall.org  (Use the eTix official site, online fees apply)

(This is not a paid advertisement)