Wortham Center for the Performing Arts

Matt Peiken | BPR News


It was March 14 at Asheville’s Wortham Center for the Performing Arts. The Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre of Miami was in the middle of a weeklong residency and three-show run when the Coronavirus pandemic ground everything to a halt.

“They did two performances at reduced capacity and by the third performance, we had to close,” recalled Rae Geoffrey, the center’s executive director.

“I don’t think anyone expected it would be this long of a shutdown,” she said. “So we were kind of scrambling to see what we could to reschedule everything for a week, a month, which turned into two months, which turned into three months, which turns into indefinite right now.”

Sandra Stambaugh

Until now, renting the 500-seat Diana Wortham Theater was impractical and unaffordable for smaller-budgeted arts organizations. But a renovation and rebranding has opened two smaller, black box spaces at the renamed Wortham Center for the Performing Arts, and the Different Strokes Performing Arts Collective is the center’s first formally recognized resident company.