by John Stoehr
An article in the Post and Courier today noted that PURE Theatre has decided to move to Noisette. This isn't accurate. There's talk of moving, but no action yet.
PURE's co-founder, Rodney Lee Rogers, was profiled in the newspaper's feature section in recognition of his new one-man play, The Tragedian, about the life of Edwin Booth, the celebrated 19th-century American actor who specialized in portrayals of Hamlet.
The article noted that:
Future productions will be presented in a new venue as Pure Theatre plans to move into a space at the former Charleston Naval Base in North Charleston in an arrangement with the Noisette Co., which owns the area.
"We are so pleased the Noisette Co. is offering us a 150-seat space at a reasonable rent," says Rogers, who searched downtown but could find nothing remotely affordable.
Yes and no.
The acting troupe has been approached by the Noisette Co. and there is serious discussion underway that may lead to a decision about taking up resident at the Old Naval Yard.
But thus far nothing has been decided.
According to Sharon Graci, wife of Rogers and PURE co-founder, the ensemble has recently received a grant from the city, making relocation to Noisette a sticky issue.
PURE wants to stay in the city limits, she said. If forced to, however, they will do what is necessary to continue performing shows like The Tragedian, currently being produced at the Circular Congregational Church on Meeting Street.
The fact that PURE hasn't decided to move to Noisette (not yet anyway) and wants to stay within Charleston's city limits is good news for those who believe that PURE is the canary in the coal mine: What happens to PURE is what happens to the arts in Charleston.
Dan Conover, a feature writer for the Post and Courier, wrote to me this morning, in response to post yesterday about the lease issue of the Redux Contemporary Art Center:
I’ve got a bad feeling about this. Downtown rents are based on value to high-end retailers, etc., not on arts venues, mom-and-pops, diners and other enterprises that make the city livable.
PURE is going to Noisette, and I expect we’ll see a lot of arts related endeavors settling around the old navy base or the special district North Charleston set up along Montague between the high school and the tank farm.
If Charleston wants to keep its actual artists, it’s going to have to work to keep them. Otherwise they’ll move north, leaving the Old City will have nothing but the appearance of an arts scene. Talk about fooling the eye…