Local News

Durham stakes claim as Triangle's arts center

Posted August 22, 2008 6:02 p.m. EDT
Updated August 22, 2008 8:33 p.m. EDT

— With more than 100 arts organizations and high-profile events like the American Dance Festival and an exhibit of El Greco paintings at Duke University's Nasher Museum of Art, arts supporters say Durham is quickly becoming the heart of the region's arts scene.

"I think Durham is the place to be," said Sherry DeVries, executive director of the Durham Arts Council. "I think that spirit and that energy has really led to the point now where we are reaching a critical mass of more arts destinations." 

Durham is home to about 140 arts organizations, which is seven times the number in other counties, DeVries said.

Joe Rowand recently moved his Somerhill Gallery from Chapel Hill to Durham to take advantage of the Bull City's growing arts presence and downtown development.

"It just all seemed like the right time. Ten years ago, I know I wouldn't have considered it," Rowand said. "(I like) the significance of using the traditional, wonderful buildings and using them in modern ways."

Architecture is also what attracted The Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham to Durham's downtown. Classes at the school started this week.

"It's artsy. It's edgy," said Mike DePrisco, president of The Art Institute. "We believe that, for the types of programs we offer, it's a good fit for our students and for the community."

The Durham Performing Arts Center, scheduled to open next year, will only strengthen the city's arts credentials, supporters say.

"I guess it is becoming the (Triangle's arts) center," Rowand said.