LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Arts Council is gearing up for opening day at its new location.
The new Robeson County Arts Council center, located at 700 Roberts Ave. in Lumberton inside of Belle Plaza, will open Saturday. The council center and an artist gallery by Melvin Morris that is connected to the building will debut together as the Rowan Center for the Arts.
“At this new location, we are surrounded by residential properties, and we want people to be able to walk to listen to music or see theater productions,” said Nila Chamberlain, Robeson County Arts Council’s artistic director.
The grand opening will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature art exhibitions, music, dance and more. Before being used as an arts center, the buildings were used as retail and restaurant space. View a full schedule of events here.
“The building was built by my father back in the 1980s,” said Will Rowan, the owner of the buildings. “It was always intended to have multiple things in it. It served as that for many many years and then it was empty for a while. Last year, Melvin Morris rented the restaurant space as an arts center. He has the right hand side which is more of an art gallery, and the left side will be rented by the Robeson County Arts Council.”
The arts council’s building includes space for art and music lessons and private vocal lesson space and features a large outdoor yard where Chamberlain says music festivals and concerts will be held.
According to Chamberlain, the walls at the new location are able to display for-sale pieces of art by local artists.
“At our old location, the walls were plaster, so we couldn’t hang anything, and the rooms, well you couldn’t really fit anyone in them,” she said. “It was a big house but there wasn’t a lot of usable space.”
Chamberlain said the best part of moving from the council’s current location on Maple Street is the additional space where local artists can offer classes at prices they set individually. She said a list of the classes and the prices would be available at the opening.
Although the center will be fully staffed for the opening event and during events throughout the year, Chamberlain said the center won’t always have someone at its front desk.
“We have no paid staff. We are all volunteers,” she said. “When Melvin is here, he will have a key to our side. If people come through, he can show them the art.”
Chamberlain said the opening day wouldn’t be possible without help from community partners like Councilman Burnis Wilkins, Arnold’s Restaurant, whose owner, Arnold West, is providing free refreshments at the event, and more.
She hopes the new location will bring the community together and to show visitors that the arts thrive in Robeson County.
“The community does not know yet what to make of us,” she said. “We don’t want to be intrusive, we want to be a place where they can come and enjoy good music, good art and good times.”