MOORHEAD-Theatre B will open its next season in Moorhead and the troupe hopes its new home will spark an arts revitalization on the east side of the Red River.
The organization announced in a press release that it would move to the former Lincoln School gymnasium at 215 10th St. N. in Moorhead.
"I do have a soft spot in my heart for Moorhead and want to see that city have a revitalization," said Theatre B's Executive Director, Carrie Wintersteen, a Moorhead resident. "Particularly in terms of the arts and the fact that there are arts dollars that get left on the table every year, I would love to see if we can't be a catalyst for more groups taking advantage of that funding, taking advantage of a community that is turning around and getting excited about redeveloping its downtown. I think we could be a part of that."
For 14 years the group had staged works in Fargo, operating out of 716 Main Ave., from 2005 until the spring of 2016, when it announced it was moving. The 10-person troupe set up camp in the former Schumacher Goodyear Tire and Service Shop at 409 Broadway for the 2016-17 season.
"Just having a space where we can settle in for a while is very exciting," said Wintersteen. "The space itself is great, has lots of potential and the structure is really well suited for theater."
Wintersteen said the former gymnasium will serve as the theater space. The 40-by-60 foot room is currently split in half with one side open and the other broken into offices and classroom space. The plan is to open the whole space up for productions, which would seat 75 to 100 patrons. She said the half-room configuration would be similar to the space at 409 Broadway and would seat 70 to 75.
Theatre B's 15th season will open in October, but the shows have not been announced.
The press release states that rising rent in downtown Fargo was a reason the group decided to move.
The new lease is slightly less expensive than the Main Avenue space, but there is more opportunities for growth, she said.
"There's lots of potential to take over the entire space and program a wide variety of things," Wintersteen said, regarding the rest of the building, though she thought other arts organizations would be interested in the space.
The Moorhead building, which until recently hosted programs for the Boys and Girls Club and the Youth Commission, was recently purchased by Karin and Joe Rudd.
"We wanted to create an arts space," Karin said in the press release.,
"We know how important it is to have affordable space for artists in this community," said Karin, a member of the board of directors for the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre and The Arts Partnership.
Theatre B had been negotiating for a space in the proposed Sunflower Center for the Arts at 18 13 ½ St. N., Fargo, but Wintersteen said there was a chance North Dakota's funding for the arts could be cut and there was more financial opportunity on the other side of the Red River.
"It felt like the climate in North Dakota was not as warm to the arts as in Minnesota," she said.
She added that there are no comparable venues in Moorhead to take advantage of funding from Minnesota Arts Board.