One hears that important business gets done at Rotary luncheons, but it's hard to top the accomplishment at 721 Broad St. this week, a mere eight months after Jodee Nimerichter, director of the American Dance Festival, and a local developer had a chance conversation at a Rotary function.
Now, after more than three decades of being strictly a tenant, the American Dance Festival opened its own permanent teaching studio. On Monday, ADF dignitaries were joined by Durham's Mayor Pro Tem Cora Cole-McFadden and about three dozen white-clad dancers, who appeared as if sprites from the forest and danced in front of the building, behind the high windows of the studios, and across Broad Street on the grass of Duke University's East Campus. The facility will be called the Samuel H. Scripps Studio, in honor of the theater and dance patron who served on the board of ADF, among many other activities.
For Nimerichter, who is in her first year of being the sole director of the festival after years of assisting ADF Board President and Director Emeritus Charles Reinhart, the existence of this building is a spectacular coup. After fellow Rotarian Arthur Rogers mentioned to her last October that he was developing the lot, Nimerichter realized it was perfectly situated, down the street from the festival's administrative office and just off East Campus, where ADF summer courses are taught.
Events moved so quickly from a follow-up meeting Nimerichter had with Rogers at Watts Grocery to the contract in December that the festival had no time to do any advance fundraising. Instead, a lead gift of more than half of the $1.5 million price tag was made by the SHS Foundation, which was set up by Scripps, who died in 2007. The foundation president is Richard E. Feldman, who is on the ADF board and who was given the honor of cutting the ribbon Monday.
The 10,000-square-foot facility boasts well-lit upstairs studios for ADF, while additional space in the building will be leased to several local businesses. Sasha Berghausen of BLOK Architecture, Jack Moore Mixon Construction and ADF design consultant Oswald Nagler were central to the building's construction.
Although Rogers' firm, Eno Ventures, owns the land and enclosing building, ADF's space is its own, a condominium. Now that the studio is up and running, Nimerichter's attention will turn to a capital campaign to pay the rest of the cost of the building and upfit.
Corrections: Richard E. Feldman is president (not manager) of the SHS Foundation. Charles Reinhart is ADF Board President and Director Emeritus (but not an ADF founder).
This article appeared in print with the headline "Rooms of their own."