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Waynesville’s Performing Arts Center suffers damage after pipe breakage

By Michael Beadle

The Haywood Arts Regional Theatre will probably have to rebuild its box office and concession stand after a pipe burst earlier this month, flooding the floors of the lobby, auditorium and lower-level rooms of the Performing Arts Center in Waynesville.

Sometime in the afternoon on Dec. 7, cold weather caused a pipe in the ceiling of the concession stand to burst, filling the ceiling, adjacent walls and floors below with gushing water. The ceiling in the box office also partially collapsed. Once the water filled up in those rooms, it poured into the theatre’s lobby and down into the main auditorium and lower level costume storage rooms.

“It didn’t shut down the building; it just got everything wet,” said Steve Lloyd, HART’s executive director, who discovered the damage that day before leaving his office, which is located in the back of the building.

Within half an hour of finding the problem, a dozen volunteers were down at the Performing Arts Center armed with Shop-Vac’s to help clean up the mess and prepare the theatre for upcoming Christmas performances of “Babes in Toyland” and “The Nutcracker.” The Performing Arts Center has been home to HART productions as well as community festivals and music events for the past eight years.

A week after the water damage, workers had set up fans and dehumidifiers to air out the moisture in the floors and walls. Lloyd is waiting to hear back from adjusters to see what damage will be covered by insurance. At this point, the flooring, ceiling and walls in the box office and concession stand will probably have to be replaced due to water damage, according to Lloyd. The carpeting in the lobby gallery will also probably need to be replaced. Some of the carpeting in the auditorium is buckling, but to replace that would mean all the seats in the auditorium would have to be taken out, Lloyd said. In addition, some equipment such as the headsets used for the hearing impaired during performances will have to be replaced.

However, the seats inside the auditorium, the main stage, backstage, and costume rooms are all fine, Lloyd said.

“And we don’t have to cancel anything,” he added.

The damage comes during a lull in HART’s season. The studio season at the Performing Arts Center doesn’t begin until the middle of January, and the main stage season doesn’t begin until April.

If there’s a silver lining to the flood damage, it may be that the theatre will be able to redesign the box office and concession stand so the rooms are more accommodating to guests and HART volunteers. One redesign Lloyd is considering would be to allow the box office room to be extended and closed off from the concession stand while giving the concession stand more counter space.

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