Wortham Center for the Performing Arts’ mission is to enrich, enlighten, educate and entertain through the performing arts.
The Wortham Center originated in July 1992 as the Diana Wortham Theatre, the name of its first venue.
Conceived in the late 1980s, the Diana Wortham Theatre was a partner within the Pack Place complex in Asheville, a project designed to be a catalyst for downtown revitalization. Opened in 1992, the theatre helped bring nighttime activity to a then-dormant city center. The theatre is named in honor of Asheville resident Diana Gayle Wortham, a major supporter of the development of Pack Place.
A creation of the visionary leaders, Pack Place Education, Arts and Science Center and Diana Wortham Theatre emerged to fill a need for impactful performing arts in the Asheville community. Nearly 30 years later, this nonprofit facility continues to anchor the vibrant cultural life that defines Asheville.
Throughout the years, passionate supporters continued this extraordinary vision, making possible the major expansion that, in September 2019, transformed the theatre into the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts.
Expansion of the Wortham Center
In 2015, Diana Wortham Theatre launched The Next Stage capital campaign to fund the transformation into the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts, raising more than $3.1 million toward that goal.
In January 2019, construction began — expanding the single-stage entity into a three-venue performing arts complex. The Wortham Center for the Performing Arts opened September 2019, with a celebration coinciding with the beginning of the Wortham Center’s 2019/2020 Season.
The Wortham Center comprises three venues: the existing 500-seat Diana Wortham Theatre, with a state-of-the-art sound system and energy efficient LED lighting system; the Tina McGuire Theatre, a multi-use black box theatre with comfortable, tiered seating for 80-100 people; and the Henry LaBrun Studio, a multi-use space for classes and events, seating 60-80 people. By expanding from one to three venues, the Wortham Center poised itself to meet the needs of the broader community better than ever before, allowing increased access to programming, development of new community partnerships, added educational offerings and space rental services to our community.
The transformation also included a renovation of the Wortham Center’s main entrance and lobby, and the Explore Asheville Courtyard off Biltmore Avenue. Redesigned and streamlined, the outdoor entrance has transformed into a gathering space with an outdoor stage, seating areas for patrons, designated dining areas and additional access to the Henry LaBrun Studio.
Hosting more than 200 public events a year with attendance exceeding 55,000 each year, the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts is an established, beloved asset and resource for the community. The facility is home to more than 40 local arts groups such as the Ballet Conservatory of Asheville, Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective, Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance, Laugh Your Asheville Off, Folkmoot, Asheville Lyric Opera and the Asheville Ballet. In addition, the theatre presents its own Wortham Center Presents series of notable and internationally acclaimed touring artists.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Rae Geoffrey, Managing Director
Wortham Center for the Performing Arts
Anigiduwagi (Cherokee) Land Acknowledgement
The Wortham Center acknowledges that the land we are on is the ancestral land of the Anigiduwagi, more commonly known as the Cherokee (ᏣᎳᎩᎠᏰᎵ). Learn more about the Cherokee land cessions and the formation of Buncombe County at https://bit.ly/3T0HlCx. Support native art and artists through the Indigenous Walls Project.