The Wortham Center for the Performing Arts is excited to announce that it will be installing a new air ionization system to provide air purification throughout the facility. This helps to further create a safe environment for audiences attending events at the downtown Asheville arts complex in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The air purification system, using needlepoint bipolar ionization (NPBI) technology, is the industry gold standard for creating safe, clean indoor spaces and is used at facilities like Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard, the White House, Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Charlotte Douglas Airport. When installed on each of the Wortham Center’s five air handlers, the system will eliminate 99.4 percent of airborne SARS-COVID virus particles by releasing a high concentration of positive and negative ions, which travel through the air seeking out, attaching to, killing and filtering pathogens.
In addition to its clear benefit during a global pandemic, the new NPBI system will decrease the Wortham Center’s energy consumption, reduce the need for outdoor air intake, neutralize odors, allergens and dust particles, and eliminate other pathogens such as mold spores, viruses and bacteria.
Once installed on the venue’s air handlers, the system will provide air purification for all areas of the Wortham Center, from each of its theatres to the lobby, from on stage to backstage, and inside its restrooms and office spaces.
In April the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority board unanimously voted to grant the Wortham Center $45,000 for the new air ionization system to “promote and support Asheville’s creative spirit” by making indoor events safer for all.
“Safety is vital to bringing audiences and artists safely back to performing arts venues,” said Rae Geoffrey, managing director of the Wortham Center. “Thanks to the generous support of the TDA, this state-of-the-art system will help visitors feel more comfortable being together for indoor performances and will jump-start the recovery for performing arts in our community.”
The Tourism Product Development Fund, a granting program set up by the Buncombe County TDA, receives 25 percent of the lodging tax funds paid by overnight visitors in the county. In the last 20 years, 39 community projects have benefitted from $44 million in grants from this fund. The Wortham Center has been awarded support from this fund on more than one occasion, most recently for its renovations completed in early 2020.
“We’re grateful for the continued support from the TDA and for their ongoing recognition of the arts as an important sector for community growth and renewal,” Geoffrey said.