Friday, April 4, 2008

DCC’s Rhythm & Roots campaign announced

“Making history in Cleveland County” is the theme of the Destination Cleveland County Rhythm & Roots capital campaign now underway. A solid start has been made, and campaign leaders hope many others will sign on for the journey.

Cheering that message were approximately 250 local citizens gathered at The Gingerbread Meeting House in Shelby, N. C., April 3 for announcement of the capital campaign to raise a total $7.5 million over five years. The local goal is $4.2 million, and the remainder will be sought from foundations and other grant sources. DCC will use the funds to carry out plans for attracting significant cultural tourism to the area by building on its unique musical heritage, history, and charm.

To do that, DCC plans include two catalyst projects. One is creation of the Earl Scruggs Center--Songs and Stories of the Carolina Foothills, to be located in the historic former county courthouse building. The other is conversion of a former Shelby movie house into the Don Gibson Theatre.

Introduced by DCC Board Chair Brownie Plaster, Campaign General Chairs Robin Hendrick and J. T. Scruggs reported that $3.6 million – more than 80 percent of the local goal – has already been pledged. The amount includes the City of Shelby’s matching grant of $500,000 toward the theater renovation, Cleveland County government’s commitment of $1.5 million for interior renovation of the former courthouse building, and generous gifts from early local contributors.

Also introduced were Linton Suttle and Adelaide Craver, chairs of the campaign’s Leadership Council, and Robin Smith and Will Plaster, chairs of the Leadership Division. Jim Rose is honorary chair of the campaign.

“This is a generous community and an important night,” Scruggs said. The event recognized both the capital campaign launch and progress made to date.

“DCC is less than two years old,” Ms. Plaster reported, “and in that time it has researched the viability of the two projects, secured the leases for the two venues, begun the inventory of the county’s historical artifacts, assembled a growing volunteer base, secured top national consultants to guide us, and established relationships with the University of North Carolina, Duke University, and elected officials on the local, state, and national levels.”

“When the Master Plan for the Scruggs Center and the programming of the Gibson Theatre are revealed, the excitement will grow even more,” Hendrick said. DCC is engaged now in the master planning process with the help of an expert team of museum planners and other cultural historians and specialists.

Those gathered heard more about Rhythm & Roots and saw a special CD presentation describing the proactive five-year public and private initiative to accelerate cultural tourism and economic development and to recognize local history and heritage, as revitalization strategies.

The effort is attracting the attention of others elsewhere involved in development and heritage preservation.

“I am thrilled to know about the exciting plans being developed by Destination Cleveland County,” said Dr. Bill Ferris, eminent professor of history at the Center for the Study of the American South at UNC-Chapel Hill. “The project will have a significant impact on the state of North Carolina as a resource for cultural tourism and education. I look forward to working with the citizens of Cleveland County as the project develops and am confident that it will be a great success.”

Several early contributors to the campaign were recognized during the event, made even more festive with the music of the Gardner-Webb University Concert Choir, directed by Dr. Paul Etter, and the GWU Drum Line. Among the lead donors are Ann Harry, First National Bank, Linton and Sallie Suttle, the Suttle Family Foundation (Linton and Sallie Suttle, Carole and Jack Arey, and Vance and Gina Suttle), and the Fox family (Mrs. C. L. Fox, Larry and Karen Fox, and Lisa and Mike Poage).

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