Bricks, brass and benevolences available at Turnage

Published 7:43 pm Tuesday, October 13, 2020

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For the Washington Daily News


Two new fundraising programs now offer almost 600 opportunities for supporters of the arts to put their literal, personal marks on the Turnage Theatre.

The new options are named “Paving a Way for the Arts” and “Adopt an Orphan Seat.” Arts of the Pamlico Director Debra Torrence said the two programs have been going on just a couple of weeks and a membership drive is under way as well.

“We’ve got a trifecta. These new efforts and the fundraiser are three ways for people to be part of historic preservationism, supporting the arts in a very different way,” Torrence said.

Participants in “Paving a Way for the Arts” will be able to buy one or more of about 500 bricks, for a donation of $100 each, on a first come, first served basis. Those bricks will be engraved with donors’ personal messages and installed in front of the theatre’s Main Street location.

“We’ve been doing brick engraving for several years, but expansion of the streetscape offers more options for people to participate in a great way to support the theater,” Torrence said.

The second option, “Adopt an Orphan Seat,” will allow theater supporters to make their customized marks on one of the theater’s 432 seats. Torrence said the brass seat plaques are one inch wide and three inches long. For a donation of $250 each, they will be affixed to the arm of one of the 170 seats that still don’t have a plaque. Messages can be as simple as a family member’s name, or donors can be creative and craft a brief message for their seat of choice. Torrence said those plaques are available on a first come, first served basis, and a theater seating chart is available for patrons interested in “adopting one or more of our available orphans.”

Torrence said the programs are “two wonderful ways for people to be a literal part of historical preservationism at the theater, and supporting the arts in a different way. It all goes to supporting the operations of the theater, including everything from providing virtual exhibits, paying the light bill, keeping the building heated and cooled, all the things we have to do to keep the Turnage rolling while we wait out this COVID stuff.”

Along with the two fundraisers, Torrence said the Arts of the Pamlico board is being “even more creative in thinking about how to create access to the arts during the pandemic, including outdoor painting events as far away as Belhaven.” She said the plein air day there last June was so popular that it will be repeated from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, in front of the Eileen Sanger Studio at 487 East St. along the Belhaven waterfront. The COVID-compliant art opportunity requires masks, and will include a “wet art sale” after participating artists have finished their creations, as well as a lunchtime demonstration and workshop.

For more information or to download the required form, visit the theater’s website at and follow the prompts to get to the appropriate section.