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Playhouse launches 'Rock Solid' campaign to combat Covid damage

Flat Rock Playhouse has launched a capital campaign in response to the effects of Covid-19.


Dubbed Rock Solid, the campaign aims to preserve the legacy of the Playhouse, ignite the passion for theatre in the community and revitalize the arts in Henderson County and beyond. The campaign kicks off with a generous gift from David Leiman, matching donors’ contributions dollar for dollar up to $118,000.

After beginning their 2020 season in the strongest financial position in over a decade, the Playhouse was forced to go dark in mid-March because of the worldwide pandemic, government restrictions and industry health standards placed on large performing arts venues. The State Theatre of North Carolina, which relies heavily on ticket revenue, furloughed two-thirds of its staff, and for the first time in its history, was unable to invite summer apprentices and interns to the Rock—a critical component of their core value to educate/mentor future professional artists going back 70+ years. Though unable to offer their intended 2020 season, the Playhouse hosted two virtual fundraisers: Apprentices Plugged-In and Nat Zegree Virtual Cabaret. They also were able to continue the yearly tradition of the Christmas show, "A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas," as a virtual production filmed throughout Hendersonville and Flat Rock.

With the pandemic and government mandates still impacting live event venues, the Playhouse remains dark for the safety of patrons and artists. With performances on hold, the Playhouse has announced a capital campaign, Rock Solid, to preserve the viability of the State Theatre of North Carolina. Donations to the campaign will help to sustain the Playhouse through:

  • Rebuilding the staff as the Playhouse carefully returns to producing.
  • Upgrades to technology.
  • Management of the historic facilities and grounds.
  • Ongoing operational needs.
  • A “rock solid” infrastructure for long-term sustainability.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on arts venues worldwide, and Flat Rock Playhouse is no exception,” Producing Artistic Director Lisa K. Bryant said in a news release. “We are proud of the fiscal management and responsible oversight that put us in a position to weather an unexpected year of closure. That said, the strain on our reserves is growing exponentially as the prolonged shutdown prevents us from returning to business as usual in an adequate time frame.

"With the Rock Solid campaign, we hope that our already generous community will see this unprecedented chapter in our history as a singular moment to rise in support of ensuring the legacy of the theatre and its robust impact economically and culturally to Henderson County, WNC, and the State for decades more to come. Without this timely support, the future of the theatre is in jeopardy—through no fault of its own. There’s really no other way to say it.”

The campaign has already received commitments from 100 percent of the Board of Trustees and Campaign Committee members totaling nearly $400,000, which kicks this campaign off with great excitement. Joining Lisa in leading the Rock Solid campaign are Board of Trustees members Dale “Bird” Bartlett and Joseph Laughter and Board President Joseph Ippolito.

“Our mission is clear," Laughter said. "I would encourage and invite everyone to become a member of the Vagabond Playhouse family. Make a pledge today to our Rock Solid 2021 Campaign.”

The Rock Solid campaign will be led not only by Playhouse leadership but also by a committee of community members committed to preserving professional performing arts, theatre arts education, and the history of the Playhouse. Dr. Pete and Jan Richards are co-chairing the Campaign Committee. These community members will be sharing their stories about the importance of the arts and their connection to the Playhouse throughout the duration of the campaign. To learn more about the Rock Solid campaign, visit