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TDA OKs last cash needed for Playhouse cleanup

Staff moved from the Lowndes House to the YouTheatre while mold remediation job is done. Staff moved from the Lowndes House to the YouTheatre while mold remediation job is done.

The Henderson County Tourism Development Authority on Tuesday authorized $35,000 in emergency funding for the Flat Rock Playhouse, the last allocation needed for a mold remediation job theater officials say must happen to save the 2015 season.

The TDA followed the Flat Rock Village Council, the Hendersonville City Council and the Henderson County Board of commissioners in voting for the appropriation. Like two of the three votes that came before, the vote was split. The TDA voted 5-2 for the funding after Chairman Shannon Clarke made a strong appeal for the State Theatre of North Carolina. The City Council and the Board of Commissioners both voted for the funding by 3-2 margins.

"I shared with them that it wasn't unanimous, that there was some dissent in the other organizations," Clarke said in an interview after the Tuesday afternoon TDA meeting. "I think that kind of helped us decide to fill the gap. I think as soon as they got the last piece in place they can go ahead and have the contract and get started. Lisa Bryant said six weeks. I think in the time frame everybody did a good job supporting them. It's good stuff."

That view has not been universally held.

The request for a total of $185,000 to clean up mold-contaminated buildings on the Flat Rock campus came after three years of financial uncertainty and criticism that the theater had spent itself into a deficit. The theater's finance director, Kevin Hicks, told the Board of Commissioners Monday that the nonprofit organizationhas $1.8 million in debt but is working a plan to become self-sustaining in three years.

"We'll have the money we need to get rid of the mold and take all the necessary precautions to ensure that this does not happen again," said Playhouse Marketing Director Dane Whitlock. Rolyn Construction Corporation, the contractor, is ready to "quote-unquote take it all apart and put it all back together." A national company with an office in Fletcher, Rolyn specializes in disaster recovery, restoration, remediation, and decontamination services to industries of all types.

"Shannon Clarke was very instrumental in helping us present this to the board," he said. "We're very thankful for the TDA and we're very thankful for Shannon."

A study commissioned by the Playhouse board's facilities committee — and paid for by a board member — found mold in several buildings on the Playhouse campus. The Main Stage auditorium and the rehearsal hall were not affected, Playhouse officials said.

"We will begin immediately and we will definitely be able to house actors for the 2015 season," Whitlock said.