William Madison Randall Library

Buildings & Landmarks: The Cultural Arts Building
Date Opened: 2007
Abbreviation: CA

Above, the Cultural Arts Building in 2007.

Building History

The Cultural Arts Building (CAB) opened on January 25, 2007, and held its grand opening one month later. At a cost of $33.5 million, this 104,830 square-foot building was created to house the Art and Art History, Music, and Theatre departments. The building features an enclosed art gallery, dance studio, the 125-seat Black Box Theatre for new and experimental works, the 281-seat Recital Hall, and the 295-seat Proscenium/Main Stage Theatre.

The SRO/Black Box Theatre is designated for new and experimental works. It has the same name as the experimental theatre in the Theatre department's former home in Kenan Hall. The founder of UNCW and Wilmington College theatre, Professor Doug Swink, gave this name to the intimate theatre in Kenan Hall, which was really a rehearsal room with an arena type stage, surrounded by seats in raised tiers. SRO stands for “Standing Room Only.” Today in the CAB, the Department of Theatre pays tribute to tradition by retaining the “SRO” name for its experimental theatre. Fortunately, the current SRO Theatre is larger and has better acoustics than its predecessor.

Theatre students enjoy a spacious and well-equipped costume shop and a scene shop that includes power tools and an installed dust collection system. When the green room is not in use for campus productions, it doubles as a student lounge or informal reception area.

Studio art students have bright and well-lit studios for ceramics, sculpture, painting, and printmaking. All studio art faculty have large offices with a window.

According to the art and art history website (Oct. 2007), “Students and faculty are thrilled with the spacious new classrooms and studios.”

Music students use four rehearsal rooms (choral, instrumental, jazz, percussion), the CAB recital hall, teaching studios, practice rooms, piano and computer labs, student and faculty lounges, the digital recording and mix- down suite and classrooms for music history, theory, and music education.

Students in art, design, technical theatre, and music make use of an Apple Macintosh-based computer lab upstairs.

The Cultural Arts Building represented the last of three stand-alone building projects that were financed by the North Carolina State Bond campaign of 2000. The grand opening represented the second major event of UNCW’s Year of the Arts 2006-2007 celebration, which began with the reopening of Kenan Auditorium in September ’06, and ended with the Carolina Ballet’s residency and premier performance in July ’07.

Grand opening slideshow

Below: The name "SRO Black Box Theatre" was coined by Professor Doug Swink due to the theatre's intimate seating space. Mr. Swink began the theatre program at Wilmington College in 1957.