GTAC photo

The Greenville Theatre Arts Center, located at 629 Albemarle Ave., has opened additional hours in an effort to support the local and Black arts community in Greenville, North Carolina.

The Greenville Theatre Arts Center (GTAC) began offering open hours at their location at 629 Albemarle Ave. on Jan. 4 in an effort to continue to support the local and Black arts community in Greenville, North Carolina.

GTAC Production Director Terri Payton said the organization was founded in 1992 by her mother and father. She said her parents performed works by various African American playwrights in the past, which is how the Greenville organization came to be.

“My life has always been deep-rooted in the arts and entertainment world. My mother always has given back to kids and always taught theater arts and dance in New York,” Payton said. “She moved to Greenville in 1990, so we get the chance to collaborate with all these different companies and different things.”

Payton said she would like to be a mentor to ECU students and other Greenville community members like her mom was to her. She said she would like the City of Greenville to become a more artistic community.

It takes self-discipline to be involved within the arts community, according to Payton. She said she, alongside the staff and other artists at GTAC, constantly work hard to provide and promote the art created by the GTAC to residents of the community

“We do a lot of dance classes for the youth. We have a lot of play productions that go on in the year and rehearsals,” Payton said. “We do a lot of film work. We are and have like a film crew. We are really deep rooted in everything.”

Payton said GTAC is open for any community members during the week on Tuesdays through Fridays from noon to 4 p.m. She said GTAC is currently looking for book donations, whether it be novels, comic books or newspapers as the organization is always looking to “save the trees.”

The GTAC aspires to be a safe space for individuals to create works of art, according to Payton. She said the organization is beneficial to all individuals who decide to participate and engage.

“People can come in and read, come in and write and use our Wi-Fi. They can meet up with peers. We actually today (Jan. 4) have a food truck, Uncle Fred's Food Truck, so they (GTAC participants) will be able to get food, come inside and eat,” Payton said. “We just want to promote as much as we can.”

GTAC will offer dance classes starting in early February, Payton said. The urban, more contemporary dance class, she said, will be hosted at 6 p.m. every Wednesday and a hip-hop dance class will be held at 8 p.m. every Wednesday in the month of February.

Payton said there is healing through the artworks people create. In terms of the Black arts community, Payton said the GTAC is always open to diversity and those who are part of the LGBTQ community.

“We like to encourage everybody, all sorts of people who may not feel accepted in all areas or we need a place to fit in,” Payton said. “We always encourage that this is a place of misfits and just feeling like where you belong, and you can call this home away from home. We heal ourselves and we heal others through the greatness of art and knowing that there is power in coping.”

Taylor Gongoski, a junior education major, said although she is not involved in ECU’s art programs specifically, she has visited the GTAC various times and loves artwork and viewing pieces that individuals create.

Gongoski said she has seen many theater performances thus far during her years at ECU and she enjoys all the artwork that has been displayed at GTAC. She said she will attend future performances and looks forward to seeing the work created.

“All the colors, all the art, the pieces that people have created, it’s so great. It is so amazing to see everything that people create, and I plan on seeing their theater performances,” Gongoski said.

GTAC is very beneficial to not only ECU students, Gongoski said, but also to the entirety of the City of Greenville. She said Black artists have a safe and secure place where they can showcase their art without judgment.

Greenville resident Olivia Boster said she appreciates GTAC and all the work the organization completes. She said she thinks GTAC supports and advocates for all Black artists in the community of Greenville.

“They (GTAC) always have programs and events for everyone, especially for those Black people in our city. It is always nice to have organizations, like this art center, supporting minorities since they always don’t have a voice in the world we live in today,” Boster said. “They have several pieces of art or performances or classes that enhance what all people can do, so that’s really nice.”

Boster said she looks forward to what the GTAC has in store for ECU students and Greenville community members. 

Exhibits, performances and pieces of artwork are some of the things Boster said she has seen at GTAC.

“I don’t remember the exact names of what I have seen or like the artwork, but everything was so well put together, and I look forward for 2022 as I know the art center will have many things going on,” Boster said. “I fully support the organization as well as all people involved. Greenville needs to have more places like the GTAC in the city. I think people will really benefit from art and theater organizations.”

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