Magnetic Field

Here’s the press release. Best of luck to all involved as they seek a new space:

Today, The Magnetic Theatre announces that John Crutchfield’s The Strange and Tragical Adventures of Pinocchio or Why Didn’t I Just Stay a Damn Puppet?, which previews February 28 and March 1, opens March 2, and runs through March 23, will be its final production in the space at 372 Depot Street, in the River Arts District, that has been its home since December 8, 2010.

The not-for-profit dedicated to original works exclusively will continue producing in alternate venues as it seeks a new permanent home, which it hopes to secure in time for the next edition of The Bernstein Family Christmas Spectacular, the hugely popular annual holiday event on which the company is already hard at work.

“The Magnetic Theatre has done and continues to do spectacularly well,” says Chall Gray, The Magnetic Theatre’s Producer.

“The citizens of Asheville have been warmly receptive to our mission of mounting nothing but world premieres with almost all-local artists, technicians, and administrators. Scott Dedman, Cindy Weeks, and everyone at Mountain Housing Opportunities, developers of the Glen Rock Depot, have been extraordinarily thoughtful, generous, and supportive of our efforts. We dearly wish we could arrange to stay in the special space that has housed dozens of productions and hundreds of performances in a relatively brief span. Unfortunately, with the closing of The Magnetic Field restaurant and bar this past December, it has become imperative for our small, tax-exempt organization to find another facility with lower occupancy costs or additional seating—or, ideally, both.”

The company’s subsequent production will be The Caro Savanti Experience, written by Asheville Fringe Arts Festival co-director and frequent Magnetic Theatre contributor Jim Julien, directed by one of the Magnetic’s three associate artistic directors, Katie Anne Towner, and starring the incomparable Darren Marshall, who has frequently graced the Magnetic stage. Look for it in July.


  1. so sad, but guess what, there is plenty of room in the RIVERSIDE BUSINESS PARK!! come on down. and the spaces here are huge and wonderful!

  2. Arts Administrator says:

    An illuminating reply from Mr. Samuels. It looks like the profit-making entity, the Magnetic Field restaurant, was subsidizing the non-profit entity, the Magnetic Theatre. That appears to have been a good business model for both at the beginning. Apparently the restaurant could not make it financially and that led to both its demise and the theatre’s move. The non-profit’s financial statement is not “transparent,” however, and that might be something Mr. Samuels wants to consider if his group does intend to begin seeking contributions and grants.

  3. Two separate entities: The Magnetic Field (for-profit restaurant/bar)and The Magnetic Theatre (not-for-profit production entity). The original idea was for the Field to cover occupancy costs and some Theatre pay. In the first 13 months, the Theatre earned about $90,000 at the box office (the rest of the income noted here mostly being contributions from the Field), and almost all of the box office went to pay the people making the shows. (And, of course, the Field paid its employees.) In the second year, the Field covered occupancy costs but could not contribute; happily, the Theatre made a little over $120,000 at the box office and, again, almost all of it went to the playmakers. Now the Theatre has to cover occupancy and infrastructure costs, but we’re still paying everything we can to the makers. Thanks to the success of recent shows and beer/soft drink sales that now go to the Theatre, it looks as if we’ll end our run at Glen Rock Depot with perhaps $5,000 in the bank…a grub stake for itinerant productions and, eventually, installing ourselves in a new home. We have managed, for two years, to create dozens of shows and give hundreds of performances at reasonable prices and have never asked for contributions, even though we’re fully tax-exempt. That will change, too…but please let me know if you have any further questions about our finances.

  4. Arts Administrator says:

    The Magnetic Theatre states that it needs a ocation with “lower occupancy costs or additional seating —or, ideally, both.” It’s not clear what its financial condition is that led to this decision. The organization appears to have generated substantial revenue in its first year (approximately $128,000) and its expenses were less than its revenues (approximately $123,000). Virtually nothing was paid to employees (less than $3,000), and its production expenses (around $7,000) and advertising expenses (around $1,000)were nominal. Could those occupancy costs, presumably paid to Mountain Housing Opportunities, have accounted for the remaining approximately $104,000? That seems inordinately high. Perhaps if the community understood the organization’s finances better, it could pitch in and offer more support.

    • Good post. Way to contribute something to the conversation.

    • May I ask where you got the financial information you are referencing? I am especially interested about the salaries. Are you aware that over the time The Magnetic Field/Theatre has been in operation, there has been compensation made to chefs, other kitchen staff, box office staff, bartenders, tech people, and performers? I must disclose that I am closely tied to this venue and personally received just over $1000 in 2011 for the little time I put in. I think your claim of The Magnetic Field having less than $3000 in staffing expenses is erroneous.

    • Would be good to know.

  5. Did Mr. Brown really just use the word “bourgeois”?

    How many times must we hear the hue and cry about gentrification in Asheville?

    • While hole-in-the-wall ventures are quaint for a while, they are self-limiting. The “bourgeois” is where the $ is at, and they prefer doors and clean bathrooms.

  6. Wow. “Bored housewife art”,”bored housewives with money”,”bourgeois” vs “real artists” and “truly original creations”. Who knew potters and painters could be so catty? Rrreeooowww….Hsssss…!

    • Good one Big Al. But you left out the other catty comment flung at breweries “overly hoppy beer”.
      Hey Magnetic Field – come to the Brevard Lumber Yard!!

      • That one actually sounded more like a legitimate criticism than a personal attack, but as I don’t drink beer, I will recuse myself.

        • Hmmm. Read it again Big Al. The “I’m predicting either another brewery” would be your legitamate criticism, but adding the words “featuring overly hoppy beer” is the personal attack. See, even more catty than you originally thought..

  7. Noooooooo! With the way things are looking in the RAD I’m predicting either another brewery featuring overly hoppy beer, a spa or tanning salon, or a new venue to showcase bored housewife art. So sad that truly original creations are and have been closing.

    • Within the next three years I expect most of the real art (aside from Jonas Gerard & the bored housewives with money) to dry up in the RAD. I’m sure John Payne would be rolling over in his grave if he were to see the transformations of the Wedge. And my friend who just moved out of the Phil Mechanic Building said The Flood Gallery will close after this year, and to me that is the only gallery aside from Blue Spiral 1 that I take with any seriousness in Asheville. I wonder if the gallery closes will the building keep up studio space for artists still?

      If the artists near the Foundry don’t succeed in keeping that foothold it’s done in the RAD. Which unless they re-draft the Wilma Dykeman French Broad River-front Redevelopment Plan the Foundry/Tannery artists will be forced to leave as the plan is scheduled to take a wide road right through the new studios they’ve worked so hard to recently up-fit in affordable means for actual living & working artists.

      An idea to fill in the Magnetic Field void: put in a new bourgeois restaurant called “Stick A Ford In It, The RAD Is Done.”
      I wonder what they will call themselves after the “Arts District” part is dead.

    • Nothing to do with the RAD. RAD has been very good to us, and we’d be delighted to find the right new place right there. But who knows where the right new place will prove to be?

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