By SCOTT MCKIE B.P./ONE FEATHER STAFF
If you’ve ever heard Yona Wade sing, you know the passion he has for performing arts and music. He brings that passion with him every day to work now as the new (and first-ever) director of the Cherokee Cultural Arts Center at the Cherokee Central Schools. Wade has been on the job since the first of December and literally hit the ground running as the Center hosted the North Carolina Symphony 10 days after he started work.
“It’s really nice to come to a facility and be able to start it fresh and new,” said Wade, an EBCI tribal member. “It’s really exciting for me.”
And what a facility it is.
From an EOS lighting system to a fully-automated Vortek rigging system, the entire facility screams state-of-the-art. The 1,020 seat facility also features a fully digital Yamaha sound board, a professional size stage and a lift for the pit area.
“It’s a really nice space, and I’m really lucky to be here in it for sure,” said Wade. “This will be a place where students will see stuff for the first time; even community members will see stuff for the first time.”
He related that it is his goal to make the Center a space that will host many different venues of artistic expression including theater, music, performance art and more. “I think we have an opportunity to become western North Carolina’s theater.”
And, he wants to bring the students into the world of the theater and the facility by giving them opportunities to work the rigging or the soundboard or serve as ushers. He is working towards the goal of the Center being a “roadhouse” where packaged show series are featured. “We hope to utilize the space to really expose people to different cultures including ballet and Broadway shows.”
In addition to the theater area, the Center also features a gallery area where future art shows and gallery openings will be held. Wade said he hopes to feature both well-known and lesser-known Cherokee artists in the space.
Wade’s background is in performing arts and he holds an undergraduate degree in Opera from the University of the North Carolina School of Arts in Winston-Salem and a graduate degree in Performing Arts Management from the same institution.