Keeping the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro: Student shares concerns

Recently, more questions have been raised concerning the future of the Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro’s historic music venue. With increasing talk of redevelopment near the downtown Carrboro shopping center that currently houses the Cradle, concerns have arisen regarding whether or not the proposed Carrboro Arts and Innovation Center (CAIC) will include the venue. With all of this uncertainty, I think it is important to acknowledge how much of a tragedy it would be for Carrboro and its surrounding areas to lose such a vital part of the arts and business community.

The venue has become extremely important to me in the past years. I went to my first small-venue concert at the Cradle in December 2012 to see All Time Low and Divided By Friday. The experience was unlike anything I had ever imagined and helped me to understand how truly beneficial it can be to experience and support live music. It sounds cliché, but the Cat’s Cradle is easily one of the places I’m most at home, and I’m sure there are many others who feel the same way. The unique atmosphere and excellent artists have continually kept me coming back. Personally, it would be devastating for me to lose the Cat’s Cradle to the new development.

The proposed development project, first brought to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen in 2004, includes a $12 million, 55,000-square-foot building slated to house The ArtsCenter and Chapel Hill’s Kidzu Children’s Museum. The original plans approved in 2008 included the Cat’s Cradle, but as the project has grown and changed, this inclusion has become questionable. Proponents of the new building say that the additions will improve traffic problems, tourism and the local economy. While this is in no way an argument against the building that could bring those benefits, developers need to recognize the importance of preserving the Cat’s Cradle.

It would be harmful for Carrboro and beyond to lose the venue. The Cradle has been a part of the community for over 40 years, hosting a wide range of events at multiple venues around the Triangle and even as far away as Charlotte. It consistently puts on 300 shows per year and, according to a statement by owner Frank Heath, has raised over $60,000 for local charitable organizations in the past six months alone. According to Heath’s statement, the venue has hosted 21 of the top 100 worldwide touring artists on Pollstar Magazine’s “Top 100 Grossing Worldwide Bands” list. This is unique for a venue in a town as small as Carrboro.

However, the Cat’s Cradle has been requesting a larger space for years. A new, larger space like the CAIC would attract larger acts and more patrons and keep them coming back to the Triangle, benefiting both the venue and community as a whole. In short, I ask the developers and proponents of the CAIC to fully consider the Cat’s Cradle’s utmost importance to the com- munity. According to Indy Week, the deal doesn’t appear to be an immediate threat to the Cradle. There are still many difficult questions surrounding the project, including whether the developers’ $4.5 million request from the town will be fulfilled. Although the future of the Cat’s Cradle is undetermined, one thing is certain: the venue deserves to be accommodated.

– By Becca Heilman