The Henegar Center Mission Statement:
The Henegar Center for the Arts is committed operating a community arts center that provides quality cultural and educational programs, opportunities for community use and continues to preserve and maintain its historic significance.
About The Henegar:
Henegar Center for the Arts:
History of the Henegar Center for the Arts
Construction began in 1919 and in the fall of 1920 the building, which now houses the Henegar Center for the Arts, opened. It was soon to become the first of four structures to stand on the site. The first high school class, consisting of only 13 students graduated in 1921. At it’s height, enrollment reached 1400. In 1963 the school was named for former Principal Ruth Henegar (1950-1951). In 1975 enrollment reached an all time low of 331 students and the decision to close the school was made. On June 11, 1975 after 55 years the doors of the Ruth Henegar Elementary School closed.
The Melbourne School Complex has housed many things prior to becoming the community cultural center that it is today. In the late 60’s both outer buildings were closed as instructional buildings and the west building (Trinity Towers South now occupies this land) housed Brevard Junior College (now Eastern Florida State College) and the center building (Henegar Center) was used by the school board and other county offices. In 1980 the West building was demolished to make room for Trinity Towers South. In 1983 a small group of local residents formed Brevard Regional Arts Group (BRAG) and went to work to restore the two remaining buildings. In 1984 The North Building Cultural Center was granted a forty- year renewable lease and BRAG was deeded the buildings by the Brevard County School System. BRAG mobilized the community and was able to raise $2.5 million in cash and contributed services and began the task of restoring the main building. Unfortunately, due to a loss in funding, ongoing defacement, and deterioration, the East Building (Old Melbourne High School) was demolished in 2015.
In 1991 the Henegar Center for the Arts opened its doors with a 493-seat Proscenium style Theatre, designed by Tony Award winning Broadway Designer Peter Feller. The original main stage curtain was from the Broadway Musical The King and I. State of the art sound and lighting equipment was installed to present the highest quality productions. The main building also boasts many beautiful spaces including the main ballroom (now our black box studio theatre, Reception room, Courtyard Garden Room, a mirrored dance studio and two additional meeting spaces. The Henegar Center for the Arts presented it’s first “in-house” production of the musical My Fair Lady in 2001. In 2005, under the direction of then Executive Director, Jerry Brees, Red Carpet Productions was formed to insure its patrons the highest quality of theatre experiences. The name Red Carpet Productions later became simply Henegar Center Productions. The theatre has had updates throughout the years including sound, lighting and overall capacity reduction in order to add accessible seating. We now offer 474 seats in our mainstage theatre. In 2011 Upstairs at the Henegar, an 85-seat black box style theatre opened on the second floor of the Henegar Center. Upstairs at the Henegar offers plays and smaller musicals as well as functioning as the classroom and performance space for the Feller Theatre Academy (the educational wing of the Henegar Center) classes throughout the year. From 2012-2017 Artistic Director Hank Rion began an era of growth and expansion for the Henegar Center. Under his direction we were granted the rights to many previously unavailable works and became the first Community Theatre to produce such titles as Cry Baby the musical, The Witches of Eastwick, It Shoulda Been You and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The Henegar Center continues to offer quality and affordable shows while maintaining its place as a cultural landmark in Downtown Melbourne.
The Henegar Center for the Arts has embarked on a new initiative to create a tobacco-free environment. Joining a growing movement, both nationally and locally, the Henegar Center is committed to promote and encourage a healthy environment, and set a positive example in the community. Programming has boomed in recent years, from nine full productions per season and year-round children’s programming through the Feller Theatre Academy, and the Henegar Center is proud to offer a more comfortable space for their guests.
The Henegar Center Board of Directors recognizes the importance of creating a healthy environment for our community, including the actors, patrons, employees, and all the children participating in the year round Feller Theatre Academy. The Board recently decided to implement the tobacco-free initiative and positively impact the community. The tobacco-free policy affects the entire campus.
Board of Directors – Officers:
Doug Lebo, President
Cliff Bragdon, Vice President
Nick Riippa, Treasurer
Brock Tucker, Secretary
Sarah Bragdon, President Henegar Guild
Henegar Center Staff:
Steven J. Heron, Executive Artistic Director
Patti Robinson, House Manager/Volunteer Coordinator