Since it opened on June 14,1981, Wheelwright Auditorium has been a vital center for the cultural and performing arts in this region. The $3.1 million building was funded mostly by private donations from local residentsand businesses, including a $1 million gift from early Coastal Carolina University benefactors William and Maud Kimbel. The auditorium is named for Mrs. Kimbel’s maternal grandfather, John Wheelwright.
The impact of the events that have been presented on the Wheelwright stage during its 30-year history is impossible to calculate. Hundreds of theatre students have developed their skills in productions as varied as Oklahoma!, Waiting for Godot, Macbeth (modern dress, in battle fatigues) and Little Shop of Horrors. From Brahms to bluegrass, many outstanding musical performances have been presented at Wheelwright, including concerts by classical violinist Joshua Bell, Christian singer Sandi Patty, and our own artist-in-residence Steve Bailey with his bass guitar extravaganzas. Thousands of local school children have been thrilled by professional productions presented especially for them. Some of the most inspiring moments at Wheelwright have been provided through CCU’s Kimbel Distinguished Lecturer Series. These have included stimulating addresses by journalists Bob Edwards and Bill Kristol, oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau, and an unforgettable visit from Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Although many performance venues have been established locally during the past 30 years, Wheelwright’s unique position in the cultural life of our region is stronger than ever. The upcoming season is a good example. It offers a balanced program encompassing a variety of the arts as well as public affairs—something to delight and enlighten and deepen the experience of being alive. Join us!