Back in July 2015, DREAMS of Wilmington began its addition of the 5,000-square-foot second half of its 901 Fanning Street location in downtown’s Brooklyn Arts District. This new space, known as “The Garage@DREAMS,” is a multipurpose theatre and performing arts center for the nonprofit’s arts programming for at-risk youth. As well, it provides an open space for local art organizations, corporate and private events, and other functions for which folks may need a space.
They were wrapping up the final stages of a $500,000 capital campaign to complete the renovation process and make the Garage fully operable by October. Executive director Matt Carvin told encore DREAMS was serving approximately 120 children each semester, all of whom were working on a variety of in-depth projects. With the additional space, they’re now able to take more students than ever in the program’s history and no longer have a need for a waiting list. “We’ve got tons of classes this semester, but in [the Garage] alone, we have music theatre, acting and choir for the first time,” Carvin says.
While DREAMS hasn’t rented their new space to public organizations yet, they have been using it for DREAMS-related functions, like their holiday dinner for more than 300 people and artisan fairs. Most recently, a movie utilized the Garage for locations. “The Garage space as venue is a potential game changer for DREAMS, so that’s going to be a new focus of funding,” Carvin tells.
Last year’s encore Best Of Awards party helped DREAMS raise more than $11,000, of which they took away $7,200 (after expenses) to help with their operating and expansion expenses in 2015. This year’s annual throwdown and fundraiser, set for Feb. 27 at the Brooklyn Arts Center, will once again benefit DREAMS’ continuous growth.
With the help of sponsorships from the likes of New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Whole Foods, Wilmington Health, Halloween & More, New Hanover Printing, and more, Carvin says the goal is to raise at least $10,000 again this year.
Carvin thinks one reason the Best Of fundraiser was such a success last year was for its ‘80s theme. This year DREAMS and encore have adopted “2016 Space Odyssey: Invasion of the Trophy Snatchers.”
“The second we were able to come together on the theme of science fiction and pulpy 1950s vibe for the party, I knew this was going to be a really good year,” Carvin excites. “With working through all the kinks last year gave us an idea of what to expect this year as well.”
Not only will Pineapple-Shaped Lamps return to host with their brand of sketch-comedy throughout the evening, this year will feature an official Best Of house band: The Midatlantic. DJ TIME will keep the beat in between sets of foot-stomping Americana. And it wouldn’t be a party without food, donated from Best Of 2016 nominees. Cash bars will be onsite as well.
Raffle tickets will be sold for a chance to win donated items, like concert tickets and gift certificates. Plus there will be a contest for best male and female costumes. Winners will take home a pair of tickets each to a local concert.
“That’s probably what I’m looking forward to most, just seeing the creative ways people transform themselves through dressing up,” Carvins says. “And listening to music and Pineapple-Shaped Lamps’ hilarious comedy. I’m holding off [getting a costume] until the spirit moves me—but I’ve got a couple of ideas. This theme allows for a lot of fun; you can really be creative here.”
As the final days to awards night approach, Carvin says DREAMS staff, volunteers and students are finishing up decorations—essentially planetary systems to hang throughout the Brooklyn Arts Center. It will be a “stellar” night, to say the least.
“We also got these really cool life-size cardboard cutouts from Halloween and More: a stormtrooper, Guardians of the Galaxy characters and things like which are going to be all over the place,” he adds.
Hundreds of general admission tickets are already sold for this year’s event, with only a handful of VIP passes left—which include balcony seating, food station, personalized waitstaff, and parking. Come dressed in sci-fi inspired attire on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. All proceeds benefit DREAMS.
For more details and tickets, visit the Facebook event page.