January 2011

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January 2011

News From David Grindle, USITT Executive Director

Charlotte Offers Much for USITT’s 2011 Visit

The Queen City, that’s what they call Charlotte. It was named for the wife of King George III of England (the same king that gave us the state of Georgia and the Madness of King George). As someone who grew up in the mountains of Georgia, it seems fortuitous that my first conference experience as Executive Director is in a city that has grown to be a Jewel of the South.

The Hilton Charlotte Center City is one of USITT’s featured hotels for guests attending the 2011 Annual Conference & Stage Expo. Members of USITT’s Conference Committee enjoyed its many features and amenities during a recent committee meeting in Charlotte.

Photo/Barbara E.R. Lucas

From fast cars to high finance and high art, Charlotte has grown from the piddly, pass-through town of my youth to a city that has everything you need with the charm and ease of southern hospitality. To steal a phrase, “Yes, Virginia, there’s plenty of reasons we should be in Charlotte.” Here are just a few things that make me excited about being in there in March.


The Hilton and the Westin are literally across the street from the conference. Not across the street, or just around the corner (those are the other three). The Hilton and Westin are literally across the street, one on each side of the convention center. For convenience, you can’t beat the location.

Conference site.

The convention center has an electric train that runs through it! For a conference with a day of focus on sustainable and alternative practices, the sight of a virtually silent train cruising through the convention center is pretty darned cool.


I’m from the south and we love to eat. Birth, death, or the wind changes direction--all are perfectly fine reasons for southerners to eat, and Charlotte offers great food within walking distance of the hotels and convention center in all price ranges. If you jump on the aforementioned train, it takes you to more food. You will not leave hungry, but you might leave having eaten way more than you intended.

The Locals.

First they talk like me and have what some of you call an accent. But they are helpful, polite, and knowledgeable about the city and us. The Convention and Visitors Bureau, Arts and Sciences Council, and others have all expressed interest in making our visit the best it can be. And that’s not to mention the amazing work of the Regional Planning Committee. Our members in Charlotte and all over Western North Carolina are working to create an amazing conference that will have you smiling before you arrive.

The Arts.

North Carolina Dance Theatre celebrates its 40th anniversary the week we are in town. You can do a walking tour of the incredible public art found throughout the city. Children’s Theatre of Charlotte is some of the finest theatre in the South. And directly across from the convention center is the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Art + Culture with a structure that is as beautiful as the art within it. Just a block away are the Mint Museum, opened in October, and its next-door neighbor, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.


A short walk or train ride from the convention center takes you to the EpiCenter. This venue has restaurants, nightclubs, movie theatres with full bar and great food, and even a bowling alley/sports bar. It has a place to eat for everyone and activities to suit every lifestyle. That’s just one of the many places you can spend the time you aren’t learning new skills and information during sessions.


The membership will be there. USITT is its members. We gather annually to share ideas, learn new things, and rekindle our friendships and our love for the art. While we are the constant from conference to conference, you add our people to the mix that Charlotte has to offer and the result will be incredible.

I hope to see you in Charlotte. I know that it will be an amazing gathering for so many reasons.

David Grindle

We'd like to hear your comments on this story. 
Please e-mail David at david@office.usitt.org.