King of the Queen
Bill Taylor resurrected music in the most musical of cities, New Orleans, post flood. Now he’s resurrecting Wilmington’s most famous theater—and starting something much bigger.
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Act Two | A Cool, Stimulating Place
In the kitchen of The Exchange on Market, Taylor examines 90 pounds of crawfish that have just arrived from Louisiana. The crustaceans, alive and squirming, are going to be part of a crawfish boil that evening as part of the Light Up The Queen Foundation’s Spring Swamp Series at 605 Market St., across from the Queen. The idea was pure Taylor. He’d gotten his friends Trombone Shorty, Orleans Avenue, Cyril Neville and Eric Lindell to play in Delaware as part of the series. Tonight would be Benoit’s turn to rev up the noise.
Taylor hops in his SUV and blasts Benoit on the stereo as he drives through Wilmington. Concerts are the fun part of fundraising. It will eventually take $24 million to restore the five-story building. By June, Taylor and Buccini/Pollin had raised $20 million through contributions from local foundations, corporations, the city of Wilmington, benefit concerts and tax credits. Construction will begin as soon as funding of the tax credits is secured.
Buccini/Pollin’s decision to purchase and convert the Queen takes its cue from “Creativity and Neighborhood Development: Strategies for Community Investment,” a study by The Reinvestment Fund in 2007. The study says the intrinsic value of arts and culture can be key to neighborhood revitalization and calls for investment in community-based creative activity.
“In looking at the future of cities, we think it’s essential to uncover and invest in those neighborhood assets that have great potential for transformation,” says Jeremy Nowak, chief executive of TRF. “We wanted to highlight the particular role community-based arts and cultural activity plays in this kind of revitalization and to propose an investment strategy that encourages and advances the self-organizing transformations of place that this activity creates.”
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