Carrie Rengers

Wichita Grand Opera leaving its longtime home for a new stage

On his first anniversary of being Wichita Grand Opera’s president and CEO, Dennis Arnold is making a bold move.

The company is leaving Century II, where it has been for 18 years, and moving its offices and performances to the Wichita Center for Performing Arts.

“We’re taking over the 470-seat theater,” Arnold said.

That means Wichita Grand Opera will not only be located there but will manage the theater and sublease it for other groups that want to use it.

The management begins Oct. 1, and Wichita Grand Opera will be completely moved in by early November.

The deal happened because Arnold was looking for a place for the company’s Christmas show, “All is Calm, the Christmas Truce of 1914,” and met with center owner Mike Garvey.

“Mike and I hit it off,” Arnold said. “Mike’s been looking to get somebody to manage the place.”

There’s a lot of good that will come with the move, Arnold said.

“We’re excited because it gives us our own theater and our own rehearsal space. He gets somebody who knows how to manage a theater. So it’s a win-win for both of us.”

Also, he said, he likes the acoustics and size of the theater better at Garvey’s center.

At Century II, there are 2,200 seats, which is why Wichita Grand Opera usually has only one night of a performance.

At this smaller theater, shows will run for three nights.

“It’s going to give our audience members a more intimate, better experience,” Arnold said.

And with the extra shows, he said, “It should actually give people more of an opportunity to catch our show.”