Childhood friends and longtime Winters residents Nora Cary and Andrew Fridae recently acquired Palms Playhouse from longtime owner Dave Fleming, who is retiring from the business. The new owners experienced the playhouse for many years as attendees and supporters, and they pledge to continue the famed theater’s eclectic 35-year musical tradition.
“Andrew has experience in both music and theater,” Fleming told loyal customers who follow the Palms on Facebook. “In Portland he was in a folk band called Skidmore Bluffs, which played regionally and also toured. He has also been very active in theater as a director, actor and writer. Nora Cary has likewise had a lifelong interest in the arts.”
Cary said she and Fridae have been talking to Fleming for a few months about taking the reins of the business and have already started negotiating acts for January dates. They’re not yet ready, though, to announce their debut performer.
“Andrew and I both grew up here, and we both love music and have been actively involved in music in one way or another for most of our lives,” Cary said. “It just seemed like an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. … It just made us sad to see it potentially closing.”
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The Palms Playhouse will continue to operate out of the second floor of the Winters Opera House, 13 Main St., Winters. In its first 27 years, the Palms Playhouse operated out of an old barn in Davis. Customers will still be able to find information on shows at www.palmsplayhouse.com.
Seeding a 3-D change: Nevada County’s Green Screen Institute edged closer to building a new reality in the region’s wooded foothills, with a decision by entrepreneur Deniz Ergürel to base his startup business in the area’s picturesque area.
Ergürel publishes a website, Haptic.al, and newsletters that share the latest breakthroughs and products coming out in the virtual reality sector. Donning VR gear, users can see, hear and perhaps even feel what is happening in an artificial, three-dimensional environment.
“My next step will be to increase the exposure of Haptic.al with people looking for information on virtual reality,” Ergürel said. “I want to be the No. 1 information source on virtual reality globally. In the two to three months since I have gotten here … the amount of people visiting my site is exponentially growing. I started making revenue, a small bit of revenue. I’m meeting with people from all around the world.”
Nevada County announced in March that the Green Screen Institute would work to lure forward thinkers in the world of virtual and augmented reality to launch or relocate their businesses to the area. County leaders rationalized that the region’s engineers had been birthing broadcast industry innovations for 50 years, starting with The Grass Valley Group, so it wasn’t far-fetched to believe other tech industry go-getters would embrace the low costs and quality of life there.
Over the summer, the incubator invited four startups to participate in a business accelerator program that provided cash investment, office space, networking opportunities and mentorship. Jon Gregory, Green Screen’s managing partner, said he was surprised at the interest: “We received 60 serious inquiries and 30 formal applications for companies to participate in that first cycle for the accelerator. … I would have been happy with 25 serious inquiries and 15 formal applications, given that we were brand new and had a very limited application period.”
Ergürel’s Haptic.al was one of the concepts. When he arrived in Nevada City in July, he hadn’t even incorporated the business he had formulated in February while a fellow at City University of New York’s Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism.
Ergürel cleared a number of hurdles during Green Screen’s nine-week accelerator program, including getting his incorporation papers out of the way and developing a pitch. The cash investment from the Green Screen Institute, Ergürel said, has allowed him to focus on improving his site, cultivating interest and developing connections. By Oct. 27, independent data analytics company Onalytica ranked Haptic.al as one of the top 20 brands providing VR news on Twitter.