GREENSBORO — The Van Dyke Performance Space in the Greensboro Cultural Center serves as a theater, music hall and — wedding venue?
“It was designed and built as a dance theater, but we have kind of transformed it into an events center,” said Kris Ferris, the manager for the performance space.
ArtsGreensboro expanded a former rehearsal room on the ground floor of the cultural center into a 7,500-square-foot performance space. It was named after choreographer and NC Dance Festival co-founder Jan Van Dyke who donated $1 million toward the project before her death in 2015. But the venue’s adaptable stage and 311 stadium-style seats can be moved to provide ample room for nonperformance events, something ArtsGreensboro had in mind when it was designed.
The Van Dyke has been used for graduations, fashion shows, film screenings, banquets and cultural presentations, such as a Chinese New Year celebration and events by Casa Azul, a nonprofit group based in the Cultural Center that promotes Latin American arts and culture.
“You name it, we’ve done it ... almost,” Ferris said.
The space has yet to host a wedding. But that is about to change.
Sharpe Pursuits, a Greensboro company that produces events like concerts and commencements, was looking for a venue to do weddings through its wedding facet called Elope Greensboro.
“When we saw it we were like, ‘It’s perfect,’ ” said Sharpe Pursuits co-owner Shayla Sharpe.
Sharpe said she was looking for a blank slate type of space like the Van Dyke.
“When it comes to design, we like blank slates because it gives us the ability to make the space look exactly like we want it,” she said.
The venue offers plenty of room for a dance floor or to seat more than 100 people at tables. It even comes with dressing rooms.
“It’s actually really perfect for us in terms of how we’re attempting to use the space,” Sharpe said.
The space is a black box, meaning there are no windows and the entire interior is painted black. What does that mean for wedding planning?
“The space is not going to look that dark once you add all of the things into it. It’s not going to look like a performance space,” said Sharpe, who has already staged a mock wedding design there to see how things will look.
Most people might not even realize there is an event space in the Greensboro Cultural Center. But Ferris said it is handicapped-accessible and easy to get to. It is just a short walk from two parking decks. Ferris said the stadium seating allows for the addition of wheelchairs.
“Accessibility has been a big part of it,” Ferris said.
Sharpe has booked the space for three consecutive days next spring and is selling 10 budget wedding packages to be held during that block.
“A lot of people don’t have the money to pay for the average cost of a wedding these days. What we wanted to do is come up with some lower-cost options,” she said.
And Sharpe said she thinks the Van Dyke is the perfect venue for such a turnkey wedding option that includes a wedding, reception and food, music and dance floor all in one spot.
City Arts still has access to the space Monday through Wednesday, but the Van Dyke is available for rental Thursday through Sunday.
Ferris said he is getting inquiries, even from churches interested in holding services there.
“Right now I’m not shutting the door on anybody and anything,” he said.