Reflection by Rebecka Nelli, JazzArts Charlotte Marketing Director.
March 2021 — Charlotte NC — Attending the VAPA Center opening last weekend as a part of JazzArts Charlotte, I am sharing my reactions to being amongst this incredible Arts community and space.
After over a year of planning and months of prepping the space in the midst of COVID, the VAPA Center, JazzArts Charlotte’s new home, has finally officially opened its doors. The Open House this past weekend was teaming with hundreds of artists and supporters, demonstrating the commitment the Charlotte community feels to the arts.
Born out of necessity, due to the closing of Spirit Square and the lingering impact of the pandemic, a new space was needed for artists to teach, rehearse, and perform. The Arts community worked with Mecklenburg County and identified this building, previously the Hal Marshal Building, to be repurposed as an arts center.
Now, the VAPA Center houses over 120 Visual and Performing Artists and Organizations, showcasing artists, galleries, indoor and outdoor concerts, sound stages, traditional theater performances, and comedy shows. Walking in, I was greeted by a drum circle and invited to karaoke later. There was dancing, comedy, and more. As I walked through the halls reveling in the art at every turn, I overheard one visitor say “it’s like the biggest art gallery in Charlotte”.
On the 2nd floor, our own hallway is covered with colorful, modern murals in perfect contrast to our framed photo gallery of jazz greats. When we moved the last box out of Spirit Square months ago, I was sad to know I was seeing those beautiful column murals for the last time. But with the energy that greets you from the time you walk in the front door of VAPA Center, I feel like I have the best office in Charlotte.
Across the afternoon, I met a constant, steady stream of old friends and discovered new ones with surprising ourselves with immediate things in common, whether it was a passion for salsa dancing or reaching underserved youth. “It’s energizing to be amidst this eclectic group of arts of all kinds. I think this could become an incredible spark for collaboration, bringing a whole new level of creativity.” commented peer Ron Baldwin, JazzArts Charlotte’s VAPA Center Board representative.
JazzArts Charlotte will continue our JAZZ ROOM in its traditional venue, the Stage Door Theater. Currently, we enjoy the space as a home base for our offices and some newer community engagement programs. As the VAPA Center establishes its presence, it expects to provide the community a full season of live entertainment options.
If you missed the official open house, check out the VAPA Center website and their current roster of events. And come visit during our next in-person workshop: Women in Jazz Panel Discussion March 18th. As we lead into Jazz Appreciation Month in April, look for more JazzArts Charlotte activities in and around VAPA Center and uptown as well.
700 Tryon Street
Charlotte NC 28202
Written by Rebecka Nelli, JazzArts Charlotte Marketing Director, and lover of all things music, marketing, and community.