A green room can be an important place for a band or other artists — a comfortable spot within a performing venue where they can wait, warm up or otherwise get prepared to go onstage.
Such a facility has been lacking at the historic Earle Theatre in downtown Mount Airy, even as it recently has been attracting some big-name attractions for concerts, including Earls of Leicester, Dailey & Vincent, Flatt Lonesome and Balsam Range. Such acts have had limited space or amenities there.
But thanks to a gift of some green — specifically an $8,000 grant from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area — the Earle now boasts its own green room.
“It is almost finished,” Executive Director Tanya Jones of the Surry Arts Council, which owns the venerable movie house/concert hall, said in recent days.
“At the Earle, there was no space at all,” Jones said of a much-needed dressing room and preparatory area for bands, “no place to go to change clothes, look in the mirror, whatever.”
The grant from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area organization — which protects and promotes the music, crafts and other western North Carolina cultural resources — has helped create a green room not only for bands, but visiting artists, students and jam groups.
While the Earle Theatre seats 424, space for anything else in the auditorium area is limited, including the development of a green room behind the stage where most such facilities are located.
This prompted Surry Arts Council officials to locate the Earle’s green room upstairs in a mezzanine area of the theatre.
The new space actually includes two adjoining rooms, a smaller one for dressing and a larger multi-purpose area. It allows for countertop space, hanging clothes, additional seating, a microwave oven and small refrigerator.
“We’ve done everything we can to create a space for bands,” Jones said.
The large part of the area is partitioned off by pocket doors, meaning that when the green room is not required, it can be opened to provide more space for visitors, allowing for maximum use of the facility as needed.
During a normal day, for example, visitors to the theater, which also contains the Old-Time Music Heritage Hall, can view documentary footage on old-time music from a television set in the room. Its other functions can include weekly youth lessons and jam sessions.
“The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area funds were pivotal in our attempting this project,” Jones said.
“Artists and attendees love the history associated with the Earle, but have complained about the lack of amenities — these funds are helping us to make it more attractive to both groups,” the council official added.
‘The need became apparent when we started (a) Blue Ridge and Beyond series, and band expectations and contract requirements far exceeded our ability to provide.”
All contractors and vendors participating in the green room project were locally based in keeping with a grant recommendation.
Jones mentioned that several smaller grants had been received previously from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area to enhance the Old-Time Music Heritage Hall – from portraits to research to display cases.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.