If the Town of Chapel Hill gets its way, you may soon see changes at the Varsity Theatre.
The Chapel Hill Town Councilvoted unanimously on Oct. 24 to develop a task force to further investigate the possibility of using the Varsity Theatre as a performing arts center.
Michael Parker, a member of the council, said the group will be investigating questions regarding the interest and potential impact on the community.
“Does the community need and want some kind of community performing arts space, and would having such a space downtown help downtown businesses?" he said. "Would it bring more people there to patronize all of the existing establishments? If the answer to those two questions is yes, then we will spend time looking at the best time to do it.”
If the transformation happens, the Varsity Theatre would remain a theater style venue but also have the option of serving as a performing arts space.
Parker said the next steps would be to determine how a new performing arts space could be funded, owned and managed to make the space financially self-sustaining.
“No decisions have been taken, but we feel that it would be at least possible that it could fit the needs of both our broader community in having a community performing arts space, as well as helping many of our downtown businesses,” Parker said.
The Varsity Theatre has been a feature of Franklin Street for over 50 years. The Sorrell building, which houses the theater, was built in 1927. The theater was originally called the Carolina Theater, then the Village Theater before finally becoming the Varsity.
Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said the changes to the Varsity Theatre would aim to foster more artistic expression in Chapel Hill.