Durham County

DPAC gets cushy for your tushy

Seats have been removed at DPAC as part of an interior renovation project that began on Monday.
Seats have been removed at DPAC as part of an interior renovation project that began on Monday. Durham Performing Arts Center

The Durham Performing Arts Center is getting a touch up.

A $1.8 million renovation of DPAC, which opened in 2008, began Monday with workers removing seats and carpet. DPAC has been one of the busiest venues in the country and that prompted the spruce up.

“Usually projects like this would be done after about 15 to 20 years, but we’ve been fortunate to have had so many guests at DPAC that the change to new carpet and seats needed to be made earlier than normal to keep DPAC among the very best theaters in America,” DPAC’s General Manager Bob Klaus said in a news release. “We are most excited about using this opportunity to install a much improved seat so that guests can be even more comfortable when they come to DPAC to enjoy a superstar live event.”

DPAC was rated No. 4 among U.S. theaters, according to Pollstar’s mid-year rankings released in July. It held 223 events during the ranking period and sold more than 240,000 tickets. That ranked DPAC No. 6 in the world for theater-sized venues, right behind The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. DPAC isn’t just one of the country’s top-drawing arts venues — it’s in the top 10 worldwide.

DPAC’s Facebook page featured pictures of the initial work. It showed all seats from Section 1, the one closest to the stage, as well as a good number from Section 4 on the right side of the theater already removed.

The project is being paid for out of a dedicated account maintained by Durham. It is funded by a facility fee on each ticket sold at DPAC.

“These improvements are the best kind of investment in DPAC, ones that will continue to beautify the theater, while enhancing the comfort of the millions of show and concert guests season after season to come,” Durham mayor Bill Bell said. “For the last nine years, the shows always have been top-notch, and our guests deserve no less than a beautiful and welcoming facility in which to enjoy them.”

DPAC’s signature red carpet will remain red. The new carpet will be a blend of two shades of red. It will also be fade resistant, an upgrade over the original, in light of the building’s numerous windows.

Once the 2,700 seats are replaced, the old ones will have a new life. DPAC said the seats will be donated. Jordan High School will receive 1,041 seats for use in its auditorium. Carrboro will get 180 of its Arts Center, while Fuquay-Varina will get 330. The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources will receive 600 to replace seats in two theaters. The remaining 500 seats will be placed in surplus.

Several Facebook commenters welcomed the renovations.

One person asked for wider seats.

“Please tell me there will be more legroom,” wrote another. “I love DPAC, but it’s terribly uncomfortable if you’re tall.”