Call 828-450-0479 | Short Walk Home, Charlotte NC | 828-450-0479

Discovering VAPA

Discovering VAPA
June 8, 2023 Allison Andrews

Everything is relative.  That is particularly true of the Charlotte creative scene.  I find myself weaving through this community without even trying. I am drawn to creativity and find all of these guideposts where all roads lead me to the delightful people and incredible talent revolving around Charlotte’s arts.  My journey in finding VAPA is a perfect example. If you haven’t heard of it, that’s OK, I hadn’t either, but I hope by the end of this blog, you’ll want to check out the Visual Arts and Performing Arts Center in Charlotte for yourself.  


It’s quite a story. Follow along. There are a few detours. I  was walking through a street fair, actually a chili cookoff on Commonwealth Ave adjacent to Plaza Midwood along the Ave. where you find close living, restaurants, breweries and some of the best shopping.

Side note: Moo and Brew had the best chili.

In addition to the chili tents, there were other tents and tables of wares like pottery and jewelry.  One table caught my eye.  Seated at the table were two ladies looking very artisty (not a word but an accurate description) with pamphlets picturing an older-style Nikon camera on the front.  It wasn’t an ol’ timey camera just a real film camera that those of us that took real pictures and had the film developed would recognize and appreciate.  

A relevant side note here is I use to be into photography, back in the day when people developed film with chemicals in a dark room.  I think of those days very affectionately.  I miss them often, but I simply can’t find a way to get back to that type of photography.  However, that hasn’t stopped me from holding onto my professional camera, lenses, and even a fantastic photography travel bag for years.  It all sits in my office in eyeshot and makes me sad that it’s not being used as it had been and still wants to be.  

I asked the women a little about their mission, and they mentioned The Light Factory , a photo arts center that teaches photography to all.  I told them about my camera and asked if they took donations.  They very quickly and happily answered, “Yes!”


Nope, I went home and put the brochure with the beautiful ole Nikon on the front, on my desk. It sat there, again right in eyeshot, every day for months.  One evening I went to a dinner party down the street and two guests were in paint-stained clothing.  They looked at each other and laughed, having both come from their studios at VAPA. 

 “What is VAPA?” I asked. They described it as this magical place of music and art that provides affordable studio space to the artists of Charlotte, both the performing and visual variety.  Do you see where this is going? VAPA includes photography, in particular The Light Factory!  OK that’s a sign from the universe, or my camera put them up to this.  


The following week, I made the journey to VAPA. The building is in an old Sears and Roebuck store across from the McColl Center.   It’s  like I walked into heaven, well my version anyway,  singing and music wafted throughout the layers of the building. Color, texture, talking, laughing, energy swirling everywhere.  I had my wonderful well-loved camera and her lenses hiked on my shoulder and found the threshold of the light factory.  There I was met by Kay Tuttle the Executive Director of The Light Factory. She walked me through their gallery and told me all about the people that have flourished through photography.  I sadly and happily handed my camera off to Kay and the Light Factory and can’t wait to see what magic they make together.  

I know my camera is happy.  

To learn more about VAPA and The Light Factory please don’t hesitate to contact them, get involved, take a class, go buy some art, create!