The September 14, 2007, Grand Rapids Press announced the opening of the Grand Rapids Ballet Company’s new 300-seat Peter Martin Wege Theatre, named for Peter Wege’s father and Steelcase founder. The $6.3 million new theater more than doubled the Grand Rapids Ballet Company’s space bringing it to 40,000 square feet.
Press reporter Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk described the area where the Grand Rapids Ballet Company had been rehearsing. Just seven years ago, the professional company of dancers rehearsed in the basement of Grand Rapids’ Masonic Temple downtown. Its ceiling was so low, ballerinas who were lifted into the air had to duck to avoid hitting air ducts. On Thursday, (September 13, 2007) Grand Rapids Ballet Company’s dancers stepped into the footlights of their own theater adjoining the headquarters the ballet as occupied since 2001
The Press article described the new theater as an “environmentally friendly addition.” Over 240 people attended the black-tie opening “named for the father of lead donor Peter M. Wege.” Peter Wege was quoted as saying, ‘It’s a gorgeous building, and it’s wonderful for Grand Rapids.”’
The Peter Martin Wege Theatre adjoins the newly named Meijer-Royce Center For Dance, named for Peter’s friends and fellow benefactors, Fred and Lena Meijer and Chuck and Stella Royce. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, long-time ballet patron Stella Royce described the events leading up to the new Theatre and Center for Dance as “a real Cinderella story.”
The article notes that some 250 students take classes at the GRBC plus another 700 in the outreach program. Again, this gift of a ballet auditorium is not just about Arts & Culture, but about Education, with the GRBC students, and about Human Services, with the outreach classes. Of course, the Peter Martin Wege Theatre is green built making it touch the Environment Pillar as well.