The place that will house your wedding reception has to meet a couple qualifications: it has to accentuate the theme of your wedding, it has to fit all the loved ones you want to join you on your special day, and it has to accommadate your needs and wants. The Washington Pavilion does all that and a whole lot more.
Along with organizing community events and performances, the Washington Pavilion provides a beautiful space for newly married couples to spend their first day and evening, along with 300+ of their friends and family.
Events Manager Allyson Kasch spoke with Empire Productions about what it's like working with couples from start to finish, and watching their dreams go from ideas to reality.
Since 1999. We opened as a performing arts center. But now we've expanded into weddings and corporate events, as well. We started with just a few weddings at first but have grown to be a big force. We do about 35-45 weddings a year.
2. How many people are part of your team?
The Pavilion as a whole has about 100 full-time employees. The Events Department is made up of myself and two coordinators. We work very closely with the Leonardo's Cafe Staff and our Production Team, which brings us to a total of about 10-15 full-time employees who are involved in the planning process.
3. Can you tell us a little about the Pavilion's background?
It started in 1999 as a result of a renovation of Washington High School (which was eventually moved to the northeast side of the city). The last class to graduate from the old Washington High School was in 1992. Prior to that, the Sioux Falls School Board had decided to build a new Washington High in an area that would provide a campus with playing fields and adequate parking. But what to do with the downtown building? After the last graduation at Washington in May of 1992, Sheila Agee, then director of the Civic Fine Arts Center, and Mary Alman, former Siouxland Heritage Museum Director, discussed this question one day over lunch: "Wouldn't it be nice to turn Washington High School into a science and arts center?"
In September 1992, the Sioux Falls City Commission established the Washington Pavilion of Arts & Science Advisory Board. Over the next five years, the dream circulated through the Sioux Falls community with countless ideas created and rejected. On June 1, 1999, the dream became a reality when the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science - the first facility in America to house a visual arts center, a performing arts center and a science center in one building - opened its doors. It now houses an art gallery, concert hall, large-format theater, and science museum. Volunteers were the driving force behind the preservation of this grand building. Today more than 300 Washington Pavilion volunteers annually contribute thousands of hours of service. Volunteers are a vital and integral part of this organization.
4. How would you describe the mission and vision of the Washington Pavilion?
The mission of the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science is to educate, entertain, inspire, and enrich the community by making arts and science part of our lives.
The vision of the Washington Pavilion is to continue serving as the region’s premier arts, science and cultural institution and a national model for multifaceted, community-supported institutions.
5. What sets you apart from other businesses in your industry?
Our attention to detail . . . we want people to have the best experience possible. If we can do it, we do it. We spend a lot more time with our clients than other venues would. We like to be their one stop for everything. We're with them during the planning process, from start to end. That's probably the biggest compliment we get from people, that they didn't expect us to be so involved but really appreciated it!
6. Any particular topic you would like to focus on?
We're coming to the end of wedding season now. Once September comes we'll be getting into performances and more theater-related things.
7. What is your primary goal when serving your clients?
We want to provide an unbelievable experience, with everyone's expectations met and exceeded. We want them to leave with the best experience possible. I love it when we have couples that remember that this is their wedding day, and they just have fun with it.
8. What is one of your favorite weddings you've helped with so far?
One of my favorites that really sticks out is one back in September where the couple started their first dance really slow and sweet, and then surprised everyone and ended with a Michael Jackson song. I know Tony was a part of that one . . .he was so great to work with!
"The thing of most value and joy that takes place here is the flow of human interest. It is the spirit of the institution to be human in all of its activities. May the days spent here be filled to overflowing with scholastic attainment, courteous conduct, joy and happiness, so that as the rest of the journey progresses, each life shall abound with gladness and our high school days shall ever remain a happy memory" -engraved on the northeast cornerstone by students of the old Central School in 1935.