With an annual visitation reaching over 55,000, Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts is home to a world-class performing arts series of professional touring artists. The Center serves as a college and community showplace for such top national—and international—acts like Dolly Parton, Yo-Yo Ma, ZZ Top, and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; along with Broadway musicals, international dance and theatre companies, and a lineup of award-winning culturally and ethnically diverse global artists. Since its opening in 1973, the internationally recognized performing arts center has helped make Danville, Kentucky, a “powerhouse palace of culture” (Louisville Courier-Journal).
Great performances are just the beginning of the Norton Center experience. The Center provides opportunities for Centre students—and the entire community—to creatively explore the complexities and connectedness of the human story while engaging directly with touring and local artists through jam sessions, panel discussions, workshops, masterclasses, school matinees, and social events every season. In addition to the performing arts, the Norton Center boasts an expansive display of visual art and sculpture year-round, along with a rotating schedule of special exhibitions.
In addition to housing classroom, performance, and workshop spaces for Centre College’s impressive academic programs in the arts, the Center also serves as the premier gathering place on campus, hosting more than 200 College events each year. Many of the most memorable on-campus student experiences—Freshman orientation, convocations, athletic awards ceremonies, and graduation—are hosted at the Norton Center.
The Norton Center is a culturally and architecturally distinct Kentucky icon. Designed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s William Wesley Peters, the building is a model of organic architecture, tracing its origins to the Guggenheim Museum. Peters, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first apprentice, collaborated with Wright for more than a quarter-century on his most famous projects, including Fallingwater and the Guggenheim. As a result, Wright-inspired architectural elements are evident throughout the complex, from the repeated hexagonal shapes, playful use of natural light, and bold colors to the intimate performance spaces and amazing acoustics.
Within the 85,000 square foot complex are stunning performance and exhibition spaces and exceptional facilities for the College’s academic programs in dramatic arts, music, and dance. The Center’s two theatres, the 1,476-seat Newlin Hall and the intimate 367-seat Weisiger Theatre draw consistent praise from performers and audiences alike.
With an annual operating budget of nearly $1,700,000, the Norton Center employs ten full-time staff from various professional disciplines, including technical production, patron services, engagement, marketing, and administration. In addition, the Center is the largest employer of Centre College students on campus, with over 150 students serving as part-time box office associates, event managers, ushers, valet drivers, concessions sales, and arts administration staff.
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