Showcasing the Arts

YouTube video - Community Arts Award, Centre College's Norton Center for the Arts
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2017 Governor's Awards in the Arts:
Community Arts Award



Danville, Ky.



Norton Center for the Arts Norton Center for the Arts

Centre College President John Rosush has described the Norton Center for the Arts as Centre’s NCAA Division I football team, in terms of its ability to draw the public and prospective students to the 1,400-student campus in Danville.

With the diversity of entertainers who have graced the center’s two stages, that description is easy to believe. Among the national and international performers and groups that have played the Norton Center are The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Parsons Dance Company, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, mandolinist Chris Thile, The Manhattan Transfer, the Count Basie Orchestra, Dolly Parton, Kool and the Gang and comedian Bill Engvall. The center has also presented premieres of national touring productions of “Into the Woods,” “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” and “I Love Lucy on Stage.”

Twice in its history the Norton Center filled a valuable role in civic engagement, hosting the vice presidential debates in 2000 and 2012.

The roster of luminaries that have performed at the Norton Center illustrate the facility’s relevance in Kentucky, but through its 44 years, the center has also engaged with the surrounding community to serve the artistic and cultural needs of central Kentucky. The Norton Center has partnered with many community groups in the region, bringing touring artists to off campus locales, expanding the center’s cultural reach beyond Boyle County, bringing the arts to even more community members and groups. Such outreach events have included a performance of the all-African- and Latin-American chamber orchestra Sphinx Virtuosi at the Fayette County Juvenile Detention Center and Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble performing free-of-charge at Danville High School.

For nearly a decade, the Norton Center has brought dancers from a touring dance company to the Danville-based Kentucky School for the Deaf to provide dance and movement workshops for students there. Those students then are invited to see the dance company perform at the Norton Center.

Among its other educational initiatives is the Norton Center’s Arts in the Classroom Ticket Subsidy (ACTS) program, which provides free or significantly discounted tickets to regional schools, removing the financial barrier that might prevent student attendance at live performances. Since its inception, the ACTS program has provided more than 12,000 K-12 students with free tickets to the Norton Center. In addition to serving Boyle County and the Burgin and Danville independent school districts, ACTS has also provided tickets to schools in Fayette, Garrard, Lincoln, Mercer, Marion and Washington counties.

The center also reaches out to local performance groups to provide entertainment in the foyer of the center’s larger auditorium, Newlin Hall. The selection of local or regional groups is intended to complement the mainstage event and highlight the outstanding talent in central Kentucky. For example, when the Vienna Boys Choir performed at the Norton Center, the Danville Girls Chorus provided 45 minutes of music in the lobby prior to the concert. A Lexington-based Irish dance group provided dance demonstrations prior to a concert by Irish music group Danu. And singers from Shaker Village performed in the foyer prior to a Bobby McFerrin concert.

Along with its commitment to the performing arts, the Norton Center has its own collection of art, gathered over four decades, and maintains a gallery space in which to exhibit those works. It also hosts exhibitions that feature national, Kentucky and local artists and commissions visual artists for new works.




Page last updated: January 9, 2018
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