The Norton Center: An Artistic Hub in the Heart of Kentucky


BY MORGAN UNDERWOOD – STAFF WRITER

Centre College, as we all know, is a little gem residing in the heart of central Kentucky, but Centre has a gem of its very own: the Norton Center for the Arts. Although located in the relatively remote community of Danville, Kentucky, the Norton Center is constantly filling its stage with high quality and high caliber performances. Ranging from well-known fan favorites such as the Allman Brothers and Dolly Parton, to acts and persons of high esteem such as the Venice Baroque Orchestra and The Music Makers Blues Revue, the Norton Center offers a great hub of cultural and artistic interaction for both Centre College and the greater Danville community.

Courtesy of centre.edu

With all of this, one must wonder how the Norton Center manages to entice such acts to come to our small town. After speaking to Norton Center director Steve Hoffman it is quite clear that the Norton Center has much to offer any performer(s). The Norton Center has an extremely strong and long-standing reputation and is very much respected as a cultural arts center. They have worked very hard to earn this reputation and have become quite adept at understanding the cultural wants of their community. This reputation is also far reaching; people come as far as Michigan and Georgia to enjoy the performances at the Norton Center, recognizing the quality of acts that it has to offer. The same is true for the greater central Kentucky area, with sixty percent of any given show’s audience coming from Lexington. The Norton Center is thus able to bring Centre together with the outside world, and bridge the gap between the “Centre Bubble” and the community, by offering great memories and experience for the two groups to share.

Music Maker Blues Revue, courtesy of the Norton Center for the Arts

The process of creating the seasonal line-up “is like a dance between the Norton Center and its potential acts,” Hoffman said. There is an ongoing list of the type of artists the center is looking for and would like to come perform, just as agents and their artists also have in mind where they would like to be performing. So with communication and negotiation, some magic happens, terms are decided, and the performance is set. Sometimes the Norton Center must make concessions, such as having a larger act on a week-day to lower fees. This allows the center to reel in the big fish, such as the aforementioned Dolly Parton, which the Norton Center beat out the Louisville YUM Center for being her only Kentucky performance.

Into the Woods, courtesy of the Norton Center for the Arts

There are always worries for the Norton Center of course when deciding potential performances, one of them often being audience turn-out for both Centre students and community members. “But the reputation of the Norton Center speaks for itself, and it always provides high quality performances to attend that keep both audience members and performers returning,” Hoffman reiterated. The Norton Center and its staff members are proud of the work that why do in offering an artistic alternative to Centre Campus and the Danville area, creating a place of culture and  community for the two to come together, and Centre College is certainly proud to have the Norton Center.


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