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History Meets Creativity at Asheville Area’s Black Mountain Center for the Arts

History Meets Creativity at Asheville Area’s Black Mountain Center for the Arts

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Offering concerts, classes, theatrical performances and galleries, Black Mountain Center for the Arts in Asheville is not your typical arts center

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts of Asheville has a singular mission. It states: “to bring art to the people and people to the arts.”

By introducing the community to modern works of creativity and local artists, they honor Asheville’s rich heritage while simultaneously bringing art to life for people who may not have otherwise discovered it.

A historic building turned into a thriving arts center

Gale Jackson, former director for the center, helped define its mission and overall direction. He said, “Here was this incredible group of people and this beautiful historic building, and this blank slate. It was an easy decision when they offered me the job.”

One of Jackson’s early projects was a community theater series called “Way Back When.” It celebrated the history of the Swannanoa Valley.

Black Mountain Center for the Arts
Black Mountain Center for the Arts is a nonprofit community arts center located in the beautifully renovated former Black Mountain town hall since 2000. [Courtesy of Black Mountain Center for the Arts]

Jackson recalls the overwhelming response of the community. He said, “Back then I remember that the people who grew up here thanked us for celebrating the heritage they treasured. The newcomers thanked us for helping them understand why they love it so much and wanted to be here.”

A visit is like stepping into another time

Visitors to the historic Black Mountain downtown area feel as if they are stepping back in time. For example, carriages lined the streets and residents called each other by their first names. In 1912, a fire consumed much of the downtown area, but the community worked together to rebuild.

Today, the charming storefronts pay homage to the town’s beloved heritage and a concerted effort to preserve it.

In keeping with the town’s mission of celebrating the old and the new, the Black Mountain Center for the Arts placed their roots in the middle of Swannanoa Valley history. The center is housed in the old Black Mountain City Hall, which was built in 1918 and carefully renovated to its former glory by a group of citizens in 1993.

While it has come a long way from the bustling courthouse and jail that used to call the building home, the arts center is still humming with history, attracting visitors from all over the world for its unique marriage of contemporary art and century-old, Black Mountain heritage.

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It’s more than a celebration of creativity; it’s a place for learning the craft of creating

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts offers events year-round for art and cultural enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds. Classes and workshops include a variety of dance styles, painting, music, and sculpture. In the summer, it hosts a variety of camps to inspire children to fall in love with their creative side.

Other annual events include an auction to benefit local artists and a three-day flower and art show. The center’s events calendar continually refreshes its public exhibits, concerts, festivals, theatre productions, and classes.

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts is open weekdays from 10 am to 5 pm. It’s located at 225 West State Street in Black Mountain, NC, just outside of Asheville.

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