MTSU applauds Arts Center of Cannon County’s 40th ...

MTSU applauds Arts Center of Cannon County’s 40th anniversary, community partnership

MTSU is joining the applause for the Arts Center of Cannon County and its 40 years of showcasing music, theater, dance, sculpture, painting, quilting, basket-making and other fine arts created for and by the community.

Arts Center of Cannon County logoThis Saturday, Jan. 25, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., the nationally recognized center, located at 1424 John Bragg Highway in Woodbury, Tennessee, will officially open its new classroom and practice rooms addition to the public to commemorate its 1980 founding.

Tickets for the event are $50 per person and available at the center’s website, Reservations are required.

The Arts Center’s 40 years include a long relationship with MTSU, thanks to the students, employees, alumni and supporters who’ve both enjoyed the center’s exhibits and entertainment and participated in them as artists, performers, behind-the-scenes staffers and in many other roles.

The university’s also put its money behind its support, placing a billboard touting the College of Liberal Arts and Department of Theatre and Dance on the east exterior wall of the center’s new addition.

MTSU Arts billboard for Arts Center of Cannon County

“The Department of Theatre and Dance understands the importance of engaging with our community, and we are so thankful for our involvement with the Arts Center for many years,” said Jeff Gibson, department chair. “That relationship runs deep and includes our many students, faculty and alumni who have participated in shows or taught classes there, as well as alumni who have found employment there.

Professor Jeff Gibson, chair of MTSU’s Department of Theatre and Dance

Jeff Gibson

“We’ve also benefitted through having the well-trained and experienced members of the Arts Center join us as students to further their education. For all of these reasons and more, we’re honored to play a part in the continued growth and enrichment of the capacity of the ACCC, and we look forward to continuing our partnership.”

Dr. Karen Petersen, dean, College of Liberal Arts

Dr. Karen Petersen

“It’s always nice to have that visual representation of the work that we do in the community from our campus through the arts, and the Cannon County arts center is a very visible way to do that,” added liberal arts Dean Karen Petersen. ”It really reflects the tip of the iceberg … in what we do through our different fine and performing arts departments.”

Alongside its mission of presenting and preserving the arts in Cannon County, the Arts Center serves as a small-business incubator, community center, educational facility and year-round gathering place for public and private events.

Beth McCrary, the Arts Center’s chief operations officer, said the organization is glad to continue and expand its longtime association with the university.

“We view it as a partnership … and we really appreciate our partnership with MTSU,” she said. “We hope to have the university come here and do some special things, too, maybe master classes. We look forward to continuing to work with MTSU.”

College of Liberal Arts logoThe arts center also founded what would become a Grammy-winning record label, Spring Fed Records, in 2002, specializing in unique and historically significant recordings of traditional Southern music.

Its longtime alliance with MTSU’s Center for Popular Music in the College of Media and Entertainment ultimately led to the Arts Center donating the label’s name and rights to the MTSU organization in 2014. The label’s repertoire has grown to include new collections from artists ranging from Mississippi John Hurt to Lorenzo Martinez & “Rabbit” Sanchez and its first CD recorded at MTSU, which will be released later this spring.

The arts center began as a community theater group, the Cannon Community Playhouse, in 1980 and quickly outgrew its first home in a gym basement. With the collaboration of the Cannon County Historical Society and the Cannon Association of Craft Artists, the Bragg Highway facility opened in 1990; this new addition is the fifth expansion in the center’s 30 years there, increasing its space to more than 19,000 square feet.

MTSU Theatre and Dance logoMore than 2,500 students are majoring in the College of Liberal Arts’ 11 departments at MTSU, which include the Departments of Art and Design; Communication Studies; English; Global Studies and Human Geography; History; Philosophy and Religious Studies; Political Science and International Relations; Sociology and Anthropology; Theatre and Dance; World Languages, Literatures and Cultures; and the School of Music.

More information about MTSU’s College of Liberal Arts is available at, and program info about the Department of Theatre and Dance is available at The Arts Center of Cannon County’s website is

— Gina E. Fann (