Although it’s only the end of March, can you believe we are already planning for our 2017 season of shows?! With so many variables and things to consider, building a performance season is an ongoing process, and we would like to give you the opportunity to suggest what YOU would like to see on our stage. After reading the post below you will have a chance to fill out a form and help us as we plan for the year ahead!

So what goes into choosing the season, anyway?

There are so many factors that are taken into consideration when planning a season of productions, including when the show was last performed in the area, the type or size of cast required, the month the show will be performed, who will direct, what sort of content is involved, what the set or props will require, how much the royalties cost, etc.  We work hard to plan a season that not only fits in the Arts Centers schedule, but that fits with the schedules of the volunteers who will be working to put on the show and the audience members who will be attending.  

Who chooses the shows?

The Arts Center staff works together to plan the season, along with suggestions from directors, producers and board members. A large number of shows are suggested and then narrowed down as they are discussed. The discussion may include questions like, has this show been performed at the Arts Center before? If so, when and what was attendance like? What sort of audience do we expect will want to see this show?  Has another theatre in the area recently performed this show, or do they plan to in the near future? Are the rights currently available to community theatres, and if not, will they be available soon?

Does it cost money to put on a show?

Yes! And what many people don’t realize is that nearly every show has royalty fees that are determined based on the size of the theatre, the number of shows being performed, how new the show is, etc. Rates vary tremendously and while some older or lesser known plays are offered for minimal prices, many larger scale musicals cost thousands of dollars to perform. And that’s just to pay for the rights to the show! After the royalties are secured, money goes into the set, costumes, props, marketing, etc.

Can audience members make suggestions for upcoming performances?

Yes you can! We would love to hear your suggestions for what you would like to see on the Arts Center stage, and why. By clicking the link below you can anonymously fill out a suggestion form!  

Submit your comments here!


As the weather grows warmer and you start thinking about summer time, I encourage you to consider enrolling your child in our Summer Conservatory Program! Each two week session teaches students performance skills that also translate into valuable life skills, through engaging activities and team building exercises. Curious how the arts can benefit your child? Read below!


Students who learn music, acting, and dance are building memorization skills that can help them in school and beyond. Additionally, students develop pattern recognition skills when singing and dancing that can help them excel in math and other subjects.

Having an appreciation for the arts strengthens and builds imagination. In fact, incorporating music and performing in childhood years can help students foster a positive attitude towards learning and curiosity.

Kids who study the arts can learn to think more creatively! Art education can help students solve problems by thinking outside the box and realizing that there may be more than one right answer.    

Students learn to recognize and practice proper diction and enunciation when performing, which can encourage correction of minor speech impediments and teach students to control their volume levels. Reading skills are also often strengthened.

Did you know students who practice music score higher on the SAT? In fact, one report indicates students who study music appreciation score 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on math!


While dancing and performing, students are encouraged to be active in ways that build coordination and concentration through exciting step combinations and stage directions.

Students studying performance learn to contort their bodies to mimic different animals, characters, people, and objects. This strengthens observations skills and body awareness while helping students figure out how to use their own individual size and shape to their advantage.

Through dance and creative movement, students develop a greater range of movement while learning the ability to use their bodies effectively in different spaces.

Dance is a fun, engaging way for students to develop strength and endurance from an early age. This creates a solid platform for the child’s physical development and level of fitness and encourages them to be healthy and active in their everyday lives.

Students who study acting practice physical displays of confidence, such as entering a room with poise and presence, and actively listening and maintaining eye contact when conversing with peers and elders.


Studies have shown that students who study music and performance can be more emotionally developed than students who do not. This emotional growth allows them to have higher self-esteem and cope better with anxiety.

Music, dance, and acting have therapeutic qualities that allow students to fight stress and relax. While performing can trigger fear and anxiety in some students, overcoming nerves further builds confidence and offers a sense of accomplishment.  

Teamwork is a big part of performance-based activities, and students who participate learn to work together and build camaraderie amongst groups.

Acting is a great way for kids to get in touch with their own feelings, while providing an outlet for a wide-array of emotions. 

Kids who learn performance skills learn a valuable lesson in discipline when setting aside practice time that is essential for memorizing lines and rehearsing songs or dance steps. Additionally, an enjoyable subject such as music or dance can teach students to be more interested in class, which may help overall focus in classroom settings and a desire to excel in all subjects.


All of these points are, of course, just a few of the ways kids (and adults!) can benefit from participation in performance related activities, and everyone’s personal growth will be different. In my own experience, one of the greatest things I learned through performing was how to collaborate and build friendships with kids and adults of all ages and from many diverse backgrounds. I am so thankful that Summer Conservatory provides an important outlet for kids during the summer months!

For more information on our Summer Conservatory program or to get your child signed up, click here or call (615) 563-2787.  

Thanks to the following websites for research information used in this blog post-




Welcome our Museum Intern, Anderson Dodd! Anderson is an Art History major at MTSU and shares some important information in his blog post about viewing and appreciating art, no matter what it is. Also included is information about the upcoming opening of the Southern Self-Taught Artist exhibit which Anderson curated here at the Arts Center. 

Guest Blog by Anderson Dodd 

I have something to admit to all of you. I used to get really frustrated by art. I didn’t understand why something like a piece of gum was art, or why I had to like it. There were times, when I was looking at a piece that I just wanted to look at the curator and ask, “Why is this art?” That was until someone told me that I needed to stop seeing art, and start looking at art. At first I thought they were just being hoity-toity, but then I realized that they were right. I needed to stop going to see art and start going to look at it. 

Art is meant to be looked at critically and really enjoying works of art comes out of having a dialogue with pieces that goes beyond just aesthetics. I know this sounds complicated, but don’t worry!  It is not as complicated as it sounds.

Below are some helpful tips and questions to ask your self when looking at art that you find frustrating. These are just suggestions and you don’t have to think deeply on them. They are just there to help you open up a dialogue with a piece of art, slow down snap judgements, and start looking at art rather than just seeing it.  Just a few moments can lead into some insight and you may end up enjoying a piece you disliked to begin with!

1)    Enjoyable art is not always pretty. It is perfectly okay to enjoy art that you consider pretty, but art is a form of human expression and existence. It taps into all of our emotions. Art can be happy, sad, scary, exciting, etc. Works of art give us a rare chance to see the world through someone else's eyes and help us reexamine and rediscover the world around us.

2)    Ask yourself, “What am I looking at?” If you don’t know or can’t tell, ask questions like, Do I like this piece of art? What about it do I like? What about it do I not like?  Try to find something positive and something negative.

3)    Next ask, “How does this painting make me feel and why?” For example, if a work looks “weird” to you, ask yourself, “What about it makes me feel this way?” It could be the colors or the shapes, the subject, or the way the subject has been portrayed.  The question “Why?” is one of the most powerful tools we have.

4)    It is also helpful to read the labels. Many of the artists painted personal subjects, and reading the labels can help you understand what is going on or help explain why you may or may not like the piece. At the bottom of some of the labels you’ll see “Think About It” suggestions which may help you appreciate the piece.

5) The most important rule of all is: Have fun and Explore!

Ready to put this to the test? Come out and join us March 18, 2016 at 6:30 PM in Cannon Hall for the opening reception of Southern Self-Taught Artists. This new exhibit, on display in Cannon Hall until June 30th 2016 will feature highlights from the Caldwell Collection.

Want to bring your kids to the museum? Great! The concepts above are pretty complicated for kids to understand so we have developed Kids Cards. These interactive printable worksheets are meant to help children understand the art, while at the same time flex their own creative muscles. You will be able to find them at the Art Center’s website after the opening. 

Memphis the Musical opens this weekend, and in honor of the production I am excited to welcome to the blog special guest, Melinda Paul! Melinda stars in Memphis as singing soul-stress Felicia Farrell who steals the heart of disc jockey, Huey Calhoun. Read as Melinda describes the timeless musical that you don't want to miss! 

Brittany: Hi Melinda, thank you so much for giving me your time! Can you tell our readers about yourself and your background in theatre?

Melinda: Sure! I’m a Nashville transplant by way of Maryland. I’m actually currently halfway through medical school (taking a year or two off to do research), but I couldn’t let go of my love of theater – so here I am! My elementary school’s productions were where it all started for me – I have distinct memories of playing a fox and a jester (Tony Award-worthy roles, of course) – and I dabbled in a few shows in middle school and high school. It wasn’t until college that I really sunk my teeth into theater, though – I majored in Theater Studies at Yale University, and got to act, direct, play and create with some truly humbling artists. I took some time off after college to work in DC and become a firefighter (crazy, I know), and then came to Nashville three years ago to start medical school. This is my third show in the Nashville area since being here, and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with this community.

Brittany: Tell us about your role as Felicia Farrell in Memphis.

Melinda: In short, Felicia Farrell is a black soul singer who gets noticed by a white DJ, Huey Calhoun, when he ventures underground into her brother’s Beale Street juke joint. They share a mutual love for the music that is as forbidden in the mainstream as is their growing love for one another, and the show follows their desires – both individually, and together – to be heard in a culturally and musically white-washed world. Felicia’s voice speaks for so many, both from the 1950s and now, and I feel so honored to get to tell her story.

Brittany: For people who don’t know the story of Memphis, what can you tell them?

Melinda: The story is in the music, really. In a time of tremendous segregation, Memphis speaks of those who tried to bridge social divides with a language that transcends color, culture and creed. Of course, there’s love and drama and choreographed dances involved – but at the heart of the show is a glimpse into the reality of a world that insists on coloring inside the lines, so to speak, and the hope we have in our ability to move beyond that kind of constrictive mentality.

Brittany: What is your favorite moment or song in the show? No spoilers please!

Melinda: I’m a sucker for jazz and big band music, so the brassy dance breaks may be my favorites…is that lame? Of course, I’m also partial to some of the more heart-tugging musical moments, but you said no spoilers so I’ll leave it at that. This show is packed with fantastic music though – I’d come for the band alone!

Brittany: What has been the best part of working on this production?

Melinda: The people. Cliché, but true. Darryl, Robert, Regina, Susan, Tabby, Scarlett, the incredible Michael Adcock and the amazing cast and crew and musicians I get to have fun with every day (I feel like I’m giving an acceptance speech…) – they’ve honestly made this entire thing a joy.

Brittany: What would you tell people who have not purchased their tickets yet?

Melinda: Click here! Do it now.

Brittany: Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Melinda:Art is such an amazingly powerful vehicle for storytelling and change – so thank you, for supporting live theater and for listening to our story!

Brittany: Thank you so much, Melinda! And to our readers, for a 60 second preview of Melinda, Michael, and the rest of the cast members performing songs from the show, watch the promotional video

Memphis runs March 11-26 at the Arts Center of Cannon County. The show is rated PG for some adult language and content. 

You recognize the name, you’ve been to the city, but do you know the Tony Award Winning Musical? In honor of Memphis the Musical opening in just one week, on March 11, here is everything you need to know about the show and why you must see it live at the Arts Center of Cannon County!

Memphis is a musical by David Bryan (best known as the keyboard player from Bon Jovi) and Joe DiPietro (writer of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change & All Shook Up), based loosely on the life of Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips. Phillips, known as a pioneer of early rock-and-roll, was one of the first white DJs to play black music in the 1950s.

Memphis tells the fictional story of Huey Calhoun, a young white disc jockey with a passion for R&B music, who falls for an up-and-coming black singer named Felicia Farrell. Despite the objections of their loved ones, the two embark on a dangerous affair. But as their careers rise, the relationship is challenged by personal ambition and the pressures of an outside world unable to accept their love. Memphis is set in the places where rock-and-roll was born in the 1950s- the seedy nightclubs, radio stations and recording studios of the musically-rich Tennessee city. The show is rated PG for some adult language and content.

Memphis was met with rave reviews when it opened on Broadway in 2009, and went on to win four Tony Awards in 2010, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. A film of the live show was released in 2012, starring many members of the original Broadway cast. The words “exuberant, exciting, and rambunctious” are often found in reviews for the show, highlighting the catchy songs and rousing dance numbers. Although Memphis stays true to its Tennessee roots and the heart of rock-and-roll, the show has been performed all over the world including professional stagings in Japan and England.  

The Arts Center of Cannon County’s production of Memphis stars Nashville performers Michael Adcock as Huey Calhoun and Melinda Paul as Felicia Farrell, and features many familiar faces to the ACCC stage including Michael McGee, Phil Mote, Zavior Phillips, Bill White, and Laurie Burger. Director Darryl Deason recently brought several sell-out shows to the Arts Center stage including Disney’s Tarzan and Shrek the Musical. He is assisted by the talented Robert Heirs (Music Director), Regina Wilkerson Ward (Choreographer), Tabby Ragland and Susan Walsworth (Producers) and Drew and Christy Sanford (Lighting/Sound Design and Stage Manager).  Memphis also includes a live, seven piece band.

Featuring over twenty original songs, high-energy dance numbers, fifties-era costumes, and an elaborate set that will take you back in time, Memphis the Musical is not to be missed! The show runs March 11-26, with Friday and Saturday performances at 7:30pm and Sunday matinees at 2:00pm. Tickets are $15 for Adults and $13 for Students & Seniors. Groups of ten or more can be accommodated and receive a group rate of $12 when paid in advance. Call (615) 563-ARTS or click here to purchase your tickets today!

As we are approaching the kick-off of our 2016 season, and welcoming new volunteers, I thought it would be fun to hear from one of our veteran volunteers- Tylee Nistad! Tylee has been involved at the Arts Center for over ten years and has graciously offered her time at many different shows and events over the last decade.

Read what Tylee has to say about her time at the Arts Center, and why she encourages everyone to get involved, no matter their age or skill set!

Brittany: Hello, Ty! Tell us a little about yourself! Do you have a background in theatre?

Tylee: I am adopted from China, but Cannon County has been my home since I can remember. I grew up kind of isolated on a farm, so I had a lot of imaginary friends and just generally talked to myself a lot. I would put on elaborate performances for the cows and thus my acting career was born. When I got old enough, my parents enrolled me in the Arts Center’s summer conservatory program and that’s where I got my dose of human interaction and my roots in theatre. :)

Brittany: How long have you been volunteering at the Arts Center?

Tylee: I’ve been involved at the Arts Center in some way my entire life. I went to Conservatory when I was little and then grew up to be in some different plays once in a while. It wasn’t until my freshman year in high school that I found my calling as a consistent volunteer at the Arts Center.

Brittany: In what ways are you involved?

Tylee: I usually run the lights for plays. I found that being on stage was not my forte and got the chance to run lights for a play my mom was in and I ran with it from there. I have also been a part of the set crew, putting up and taking down sets for plays. I’ve even stood in for people during rehearsals, which is not always an easy thing to do. The Arts Center is more than just plays though. I’ve also helped work our Reverse Raffle and the White Oak Craft Fair. My favorite volunteer opportunity is Junior Conservatory. It is two weeks with kids aged six to eleven teaching acting, music, and dance. At the end we put on a play and it’s the best thing to watch the kids grow and perform.

Brittany: What’s your favorite part about volunteering?

Tylee: The sense of community that comes from volunteering and being a part of the Arts Center is the best. Watching kids come back to the Arts Center because they loved Conservatory so much and want to be in plays is really rewarding.

Brittany: What would you say to someone who is interested in getting involved?

Tylee: It doesn’t matter if you can’t act or sing or hammer a nail. There is always something to do at the Arts Center and as long as you’re willing to try you will be welcome. I am the worst artist in the history of mankind and they had me painting very important parts of a set one time, like it was a focal point all would see. But I did my best and everyone learned not to let Tylee have a paintbrush anymore. LOL

Brittany: How has volunteering at The Arts Center affected you in a positive way?

Tylee: If I hadn’t volunteered at the Arts Center I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I’ve made so many friends and had so many good times at the Arts Center and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. It’s a really positive place to be and work.

Brittany: Finally, just for fun… do you have any volunteer stories you would like to share?

Tylee: There are so many weird theatre stories it's hard to pick just one. I guess one of my favorite things to tell people is when I was in Fiddler on the Roof there was a group of us kids that got really close and we had our own Fiddler Reunions two years in a row it seems like. We all had a blast and we didn’t want that to end. I’m still friends with that group six years later.