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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Clayton's Jewel

Posted March 1, 2006


Clayton is definitely a town on the move. The population is booming and becoming more diverse and sophisticated. One positive sign of Clayton's growth and transformation is a performing arts center downtown. The Clayton Center is a remarkable venue. I had the pleasure of performing there with my group Lorica last fall. I fell in love with the place. The staff is warm and accomodating. The acoustics are impeccable. The sound crew is superb. But there is a heart and soul to this place that makes it so special. The Clayton Center used to be a school auditorium. It has been beautifully restored and enhanced. When I performed here it took me back to Morganton High School when I was a teenager and enjoyed the the thrill of singing a solo for the first time in front of my classmates.
Heidi Stump is the executive director of The Clayton Center. "There is a certain magic that you feel when you walk into the building. The beautiful architecture, including the grand lobby atrium, draws visitors into the center; the renovated brick walls hint at the history of the building."
Author Frederick Buechner writes about listening to your life and finding the extraordinary among the mundane. It is easy to rush to work and plow in your daily assignments without savoring the richness of the moment. Heidi Stump says she enjoys walking into the theatre early in the morning and turning on the lights. "Standing in the dark, and watching as the theatre is slowly illuminated, never ceases to thrill me. Part of the magic of the center is understanding what it means to our community. The Clayton Center represents the progress Clayton has made as a town, and the potential Clayton has for the future. It is a symbol of a town that is developing into a vibrant artistic community. To me, watching the lights come alive in the theatre symbolizes our blossoming town."
Heidi used to work in Cary where arts have been elevated to a new level in recent years. She sees the same thing happening in Clayton. "It is truly amazing that a town of our size has such a wonderful cultural resource. Everyday I appreciate working in a town that recognizes the essential role the arts play in enriching our lives. Our auditorium is more than just a venue to present artists. It is a center filled with community activity. It is a center filled with laughter, where people stop by on non-show nights just to say hello. It is a center that attracts locals and visitors, each of whom is treated as if s/he is a member of our family. We strive to maintain a personal atmosphere at The Clayton Center. The treasure of The Clayton Center is the ability to maintain a warm and personal environment in a venue that presents high caliber, professional artists. We are truly, small town, big time."
Beautiful words from Heidi and a beautiful facility. Check out the Clayton Center at:
http://www.theclaytoncenter.com/
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