Arts & Culture in Abingdon, VA
Arts and culture are alive in Washington County where residents enjoy live entertainment, history and local artists among numerous top-notch cultural attractions.
Perhaps the most famous is the historic Barter Theatre, an arts facility with a storied past and more than 160,000 visitors each year.
The Abingdon theater opened in 1933 during the Great Depression, when the price of admission was 40 cents – or the equivalent in food – a policy that gave the theater its distinctive name.
Today‚ the Barter Theatre company puts on an incredible 16-17 productions per week February through December and is one of the few remaining nonprofit resident acting troupes in the United States.
In addition to the original 507-seat main theater space known as the Town Hall‚ the downtown complex includes a second stage known as Barter Stage II‚ which seats 167‚ along with a cafe and Stonewall Square.
Famous Barter alumni include Gregory Peck, Patricia Neal, Ernest Borgnine, Ned Beatty and Gary Collins, among other notable stars.
William King Museum
The William King Museum is a community landmark and a focal point for the arts.
The Abingdon museum is housed in an early 20th-century building that served as a school until 1973. It was converted into an arts facility in 1979 and now offers in-house classes for adults and children‚ with staff members even traveling to educate elementary school students using the center's “Van Gogh” truck.
Other school programs bring third- and fourth-grade students into the arts center for gallery tours, lessons and related art projects.
Special classes also have been developed for home-school students, and weeklong summer art camps keep young minds and hands engaged even when school is not in session.
The William King Museum, a partner of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, also features art from the region and around the world, with its free exhibitions changing every 10-12 weeks.
Another hot spot for art exhibitions and classes is located in downtown Abingdon in what was a railroad freight depot for more than 100 years.
Today, the Arts Depot is the headquarters of the 300-member, nonprofit Depot Artists Association, formerly the William King Artists Association. It has two galleries, as well as studio space, workshops and classrooms, and offers lectures‚ demonstrations and discussions.
The Arts Depot is dedicated to making the arts accessible to the community and offers classes for all ages. Topics range from basic drawing and pastel, acrylic and oil painting to watercolor portraits and silk painting. Other offerings include scrapbooking, collage and digital photography.
In addition, a partnership between area arts organizations and higher education institutions sponsors Arts Array, a series of foreign and independent films, concerts, lectures, museum exhibits and other cultural events that are open to the community.
Experience Southwest Virginia's culture in the Heartwood community, which is packed with crafts, food and music. Visitors can shop for locally made items amongst four galleries, The Crooked Road Store or the Heartwood gift shop. Interactive exhibits and live performances allow customers to meet local artisans and musicians. Dining options include a restaurant, which serves dishes made with local ingredients, and there is a coffee and wine bar on site for those who want a fresh roast or brew, or to sample products from nearby wineries.
Discover more on the arts in Abingdon, VA.