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All Eyes on The Louisa Arts Center in Central Virginia

The Louisa Arts Center is the center of attention for arts and art lovers in the Central Virginia community.

By Kevin Litwin on October 19, 2022

Exterior of the Louisa Arts Center, in Central Virginia.
Louisa Arts Center

Louisa Arts Center has an interesting history, including the building it occupies.

LAC is housed in a distinctive 1.5- story granite building constructed as a school in 1907 and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“This beautiful building still has many of its original features,” says Karen Welch, Louisa Arts Center executive director. “It was ultimately vacated by the school system and then purchased by the Town of Louisa in 2002, and today the building is shared as the Town Hall and the Louisa Arts Center.”

Livability chatted with Karen to talk further about the Louisa Arts Center’s impact on the community.

The Louisa Arts Center began in 2007. What are some of its highlights?

Today, the LAC has a 205-seat Cooke-Haley Theater that hosts concerts, music recitals, dance performances, drama and comedy acts. In addition, the Purcell Art Gallery features art, photography and sculpture exhibits that rotate every six to eight weeks or so. 

What is the Center’s mission in 2022-23?

We want the Center to always be a magical place where creativity comes alive — a place to enrich, enhance and inspire passion for the arts in our community. Our tagline is “To Brighten Your Life,” adding to the quality of life for all of Louisa’s 1,800 residents.

How are things going following the two rough years of the pandemic?

We’ve added more activities to continue our comeback, and now LAC is thriving once again. We are hosting 16-20 concerts a year in the theater, and we also use Louisa Fairgrounds for bigger acts. For example, we welcomed big-name country music singer Suzy Bogguss to the Fairgrounds in August 2022.

LAC is a nonprofit organization. So how do you raise money?

We depend heavily on sponsorships for almost everything we do. With sponsorships, we can keep ticket prices low for our large events, which is a big goal of mine. For instance, if we book a band that costs $10,000, we can still charge reasonable prices of $25-$35 per ticket if we get monetary help from sponsors.

What’s in store for the Center in the future?

Our latest news is establishing a Louisa Arts Bus that can take art out into the community. We were gifted an old-school bus and are now outfitting it, and we plan to visit kids in underserved areas in the summertime. In addition, when children are back in school, we are planning trips to senior living facilities. The bus will help us reach groups that have difficulty visiting us at the Center. 

If you’d like to learn more about the Central Virginia area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Central Virginia

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