West Virginia’s cultural wealth cannot be denied. Writers, musicians, painters, and sculptors abound. Until not too long ago, the only way to enjoy these artists was to wait until a university held some kind of exhibit or a music festival came to town. This is just fine as long as you live near an arts-oriented university or a populous enough area to host a music festival. If not, you were out of luck. That all changed in the Charleston area in 2003 when the Clay Center for the Arts opened its doors.
The Clay Center features small theaters, music performance venues, art gallery space, and even a planetarium. You can rent out the planetarium or the Intermezzo Cafe for birthday parties or private groups. The large format movie theater is always a great place for a small party. Just about every space in the Clay Center is available for reservation, from the Sculpture Garden or the Founder’s Lounge to the more than 1,800 seat Maier Performance Hall.
Every year, the Clay Center hosts the Broadway in Charleston theater season, presented by the General Corporation of Charleston. Most seasons include as many as six different Broadway shows at prices more reflective of and off Broadway show.
The Clay Center Presents series offers audiences live musical performances from world class acts. Diverse styles such as comedy acts, songwriters, and ballet groups perform on this series of concerts. Pricing is set at a level that allows just about everybody to afford tickets. The Clay Center for the Arts is home to the acclaimed West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, now almost 70 years old.
The Clay Center’s art gallery uses a moveable wall system and high ceilings to allow the display of just about any kind of visual art installation. The gallery’s permanent collection contains over 800 pieces, and is constantly growing.
The ElectricSky Theater is a 61 foot domed movie screen that brings the audience into another world for every showing. Planetarium shows are offered on the screen, and for about 45 minutes, a star ball shines a perfect view of the night sky onto the screen.
Of course, with all these educational opportunities around, the Clay Center offers local teachers the chance to take some of their classes to see the paintings and sculptures science exhibits. Whatever a teacher decides is the best course for their students, the Clay Center has materials available and a crack staff ready to show new and different worlds to kids from elementary school all the way up to high school.
No matter what you decide to do at the Clay Center for the Arts in Charleston, you are sure to have a good time.