Justin Timberlake, Tyler Perry and Danica Patrick highlight roster of fascinating visitors on their way to Indianapolis this spring. David Lindquist/IndyStar, David Lindquist/IndyStar
Brown County’s first 2,000-seat venue in a decade now officially has an opening act and date.
The Brown County Music Center announced Monday that country singer Vince Gill will perform Aug. 24. The news marks the fulfillment of a major gap in entertainment for an area that relies on tourism from more than 3 million visitors each year, according to Jane Ellis, executive director of the Brown County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The similarly-sized Little Nashville Opry — the famous 35-year-old venue that brought in Johnny Cash, Kenny Chesney and Trisha Yearwood — burned down in 2009.
Construction on the Brown County Music Center, which was initially called the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center, began in July. Along with a theater that holds just more than 2,000 seats, it will have beer and family gardens and state-of-the-art sound and lighting, executive director Dana Beth Evans said. The goal is to have events that attract people even in the winter.
“We’re going to make sure that we can make an adventure out of this,” Evans said.
Over the last several months, Brown County has made large strides in setting up the center, which will be just southeast of Nashville off Indiana 46 at 200 Maple Leaf Blvd. Evans was hired in December, and the venue now has two full-time employees. The executive director plans to hire three more this summer along with a handful of part-time staff for the box office and backstage.
Starting in mid-August, Evans said the center will host soft openings starting in August before the grand opening show.
Brown County Music Center’s season so far
- Aug. 24: Vince Gill
- Sept. 7: Tesla
- Sept. 20: Clint Black
- Oct. 6: Home Free
- Oct. 13: George Thorogood & The Destroyers
- Oct. 16: Peppa Pig Live!
- Oct. 26: Here Come The Mummies
- Dec. 12: Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox
Monday’s announcement is just the beginning of what will be revealed. Evans said the venue plans to have between 70 and 100 shows each year in addition to hosting conferences, weddings, receptions and similar events. The center is contracting with entertainment company Live Nation for national acts and connecting with other partners to book local and regional musicians, she said.
Patrons can look for a variety of styles, including rock, classical, country, pop, jazz and bluegrass.
“Right now, we’re just trying to find our feet and figure out what’s going to go over here,” said Evans, who’s originally from Irvington, Kentucky, and has held leadership positions at several venues, including the Monroe County History Center in Bloomington and the Tivoli Theatre in Spencer.
Tickets for Gill and Peppa Pig will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, and sale dates for the rest of the slate are forthcoming. More shows will be announced on the website, browncounty.com/bcmc, as time goes on, Evans said. Buy tickets on the music center’s website, at ticketmaster.com and the Brown County Convention and Vistors Bureau at 211 South Van Buren St. in downtown Nashville.
Brown County Music Center also will roll out its Take a Seat program this year. For $500, a patron can reserve a seat for the entire season and have the right of first refusal for that spot. The fee does not include the ticket cost.
Art gallery in the lobby
The center, which is in the birthplace of the internationally known Brown County Art Colony, will host about four art shows each year that are organized around the theme of the music.
“Maybe one month, we’re going to focus on bluegrass,” Evans said. “We’ll ask the artists in town or across anywhere in the state to tell me what you think bluegrass means to you. … They will create their art around that.”
The work will be juried and what’s selected will hang in the venue and be available for sale. The artist and center will split the profits, Evans said.
“The goal of the Brown County Music Center is not to compete with what’s already in Brown County but to enhance it,” she said. “So we’re wanting to make sure when you’re coming through and you see an artist, we can go, ‘Yes, and that artist has a store or has a gallery two blocks away. If you like this piece, go check out the rest of his pieces.’ ”
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