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Looking back and looking forward at Old Town Center for the Arts

After presenting over 550 concerts and events thus far, the staff at OTCA looks forward to resuming productions when local and state authorities feel it’s safe for public gatherings.

After presenting over 550 concerts and events thus far, the staff at OTCA looks forward to resuming productions when local and state authorities feel it’s safe for public gatherings.

Originally Published: December 22, 2020 7:36 a.m.

As the days grow shorter, this time of year is a time of reflection. 2020 has been a time of reflection and patience as Old Town Center for the Arts has been closed since March in consideration of our community’s health and safety.

The down time has afforded the opportunity to accomplish some needed repairs and maintenance as we look forward with hope for a bright future, for you, your family and our community.

We are often surprised to learn, after 13 years of presenting concerts and events, that a majority of the attendees, for any particular event, are there for the first time.

After the concert is over as folks are leaving with big smiles on their faces we’ve missed, this year, that tangible feeling of joy that happens when people gather to relax and become immersed in the present, leaving all cares behind, to become entertained by performing artists traveling here from all over the world.

Looking Back

When arriving at the Old Town Center for the Arts performers and attendees both take notice of this unassuming yet charming old building that takes one back to another time, when life was simpler.

Driving through Old Town Cottonwood, you may have noticed this historic building on 5th Street and Main. Designated by its distinctive marquee, indicating upcoming events and notifications relative to the Center, the complex is anchored by the OTCA theater and joined by adjacent Studio C, Studio B, and a quaint, historic cottage that fronts Main Street.

Built in the early 1930s as a Church of the Latter Day Saints, the historic building that is now the Old Town Center for the Arts has been home to at least six other religious denominations, a Music Store, an Antique Store, a Bicycle Shop, and even the office for the Department of Motor Vehicles, among other uses.

Built in the Mediterranean style, the church is built of concrete, common for the area. Construction is poured concrete in forms, containing Verde River sand and river rocks.

The concrete is reinforced by narrow gage tracks acting as rebar, which is in fact scrap metal steel from the mine and smelter in nearby Jerome. The result, an incredibly durable and innovative structure. The church was dedicated on July 11, 1933 and had 98 members.

In 2005, after passing through a variety of owners, William and Christine Eaton acquired the property, with the intent of creating a community space for the performing Arts.

The Eatons renovated the historic church building and designed a north side addition to closely match the original building style, utilizing a local adobe contractor, to add office space and restrooms.

The stage and ‘back stage’ area was created by taking out existing office and classroom space directly behind the original ‘pulpit.’ Space down stairs was turned into an innovative “Green Room” for artists to use as their dressing room. The newly renovated theater opened for its first concert events in the fall of 2008.

The cottage on the Main Street side, was built as a family home and has provided space for a variety of bistros and restaurants, and small shops. The cottage now houses the Muse Art Gallery.

Looking Forward

Old Town Center for the Arts, now in its 13th season, is dedicated to bringing the best in arts, entertainment, cultural and community events to the Verde Valley.  

After presenting over 550 concerts and events thus far, the staff at OTCA is looking forward to resuming productions, when local and state authorities feel it’s safe for public gatherings, and will continue to bring musicians, performing artists, comedians, and theater artists from around the country and the world.

OTCA also supports local and regional talent and will continue to host educational, sustainable, community events and festivals.

‘Looking forward,’ OTCA is also extremely proud to partner with the Sedona International Film Festival to bring ‘Monday, Movies on Main’ to Cottonwood. The collaboration has been a dream for both organizations. Thanks to the generosity of donors to both organizations, the OTCA has recently been equipped with state-of-the-art projection equipment, a new theater screen, sound system and speakers to improve the movie and live performance experience. Movie concessions will also be available, including beer, wine, soft drinks, water, popcorn and a selection of movie candy.

When the time is right, we look forward to seeing you at OTCA for a movie or live concert. If any events are presented prior to ‘herd immunity’ we will follow all CDC guidelines and safety protocols, including special physically-distanced seating arrangements and limiting to 50 attendees.

Special cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing measures will be taken; and masks or facial coverings will be required of all attendees, staff and volunteers.