Rutherford County has a level of cultural activity remarkable for a rural community of its size. Whether your interests happen to turn to music, theatre, history and local heritage, or visual arts and crafts, there are programs and groups helping to facilitate a rich and varied community life.
Rutherford County is unusually blessed with music of all kinds, from week-end "pickin'" in informal gatherings to visits from world-class orchestras.
Rutherford County Arts Council Music Programs––The Rutherford County Arts Council produces major musical works open to public participation, including Broadway shows and children's musicals. Arts programming in the schools, including music, is provided through the 21st Century After School Program. Festivals on various themes (local heritage, Shakespeare, Medieval, Renaissance, etc.) featuring appropriate music are also a regular feature of Arts Council programming, as are concerts showcasing a potpourri of musical styles and genres.
The Foundation Performing Arts Center––The Foundation, a professionally staffed performance facility located on the ICC campus, presents an annual performance series featuring a variety of professional concerts, touring musicals, children's shows, and much more. 828-286-9990
Rutherford County Concert Association––The Concert Association sponsors an annual concert series featuring a variety of world-class professional performers, including music, dance, folk arts ensembles, and much more. Tony Spencer, 828-245-6626.
Symphony of Rutherford County––The Symphony of Rutherford County provides a year-round program for youth and adult musicians, and presents a variety of performances, both for the public and in the schools. Individual string instruction is available. Mrs. R. E. Carpenter, 828-287-5569.
Isothermal Community College Music Department––ICC provides adult classes for vocal, choral and instrumental music, and the "College Singers," open to the community, perform several times a year with a variety of programs.
Foote Hills Community Band ––Membership is open to all wind instruments and percussionists. Dr. Jim Deihl, 828-245-2613.
Thermal Belt Brass––Brass quintet available for performances. Douglas Long, 828-625-1427.
In-School Music Programs––Choral and instrumental programs, including a strong band program, are provided at both primary and secondary levels, with scores of performances presented to the public throughout the year. The 21st Century After School Program also provides arts programming, including music, directed by Rutherford County Arts Council.
Church Music Programs––There are numerous professionally directed adult and youth choral and handbell programs among Rutherford County's approximately 200 churches. Church music programs are always on the lookout for new participants, and they provide a stimulating musical and social experience for the newcomer.
Music Clubs––The county has two active music clubs based in the Rutherfordton and Tri-Community areas which meet regularly for educational and musical programs, as well as socializing. These clubs provide important support for special projects in the schools and community.
Private Instruction See Artist/Performer Registry
Rutherford County Arts Council––The Arts Council provides theatrical experience for all ages and professional quality entertainment for the community in its productions of major Broadway musicals, children's musicals, Shakespeare and the classics, operettas, and other works of drama, music and dance. All productions are open to anyone interested in participating––no previous experience necessary. In-school drama is provided by the Arts Council through the 21st Century After School Program.
Rutherford Community Theater––The oldest theatrical group in the county, the Rutherford Community Theater presents three or four productions each year, which may include, but are not limited to, comedy, drama, mystery, melodrama, or farce. For each production, all onstage and offstage positions are open and filled entirely by volunteers. 828-245-1150.
The Foundation Performing Arts Center––The Foundation, a professionally staffed performance facility located on the ICC campus, presents an annual performance series featuring a variety of professional concerts, touring musicals, children's shows, and much more.
In-School Drama––The 21st Century After School Program provides after school drama workshops and productions with music and dance, directed by Rutherford County Arts Council.
KidSenses––The interactive museum has a small stage and costumes for imaginative play, and offers a summer drama workshop.
Private Instruction See Artist/Performer Registry
Rutherford County Arts Council––Festivals on various themes (local heritage, Shakespeare, Medieval, Renaissance, etc.) featuring food, arts and crafts, exhibits, demonstrations, music and entertainment are a regular feature of Arts Council programming
Rutherford County Visual Artists Guild ––The Guild is made up of people interested in promoting the visual arts through various programs. Membership is open to all interested persons. 828-248-1566.
The Lake Lure Artists––An association open to all artists in the Lake Lure area. 828-625-1256.
In-School Arts––Art instruction is provided at both primary and secondary levels. The 21st Century After School Program provides after school art activities and workshops, directed by Rutherford County Arts Council.
Blue Moon Art Gallery––located in Cliffside, NC. 828-657-8969.
The Gallery––located on North Main Street in Rutherfordton, NC. 828-287-5647.
Painters Gap Art Gallery––located on West Court Street in Rutherfordton, NC. 866-273-7835.
Rose Tripoli Mueller Gallery––located in Bostic, NC. 828-248-1566.
Isothermal Community College––ICC provides classes in writing and sponsors an annual competition, publishing the winning entries.
Isothermal Poetry Slam––This annual event, which takes place in the lobby of The Foundation Performing Arts Center on the ICC campus, features a poetry reading competition with cash prizes and musical entertainment.
MUSEUMS / HERITAGE
Rutherford County Historical Society––PO Box 144, Rutherfordton, NC. 828-248-3512.
Genealogical Society of Old Tryon County––Forest City, NC. 828-247-8700.
Rutherford County Farm Museum––Forest City, NC. 828-248-1248.
Maimy Etta Black Fine Arts Museum and Historical Society––Forest City, NC. 828-248-1525.
KidSenses Interactive Children's Museum––Rutherfordton, NC. 828-286-2120.
Rutherford County Arts Council––In 1983, the Arts Council, through a grant from the NC Department of Archives and History, employed an architectural historian for a year, who inventoried and photographed all the historic structures in Rutherford County. The results were published in the book, "The Historic Architecture of Rutherford County," which is available from the Arts Council store and local bookstores. The Arts Council also produced a heritage movie entitled "Hand-Me-Downs," which documents several local singers and storytellers performing material handed down to them from previous generations A short movie of the Southern folktale "Ol' Fire Dragoman" was also produced featuring a cast entirely made up of Rutherford County youth and adults. Both movies are available from the Arts Council store.