Arts center opens this month | Wide Awake Wilson
Wide Awake Wilson

Arts center opens this month

Posted on May 12, 2021

Wide Awake Wilson
The gift shop at the new Wilson Arts Center will cotinue to carry a variety of art for sale.

Janelle Clevinger | For Wide Awake Wilson

The gift shop at the new Wilson Arts Center will cotinue to carry a variety of art for sale.

Moving is never easy, whether it’s moving into a new home or moving an entire business. Now imagine having your business and its employees divided up into several locations in town.

That is what Wilson Arts has been doing for the past three years: offices near the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park; gallery, gift shop, box office and performance space at the Edna Boykin Cultural Center; and theater rehearsals, well, everywhere.

That time has now come to an end with the May opening of the new Wilson Arts Center at 204 Nash St. N.

“Having our staff divided among spaces has been challenging, and we have felt the separation and are thankful we can finally get settled in an ideal work environment,” said Cathy Hardison, Wilson Arts executive director. “For our actors, it will be easier to keep up with where rehearsals are being held. For the past three years, we have been rehearsing and holding activities all over town wherever we could find some space. I’m so excited that activities can now be held between the Wilson Arts Center and the Edna Boykin Cultural Center to create an epicenter for creativity that reverberates throughout Wilson County and beyond.”

The new center building, which was built in 1956 as a Roses department store, has been painstakingly renovated during the past three years into a massive showplace that will feature revolving art exhibitions, rehearsal space, class space, meeting rental space and a large gift shop.

“Improved facilities for Wilson Arts is something that our organization has sought for more than 10 years, and there are tears of joy and appreciation as we reach this milestone in our journey,” Hardison said. “It has been a roller coaster of challenges and victories for myself, the board of directors, the staff and our constituents. If it were not for the foundation laid before me and for the Wilson community coming together to make this happen, we would not have come this far. It has been truly a humbling and inspiring experience to be a part of.”

The new center will open May 6, coinciding with the first exhibition in the new building that will feature work from the Wilson Camera Club and art from the collection of Allen Thomas Jr.

“Celebrating our community of artists and art lovers felt like the right way to kick off the new space,” Hardison said.

The large gift shop area has already benefited from the new location by being able to accept the work of 20 new artists from Wilson and around the state.

Wilson Arts plans to celebrate the opening of the center all year long, with a new celebratory logo being created for designated grand opening events throughout the year.

“Our organization serves many demographics and sectors, and this felt like the best way to celebrate with everyone because the arts are for everyone,”  Hardison said.

Wilson Arts gallery calendar for the upcoming year features a balanced mix of media, artist backgrounds, community shows and work by professional artists.

“Over the next year we plan to host some exhibits that just were not possible in our previous spaces,” Hardison said.

“Our new facility will help us reach new heights and give us the capability of doing some different and diverse shows.”

The Hammond Gallery, located within the Boykin Center, will remain both an art gallery and small gift shop, with exhibitions rotating on a quarterly basis.

“We have received positive feedback from our theater goers and touring performing arts artists on the visual arts offerings in the Hammond Gallery, and that will continue moving forward,” Hardison said.

Summer camps will be held in the new center and at the Boykin Center. A list of camps can be found at: camps –

Hours for the new Wilson Arts Center will be Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning May 6. For more information about the center, call 252-291-4329 or visit

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