Decatur, Alabama is a vibrant city of 60,000 residents located on the banks of Wheeler Lake, along the Tennessee River. Living up to its motto – “A Grand City on a Charming Scale”, Decatur offers locals and out-of-town visitors a wide variety of entertaining and educational activities throughout the year. With its beautiful parks, modern sports and recreation facilities, outstanding restaurants, numerous festivals and more, Decatur offers a diverse set of experiences for all to enjoy.
The Arts are very important to the Decatur community. From a young age, residents are given opportunities to experience the arts in all its forms. From the visual arts to the performing arts, Decatur believes in offering children the opportunity to see, hear and participate in The Arts.
One bold example of Decatur’s dedication to the arts is the local school system’s Third Grade Violin Program. This popular program provides free introductory violin lessons to every third grader in the Decatur City Schools. The program has received recognition across the region and has served as a model for similar programs elsewhere. In addition to the violin program, Decatur’s schools offer visual arts, theatre, choral, band and other artistic programs and opportunities as well.
Decatur provides residents and visitors numerous opportunities to immerse themselves in all things artistic. Decatur’s Carnegie Visual Arts Center offers rotating exhibits year-round as well as visual arts camps for children, art receptions, public art projects and numerous community events. The historic Princess Theatre for the Performing Arts offers a professional series of plays, musical performances, and other type performances and serves as a community gathering place in the heart of Decatur’s city center. These two art-based anchor facilities provide a firm artistic foundation for the city.
Decatur’s art community has experienced much growth and change in the last 5 years. That change has been most apparent in Decatur’s burgeoning downtown. Visual artists have banded together to share ideas, share resources and share studio space. Performing artists have worked together to create a thriving community theatre group. Art-based businesses including an independent art supply company, antique shops, art galleries, and more have located in the city center. All of these things have created a new excitement for the arts throughout the Decatur community.
One of the most exciting developments in Decatur’s arts community was the August 2012 opening of the Alabama Center for the Arts (ACA) – a joint venture between Athens State University, Calhoun Community College, the City of Decatur and Morgan County. The ACA serves as a venue for college art instruction, community education, and cultural events. This beautiful new addition to Decatur’s downtown is the premier art center and degree program in the North Alabama region. The ACA currently offers 4 year Bachelor of Arts degrees with class offerings that include art appreciation, painting, drawing, computer graphics, sculpture, ceramics, and pottery as well as a teaching major, leading to licensure for art instructors. Phase II of the ACA is currently under construction. Opening in the Fall of 2016, it will add music and theatre programs to the mix.
River Clay Fine Arts Festival (River Clay) is the latest major addition to Decatur’s artistic scene. Growing out of the Art Walk Festival held in years past, River Clay allows artists and arts patrons the opportunity to discover Decatur’s many art offerings. Focusing first on the visual arts, plans are for the festival to eventually stretch throughout Decatur’s downtown and to include other art forms as well. With financial and volunteer support from the City of Decatur, Morgan County, the Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority, the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, as well as numerous businesses and individuals, River Clay is a rewarding art experience for all who participate.
Decatur’s arts community extends an open invitation to all to come experience the arts with us. No matter your artistic inclinations, our community offers endless opportunities to expand your artistic horizons. Whether you simply enjoy observing the arts or actively participate in the creative process, we know you will enjoy all Decatur has to offer.