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Posted on: June 24, 2022

Historic Clayton Center Heading In New Direction

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The historic Clayton Center, located in downtown Clayton, is under new leadership and is looking to head in new and exciting directions.

Steven Langston, a 19-year staff member, has been named the Interim Director of The Clayton Center by the Town of Clayton. He will be replacing former Director Scotty Henley, who resigned from the position earlier this year. 

Langston was hired as a part-time staff member shortly after The Clayton Center first opened on New Year’s Eve 2002. He later stepped into the position of Operations Manager. 

Since being named Interim Executive Director, he has been working alongside the rest of the staff, Cathy Marraccini, the Center’s Marketing and Administrative Coordinator, Martha Vandergriff, Conference Center Coordinator, and Justin Doan, Event Specialist to restructure their operations. 

According to Langston, some of the main focuses are to rebuild the center’s audience, since many of the recurring patrons were not willing to come to in-person shows during the pandemic. 

“At long last we are finally getting back into full swing, and I am confident we can now fully recover from the lingering aches and pains of the pandemic,” said Langston.

Langston added that he has a few immediate goals he would like to see accomplished including marketing shows in new ways to reach a broader audience, engaging more with local businesses, and expanding the number of event formats, not only focusing on large scale events in the auditorium, but also smaller, more intimate events throughout the rest of the building.

“All of this comes with the caveat that no matter how much The Clayton Center grows, the staff will always strive to maintain the personal touch and immense history that accompanies the building,” said Langston.

According to Marraccini, the property and the buildings that comprise The Clayton Center have been the cornerstone of community life in Clayton since 1915. The Clayton Center has its roots in the former Clayton School, which was full of life and activity for nearly 75 years before the Johnston County Board of Education closed the facility in 1997. The site sat neglected for several years until a group of citizens came together as the Clayton Cultural Arts Foundation and worked to save the old school buildings from demolition. 

Between 1999 and 2002, the Clayton Cultural Arts Foundation raised $2.1 million to restore the school auditorium (circa 1926), while the Town of Clayton government spent an additional $6 million to renovate the classroom building. After several years of hard work and dedication to the project, the

Town opened the doors to The Clayton Center – a unique, multipurpose space that is home to a 600-seat performing arts auditorium, a comfortable conference center for public and private events, and office space for town government operations. 

“The appeal of The Clayton Center to me has always been its history and deep roots in the community,” said Marraccini. “The main auditorium has been the place where people in the community have gathered and performed for more than 100 years now. Almost everyone in town, both young and old, has memories attached to this building.”  

The Clayton Center has several events that are coming soon, as well. Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives will be performing on July 2, at 8 p.m. The First Ladies of Disco will hit the stage on July 16 at 8 p.m., and MAGiCon: The Big Stage Show will conclude the entire MAGiCon event on Aug. 20 at 8p.m.

For more information on The Clayton Center visit www.theclaytoncenter.com.


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