The Hickory Community Theatre is known throughout the region for its high quality productions. From fresh-off-Broadway blockbusters to intimate character pieces to side-splitting comedy, our work showcases community talent from across a region that stretches from Greensboro to Asheville and from Wilkesboro to Rock Hill.
What you may not know is how the welcoming atmosphere, the camaraderie and the joy of working together to create something magical affects these volunteers.
Community theatre is the most collaborative art form that there is, and it has an impact that goes beyond what you see on stage. Crafting a production requires the energy and creativity of dedicated volunteers, not just the actors. It extends to the people working backstage or building sets, to the people out in front who are staffing the box office, serving concessions or helping you find your seat. It takes all of them to produce the high quality live shows that our community has come to expect. These are shows that not only entertain audiences, but also leave a lasting impression and provoke important conversations. At its heart, community theatre is an act of love, because the love of the art is what makes dozens of people set aside their time to put in the work, and hundreds of people to come and see it, night after night. Now in our 75th season, the Hickory Community Theatre is the oldest performing arts organization in Catawba County, and the third oldest, continuously operating, community theatre in the state. The Hickory Community Theatre has provided eight generations a place to come together to create and enjoy the art of live theatre.
Community theatre transforms lives and the dedicated work of our volunteers, both on stage and off, as well as the generosity of our financial supporters helps us fulfill our mission to produce quality live shows, foster creative expression, and engage diverse community members in the art of theatre. Here are six ways that community theatre fosters creativity, grows economies, strengthens families and more.
Hickory Community Theatre is the oldest performing arts organization in Catawba County. The theatre provides everyone with the opportunity to express themselves on a judgement-free stage. That’s not just a chance afforded to people auditioning for shows. It extends to all of the volunteers, as well as the professional lighting designers, directors, designers, choreographers and more who come here to share their talent. Volunteer opportunities are available at Hickory Community Theatre throughout our season, and there’s a place for everyone!
Productions are the path toward freedom of expression. Harnessing inner creativity helps us learn about ourselves, build personal confidence, take risks and be an advocate for an array of differing voices within our communities.
Productions are the perfect educational incubator, since teamwork is a key component for every act performed onstage. It’s an environment in which children can learn how to interact with their peers, explore creativity and achieve a common goal.
A 2019 report from the National Endowment for the Arts also cited one study that suggested children engaged in a three-year performing arts program exhibited a more optimistic outlook toward their futures including planning for college.
This year, in our 75th season, we have raised the bar for our annual fund drive by $50,000 more than our usual ask, specifically to recruit and hire a full time education director.
AN ECONOMIC ENGINE
The Hickory Community Theatre serves as a major draw for bringing people to downtown Hickory. With average ticket sales of 12,000 or more per year, the theatre is second only to Oktoberfest in terms of its impact. Theatregoers patronize restaurants and bars. While they’re downtown they also discover the wide variety of shops and businesses that make up the district. According to an estimator tool provided by Americans for the Arts, the theatre has an annual economic impact of over $750,000 and supports 26 jobs.
SPARKING SOCIAL AWARENESS
High quality live theatre offers a unique vantage point for audiences, allowing people to be fully immersed in the life story of the characters they’re watching. These performances include emotional situations and cultural issues that open the door for important discussions about the world we live in. Historically, going back to the time of ancient Greece, theatre has demonstrated the capacity to move the world. Community theatre can open the door to understanding relevant issues affecting society and motivate people to champion change.
Theatre is a shared experience between audiences and cast members, whether you’re heavily involved behind the curtain or in front of the crowd. One of the greatest benefits of community theatre is that it can provide a sense of belonging to people who haven’t found the place where the “fit”.
For the cast, community theatre is a support system. Joy M., a volunteer actor and generous donor, recently remarked, “My favorite part of the theatre is the people. It’s the diversity of the community. Coming here is like finding your tribe. This is especially evident in the young people.” The bonds formed volunteering at the theatre may last a lifetime.
A UNIQUE CHARM
Regardless of how many times you see the same show, you’ll never see the same performance twice. It’s authentic and different every night. Cast members undergo a unique experience during each show – and that creates entertaining, unduplicatable moments for the audience.
The enduring impact of live theatre resonates deeply with individuals, underscoring the vital importance of its preservation for fostering growth within communities everywhere.