Strengthening Community Through Artistic Expression
Old Town Center for the Arts (OTCA) was fortified through a mission of unification and artistic expression and has since grown to become a community hub in Northern Arizona's Verde Valley. Located in Old Town Cottonwood, OTCA is established as a center that brings arts, culture, and entertainment to the Verde Valley, and also offers educational and community-building programs that are grounded in human connection and symbiosis with nature.
Founders of OTCA, husband and wife duo, William and Christy Eaton were first drawn together through their commitment to sustainability and love of art. Soon after meeting, they created Tansen Environmental Music and Dance, a traveling art residency that promoted sustainability through artistic expression. During that time, William taught children how to create musical instruments using natural and recycled materials as Christy choreographed modern dance routines to accompany the music.
Prior to Tansen, William helped establish the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery, a guitar making school in Phoenix (which has since graduated over 2,300 students) while also writing music for performance, recording, and modern dance. During those days, William lived off the land, foraging for fresh food and ending each night playing his guitar to the stars. Christy, then Christy Lamb, was a world-renowned modern dancer with the Nikolais Dance Theater and later with the Murray Lewis Company, performing on every continent except Antarctica.
Together, the art residency took the pair up and down the state of Arizona. Through their travels, they were able to explore the various landscapes and communities of rural Arizona, but none caught their hearts as much as Cottonwood did. They fell in love with Old Town's relaxed character and beauty amidst the Verde Valley.
In 2005 the couple jumped at the chance of purchasing the historical stone church on Main Street that would soon become the Old Town Center for the Arts - consciously keeping "Old Town" in the name of the community center in efforts to help brand the then-desolate town. William and Christy began by renovating and refinishing the interior and exterior of the building, adding restrooms and an office, and began offering art and movement classes in the "Studio B" building adjacent to the old church structure. Now, the 1932 structure with its adjoining cottage and building, has been transformed into a performing arts complex - host to provocative music and arts performance, while retaining it's historic style and roots.
has been returned to its historic roots and is the host of provoking musical performances each month.
Elena Bullard is the third leg of Old Town Center for the Arts. Growing up in New York City among a family of well known artists, Elena pursued professional life in the Arts and Engineering. In 2008, she joined Christy and William in opening the OTCA.
Today, Elena not only conducts the center's communications and promotional efforts, she also organizes artist and volunteer support and instructs various classes in the adjacent Studio B.
Performances at the OTCA
Now entering its 9th season of performances, the Old Town Center for the Arts continues to be a vibrant location of artist expression while remaining a hidden gem in the Verde Valley - seating 140 attendees at each intimate show.
OTCA has produced over 450 events: bringing national, international, and regional performing arts to Cottonwood and the Verde Valley. From local singer-songwriters to well-known artists like David Bromberg, Maria Muldaur, and John McEuen (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band).
Joe Scott and Hannah Alkire of Acoustic Eidolon preformed at OTCA on January 28th, captivating the room of new and returning fans. The set list flowed from original songs personifying personal moments to skillful covers of classic tunes - including the Beatles' Why My Guitar Gently Weeps and an impressive rendition of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. The duo originated from Colorado and has been traveling the world for 19 years, bending genres with their guitjo (a unique, double-neck combination of a guitar and banjo) and cello.
Old Town Center for the Arts hosts artists multiple times a month at their theater. Each show is accompanied by a beautiful light show conducted by Christy. Follow this link for a listing of the OTCA's upcoming performances.
Happenings at Studio B
Studio B hosts community gatherings, children's music classes, yoga sessions, meditations, and dance classes. Check out their website for class schedules.
E(art)h Day Festival
Old Town Center for the Arts is collaborating with Cottonwood's Art Council to host the first annual E(art)h Day Festival on Saturday, April 22. The festival will showcase the works of local artists in addition to interactive art exhibits.
The event will have a focus on sustainability - from recycled art to a "Chopped" competition using locally-sourced produce. Stay tuned for more event details!