Culture is a subtle indicator of a region’s outlook and morale. On all sides, the arts and entertainment are flourishing here. We bring Broadway productions to the area and outdoor drama depicting the history and settlement of the Waldensian people. We also host gala music and arts festivals throughout the year and abound in studios and galleries.
City of Morganton Municipal Auditorium
Seeing a live onstage performance is a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the City of Morganton Municipal Auditorium. CoMMA provides residents and visitors that opportunity throughout the year. CoMMA is a 1,000-seat, state-of-the-art venue hosting music, comedy, drama, dance and Broadway performances. CoMMA is operated by the City of Morganton and provides great shows and great service at affordable prices for anyone who wants to enjoy a night of the arts.
Outdoor Drama “From this Day Forward”
In 1893, a band of Italian Protestants arrived from the Cottian Alps in northern Italy to start a new life in the community of Valdese. Their story is told in a historic outdoor drama from mid-July to mid-August by the Old Colony Players in their amphitheatre on Church Street in Valdese. The drama, “From this Day Forward,” was written by Burke County native Fred Cranford.
Burke Arts Council & Jailhouse Gallery
The Burke Arts Council maintains an art gallery in the old county sheriff’s office beside the historic courthouse. Dedicated to improving the quality of life in Burke County through culture, the gallery houses a variety of local and regional arts as well as traveling exhibits.
Valdese Old Rock School
Built by Waldensian masons in the early 1920s, the Old Rock School served as Valdese’s first high school. A thorough renovation completed in 1986 has refitted the historic building to provide the public with two art galleries, a community auditorium (where Valdese’s Old Colony Players stage plays), and a banquet hall. During the fall and winter months, the Old Rock School auditorium provides the perfect venue for the best bluegrass in the state. The Old Rock School Arts Foundation hosts free art exhibits that are changed monthly. The charming old building also houses the museum of the Piedmont and Western Railroad Club.
Located in Morganton Station in downtown Morganton, this studio and gallery offers living space and work opportunities for artists dealing with disabilities. This supportive work environment encourages artists in the development and production of their work.
Burke County loves music, especially the homegrown variety. The 4th of July Red, White, and Bluegrass Festival is held at the Riverstage by the Morganton Soccer Complex, bringing to the area the finest bluegrass musicians. The Annual Whippoorwill Musicfest near Lake James is a three-day event, featuring top names and talented newcomers in the country, country rock, and gospel fields of music. There are The Historic Morganton Festival, held in September, and The Waldensian Festival, held in August. Every October The Burke Arts Council hosts an Oyster Outing.
On Friday evenings in May through July, the downtown areas of Morganton and Valdese hold summer evening musical events. As in days of old, friends and families still gather to enjoy a variety of free musical entertainment.