Cain Center for the Arts Exterior

Downtown Cornelius has completed one of its biggest transformations yet. The Cain Center for the Arts officially lifted its curtains this past January and is the newest home for inspiration, creativity, and community.

Cain Center for the Arts


In 2013, Cornelius recognized the need for an arts and cultural venue. As a result, the town voted to allocate $4 million out of a $20 million municipal bond to create an arts district. In 2017, they invested additional support by purchasing the 1.85 acre lot where Cain Center for the Art lives now. 

Steinberg Hart and C Design are the designers behind the new cultural hub that has been eagerly awaited by the community.

Named after Cornelius residents and local community leaders Ericka and Bill Cain, this facility promotes and presents the literary, visual, and performing arts for the enrichment of our community by providing a venue for artists to exhibit and perform.

They also offer a variety of arts experiences including classes, workshops, camps, gallery exhibits, concerts and more.


Cain Center for the Arts operates two facilities with exhibits:

Cornelius Arts Center: 19725 Oak Street, Ste 1
Gallery Hours: Mon-Thurs 4-9pm, Sat 10am-1pm

Cain Center for the Arts - 21348 Catawba Ave.
Gallery Hours: Tues-Fri 10am-4pm

Upon entrance into the Cain Center, you will be greeted with a beautiful gallery on the right that will be filled with art from rotating artists. Explore this year's inviting selection of shows and learn more about the artists and their work here.


Cain Center Art Gallery

Aside from the galleries, you may also pass by various art displays on movable walls that are scattered around the facility.


Cain Center theater


This ADA-accessible theatre has 401 seats for various types of productions including ballet, musicians, and comedians. You can browse through their upcoming shows and purchase tickets here.

The lower level back seats have the ability to unbolt from the floor if needed and the main area seats can be folded down allowing the 36' x 75' stage to extend out for banquets or events.

During performance days, you will find two public bars and one private bar located in the donor lounge where you can purchase wine and mixed drinks. Food and un-lidded drinks are not permitted inside of the theatre, but attendees can purchase a lidded Cain Center branded cup to pour their beverage into. Only then will you be able to enjoy the performance with a drink in hand.

Classes & Programs

For the creative at heart, Cain Center offers year-round opportunities for local artists of all ages and levels. Whether you’re trying something new or are looking to sharpen your skills, classes are available across a wide variety of mediums, including ceramics, painting, drawing, and more. 6-week sessions offer multiple dates and times to accommodate all schedules.

The Cain Center has two classrooms outfitted with speakers and microphones. The larger classroom is located on the first level with 16 tables and 32 chairs and the smaller classroom is upstairs at half the size.

Look closely and you will see that the window sills in the classrooms and other areas of the arts center are from the reclaimed wood that existed in the building that stood before the Cain Center was built.

Cain Center Classroom

Cain Center Exterior

Summer camps for kids are happening now! From instruments and singing to ceramics and even lego building, there are so many options for your teens and young ones.

For the movers, spring and summer classes are coming to the beautiful dance studio where you can find a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook downtown Cornelius. This room has sprung floors with a great view and will be used for movement classes, dance, exercise, and anything else that may come up.

Rental Space

Soon to be available to the public is a full rental program set to start this summer. Reserve a classroom or the board room for your special event. Stay tuned for announcements.


Performing Arts Events Parking
Downtown Cornelius offers valet parking for $20.

Accessible parking for performances is located on Milling Way adjacent to the Cornelius Police Department, and there is a guest drop-off at the intersection of Catawba Avenue and Milling Way.

Classes and Visitor Parking
Students taking classes in the Cain Center and all other visitors may utilize the public parking available in Downtown Cornelius. Click here to see the parking map.

​Accessible parking is available adjacent to the Cornelius Police Department.

Cornelius Arts Center Parking
Certain classes are still being operated in the Cornelius Arts Center, so for those particular students and visitors, the free parking lot at Oak Street Mill is open and available for use.

Cain Center boardroom

Cain Center boardroom view of downtown Cornelius

The opening of the Cain Center for the Arts was a momentous occasion for Cornelius with a ceremony and sold-out performance featuring Broadway Star Renee Elise Goldsberry - best known as the singer-dancer-actor in the role of Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton. This show was a testament to the center's commitment to providing high-quality events for the community so make sure to take advantage of the town's newest major addition and explore the exhibit, enjoy a performance, or join a class! And as always, don't forget to tag us in your photos @VisitLakeNorman.