The Mountain Arts Center celebrates its 25th anniversary

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 6 a.m.

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) — On Wednesday night, people from across eastern Kentucky gathered at the Mountain Arts Center to celebrate its 25th anniversary with food, music, camaraderie and lots of memories.

Prior to the MAC, Billie Jean Osborne and the Kentucky Opry worked with several founding members to build the venue.

“The Kentucky Opry and the Jr. Pros were playing shows all over the state, working hard to raise money for this facility,” MAC executive director Joe Campbell said. “You know, they would put all the money back into fundraising for this facility.”

The group of founders envisioned a place to foster local talent and bring tourism to the community. Since 1997, the MAC has seen its fair share of stars from Brad Paisley to Loretta Lynn, but it’s still focused on nurturing young homegrown talent.

“All kinds of talent has come through this building, and that’s what this place was built for,” Campbell said. “You know, Miss Billie Jean saw that vision and pursued it, and that’s one of the main things we’re here for is arts, education and tourism.”

Jody Conley, founding member of the Kentucky Opry, said he hopes the MAC will continue for many more years and is excited to see more talent on stage.

“I want this place to continue for the next 30 years. I want to see it grow, I want to see the shows grow, I want to see things happen and unfold here,” Conley said. “We’re going to see kids who are probably in elementary school who are going to perform on that stage one day, and I think that’s going to continue. Music has always been a building block of Eastern Kentucky.

Campbell added that the MAC and its partners are dedicated to serving Eastern Kentucky and fostering the growth of local talent.

William E. Bennett