Live Arts

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Live Arts
Address 123 East Water Street
Charlottesville, Virginia
United States of America
Coordinates 38°01′48″N 78°28′52″W / 38.02997°N 78.481176°W / 38.02997; -78.481176
Type Local authority
Capacity 270
Opened 1989
Rebuilt 2003, Bushman/Dreyfus Architects

Live Arts community theatre, founded in 1990, in Charlottesville, Virginia: "Live Arts began as the dream of a small group of passionate people and has grown into a major cultural force in the Central Virginia region. Dreaming is still at the heart of all we do." In recent years, Live Arts has described its theatre offerings as "modern, rigorous and risky," and also as "committed to being a product of its community as well as a process for creating community."


Live Arts started in 1989 with a group that included Thane and Will Kerner, Fran Smith, Mark and Karen Schuyler, Michael Parent, Bill Thomas, Larry Goldstein, Gate Pratt and Cate Andrews. Most of these people are still involved in live performance in downtown Charlottesville.

Performances began in the Old Michie Building, a former printing plant turned into a community arts space in the late 1980s. Live Arts' first production in that 135-seat space was of Sartre's "No Exit," in September 1990. Acid house dance parties provided an early approach to artistically motivated, experience-based events as fund-raising tool. This form found fuller expression in the annual "9 Lives" benefit, a combination of cabaret and promenade theatre forms.

Providing a stage for local musicians, actors and writers was a regular feature of the theatre's first years. (Dave Matthews, one of the veterans of the early coffeehouses and galas, has gone on to become a well-known musician and actor on the world stage and on-screen.)

In 2003, Live Arts moved into three floors of the Center for Contemporary Arts building on Water Street, designed by local firm Bushman/Dreyfus Architects. The main theatre is a 200-seat, three-story configurable space with permanent balcony; there is also a 70-seat black box theater. Shows often run in both spaces at the same time.

Numbers and facts[edit]

Live Arts Teen Theater Ensemble[edit]

The Live Arts Teen Theater Ensemble was begun in 1997 under the direction of Lydia Horan and guidance of Kay Leigh Ferguson, providing arts education for all ages and unique performance opportunities for young people, a commitment that continued under Rhonda Hewitt, and now under the current Education Director, Bree Luck.