The Center for Arts in Natick

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The Center for Arts in Natick
The Center for Arts in Natick.jpg
Location14 Summer Street, Natick, Massachusetts
Owner501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

The Center for Arts in Natick, also known as TCAN (pronounced tee-can) in Natick, Massachusetts, is a regional community arts organization serving the cities and towns of MetroWest Boston. It has been in existence in various locations since 1997. The organization presents more than 300 events, classes and performances each year attended by over 24,000 patrons annually. TCAN was established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1997.


In 1997, founding director Michael Moran envisioned a coffeehouse venue in Natick Center, serving as a center of cultural and social interaction and an informal club for artists and regular members. Leasing a small storefront at 31 Main Street in Natick Center with a seating capacity of 60 patrons, TCAN hosted frequent open mic programs for local songwriters, a weekly jazz jam, small community theatre productions and visual art exhibits by local artists. In time more programs were added including a regular all-ages rock concert featuring teen bands, a classical music series and family performances for young children. The organization relied extensively on volunteers to provide staffing for events and drive marketing/fundraising activities.

Relocation to Natick Central Fire Station[edit]

The success of TCAN in its original location encouraged the organization to seek a larger and more permanent facility. After considering alternate locations, TCAN purchased the historic Central Fire Station from the Town of Natick in October 1998. Originally constructed in 1875 following a devastating fire in 1874,[1] the Central Fire Station is located in the heart of Natick Center and is recognized in the National Register of Historic Places.[2] A $2.5M restoration of the building included installation of a steel beam to allow use of 4,000 sq. ft. for the main performance space, reconstruction of the historic cupola that sits atop the hose drying tower, restoration of windows and masonry, installation of a new roof, and the return of the modified two double-bay entrances to the original four arched bays, complete with opening wood doors. The new TCAN facility, with four times as much seating capacity (270 seats), was opened in May 2003.[3]

Management and Volunteers[edit]

In March 2004, shortly after relocation to the larger venue, TCAN's Board of Directors hired David Lavalley as its new Executive Director. The decision to part ways with founding director Michael Moran was met with local controversy and the departure of some volunteers, who protested his termination.[4] TCAN is governed by an elected volunteer Board of Directors, run by a staff of full-time and part-time employees and supported by over 175 volunteers. TCAN relies on volunteers to produce events, staff its box office and support all facets of marketing, fundraising and operations.

Mission and Programs[edit]

TCAN is unique in providing a wide variety of programming, ranging from nationally known touring musicians to local performers, theatre, comedy, arts education classes and family programs. TCAN added a Cinema Room presenting art house movies in 2016.

Featured Performances - Concerts feature well-known musicians and bands spanning folk, blues, contemporary, rock, jazz, fusion and classical music. See List of Notable Performances.

Art House Cinema - Screenings of classic films and new releases including feature films, documentaries.

TCAN Players - TCAN is home to its own community theatre troupe, who present three productions each year. Auditions are open to the public. TCAN Players, including their productions, cast and crew have been nominated and received DASH awards by the Eastern Massachusetts Association of Community Theatres.[5]

Folk Open Mic - A bi-weekly Open Mic event for singer-songwriters and musicians of all genres.

Young Masters Series - A classical music series dedicated to presenting talented young classical musicians from around the world.

Strategic Partnerships[edit]

TCAN has initiated strategic partnerships to strengthen programming and expand its audience.

In 2008, TCAN and the Danforth Museum in Framingham, Massachusetts announced a strategic partnership to enhance program offerings and benefits for members of their respective organizations.[6] In 2013, TCAN and the Walnut Hill School in Natick, Massachusetts announced a partnership to share resources, facilities and expertise to advance their respective missions, enhance the Natick Center Cultural District, while also creating long-term sustainability for each organization.[7] In partnership with Natick Service Council, South Middlesex Opportunities Council and United Way of TriCounty, TCAN offers a program called Smile in Every Seat that provides free access to TCAN’s programming for economically disadvantaged people and families in Natick and surrounding communities.[8]

List of Notable Performances[edit]

TCAN has featured thousands of performances on its stage, below is a partial list of artists who have performed at TCAN representing a variety of genres.

Other Facts of Interest[edit]

The hose drying tower of the firehouse was originally used to hang fire hoses after use. The tower is now topped by a replica of the original cupola, designed and constructed in 2006 entirely by a group of volunteers led by Ken Soderholm and Jay Ball. The cupola was built from materials donated by local businesses.

In October 2005, the Firehouse and The Center for Arts in Natick were recognized by the Massachusetts Historical Commission with a Preservation Award for the restoration and creative reuse of the building.

Several performing artists have released recordings of live performances at TCAN. These include the following recordings:

In 2009 named Natick, Massachusetts #8 in its list of Best Places for a Healthy Retirement, citing The Center for Arts in Natick and Natick Mall as key amenities.[9] Natick Center in Natick, Massachusetts was awarded the designation of Cultural District by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 2012.[10] TCAN and the Morse Institute Library were recognized as the cultural anchors of the District.

Scenes included in the 2013 American drama film Labor Day (film) starring Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin and Tobey Maguire were filmed in The Center for Arts in Natick.


  1. ^ "From The Ashes of 1874's Great Fire Grew Natick of Today". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 2009. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. ^ "The Fire of 1874". The Natick Historical Society. Retrieved June 2011. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  3. ^ "The Historic Firehouse". The Center for Arts in Natick. Retrieved February 2013. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  4. ^ "TCAN Fires Longtime Leader Hiring Decision Sparked Final Feud". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 2014-03-16. Retrieved March 2004. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  5. ^ "2011-2012 DASH Nominees and Winners". EMACT. Retrieved 2012. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  6. ^ "Danforth Museum of Art and TCAN announce Arts Partnership" (PDF). Danforth Art. Retrieved August 2008. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  7. ^ "Center for Arts in Natick, Walnut Hill School form partnership". The Boston Globe. Retrieved May 2013. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  8. ^ "Smile in Every Seat". The Center for Arts in Natick. Retrieved February 2014. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  9. ^ "Best Places for a Healthy Retirement". CNN Money. Retrieved September 2009. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  10. ^ "Mass Cultural Districts". Massachusetts Cultural Council. Retrieved August 2012. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°17′02″N 71°20′53″W / 42.284°N 71.348°W / 42.284; -71.348