Arts and culture are vibrant parts of the Johnson City and regional communities providing rich opportunities for personal enjoyment, educational experiences, tourism, economic growth, and employment. The arts help improve our personal well-being and bring identity and unity to the community. Historically, this region is known for craft production (fiber art, pottery, and furniture making, to name a few), music (traditional and contemporary), and other performances such as storytelling and theatrical productions. Today, the visual, performing, literary, and media arts of the region often rely upon historical precedents while looking forward to innovative endeavors and the future.
Johnson City residents and visitors have many chances to experience and interact with the arts. Public art projects are found throughout the city and on the University campus. Music is heard during festivals, in park settings, or in coffee houses and concert halls. The City and ETSU have partnered to build a new arts center, and we’ll soon see progress on this long-held dream for the community.
Join the fun by taking an art class, learning how to contra dance, or acting in a community theater production. The arts are abundant and growing. The arts are here for you.
The Johnson City/Washington County/Jonesborough region represents a diverse and eclectic blend of Southern culture. Over 126,000 of the most vibrant, beautiful people in East Tennessee call Washington County home, and we’re proud to have such a close-knit community made up of residents from all walks of life. Everywhere you go in our region, you are bound to encounter new people and new experiences.
In addition to good old Southern hospitality, our region has much to offer when it comes to culture and the arts, including various art galleries, Appalachian craftwork exhibits, and ballet, storytelling, and theatre performances.
The Johnson City region has many cultural influences, and those influences come through in the art created by its people. The region features a diverse collection of art galleries, and the local College, East Tennessee State University, has a world-class art department featuring a multitude of classes and events that will appeal to any art-lover.
For over 80 years, Johnson City has housed the Reece Museum, where the tales of our beautiful Appalachian region are told through artifacts, contemporary art, and cultural displays. The museum began as a class project created by a history teacher at ETSU in the late 1920s. Since its inception, the museum has continued to grow and has even gained accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums. Currently, the Reece Museum is one of only 13 museums in the state of Tennessee to hold such an accreditation, further reinforcing its dedication to the arts and history of Washington County and its surrounding areas.
The Washington County region is home to both community theatres and professional theatres. The City of Johnson City hosts its own community theatre, while Jonesborough also offers community theatre options as well. There are performances available year-long for people of all ages, including educational opportunities for children interested in the arts.
Established in 1885, The Johnson City Community Theatre is the longest-running community theatre in Tennessee and one of the oldest in the entire country. With over 105 years of continuous seasons and more than 132 years of history, JCCT is still going strong and committed to bringing quality art and entertainment to the region.
Jonesborough Repertory Theatre was established in 1969, and its inaugural season began in 1970. As the theatre enters its 50th year, the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre continues to delight patrons with 8 main-stage productions per season. The JRT also encompasses education classes for children, theatre outreach programs for seniors, and a traveling theatre troupe. The theatre is always looking to the future for more opportunities to connect with the Washington County community and enrich its patrons with artistic excellence.
Johnson City Symphony Orchestra
The JSCO has grown into a 70 piece orchestra, where all musicians share a genuine love and excitement for music and performing. Performances take place at Milligan College’s Seegar Memorial Chapel, and a free outdoor pops concert is offered in the Fall at Winged Deer Park. For more info, visit www.jcsymphony.com
The Barter Theatre
Right outside of Washington County in nearby Abingdon, Virginia, is the Barter Theatre, America’s longest-running professional theatre. When the Barter opened during the Great Depression in 1933, its owner allowed patrons to pay for their tickets in cash or in an equivalent amount of bartered goods. Today, The Barter Theatre still offers year-round performances, making it a standing tradition that everyone in the area can truly appreciate.