Clayton Center now booking parties and social events

Clayton Center for the Arts, with spaces large and small, grand and intimate, has a few dates not yet reserved for weddings and social events for the remainder of the year and is beginning to book dates for 2011 and beyond.

“As more people come into the Center, you can see the speculative looks in their eyes when they encounter one attractive room after another,” said Executive Director Robert Hutchens. “Long before the Center opened, we had our first wedding being planned here.”

To date, the American Cancer Society, United Way of Blount County, the Center for Strong Communities and the Public Relations Society of America among others have hosted banquets, dances and receptions. Several have been held in the William Baxter Lee III Grand Foyer, others in the Special Events Room overlooking downtown, one in the Art and Recital Hall café, one in the Haslam Family Flexible Theatre, and one on the stage of the Center.

Yet to be used, but already reserved, is the Plaza with views of the city and sunsets. Inlaid designs in the Plaza celebrate the classical arts, the focal point being the “golden mean” (from which the Center logo comes) and a fountain whose sprays “dance” to music. Many brides are choosing the Grand Foyer, with seating for between 250-300, for their weddings and the Plaza for their receptions.

For more intimate gatherings, the Center’s three art galleries set the tone, by contrast with a vast screen and state-of-the-art projection, the main hall becomes a movie palace for private screenings. The Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre and the Haslam Family Flexible Theatre are equipped with light, sound and scenic equipment that make themes easy to design.

“There are easily a half dozen areas in Clayton Center for every imaginable sort of social gathering. I can’t think of another facility like it. And the backdrop, of course, is the garden-like spaces of the Maryville College campus,” Hutchens said.

Both buildings include food preparation areas, the one in the Clayton Center featuring a full-service catering kitchen. The Center works with a list of preferred caterers, offering not only wide-ranging menus and prices, but decoration, dining and equipment supplies. Technical support, parking, and lighting are all available through the Center itself.

Being a venue in which many regional artists perform, the Clayton Center for the Arts boasts a roster of talent which allows event planners to include music, plays, sketches, revues and customized roasts to entertain guests. Holiday office parties are expected and welcomed, but open dates for November and December are filling up quickly.

“We strive to have an unparalleled variety of food, setting, entertainment, and technical support and at what are apparently astonishingly reasonable rates,” says Hutchens.

For more information, call 865-981-8590 or visit the website at

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