Arts Off the Beaten Path
Photo by Joe Gawinski
Ever wonder what to do on the weekend to experience arts and culture? Do you search online but struggle to find a resource that puts everything in one place? At DelawareScene.com, planning an artful excursion is only a click away.
Our small state of Delaware is home to a surprisingly large number of organizations devoted to arts and culture, from museums and theaters to dance troupes and art galleries. DelawareScene.com lists all of their programs and events, so you will always know what’s happening.
Of course, with so many choices, it can be easy to miss out on the smaller gems. With that in mind, here is a guide to some arts off the beaten path in Delaware, in order from north to south.
1. Center for the Creative Arts, Yorklyn
Near Auburn Valley State Park in the small town of Yorklyn, visitors will find the Center for the Creative Arts, a community art center that focuses on visual and performing arts for adults and children. Over the course of four decades, CCArts has developed a reputation for offering an excellent range of art classes for all skill levels, where you can explore drawing, painting, sculpture, pottery, fused glass, mosaics, stained glass, mixed media, theater, music, dance, and more to find what inspires you.
2. Bootless Stageworks, Wilmington
“Bootless” comes from an Old English word meaning “useless” and “unprofitable,” as in, do we really have a use for another theater company? But the answer is yes, as this nonprofit organization, managed entirely by volunteers, provides high-quality theatrical performances and employs theater artists and designers from throughout the Delaware Valley. Productions are funny, provocative, and sometimes bawdy. You’re sure to have a memorable experience!
Photo by Joe Gawinski
3) Market Street Music, Wilmington
Since the 1970s, downtown Wilmington has been enlivened by Market Street Music in the historic and beautiful First & Central Presbyterian Church. MSM sponsors two choirs. Center City Chorale, Wilmington’s favorite “downtown choir,” performs regularly for the public at their Thursday Noontime Concerts. Mastersingers of Wilmington is made up of some of the finest professional and amateur singers in the mid-Atlantic region and explores music of the Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic and Contemporary periods.
4. Mezzanine Gallery, Wilmington
The Mezzanine Gallery has been displaying art by Delaware artists in the Carvel State Office Building since 1979 (back when it was known as “Gallery 1”), making it one of the longest running programs of the Delaware State Arts Council and the Delaware Division of the Arts. Emerging and established artists from across the state are featured, with a new solo show every month (except January). Try to visit on the First Friday of the month during Wilmington’s Art Loop, when the current Mezzanine artist will be on-hand to discuss his or her work.
5. Newark Symphony Orchestra, Newark
The Newark Symphony Orchestra has performed as a community orchestra in Newark since its founding in 1966, making compositions by Mozart, Vivaldi, Haydn and other greats accessible to all. NSO performs at least eight concerts per season. Four of these concerts are in the Symphony Series, which feature a themed program that mixes familiar repertoire and other exciting orchestral gems. The Chamber Series consists of three concerts featuring the Newark Symphony Chamber Orchestra, Newark Symphony Chorus and various small ensembles.
6. Smyrna Opera House, Smyrna
The Smyrna Opera House has stood sentinel on the corner of South and Main streets for generations, a reminder of the past and a promise for the future, first pledged by the town fathers of 1869 and then renewed by area citizens in 2002. The Smyrna Opera House is now a community cultural arts center dedicated to showcasing and developing local creative, visual, and performing artists while also offering affordable access to the arts and varied cultural and artistic experiences to people of all ages and backgrounds.
7. Sankofa African Dance Company, Dover
Right in Dover you can experience a mode of dance and percussion instrumentation that comes from Guinea, West Africa. The Sankofa African Dance Company was established in 1994 to serve the artistic needs of inner city youth and their families. Youth ages eight to 18 years old constitute members that are trained by professional choreographers and percussion instructors. Try to catch them at the “Positively Dover” African American Festival, a signature event for the city of Dover held annually on the fourth Saturday in June.
8. Mispillion Art League, Milford
In only a short period of time, the Mispillion Art League has grown from a small membership-organization to a major provider of arts and culture in southern Delaware. Visit the gallery to see art by local artists, or consider one of the classes for children, teens and adults. Members of the public can also drop in for an Open Sketch on the first Thursday of each month, or get your art critiqued on the first Tuesday of the month. In the fall, MAL participates in the international Big Draw Festival, offering art-making activities throughout the community and with partners across the state.
9. Cinema Art Theater, Rehoboth Beach
The Rehoboth Beach Film Society is best known for its annual Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival, a mid-Atlantic fall destination event for film enthusiasts from more than 15 states. The 11-day event is held every November and offers a wide variety of American and international films, including features, documentaries and shorts. But the Rehoboth Beach Film Society also ensures that visitors to the beach can enjoy a selection of first-run, independently produced films during any given week at the Cinema Art Theater.
10. Possum Point Players Theatre, Georgetown
Down at the southern end of Delaware, you will find the Possum Point Players, who have been bringing the experience of live theater to Sussex County for over 40 years. The performances take place in Possum Hall, where the players have staged Broadway shows, full-length musicals, comedies, dramas, Christmas shows, children shows, and more. All of the productions are staged by unpaid volunteers, so you might see someone you know up on stage! Children can also participate in workshops and an annual summer production as part of the Possum Juniors program.
For more information about the arts in Delaware, visit DelawareScene.com, a website that lists all of the arts and cultural happenings across the state. Delaware Scene is managed by the Delaware Division of the Arts, a division of the Delaware Department of State, which is dedicated to cultivating and supporting the arts to enhance the quality of life for all Delawareans. Together with its advisory body, the Delaware State Arts Council, the Division administers grants and programs that support arts programming, educate the public, increase awareness of the arts and integrate the arts into all facets of Delaware life.