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Cornelius News

Achievement unlocked: Cain Center groundbreaking is May 14

Groundbreaking for the Cain Center for the Arts is May 14

March 16. Groundbreaking for the $25 million Cain Center for the Arts will be May 14 in downtown Cornelius.

The ceremony will celebrate more than six years of hard work to bring a world-class facility for arts and culture to the Lake Norman region.

“We’re very excited to finally see our vision come to life,” says Cain Center for the Arts Executive Director Justin Dionne. “So many people have worked very hard to make this happen and setting an official date for the groundbreaking gets us one step closer to opening the doors of our community’s new arts center.”

Bill and Ericka Cain’s $5 million gift

Led by a $5 million gift from Cornelius residents Bill and Ericka Cain, the project has secured more than $18 million in total support. More than 600 community members have donated to the project including individuals, families, and businesses from all areas surrounding Lake Norman.

Bill and Ericka Cain

The public-private partnership behind the Cain Center for the Arts was originally formed in 2013 when Town of Cornelius citizens approved $4 million from a municipal bond package towards Town Center redevelopment.

A non-profit was soon created that assumed ownership of the project development, business planning, and vision for the center. Since then, the organization now known as Cain Center for the Arts has been led by a 16-member board of directors, two-person staff and numerous volunteers.

New ownership structure

Over the past six months, representatives from the Cain Center and Town of Cornelius have also worked to create a new structure for the project.

Aerial view of the Cain Center

Originally planned as a municipally owned project, the team realized that it would be more beneficial for all if the Cain Center became privately owned and operated.

“The incredible success of our public-private partnership thus far really goes to show what we can achieve when we work together as a community. I look forward to seeing the Cain Center open and packed to the rafters with neighbors enjoying their shared accomplishment,” says Mayor Woody Washam.

In this new structure, the Town of Cornelius will donate a portion of the land to the Cain Center organization, allowing them to also own the building.


The Town of Cornelius will retain ownership of the public park portion of the property, although the Cain Center will be the primary entity responsible for scheduling.

This structure allows for more ownership of programming and operations for the Cain Center as a private 501 (c). Creating this structure also set items in motion which led to the groundbreaking date being secured.

The groundbreaking comes after the culmination of three years of work with architects C Design & Holzman Moss & Hart.

How to donate

All members of the Lake Norman community interested in supporting the project with a donation are encouraged to do so prior to the groundbreaking event, as May 14, 2021 will mark the official closure of the window to join the original Founders’ Society.

Currently 229 members strong, Founders’ Society members will receive permanent recognition on the lobby donor plaque as well as the exterior plaza sculpture.

Exclusive future benefits also include a pair of complimentary tickets to the Founders’ Society Grand Opening Celebration, advanced ticket purchase for the Opening Gala, one year of Advanced Priority Ticket Access and one year of advanced booking window for event space.

Donors who surpass Creative Circle, Catawba Circle and Cain Circle thresholds will receive extended Advance Priority Ticket Access, access to the Donor Lounge and VIP Concierge Services, and more.


“The success of our fundraising campaign has been phenomenal, and it’s been heartwarming to see so many new members of the community get involved, not just financially, but with a real passion for what we’re hoping to achieve over the long run for Lake Norman,” says Cain Center Board Chair Greg Wessling.

Aquesta Bank is currently matching every area business’s contribution of $2,500 to $10,000, up to a total of $250,000.

Questions? Call Anita Overcash at 980-689-3101.