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Cornelius News

Cain Center for the Arts lands $2.5 million from NC budget

Photo by Jason Benavides

Dec. 1. [Update Dec. 2] By Dave Yochum. A $2.5 million allocation from the State of North Carolina for the Cain Center for the Arts—under construction right now in downtown Cornelius—brings the community gathering place and economic development engine closer to being fully funded.

NC Rep. John Bradford was instrumental in getting the allocation in the state’s newly passed budget.

Although he could not be reached for comment, the Cornelius resident and former town commissioners also secured $12 million in the state budget to backfill a federal funding gap in Huntersville.

John Bradford

Huge investment in arts, downtown

The $25 million Cain Center for the Arts ​is named for Cornelius residents Ericka and Bill Cain, who contributed $5 million to the project​.

It is expected to be completed in ​12 months.​ The 30,000-square foot facility will include a 400-seat theater, gallery and event spaces, classrooms and an outdoor plaza.​

It all began with a $4 million bond referendum in 2013.

More announcements

Mayor Woody Washam, one of the principal drivers behind the project, was elated.

“I would hope it can even go beyond the $25 million to fund endowments. We are hopeful for even more announcements before the end of the year,” he said.​


When a total of a little more than $19.5 million in contributions was announced during a champagne toast, Cornelius resident Kathryn M. Keele announced an additional gift of $500,000 to push the total over $20 million. With the additional funding from the state and other sources, as well as a lower-than-anticipated construction cost, the Cain Center is “sitting pretty,” one source said. The total is now at least $22.5 million. Cain Center officials, who would not release the total, said they would do so at a special event at The Peninsula Club Dec. 14.

Update DEC. 1/Bradford quote: “It’s exciting to secure over $14.5M from the State’s budget specifically for District 98. As a Sr. Chair of the NC House Finance Committee, it’s also an incredible honor to lead our state’s tax policy and this budget lowers the personal income tax for all hard working North Carolinians,” John Bradford said.

Greg Wessling, chair of the Cain Center for the Arts, and Ericka and Bill Cain, who gave $5 million

Cornelius Today photos by Jason Benavides