Cornelius Arts Center Hires Inaugural Executive Director

After a national search that included over 80 candidates from across the country, the Cornelius Arts Center has named Justin Dionne as its first Executive Director. “We are very excited to have Justin on board and are extremely confident in his ability to lead this effort,” says Greg Wessling, Chair of the Cornelius Arts Center Board of Directors.

“With his previous experience in building and managing a similar center, among other arts-oriented positions in his career, it was clear he was the perfect fit for us. We were gratified to have drawn such national attention for our program, and thrilled to be able to bring Justin to Cornelius and the Lake Norman region.”

Dionne is the former Managing Artistic Director of Lee Street Theatre in Salisbury. During his time there Dionne led a capital campaign to renovate a historic warehouse into a performing arts center and curated five seasons of programming. His efforts helped establish the organization as a leading cultural destination in the state. Dionne brings a rich background in community development and nonprofit arts management, including experience in downtown development, tourism, and arts council boards.

The Salisbury native received his BA in Theatre Arts from Catawba College and studied Theatre Management at the Graduate level at Florida State University. “I am honored to lead a project that will make such a large cultural impact on the Cornelius and the entire Lake Norman Community. I look forward to working with community members, leaders, and businesses to make this dream a reality,” Dionne says.

The Cornelius Arts Center will be a diverse, nonprofit arts facility that will be a place for learning and entertainment. This arts facility will serve as a force for creative momentum within the Lake Norman area and beyond.

In 2013 Cornelius residents approved a $4 million bond for use on downtown redevelopment projects. After much research and conversation, a need for a community arts center was identified to complement the already thriving arts district in Old Town Cornelius. The Town has purchased 1.85 acres in downtown Cornelius adjacent to the police station and has agreed to an owner/manager business model with the Center.