Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton, left, and Dr. Devin Stephenson, president of Big Sandy Community and Technical College, sign a memorandum of agreement for the college to manage the Mountain Arts Center on Wednesday, May 4.

Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) signed a memorandum of agreement on Wednesday, May 4 to manage the Mountain Arts Center (MAC).

The agreement was signed by Dr. Devin Stephenson, president of BSCTC, and Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton.

Opened in 1996, the MAC is home to a state-of-the-art 1,044-seat theatre, spacious meeting rooms, an art gallery, practice/instruction rooms and a commercial recording studio. Over the past year, BSCTC has operated the MACs recording studio.

Dr. Stephenson said the agreement will greater leverage the resources of both the college and the MAC to bring expanded fine arts programming, credit and non-credit courses and outreach programs to the region.

This agreement defines true and effective community development, said Dr. Stephenson. All of us want to expand the MACs capacity and raise awareness of the facility as the premiere performing arts venue in the southeastern United States.

The agreement will allow for the MAC to utilize resources at the college, such as its fine arts department, its award-winning public relations and marketing department, and its grant development team. Clayton Case, director of fine arts at BSCTC, will assume the directors role at the MAC, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the facility. Joe Campbell will be the public relations manager and booking agent. Both will have permanent offices at the MAC along with veteran MAC employee Shelly Crisp who will serve as the assistant director. Programs such as Big Sandy Idol and the elite Big Sandy Singers and Band will continue to be offered through BSCTCs fine arts department under the direction of Case, Candace Kelly, and Brennen Meek.

Mayor Stapleton said partnerships are vital in achieving true community development.

As the Star City of Eastern Kentucky, we feel we are a true tourist destination, said Stapleton. The Mountain Arts Center is facility that not only provides a venue for entertainment, but also provides a symbol of the talent that has been the blueprint of country and bluegrass music.

Case said the partnership expands far beyond promoting the facility to performers. Equally as important is fully utilizing the facility to increase locally and regionally produced music and drama productions; outreach to secondary schools; and using the facility as a vehicle to preserve heritage.

It is as important that we connect the Mountain Arts Center with the community he said. This is the regions facility, and it is important that we utilize it every day nurturing our talent and providing a platform for music and drama to flourish across eastern Kentucky.

Dr. Stephenson and Mayor Stapleton said Billie Jean Osbornes Kentucky Opry and Kentucky Opry Junior Pros will continue to be the centerpiece of the MACs local programming.

This building is here because of [Billie Jean Osbornes] belief that the musical and vocal talent in eastern Kentucky was second to none, said Stapleton. We all feel it is important to continue her legacy.

For more information on the MAC, contact Case at (606) 886-7388 or email