Art is the Heart of Richland County

By Nicholas Dekker

Everywhere you look throughout Richland County, you’ll see that a love of the arts uplifts and enhances the community. Eager crowds gather to experience the work of local visual artists, musicians and performers at the region’s theaters, galleries and performance stages.

You’ll find colorful creations in all forms at the Mansfield Art Center. This award-winning facility is renowned for its stunning exhibitions, artist sales and classes in ceramics, glass art, sculpture, pastels and more. Element of Art Studio showcases the work of artists with developmental disabilities; you can tour the gallery, purchase artwork and take classes.

The grand Renaissance Theatre is the centerpiece of the Renaissance Performing Arts Association in Mansfield. The gorgeous historic theater built in 1928 is home to the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra & Chorus and welcomes touring Broadway shows, in-house productions and comedy. Outdoor concerts and drive-in movies are shown in the Ren Backlot next to the building. Nearby Theatre 166 hosts black box productions. The Mansfield Playhouse, the second oldest community theater in Ohio, is another favorite space for musical, comedy, youth and holiday performances.

The Brickyard, an outdoor amphitheater in Mansfield’s downtown Carrousel District, is the most popular gathering spot in the summer for outdoor concerts.  The stage shines the spotlight on a variety of performers and attracts audience members from all over the region.

In fact, you’ll find live music throughout Richland County, whether it’s local singer-songwriters on restaurant patios or outdoor concert series. Crowds gather around the band shell in Ontario’s Marshall Park for jazz, bluegrass and open mic nights. At Van Ross Wade Park in Bellville, the gazebo rings with the sound of country and brass bands. Shelby’s Black Fork Commons park boasts an outdoor amphitheater, too. Musicians even grace the lawn of Kingwood Center Gardens.

The Imagination District is coming to downtown Mansfield in 2022.