Our Story

On July 1, 1996, the Manhattan Civic Theatre, Manhattan Arts Council, and Manhattan Arts Center (MAC) were legally merged into one organization.

The Manhattan Civic Theatre

The Manhattan Civic Theatre (MCT) was the oldest of the partners. Starting as a community / university play-reading club in the 1950s, the group established itself as a community theatre in 1964 and incorporated in 1972.

Since then, it has put on regular main-stage productions and several smaller, second-stage productions each year, and has conducted outreach projects. MCT operated without a permanent home until moving into the Arts Center building in 1994.

The Manhattan Arts Council

The Manhattan Arts Council grew out of the Cultural Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Commerce in 1972. Initially it cooperated with Kansas State University to obtain pass-through grants for the university’s new concert series. The council soon developed a quality art exhibition series and membership grew from a few dozen to 500-600 members.

Staff originally was volunteer-based and later became professional. The council evolved into a full community arts agency that promotes the arts through activities including sponsoring:

  • Community arts celebrations

  • Programs in the schools

  • Transportation to arts events

  • Radio and TV programs

  • A monthly publication

The Manhattan Arts Center

The MAC was the youngest member of the group. Efforts to establish an arts center for Manhattan began in 1984, but did not immediately bear fruit. In 1991, the Manhattan Civic Theatre joined forces with the Manhattan Arts Council, and in 1993 the MAC was established with the purpose of finding a permanent home for community arts.

The team purchased the facility at 1520 Poyntz Avenue in 1993, with the help of a grant from the City of Manhattan. After months of cleaning and remodeling by volunteers, the building opened.

About the MAC Facility

Today the facility includes a performance hall, two galleries, clay studio, art studio, dressing rooms, set design shop and offices. The Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing's community service tax credit program (2000-2001) provided the unique opportunity to make much-needed changes to the building’s exterior. With the help of local businesses and MAC donors, improvements have also been made to the Clarenburg Foyer and both galleries.

Performances & Showcases

The MAC offers a wide range of performing and visual arts activities and showcases the artistic talents of amateurs and professionals alike. We are always open to new avenues that will bring new arts experiences to the Manhattan region. In keeping with our mission of "Arts for All", we thrive on community involvement in all aspects of the arts – painting, acting, music, classes, etc. – as well as through memberships, volunteer activities and sponsors.

The MAC is funded in part by the City of Manhattan and by MAC members and friends. MAC is a member of AHA! Manhattan, the Arts and Humanities Association of Manhattan.