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The Full Story

The Dixie's History

Michael Jackson once said, “Entertainment is about taking people away from the regular order of things when there is some chaos and pain and stress.”

The Dixie Center for the Arts in Ruston is doing just that.

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Early Days

In the early days of the twentieth century, before the advent of television and the internet, most towns had a venue that offered entertainment for the community. In 1928 Ruston that venue was the New Astor Theater, which later became the Rialto, and then finally in 1937 the Dixie Theater

Still known as the Dixie today, what began as a silent movie house and Vaudeville play theater the Dixie has morphed into so much more. Decades of entertainment have come across the movie screen and stage to thrill the residents of North Louisiana until newer and more modern movie theater options pushed the Dixie out of the movie business in 1978


There were, however, the weekly Joe Wood’s Wildwood Express Show (which still happens yearly as a benefit show for the Dixie), the Dixie Jamboree, and other small plays and events that continued in the 1980s through the 1990s. In October 1993, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places, a distinction held by few buildings in Downtown Ruston. By 1994, the theater was in such a state of disrepair and out-of-date with the current codes that it was shut down by the Fire Marshal.

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The Dixie Center for the Arts, a non-profit formed by a group of caring citizens, feverishly took on the task of renovating the old building on Vienna Street in Downtown Ruston in 1996 and began restoring her to her former glory (a work in progress), and continues to nurture the building and entertain the community today. One of the fun features of the Dixie is the huge historic chandelier that graces the auditorium with over 15,000 crystals on it. The stunning art deco piece has shined brightly for many years inside while the recent addition of a mural on the north side of the building shines equally as bright on the outside and will grace downtown Ruston for generations to come. The mural sponsored by Valspar and their #bebright initiative was thanks to Sam Burns 2-time winner of the Valspar Championship PGA tournament choosing Ruston and Dixie Center for the Arts to receive this treasure.


In 2006, the Dixie Center for the Arts opened its doors once again to the Ruston Community and has become a rallying point and home for the arts in Ruston, and North Louisiana. Now the North Central Louisiana Arts Council houses its offices there, the Ruston Community Theatre players host shows there, and the building is open to rentals for concerts, meetings, and other special events. Fast becoming known as North Louisiana’s premier concert destination, and the winner of the Northeast Louisiana Music Awards Event Venue of the Year in 2023 the Dixie Center is sure to please even the most discriminating music lover and such a wide variety of genres of music and other performing arts.

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