New York State Route 12 dissects Chenango County from north to south. Starting in the village of Earlville and extending southward through Sherburne, Norwich, Oxford and Greene, this highway brings business, goods, trade, tourists and entertainment to the county. It is this entertainment, most notably music and theater, that makes Route 12 a “Culture Corridor.”
From historic stages to emerging theater companies, a trip down Route 12 (with a few detours) is sure to engage, enlighten and inspire. Read on to plan your trip through the Culture Corridor!
Traveling from north to south, first stop:
Earlville Opera House
Just as you cross in Chenango County, you’ll find the Earlville Opera House. Built in 1895, this acoustically perfect theater has been the home of vaudeville acts, three-penny operas, silent movies, political caucuses, graduations, and more. It was closed in 1951 but saved from demolition and given new life in 1971.
Today the EOH is the home of an exceptional summer performance series as well as a packed schedule of year round performances in the main theater and in the Arts Cafe, a smaller venue. The facility also features two professional visual arts galleries. A visit to EOH is an opportunity to take in a fantastic musical performance as well as to wonder at the ornate decor and sense of grandeur that will transport you beyond the boundaries of this small town.
Detour #1: Head south on 12B, and in Sherburne you’ll take a detour. Go east on NY-80 into New Berlin, and go four miles south on NY-8 to find Unadilla Valley Central School, home of:
New Berlin Art Forum
The New Berlin Art Forum formed 45 years ago, to “broaden the artistic and cultural appreciation of our community.” Each fall through spring, the NBAF puts on plays and dinner theater, and brings outside performers to the high school stage and other local venues.
Return to Route 12 via NY-8 and NY- 23. You’re now in Norwich, home to:
Chenango Arts Council
The Chenango Arts Council promotes arts education, arts funding opportunities, and visual and performing arts through a variety of programs and events throughout the year. Their facility in downtown Norwich is home to the 506-seat Martin W. Kappel Theater, a gallery, and classrooms. CAC brings in outside performers for cultural events, and helps promote homegrown artists with both financial support and performance and display space.
Norwich Theater Company
The Norwich Theater Company is a community theater group that has been presenting quality performances since 2010. Musicals, plays, murder mysteries, talent showcases, and dinner theater are among the productions the talented members of this company have undertaken. Open auditions help bring undiscovered local talent together on stage with seasoned performers, to collaborate in high energy shows multiple times a year. Many shows are adjudicated by TANYS, earning recognition for the talents and efforts of the cast and crew.
Back on the road! Drive south on Route 12 to Oxford to visit a wildly popular venue for live music:
6 On the Square
For intimate live music with amazing acoustics, you can’t beat Oxford’s 6 On the Square. 6OTS is a volunteer-based, not for profit organization whose venue features small candlelit tables, homemade desserts and artwork from local artists, for the perfect coffee house atmosphere during each show.
Performers come from across America and beyond, and those who attend a 6OTS show can see the musician’s fingers moving on the frets and hear the performer’s toes tapping along in rhythm to their music. The environment is a favorite among performers and audiences alike.
Detour #2: Leave Route 12 to head southeast to Bainbridge via County Roads 35, 27, 17 and NY-206.
Jericho Arts Council
Established in 1976, the Jericho Arts Council is a non-profit, volunteer-run arts organization dedicated to live theater and musical performances. JAC is housed in the Town Hall Theatre, a century old proscenium theaters, lovingly restored to its original elegance. The Town Hall Theatre is also home to an art gallery and a fully restored 1933 Æolian Skinner Pipe Organ, which is played prior to concerts at the Theatre as well as for special events like silent movies.
The JAC season runs from September to May each year. The Town Hall Opry series features in the very best in bluegrass music, while plays and musical theater performances are presented by the community theater company Out of the Woodwork Players.
Return to Route 12 via NY-206. Last stop, Greene:
Chenango River Theatre
Located near the southern edge of the county, Chenango River Theatre is the only professional theater in the Route 12 Culture Corridor (as well as in the greater Binghamton area), proudly under annual contract with Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), the union for professional actors and stage managers in the U.S. Founded in 2007, CRT produces four shows encompassing 60+ performances each year from May to October. Shows include world premieres as well as Tony-winning dramas and comedies.
The theatre itself is air-conditioned and intimate, with just 99 seats which allows great sight lines for the whole audience. Performances get consistently rave reviews, making the Chenango River Theatre the perfect last stop on your Route 12 Culture Corridor adventure.