Work set to begin on new performing arts center in Nashville

A southern Indiana tourist site is moving ahead with plans for an indoor performing arts center that local officials hope will lure visitors back to its once-thriving arts-and-music village.

Brown County officials plan to break ground Tuesday on the $12.5 million Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center on the west side of Nashville, about 40 miles south of Indianapolis. Hospitality officials announced plans for the new venue a year ago.

The county-funded project is scheduled to open next summer with a 2,000-seat indoor performance space.

The Herald-Times of Bloomington reported that Brown County has struggled to regain the tourist base that was once boosted by the community's Little Nashville Opry, which was destroyed by a 2009 arson fire.

That venue brought big-name country performers to the town for decades, including Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Charley Pride, Blake Shelton and the Oak Ridge Boys.

Scott Wayman, whose family owns Wayman's Furniture in Martinsville, bought the former site of the Little Nashville Opry at a 2012 Brown County property tax sale and has been talking since then about rebuilding the venue. So far, those plans have not materialized.

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