The Venue

The Mattie Kelly Arts Center is a $25 million-dollar performing arts and educational complex that hosts Broadway’s best touring shows, visiting artists, dance and opera companies. The center is also home to the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, which provides the region’s finest classical music concerts. The complex encompasses a 1,650 seat Mainstage theater, which accommodates touring Broadway shows, the 195-seat, flexible Sprint Theater, an art wing with two galleries, a music wing, a visual arts building and the beautiful NWF State College amphitheater.

The complex is the home of the Humanities, Fine & Performing Arts Division of NWF State College, providing an outstanding educational environment that rivals that of many large universities. Through this division, students pursue studies in art, dance, music, humanities and theater that lead to associates’ and bachelor’s degrees.

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Shows & Events

Mattie Kelly Arts Center maintains a jam-packed schedule of performances throughout the year, ranging from national Broadway tours to local college productions.

Fine & Performing Arts College Programs

As a partner of Northwest Florida State College, we proudly host the institution’s Fine & Performing Arts Division.

Community Outreach

At the Arts Center, we believe in the power of music, theater and art to transform lives in the community.

Venue Information and Policies

Cell Phone, Photography, Videography and Other Electronics

Please turn off cell phones before entering all performance venues. 

Unless the artist gives permission, no photography or videography is permitted in the theater.

Children & Infants

All patrons must have a ticket including small children and babies in arms. The only exception is when the event is non-ticketed.

Please monitor children at all times while visiting the Mattie Kelly Arts Center. Students age 16 and under must have adult accompaniment or school chaperones.

Baby strollers and baby carriers are not allowed into the theater. If you must enter the Mattie Kelly Arts Center grounds with these items, please leave them in the lobby until after the performance. (For information on wheelchair accessibility, see Accessibility.)

Food & Drinks

No food or drinks of any kind are allowed inside the theaters with the exception of water. This includes soft drinks, lollipops, baby bottles or sipper cups. Drinks purchased at the lobby bars of the Mainstage or Sprint Theaters must be disposed of prior to entering the theater.

Bags & Backpacks

As a safety precaution, backpacks, satchels or oversized bags are not allowed into the theaters.

Theater Etiquette

Please dress appropriately and remember that theaters tend to be cool in the summer and warm in winter because of temperature control.

Please do not put feet in the seats or on backs of seats.

Patrons should remain seated during performances until intermission or completion of the show. Patrons who leave their seats during a performance will be allowed back into the theater during an appropriate time at the discretion of the House Manager.

Please do not walk through the circus gardens or enter the fountains.

Emergencies

In case of an emergency due to accidents, illness or spills, please inform an Usher or House Manager or NWF State College personnel immediately.

Lost and Found

The Mattie Kelly Arts Center is not responsible for objects lost, stolen or left behind. To check on lost items, call 850-729-6004.

From Fort Walton

  • Travel North on SR 85 toward Okaloosa Regional Airport for about eight miles
  • Turn left after seeing green sign for the college, at Wolverine Ave., at yellow caution light
  • Continue on to stop light intersection of SR 85, continue through onto College Ave.
  • Continue for about one mile, second turn on left is the main entrance to NWF State College

From Destin

  • From Hwy. 98, turn left on Danny Wuerffel Way at Destin Commons complex
  • Continue on to Mid-Bay Bridge
  • Continue on to White Point Road until reaching Hwy. 20, John Sims Parkway
  • Turn left on Hwy. 20 until reaching Palm Blvd. in center of Niceville, adjacent to Niceville High School
  • Turn right on Palm, continue through one stop light until reaching College Blvd.

From I-10 East (Pensacola)

  • Take Exit 56, Crestview SR 85
  • Travel south on SR 85 for about 18 miles to Niceville city limits
  • Turn left on College Blvd. at the college sign
  • Turn left after about one mile into main entrance to NWF State College

From I-10 West (Tallahassee)

  • Take Exit 70, Niceville SR 285
  • Travel south on SR 285 for about 16 miles to Niceville city limits
  • Turn right on College Blvd., at the college sign
  • Continue 1 mile, second turn on the right is the main entrance to the college

The Mattie Kelly Fine & Performing Arts Center is pleased to accommodate visitors to our facilities who require special assistance or access. All facilities of the complex are wheelchair accessible.

Disabled Parking

Disabled parking spaces, for use with permits, are clearly marked in the front parking lot and in the north parking lots of the Mattie Kelly Arts Center.

Curbside Drop Off

Audience members in wheelchairs, who use walkers or walk with difficulty may be dropped off and picked up at the front circular drive at the main entrance to the arts complex. This point is easily accessible to the Mainstage Theater, Sprint Theater, Tyler Recital Hall and the Galleries.

To access the Amphitheater, special needs audience members can be dropped off near its entrance gate to the north. If additional assistance is needed, please inform box office personnel at the time tickets are purchased.

Wheelchairs

Thanks to the generosity of Twin Cities Pavilion in Niceville, the Mattie Kelly Arts Center has two wheelchairs available for patron use. Please inform the box office personnel at the time tickets are purchased if a wheelchair will be needed.

Elevators

An elevator specifically designed for wheelchairs is available for those needing assistance to reach the orchestra seating in the front of the Mainstage Theater. Please ask an usher or box office personnel for assistance to access the elevator. An elevator is available for the general public to reach the second tier of seating in the Mainstage Theater. It is located to the right when entering the Mainstage Lobby.

Disabled Access Seating

In the Mainstage Theater, at the ends of aisles in orchestra seating, there are seats with arm rests that lift for easier seating for those who can move from wheelchair to seat. Also in the Mainstage, there are wheelchair spaces available in back of the orchestra seats and in the balcony loge.

In the Sprint Theater and Tyler Recital Hall, there are wheelchair spaces available on the floor near ends of the aisles. In the NWF State College Amphitheater, there are designated wheelchair spaces. Ushers are always readily available to help any audience member who might need assistance in getting to a seat.

Assisted Hearing System

Due to generous donations from the Sugar Beach Sertoma Club, the Mainstage Theater has an infrared-emitter, assisted hearing system which enhances hearing for auditory impaired persons. The easy to use system consists of a small battery pack with two ear buds. To take advantage of this free service, just ask box office personnel to assign your seats in the range of the system when purchasing your show tickets.

Our Story

When the $25 million fine and performing arts complex at Northwest Florida State College was under construction, the eyes of the community were focused primarily on the centerpiece of the more than 116,000 square foot facility — the 10-story high Mainstage Theater — which promised to attract nationally touring shows as well as other cultural offerings to the Emerald Coast.

More than twenty years later, the non-profit Mattie Kelly Fine and Performing Arts Center is nearing 2 million patrons who’ve enjoyed hit Broadway shows, touring art exhibits, college theatrical productions, symphony and ballet concerts, and an array of entertainment featuring everyone from Crystal Gayle to Celtic Woman and Jerry Seinfeld to Ed Asner.

Our History

By the Numbers

  • May 7, 1994

    First event to launch the Arts Center endowment — Ben Vereen performs a fundraising benefit at Sandestin

  • October 1995

    Art and Music Wings construction completed (instructional Facilities, Art Galleries and Tyler Recital Hall)

  • January 1996

    First college classes held in Music & Art Wings

  • December 1996

    Theater Wing completed (Mainstage Theater & Sprint Theater, Frances Smith Herron Dance Studio, Seven Dancers Sculpture Garden/Entrance)

  • January 1997

    Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra Concert gives the first performance in the Mainstage Theater

  • March 2, 1997

    First National Touring event in Mainstage Theater — Ben Vereen returns and performs a concert of Broadway music with Leslie Uggams

The History of Mattie Kelly

Back in 1935, the Kelly family settled into the local area and would come to be known as one of Destin’s founding families, known in business circles for their turpentine facility. Even then, at the age of 23, upon moving here with her husband and five children, Mattie Kelly had a genuine passion for the arts.  She found a way to cultivate that passion in later years by taking various classes through the Okaloosa Walton Community College (former name of NWF State College) in humanities, painting and drawing.  She became somewhat of an artist herself.  Even though it was a merely a hobby for her, she enjoyed showing her artistic talents.

She attended all college performances when they were located in the gymnasium, to include summer musicals, student ensemble groups and of course the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra.  She never missed a concert under the direction of the Maestro John Leatherwood.

Mattie’s relationship with the college began under the presidency of Dr. McCracken and after his retirement, Dr. James R. Richburg carried on the friendship of this arts matriarch for the region.

Her passion extended beyond the arts, however, as Mattie also cared deeply for her surroundings.  It is her legacy, which allows the Mattie Kelly Environmental Institute to continue its research and educate the community, enriching the lives of so many in our area.

Through her generous contributions, Mattie Kelly sowed many seeds, which would prove invaluable to a future generation who could not thank her personally. In recognition of this, the Foundation and Board of Trustees rewarded her posthumously by naming the arts center at Okaloosa Walton Community College the Mattie Kelly Performing Arts Center.

Today, the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, located in Destin, Florida is an independent not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. We work closely with this group in our joint quest to promote cultural arts along Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast.

Showcase Your Event

As the largest performing arts complex within the region, the Mattie Kelly Fine & Performing Arts Center at Northwest Florida State College is an ideal venue to showcase visiting talent from all genres and tastes within beautiful, state-of-the-art facilities.

Located Near the Beautiful Emerald Coast

Located just 15 minutes from the tourist destinations of Destin and Fort Walton Beach, the Mattie Kelly Arts Center draws patrons of music, theater, dance and art from the immediate vicinity as well as from the greater Panhandle area served by the college. Marketing surveys from local economic development agencies have shown that this region, known as the Emerald Coast, draws long-term visitors and tourists from throughout the entire Eastern United States.

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Contact Us

The Mattie Kelly Arts Center at NWF State College
Administrative Office
100 College Blvd
Niceville, FL 32578
(850) 729-6000

Customer Support: (850) 729-6004

Jeanette Shires
Director
Jeanette Shires serves as the Director of the Mattie Kelly Fine & Performing Arts Center at Northwest Florida State College, a position she has held since 2013. She is responsible for all daily operations, budgeting and management for the center.
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Suzanne Flood
House Manager
Suzanne Flood, having a lifelong love of the arts, joined Mattie Kelly Arts Center as the House Manager in 2015 after twenty years of living and working abroad in Florence, Italy. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Management from the Georgia Institute of Technology and considers her 100+ volunteer ushers some of the best people in the world!
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Kristen "KC" Williams
Art Curator
K.C. Williams, Ed.D., has been Gallery Director for the Mattie Kelly Arts Center since 2009. She is an arts administrator and curator, and teaches in the Department of Humanities, Fine, and Performing Arts.
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Robert Whittaker
Technical Theater Supervisor
Bob is currently celebrating his 21st season with Mattie Kelly Arts Center as the technical director. In this position, Bob handles all the behind-the-scenes elements of live theater that takes place on the MKAC stage.
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