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Fast-growing S.C. region adds professional orchestra

It is the hub of a region that has three of the top 20 fastest-growing communities in South Carolina (and two of the top three). It boasts the state's first officially-recognized cultural district. And now Rock Hill has a professional orchestra, joining several others across the state in Aiken, Charleston, Columbia, Florence, Greenville, Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, and Spartanburg. Read more about the genesis of the new cultural offering from the Herald. The three-concert inaugural season begins in September and runs through next May, but a "sneak peek" offering is coming June 10. Congratulations to York County and everyone at the Rock Hill Symphony!

Image courtesy of the Rock Hill Herald.

City of Greenwood earns Cultural District status

The South Carolina Arts Commission has named Greenwood as the newest state-recognized cultural district. A cultural district is an easily identifiable geographic area with a concentration of arts facilities and assets that support cultural, artistic and economic activity. The cultural district designation was created by the S.C. General Assembly in 2014. The City of Greenwood and The Arts Center of Greenwood worked with local leaders and Arts Commission staff to develop a map of cultural assets and a strategic plan for the district. City officials will use the cultural district designation to attract visitors and residents to downtown and promote the area as a hub of arts and culture. (Find out more about the Greenwood cultural district.) “Thank you to the South Carolina Arts Commission for bestowing this honor on the City of Greenwood,” said Greenwood Mayor Welborn Adams.  “This designation recognizes the hard work over the last 14 years to implement the City Center Master Plan and grow Greenwood’s City Center as a cultural arts and entertainment hub for our six-county Upper Savannah Region.” Anne Craig, director of The Arts Center of Greenwood, gives credit to local arts organizations for their role. “Along with the City Center Master Plan, the arts and cultural organizations have led the way in the revitalization of Uptown Greenwood, which has become more vibrant with year-round events, programs and festivals. The strong cultural activity and extensive city improvements have been the basis for growth in restaurants, retail and businesses. It is a formula that has worked well for Greenwood.” Participation of community stakeholders is key, according to S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May. “Non-arts businesses and organizations are important pieces of a cultural district. A successful cultural district attracts creative enterprises, such as galleries and theatres, whose patrons want to dine out and shop, so nearby retail and other businesses benefit from that increased economic activity.” The cultural district program was developed after reviewing successful programs in other states and gathering input from leaders representing several sectors, including economic development, tourism, local government and the arts. Greenwood joins Beaufort, Bluffton, Columbia’s Congaree Vista, Florence, Lancaster, Rock Hill and Spartanburg as S.C. cities and areas that have earned cultural district status. Other states with similar cultural district programs include Colorado, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Texas. S.C. cities, towns and rural communities interested in exploring a cultural district designation are invited to contact their Arts Commission county coordinator or call (803) 734-8696. Complete guidelines are available at www.SouthCarolinaArts.com.

Upstate Musicians Registry aims to create database on local performers

From The Greenville News Article by Donna Isbell Walker; photo by Bart Boatwright

The city of Spartanburg is looking to make a name for itself as a music city.

The Downtown Music Trail offers a look at the singers, songwriters and bands that Spartanburg has spawned over the past several decades, and the Downtown Cultural District was launched last fall as a center for entertainment events, art galleries, music venues and more.

Now, Chapman Cultural Center is putting together a registry of musicians with ties to Spartanburg in particular and the Upstate in general.

“Chapman Cultural Center is the main local arts agency here in Spartanburg, so what we’re trying to do is live up to our mission, which is basically to provide cultural leadership, and that includes music,” said Rachel Williams, director of marketing and communications for Chapman Cultural Center. “So we want to be a resource, not only to community organizations, but also the musicians that we serve, to make sure we are identifying them in the community,”

Since Chapman Cultural Center opened up the application process, around 40 musicians have signed up, “and it’s growing daily,” Williams said.

The registry focuses on musicians and bands based in Spartanburg, but performers from other cities in the Upstate may also submit an application to be considered, she said.

One purpose of the registry is so that organizations or individuals looking for a performer of a certain genre, or a recommendation for a local musician or band, can receive a list of recommendations that fit their request.

“It’s about putting musicians to work. That’s our main goal, our No. 1 reason why we want to create the musicians registry,” Williams said. “And then we are getting ready to launch, at the beginning of August, our Downtown Cultural District programming, which will essentially be 12 different gigs for street musicians Wednesday through Saturday in the cultural district here in Spartanburg. And we’ll be doing our own hiring from that registry. And it just kind of streamlines things for us. We just want to make sure we’re including all types of music, and we’re representing all of the music that’s available here in Spartanburg.”

The Downtown Cultural District was launched in November 2016, and one of its goals has been to make sure that downtown Spartanburg has plenty of entertainment events and options.

“The music programming that we’re getting ready to do … was kind of the the jumping-off point. We needed this for our own personal use, but then we realized this could actually be something greater than that. And so it could be a community resource as well.”

Eventually, the registry may be accessible to the public, but in the beginning, someone who is looking for a local musician can contact Chapman Cultural Center to get the info, Williams said.

For more info, go to www.chapmanculturalcenter.org.

Florence is the newest South Carolina Cultural District

The South Carolina Arts Commission has named downtown Florence as the newest state-recognized cultural district. A cultural district is an easily identifiable geographic area with a concentration of arts facilities and assets that support cultural, artistic and economic activity. The cultural district designation was created by the S.C. General Assembly and Gov. Nikki Haley in 2014. The City of Florence and the Florence Regional Arts Alliance worked with local leaders and Arts Commission staff to develop a map of cultural assets and a strategic plan for the district. City officials will use the cultural district designation to attract visitors and residents to downtown and promote the area as a hub of arts and culture. "This cultural district designation from the South Carolina Arts Commission is a tremendous honor," said Florence City Council member George Jebailey. "This designation recognizes the hard work done over the last 17 years by a community committed to a unified vision to create a detailed master plan establishing a purposeful clustering of multiple arts venues in downtown Florence. Through the collaboration of the many public-private partners working together on this unified vision, we have seen the master plan become a reality leading to this important designation. We anticipate that many new opportunities will now be available for us to promote both the City of Florence and the entire Pee Dee Region as an important destination for arts, culture and entertainment." “Receiving the S.C. state recognition of a designated cultural district will assist in our ongoing marketing of downtown Florence as a tourist destination,” said Florence Downtown Development Manager Ray Reich. “The Vision 2010 Initiative that was created in 2000, as well as the 2010 Downtown Master Plan, envisioned downtown as a place featuring a string of cultural pearls. The first pearl in the string was the library, followed by the Florence Little Theatre, and then the FMU Performing Arts Center, followed by the new museum, as well as many other cultural amenities that have been developed in recent years in our beautiful and historic downtown. This designation affirms that we are well in our way to achieving the vision of a string of cultural pearls. However, this is just the beginning, and while we have created an outstanding foundation, the work will not stop as we continue to work together as a community to live up to our new community brand of being a community full of life and moving full forward with more amenities.” Florence Regional Arts Alliance Executive Director Sandy Cook added, “We are very excited for this award, which shows Florence’s continued commitment to preserve and support the arts.  We thank all of our stakeholders for their collaborative efforts in making this happen.” The participation of those stakeholders is key, according to S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May. “Non-arts businesses and organizations are important pieces of a cultural district. A successful cultural district attracts creative enterprises, such as galleries and theatres, whose patrons want to dine out and shop, so nearby retail and other businesses benefit from that increased economic activity.” The cultural district program was developed after reviewing successful programs in other states and gathering input from leaders representing several sectors, including economic development, tourism, local government and the arts. Florence joins Beaufort, Bluffton, Columbia’s Congaree Vista, Lancaster, Rock Hill and Spartanburg as S.C. cities and areas that have earned cultural district status. Other states with similar cultural district programs include Colorado, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Texas. S.C. cities, towns and rural communities interested in exploring a cultural district designation are invited to contact their Arts Commission county coordinator or call (803) 734-8696. Complete guidelines are available at www.SouthCarolinaArts.com. About the S.C. Arts Commission The South Carolina Arts Commission is celebrating 50 years of public support for the arts. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. The Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts through staff assistance, programs, grants and partnerships in three areas: arts education, community arts development and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.

Light and digital media artist ready to unveil public art installations in Spartanburg

The public is invited to Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light art installations taking place Oct. 4 beginning at 4:30 p.m. Full schedule listed below. SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Award-winning light and digital media artist Erwin Redl will unveil nine public art installations in Spartanburg, S.C. on Tuesday, Oct. 4 as a part of Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. For more than a year, Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light has been building relationships between police officers and communities through a collaborative art-making process. The installations will be illuminated in conjunction with National Night Out events across 10 city neighborhoods, starting with a celebration at 4:30 p.m. at Mobile Suspension downtown in Denny’s Plaza, 203 E. Main St. Composed of five curtains of semi-transparent acrylic panes – nearly 7,000 in total – Mobile Suspension (pictured above) is the result of Redl’s creative design and the collective efforts of residents and police officers who volunteered to assemble the large-scale installation. During the day, sunlight will shine through the mobile, casting colors onto the ground like stained glass. At night, LED lights provided by Hubbell Lighting Inc. in Greenville, S.C. will illuminate the mobile from below. The Oct. 4 event will feature music, food and comments from Spartanburg Mayor Junie White; Jennifer Evins, CEO of the Chapman Cultural Center; Spartanburg Police Chief Alonzo Thompson and neighborhood residents, who will talk about the year-long effort to revitalize the city through art. The illumination of each installation will coincide with a neighborhood celebration at the site, ending with a grand finale at 8:30 p.m. at Glow at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, 350 Howard St., Spartanburg, S.C. See below for a schedule of the Oct. 4 celebration. “By bringing site-specific art into Spartanburg neighborhoods where residents may feel isolated from traditional cultural assets, this project is already fostering greater understanding of both the artistic process and the transformative impact of public art,” said Jennifer Evins, president and CEO of the Chapman Cultural Center. “We are eliminating barriers as residents become part of the artistic process and help translate ideas into works of art.” In 2015, the City of Spartanburg was selected as one of four communities to participate in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, a new program to support temporary public art projects that celebrate creativity, enhance urban identity, encourage public-private partnerships, and drive economic development. The temporary art project, funded by $1 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies, with supplemental funding provided by regional institutions, corporations, foundations and private donors, is a partnership among Redl, the Chapman Cultural Center, the City of Spartanburg and civic leadership. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFJP1yJsiAg Redl, whose art installations have illuminated spaces worldwide, has been working with neighborhood residents and community leaders for more than a year to bring the project to life. The artist said each installation is tailored to its environment and that the scale, medium and design vary significantly, ranging from workshop-based video and smaller light installations to large-scale illuminations of two smokestacks. “Different structures lead to different aesthetic explorations and community engagement possibilities,” Redl said. “Alternative structures lead to alternative results. Change is inevitable, and, through this process, we begin to see Spartanburg in a new light.” Mayor White said the efforts of Redl and all of those across the community to bring Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light to life are already bearing fruit. "The night of Oct. 4 is going to be a great night in the history of our community,” said Spartanburg Mayor Junie White. “Something special is happening in Spartanburg right now. Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light is symbolic of what is happening here, and I can't wait to see the lights come on for everyone." Oct. 4 schedule of installations: Mobile Suspension, Downtown Spartanburg

  • Denny’s Plaza, 203 E. Main St.
  • Lights On – 4:30-6 p.m. Oct. 4
Five multicolored mobile curtains float above the center lawn of Denny’s Plaza, located in the heart of Spartanburg’s Downtown Cultural District. Each curtain is 51 feet long and 12 feet high and consists of a woven pattern of translucent acrylic 4-inch by 4-inch squares. The installation was designed to create a dazzling visual experience that changes depending on the time of day, the viewer’s position, and weather conditions. The five shimmering curtains are made of multicolored acrylic squares installed in specific patterns designed by the artist. Community volunteers assembled the curtains over a one-month period using specially designed clips. The rectangular shape of the site gave Redl an opportunity to play with subtle variations within a grid. The artist is interested in creating unique visceral sensations for viewers, and Mobile Suspension offers a kaleidoscopic experience that is fresh with each new encounter. River Poetry, Andrews Farm and Converse Heights
  • Cottonwood Trail, 1038 Woodburn Road
  • Lights On – 5:45 p.m.
Here, artist Erwin Redl provides an opportunity for visitors to contemplate the role of technology in our lives within a nature preserve. Located between Converse Heights and Andrews Farm neighborhoods, the Cottonwood Trail is a 116-acre urban greenspace with 4 1/2 miles of trails, and is owned and maintained by the Spartanburg Area Conservancy, a membership-based nonprofit organization. By juxtaposing LED displays similar to those used by restaurants and gas stations against the solitude of a meandering creek, the artist creates a tangible demonstration that nature and digital technology can coexist. The project presents local poetry displayed on 12 double-sided LED signs suspended above the Cottonwood Trail. Visitors can read the lines of poetry overhead as they walk along Lawson’s Fork Creek. The layered poetry dimension allows for the community to provide their thoughts, observations, and feelings about nature within this dynamic human/nature system created by the artist. The Hub City Writers Project will curate an ongoing series of poems for River Poetry through March 2017. Under One Roof, South Converse
  • Picnic Shelter, 440 S. Converse St.
  • Lights On – 6:10 p.m.
This park has special meaning to South Converse residents as a sign of local pride and a link to the past. The local neighborhood association fought hard to get this park funded and completed. Touched by the story of the park’s origin, and inspired by the evident pride in the place, Redl decided to use this picnic shelter to demonstrate the transformative power of turning something ordinary into something extraordinary. Residents have attended workshops to learn how to install and program the LED lighting for the shelter. Redl hopes local residents will want to create special light programs for dances, poetry slams, cookouts, or other events in and around the shelter. By using a simple picnic shelter as the basic structure within which many things can happen, and by involving the local community, Redl has tangibly illustrated that we are all indeed together under one roof. Islands of Light, Maxwell Hills
  • Duncan Park Lake, 293 West Park Drive
  • Lights On – 6:30 p.m.
Redl explores the fertile intersection of art, nature and technology with this installation of eight floating islands recalling the image of cattails or reeds swaying with the breeze in an aquatic environment. The scale of the site was particularly interesting to the artist, as it allowed for interactions among water, wind, and sky in addition to light and reflection. The logistical challenges of the project were first taken on by students from Daniel Morgan Technology Center. After meeting with the artist and an engineer, these young technicians created a working prototype, which became the blueprint for the finished islands. A local dock builder was engaged to install these light-topped atolls. The local waterfowl have officially adopted these islands of light. Benchmark Spartanburg, Forest Park
  • CC Woodson Recreation Center, 210 Bomar Avenue
  • Lights On – 6:55 p.m.
Benches are for sitting, yes, but they can also be a site for romance, business deals, creative pastimes or great conversations. Redl has created a chromatically pulsating bench that he hopes will invite community gatherings, poetry readings and other events that make use of the mesmerizing patterns and shifting color palette. The multiple RGB LED side-lit acrylic panels that make up the bench create an almost cinematic experience, saturating the surrounding environment with gradually morphing gradations of color. Spartanburg Swing, Hampton Heights
  • National Beta Headquarters, 267 S. Spring St.
  • Lights On – 7:15 p.m.
Twenty-six four-foot-long pendulums are evenly distributed across the glass facade of the National Beta Headquarters building. Their slow one-second pulse animates the surface of the concrete and glass structure. Mixing the simple physics of a pendulum with the off-the-shelf electronics of a small fan and flashlight LED, Spartanburg Swing creates a complex choreography. This kinetic work is controlled by small microprocessors that turn the fans and the lights on and off in intervals programmed by the artist. The pulsing movement is created entirely by intermittent fan bursts and the constant tug of gravity. The site is the international headquarters of National Beta, whose purpose is "to promote the ideals of academic achievement, character, leadership, and service among elementary and secondary school students." Headquartered in Spartanburg, the organization has more than 8,750 clubs nationally and internationally. The Hampton Heights neighborhood, comprised of homes built between the 1880s and the 1920s, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Video Village, Highland Neighborhood
  • Cammie Clagget Apartments, 317 Highland Avenue
  • Lights On – 7:35 p.m.
The artist decided he wanted to turn these empty buildings in the Cammie Clagget apartment complex inside out, transforming the now-vacant units into lanterns that face outward to tell their stories and cast their light into the surrounding community. The artist is interested in reanimating these empty spaces as a way to draw our attention to the question of impermanence and what might be possible for the future. Playing with the dual meaning of the word projection, Redl created a 52-channel video screen and directed White Elephant Enterprises and the Spartanburg Art Museum to curate the content for the installation. The selected videos feature a variety of topics but focus on stories of and about the residents of this historic neighborhood. The curators established a media production studio within the nearby Bethlehem Center to facilitate interviews with residents and to collect vintage home-movie footage and digitize family photographs from the community. The artist hopes to jump-start enthusiasm within the community for making videos of all kinds and sharing them in the public square. Glow, Beaumont Village and Northside
  • Beaumont smokestack, 400 Beaumont Avenue
  • Lights On – 8:05 p.m.
  • Northside smokestack, 350 Howard St.
  • Lights On and grand finale celebration – 8:30 p.m.
Both of the mill properties owned by Spartan Mills today serve new purposes, one as the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine and the other as the administrative offices of Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. Originally constructed by master builder Thomas Badgett, these two colossal smokestack structures were built in the late nineteenth century out of locally made brick. Edifices such as these, in the heart of mill villages, have historical relevance and serve as symbols of adaptation and change. Redl has chosen to treat the smokestacks as two synchronized, large-scale canvases for high-powered multicolored lights that bathe the surface of the worn bricks. For the artist, these artworks offer a new way of seeing old structures. About the Artist Born in Austria in 1963, Erwin Redl finished his studies at the Vienna Music Academy with two degrees, a BA in Composition (1990) and BA in Electronic Music (1991). He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for graduate studies in computer art at the School of Visual Arts, in New York City (MFA 1995). Redl investigates the process of “reverse engineering” by (re-)translating the abstract aesthetic language of virtual reality and 3D computer modeling into architectural environments by means of large-scale light installations. For the 2002 Whitney Biennial, the artist covered the Whitney Museum’s facade with three multicolor LED veils. In 2008 he created a sound and light installation in the Austrian Pavilion at the World Expo in Zaragoza, Spain. The Pacific Design Center’s new Red Building by Cesar Pelli features four permanent installations by the artist, completed in 2013. Redl’s largest work to date is a computer-controlled, 580-foot-long-LED-installation at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, completed in 2010. Redl’s work is owned by prestigious national and international institutions, among them the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; the Milwaukee Art Museum; and Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul; as well as by private collectors. For more information, www.paramedia.net. About the Chapman Cultural Center The mission of the Chapman Cultural Center is to provide cultural leadership for Greater Spartanburg by developing, strengthening, and promoting the scope, excellence and educational role of the arts, humanities, and sciences, and to further their significance in the life of our community and all of its citizens. Founded in 1968 with a current budget of $2.1 million, the Chapman Cultural Center is the oldest and largest countywide arts agency in the state of South Carolina and is serving as the lead arts agency and project manager for Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light. About the Public Art Challenge & Bloomberg Philanthropies The City of Spartanburg was selected in 2015 as one of four temporary public art projects from across the United States to receive a grant award from the first-ever Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. Other winning cities are Gary, IN, Albany/Schenectady/Troy, NY, and Los Angeles, CA. Full information on all projects can be found at publicartchallenge.bloomberg.org. Bloomberg Philanthropies works in more than 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed over half a billion dollars. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.

Americans for the Arts staff member visits SC for Cultural Districts Network convening

A big thank you to Ruby Harper, director of Local Arts Services for Americans for the Arts, who recently visited the South Carolina Arts Commission to participate in the first convening of the S.C. Cultural Districts Network. Here's her blog post about her experience.

rubyharperheadshotI’m starting to think that every moment in my life that I write about begins with, “I was terrified when they asked me to [insert anything here]”—but, I guess that is what makes life so interesting and what brings learning and new adventures and explorations into the world. This time was a quick trip to Columbia, S.C., at the request of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) to present to their network of Cultural Districts at a day-long convening hosted at EdVenture. To give some background: SCAC established their Cultural Districts designation program in 2014 through legislation ratified by the South Carolina General Assembly and signed by Governor Nikki Haley. The goals of the program were specified in the legislation:
  • Attract artists, creative entrepreneurs and cultural enterprises to communities
  • Encourage economic development
  • Foster local cultural development
  • Provide a focal point for celebrating and strengthening local cultural identity
In the first year and a half, they processed six applications from cultural districts around the state—Rock Hill, Lancaster, Spartanburg, Congaree Vista, Beaufort, and Bluffton. According to Rusty Sox, Senior Manager with the Arts Commission, it was stronger participation than they had anticipated. One of the benefits of being a designated Cultural District is access to a support network and resources. The day-long convening I attended is part of that support plan. The group began with sharing what they wanted to learn about during their time together, whether through potential programs and leveraging assets or learning what’s working for the cultural districts individually and as a group. To prep for the meeting, I read the applications to get an understanding of how the districts saw themselves and what they were focusing on to benefit their community. [caption id="attachment_28141" align="aligncenter" width="600"]ruby-harper-columbia-cultural-district-meeting-2 Convening in EdVenture's meeting room[/caption] My part in the process was to share information about Americans for the Arts and highlight tools and resources related to Cultural Districts and arts and culture administration. It was clear they felt I had much to share, and I thankfully did, but in the end, I learned as much from the groups that presented as I am hoping they learned from me and the others in the room. Five of the six cultural districts shared highlights from their year and the genesis of their creation. Some came from a long-standing love of arts and culture; some came from thoughtful growth and planning. Two potential districts shared their challenges as they move into the application process. My favorite line from the convening was “Our district has been built like a string of pearls,” and the stand-out learning moment was finding out that Ursula is shortened to “Uschi” in German. I shared information about the National Cultural Districts Exchange (NCDE). Its creation and resource area—as well as all the great tools we have throughout the site—can benefit them in developing and promoting their district as well as casemaking for community and advocacy support. We talked about social media tactics and cross promotion—for example, who is the cultural tourist and how can you engage them? We also talked about where we are hoping the NCDE will go next and how they can be a part of that evolution. [caption id="attachment_28143" align="alignleft" width="280"]ruby-harper-columbia-sc-eddie I met "Eddie," a prominent feature at EdVenture.[/caption] Columbia is a dynamic city! As the capital of the state, I had the luxury of being near enough to the statehouse to walk a portion of the grounds. My hosts took me on a driving tour around The Vista and I got a sense of how the college (University of South Carolina, the mighty fighting Gamecocks) plays into the structure of the city. I got to see the newly built minor league baseball stadium with the adjacent abandoned insane asylum, and learned how the city is renovating and repurposing the buildings (watch for a new restaurant opening in the former morgue!). We ended the tour at a much loved local bar called Art Bar, where I had the pleasure of meeting Clark, an artist who is known for his civic and community work in developing the Vista district—and also for being affected by the gentrification that is driving artists out of their spaces as the neighborhood develops and gains popularity. I had some wonderful dining moments and learned about the historical ties to the development of the district that the restaurants played in its development. By the end of the day, I was struck by the desire of each district to develop relationships with the others—one district looked at the program as a “sister city” and had ideas of how to work together to promote each other’s cultural assets and build knowledge about the state across the state. I’ll be curious to see how their story plays out in the coming months and years. Programs like this have such potential to improve, strengthen, and grow local economy and bridge arts and culture experiences statewide.

Group gets $50,000 grant to help Conway become an art district

From MyHorryNews.com Article by Kathy Ropp

Conway has a large number of talented artists and musicians who want to see the city emerge as an arts mecca, and now it looks as if they will have the money to make that happen. Conway Cultural Development Corporation President Dr. Dennis Stevens says the Knight Foundation has recommended that Conway get a $50,000 grant for the arts, and the Waccamaw Community Foundation has signed off on it. The only thing the area’s artists need now is the support of the Conway City Council, whose members did not discuss the issue in March after hearing from representatives of the S.C. Arts Commission, who explained the process of making Conway a cultural art district. One of the presenters, Joy Young, the SCAC’s arts coordinator for Horry and Georgetown counties, returned to Conway recently to meet with more than 35 artists and musicians in an informal setting to assess the arts possibilities in Conway and see what’s needed to move the city forward. Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy attended that meeting at Conway Glass where she offered encouragement to the group. The SCAC is in the nascent stage of creating a network of art districts throughout the state. Areas already carrying the label of cultural art district are Spartanburg, Rock Hill, Lancaster, Beaufort, the Congaree Vista area in Columbia and, the most recent city to join the group, Bluffton. Florence is working now to create a district in that city. “It’s not really a network like an art trail or anything like that,” Stevens said. “I think it’s more driven by the place and the resources that are in the place and enhancing the community and cataloguing resources. I think they have a specific vision that enables the place to enhance itself. “It’s less about the network of communities and more about the individual place putting forth its best assets.” Stevens says the agency defines the arts broadly so the term includes visual and performing arts, theatre and all kinds of music. Even a writer attended the recent gathering at Conway Glass. One idea Stevens likes is stepping up arts education in low-income areas, perhaps in the Whittemore Park or Racepath communities in Conway. This could be done with an artist-in-residence who might give art lessons, help youngsters secure orchestra instruments or, perhaps, help improve the looks of some of the U.S. 378 corridor, a project getting a lot of attention from Conway City Council recently. Becoming a cultural arts district will open the door for state grants, coordination with other cities and counties and advice from the SCAC. The Cultural Arts Development Corporation is already talking with consultants who can help the group get the process moving and guide its leadership in the direction Conway should go; however, the consultants won’t be signed until at least August when Stevens hopes everybody is on board and the Knight Foundation money is in-hand. If Conway City Council gives its blessing to the program, a board of stakeholders will be created to help guide the process. Supporters of the program say the arts and culture are economic engines that draw people to an area to shop, dine, buy gas and stay over night, and they make a city more livable. They point to Asheville, N.C., and Walterboro in this state to prove their point. Rusty Sox with the SCAC says the art districts program is relatively new, existing for only about 18 months now. He says developing the districts has given him interesting travel around South Carolina. The state’s mission is to create an environment where the arts thrive for all South Carolina citizens, he told Conway City Council back in March. The program hopes to provide quality arts education for youngsters in kindergarten through 12th grade, help artists develop their talents into sustainable careers and improve life for South Carolinians. He says the SCAC can help by offering the assistance of its staff, developing partnerships with other organizations, implementing professional development and training through conferences and meetings, and giving grants to individual artists, schools and arts programs. Some of their ideas include creating studios where people can watch artists work; opening retail shops, galleries, art centers, educational spaces and more. The program takes note of significant architecture and uses nontraditional settings, bank lobbies for instance, to offer art displays. Some cities also offer storytellers and performers. Through all of these activities the arts enthusiasts hope to celebrate and capitalize on an area’s local identification, or, in other words, the things that make each community unique. After the stakeholders are appointed, they will take public input, designate a cultural district and solidify a list of goals. Communities must be reviewed and recertified every five years to remain cultural art districts. Young and Sox recommend identifying a compact, walkable, easily-navigable area for an art district. They categorize it as a place where people can park and walk. Conway and its surrounding areas already have a good start on promoting the arts, according to area artists. Another issue that Stevens and Barbara Streeter with CREATE! Conway are pursuing is an office for arts groups. Streeter and other artists asked at a recent public hearing at Conway City Hall for space for art exhibits and performances in the old Conway Post Office/Horry County museum. Stevens points out that during the tenure of the late Mayor Greg Martin, he helped work on Conway’s comprehensive plan, which calls for a Waccamaw artisans center. He’d love to work out something with the Burroughs Company to see the center located in Conway’s riverfront district. Stevens says once the CCDC has its grant money he expects things to start happening quickly. By the fall of this year he hopes to hold some public meetings to discuss the needs of the arts and cultural community and to start things in motion to meet those needs. “I think everybody is engaged and excited about the possibility of arts and culture in Horry and Georgetown, but specifically what Conway can do to facilitate that,” he said. “There’s no central leadership now. We’re trying and we’re trying to do it in a new way.” Stevens says anyone who’s interested in becoming part of the process should talk with a member of city council because they’re the ones who will ultimately make the decision. “If they say no, I don’t know what comes next,” Stevens said.

Call for art: Spartanburg Downtown Cultural District

Submission deadline is June 10. The Spartanburg Downtown Cultural District seeks proposals for temporary public art for its newly designated cultural district, a concentrated and diverse area of arts and creative enterprises that includes rapidly growing visual and performing arts as well as creative businesses. The public artwork placed within this district should visually communicate and celebrate Spartanburg’s cultural vibrancy. The temporary public art project is a partnership between the South Carolina Arts Commission, Chapman Cultural Center, The Spartanburg Art Museum and the Spartanburg Downtown Cultural District Steering Committee. This call is open to local and regional individual, collectives or groups of artists living and working in the Southeast. This call is a juried process that involves professionals working in the visual arts as well as the Spartanburg Cultural District Steering Committee. Proposals must be submitted by 5 p.m. on June 10, 2016. Criteria:

  • Artwork that utilizes existing structures from public benches, lamp posts, electrical boxes, street curbs, etc.
  • 2D and/or 3D artwork will be installed outside within the 4 block radius of the Cultural District, thus it must be able to withstand the elements for 90 days.
  • Artwork that invites and can withstand public interaction.
  • Not required, but strongly desired, is artwork that utilizes repurposed or upcycled materials
Find the application and submission details online. Via: Chapman Cultural Center  

Auditorium a ‘genesis’ for cultural maturation in Greer

From The Greenville News Article and photo by Michael Burns

The city of Greer is embarking to create an arts district with up to $100,000 in renovations to the old Greer City Auditorium, a building deeded to the city in 1983 and rented for years by a since-closed church. Within a month four to seven small studios are set to be rented, cheaply, to artists approved by city officials, and the theater seating up to 299 will eventually stage plays and performances, if City Council approves later phases of work as expected. [caption id="attachment_26291" align="alignright" width="300"]Greer Auditorium Greer City Auditorium (Photo: CITY OF GREER)[/caption] A small park on the property of about four acres at the intersection of Snow Street and Davis Avenue, just south of downtown Greer Station, will be connected with walking and biking paths to the central business district and neighborhoods throughout the area, as officials envision. It’s all about the maturation of a community that’s revitalizing, already, and planning for a bright future, according to Mayor Rick Danner. City officials hope the auditorium will serve as the first stroke of a cultural masterpiece. “Arts bring you alive,” said Greer Cultural Arts Supervisor Robin Byouk. “Anyone can just go through their day-to-day life. Art is the layer on top that makes life worth living.”
The property was first developed nearly 100 years ago as a Wesleyan Camp. Before and after it was loaned to two churches, it served as the first home of the South Carolina Children’s Theatre from 1987 to 1990, and the city assumed control of it again in 2015, when the International Cathedral of Prayer was in two years’ default of insurance payments. Others lobbied the city for use of the building since that time, but as officials weighed possibilities for implementing residents’ desires in the community master plan adopted last year, they saw opportunity. It’s exactly the kind of use the Trade Street Neighborhood Association sought when group president and local resident Allison Ringer and others met with city officials a few months ago. “That’s why most of us moved to this area in the first place, just for the downtown and how accessible it is,” said Ringer, who lives just down the road with her husband and three children. “It’s very exciting. It’s exciting that’s so short-term, too, because so much of the city planning looks to the next 15 to 20 years.” Security enhancement and restroom expansion are part of the work already approved by City Council. Parks and Recreation Director Ann Cunningham said more renovation will be proposed for the city’s next budget cycle. “Baseball, basketball and football are stronger than ever in Greer based on the demand for city programming and the supply of local athletes,” said City Councilman Lee Dumas. “Fortunately, as the city has grown, our ability to offer more services to our citizens has increased. I have a 5-year-old with zero interest in sports. She enjoys drawing, singing and acting. Many like her need an outlet for their interests and support developing their skills and talents in the arts, just like I enjoyed in sports. I'm excited about the new facility on Snow Street and the wealth of opportunities it will provide for expansion of the arts in Greer.” The building will serve as the home of the Greer Cultural Arts Council, which provides an array of events, activities and programs. “I foresee things happening here like First Fridays in downtown Greenville, where we can open up the facility and the parking lot and have other artists come in,” said Byouk. “We want to invite the community in to see what’s going on here. I think we’re going to be very transparent. Artists don’t live in a bubble. If they do, they’re not successful. We want people to come in, see what’s going on and become part of it. That’s the only way we’re going to grow.” Renovations are being paid for with funds raised by the city’s 2-percent hospitality tax on prepared food, a fund that’s afforded projects such as Country Club Road Park, Suber Road Park, renovations to Stevens Field and Victor Park and events such as Freedom Blast in the years since it was implemented by referendum. Danner hopes the auditorium will help lure private investment of a similar nature to the area while improving quality of life for local residents and visitors. The development of an arts district reaching southward from downtown was a priority identified by residents during the formation of the city’s master plan. “I’ve mentioned to a couple of people that creating an arts district is more than just designating it,” Danner said. “Those kinds of things typically happen organically, but they need a genesis somewhere. I think this could be the genesis.” Artists offered studios with large windows overlooking the park space will apply through a process being hammered out by the city, Byouk said. Two-dimensional artists seem a natural fit for the spaces, through sculptors, potters or such may find welcome homes. Plans call for an open gallery space near the building’s main entrance. Wiring and insulation to come in a later phase of work would enable the theater and its large stage to join the Cannon Centre and the Harley Bonds Center as venues for performances. “I grew up in the Augusta Road area, so I kind of saw that whole transformation all around me growing up in downtown Greenville,” Ringer said. “I went to Charlotte for college, and I wasn’t going to come back to Greenville, but there were so many awesome changes going on that we decided to stay. "We weren’t planning on staying in Greer very long, either. My husband was working in Spartanburg at that time and my family lived in Greenville, so we were like, ‘OK, we’ll just meet in the middle in Greer,’ and then Greer started making so many great changes that we said, ‘OK, we’ll just stay.’ “Here we are 10 years later. We’re so excited.” Image above: Greer Cultural Arts Supervisor Robin Byouk surveys City Auditorium with Parks and Recreation Director Ann Cunningham

Area artists want to see Conway designated as a state Cultural District

From WBTW News 13 CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Area art enthusiasts want the state to recognize Conway’s art and cultural spots as an official South Carolina cultural district. This would hopefully help promote local artists and bring more tourists to the area. The first Indie Market (was) held on Laurel Street on Saturday, and showcase(d) more than 20 local artists along with musicians. Organizers say it’s an example of how the arts are growing into an unofficial identity for the city, one that they’re working to make an official designation. Barbara Streeter is the director of Create Conway, the group behind the Indie Market. Streeter says Conway’s art scene was always vibrant, but was hit hard by the recession in 2008 and is only now coming back. She says art events like Indie Market will help the merchants develop more business and it’s a new part of a bigger trend for the city. “We have developed art and culture as a brand for Conway,” said Dennis Stevens, the president of Conway Cultural Development Corporation. “That’s not officially sanctioned by the city but something bubbling up naturally,” said Stevens, who wants Conway to build its brand on the arts. “There are very tangible ways in which arts and culture can improve the economic viability of a community,” said Stevens. Stevens went to city council to urge them to apply to be designated as a South Carolina Arts Commission Cultural District. “It’s this idea of really putting our collective head around the branding, marketing and branding as a cultural entity,” said Stevens. Six cities have been designated as cultural districts, it’s a way to highlight unique aspects of an area to spur economic development. Steven says it’s a way to stand out from a crowded destination area, “differentiating our selves as a city we can really shine in Horry County.” Businesses downtown say it’s an initiative they can support, as it would bring the possibility of new visitors. Jennifer Hucks is the owner of Jenn’s Southern Threadz, she’s been open for three years and welcomes the exposure arts can bring the city. “I think its going to bring new and different people who have never seen downtown Conway, so it’s an opportunity for all small businesses,” said Hucks. News13 reached out to the city of Conway to see where council stands on applying to create a cultural district, but have yet to hear back.