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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.

Orangeburg contest brings children’s artwork to store windows

From the Orangeburg Times and Democrat Article by Gene Zaleski, photos by Larry Hardy

Paint a Good Word contestEdisto High School junior Hannah Fanning, 17, has loved art for a long time. "I don't know where it came from," Fanning said. "I remember myself in kindergarten begging for more painting materials. Art and drawing have always been a passion." Her love propelled Fanning to submit an entry into the Paint A Good Word project. Paint A Good Word is an art contest for children in grades K-12. Area children were asked to paint their interpretation of “good words,” including many of the Orangeburg County Community of Character traits as well words such as peace, joy, family, love, laugh and more. The Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center, which helped initiate the program, received 326 entries. Of those, 50 were selected and posted in windows of downtown merchants the first week in April. Some art is also displayed in vacant buildings. (Visit http://www.ocfac.net/ for a list of selected artists and locations.) For her piece, Fanning chose the word “dance.” "I chose it because when you dance, you move and it is all emotional,” Fanning said. “I move and put my emotions into my artwork." Fanning's art is located in Orangeburg Furniture Exchange on Middleton Street. It consists of silhouettes of a man and woman dancing over the letters of the word dance. About 18 schools are represented among the top 50. Fifth-grade Holly Hill Elementary School student Cierra Randolph drew about the word “inspire.” The 11-year-old’s artwork is in Smoak's Hardware on the 1100 block of Russell Street. "My grandmother always tells me she wants me to inspire people,” Randolph said. Randolph used colored pencils, markers, highlighters and a “little bit of crayon” to create her work over a five-day period. Holly Hill fifth-grader Cumauri Boyd chose the word “freedom.” The 11-year-old’s artwork is displayed at the Chamber of Commerce office on Riverside Drive. "In school I learned a lot about slavery and I started to think about slavery and how they got treated," Boyd said. "I thought how the Civil War ended slavery and they then had their freedom." Boyd's artwork shows a person's hand wrapped with broken chains. "I have been drawing for a long while," Boyd said. "The thing I like most about drawing is showing everyone what you have accomplished." Downtown Orangeburg Revitalization Association Executive Director Jennifer Hoesing said merchants report that people are coming in to vote for their favorites. "Part of the purpose of the program is to get more people downtown, and into businesses where they haven't been in a while,” she said. Orangeburg Furniture Exchange President Sandy Bryant said the program has been positive. "We have had several people come in and sign up," Bryant said. When asked if the program has increased foot traffic in the store, Bryant said many people have come in strictly for the Paint a Good Word project. But anything organizers can do to help is good, he said. The Paint A Good Word project was created to showcase the talents of Orangeburg's children and youth, Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center Executive Director Beth Thomas said. All the entries submitted will be on display at the center for the entire month of November. "It is also to bring attention to the Fine Arts Center, DORA and the Chamber that really exist for the betterment of the community," Thomas said. "it is about creating an awareness and getting children, teachers and parents involved in the same project." The Fine Arts Center, DORA, Chamber of Commerce, Community of Character, Orangeburg County Development Commission, city of Orangeburg and The Times and Democrat worked together on the project. Organizers also thanked Williamson Printing, Office Max Orangeburg, Emery Marketing, WORG-FM, Major Graphics and Sun Printing. The public is asked to vote for their favorite in each grade category by visiting participating merchants. The winners in each category will receive a new iPad Mini 2. The categories are from kindergarten to 5th grade, 6th grade to 8th grade and 9th grade to 12th grade. Ballots are available at all participating Paint A Good Word merchants. A complete list of the merchants and artists can be found on the Chamber of Commerce website at orangeburgchamber.com, DORA's website at orangeburgdora.com and the Fine Arts Center website at ocfac.net. To be counted, a ballot must include the voter’s name and contact information. A person may vote more than once but can only vote one time at each participating location. The artwork will be on display through June 1 with the final vote occurring shortly after that date.

Francis Marion University’s Arts International Festival moving downtown

From the Florence Morning News Article by Shamira McCray
[caption id="attachment_19239" align="alignright" width="233"]Chief Kamu Chief Kamu Fire and Hula Show[/caption] Francis Marion University and the city of Florence announced Tuesday that they will partner to bring the Arts International Festival to FMU’s downtown Performing Arts Center in April. FMU President Fred Carter and Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela announced the partnership at a press conference held at the PAC.
The festival, held on FMU’s campus for nearly 40 years, features a mix of art, music and food.
“About every 10 years we revitalize this festival with changes,” Carter said. “The international component was added about a decade ago. Changing venues, I think, will be a very, very positive thing. The festival goes very, very well on campus, but this gives us an opportunity to cultivate new audiences.”
Changing venues will give FMU the chance to create new support partners downtown, Carter said. The festival is not leaving campus, he said, but instead going from one part of campus to another part that is six miles away.
Wukela said the relocation of the Arts International Festival allows for an opportunity to tap in to the cohort that is already accustomed to coming to downtown festivals. With it being centrally located in downtown, people might participate in the festival when they might not have otherwise.
“I think that produces a great, great dynamic,” Wukela said. “Also, of course, it makes very, very good use of the cultural amenities we have already here downtown and the international community that’s here in the city of Florence. So I think all of those melt very well, and I think we’ll have a very successful festival.
The Arts International Festival will serve as the signature spring festival in Florence, Wukela said.
The festival is scheduled for April 11. The Blue Dogs headline the list of artists scheduled to perform. The festival will also feature performances by FMU music groups, the Jabali African Acrobats, hula lessons, an international food court, beer and wine gardens, art displays and the Florence-Darlington Technical College’s welding sculpture competition, among other activities. Image above: the Chinese Acrobats

USC Upstate to launch downtown art gallery

From GoUpstate.com:
An art gallery will be the University of South Carolina Upstate’s second facility located in downtown Spartanburg.
UPSTATE Gallery on Main, at 172 E. Main St., will open to the public for the first time for Thursday’s ArtWalk. The gallery will feature contemporary and original exhibitions from Upstate’s permanent collection by artists Andy Warhol, Jerry Uelsmann and Beatrice Riese, according to university officials. “We are excited to bring our art to downtown Spartanburg and look forward to showcasing the contemporary works by visiting artists and USC Upstate students and faculty,” said Jane Allen Nodine, USC Upstate art professor and director of art galleries, in a written statement. Nodine said the gallery will also serve as an experimental learning lab, and students will work at the gallery. For ArtWalk, visitors may view Nodine’s sculptural assemblages, which she creates using wax, paper, fibers and fabric. She also is showing encaustic paintings and wax prints. Chancellor Tom Moore said in a statement that having a gallery downtown supports the university’s mission and complements the Curtis R. Harley Art Gallery on the main campus. “This downtown facility will enable us to make our permanent collection and exhibitions available to a much larger audience,” Moore said. The gallery is USC Upstate’s second downtown space, in addition to the George Dean Johnson Jr. College of Business and Economics on St. John Street. The UPSTATE Gallery on Main will be open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and by appointment. Admission is free and open to the public. A grand opening is planned for 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Feb. 11. For details, contact Nodine at 864-503-5838 or jnodine@uscupstate.edu.

Art to fill vacant windows in downtown Spartanburg

Converse College, in partnership with the Spartanburg Art Museum, has received a $5,000 One-Time Arts Project grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission for No Vacancies, a public art exhibition taking place this spring in downtown Spartanburg. These funds will help pay for materials, supplies, marketing and public relations efforts. No Vacancies was an idea born last fall when Spartanburg Art Museum’s new Executive Director Elizabeth Goddard moved to Spartanburg. “My first Saturday night in town I walked along Main Street and counted roughly 20 vacant spaces in about a six-block stretch. These beautiful buildings sat in darkness, and I thought, 'wow, what an incredible opportunity for the visual arts to add light, engagement and aesthetics to the downtown area.' ” Goddard then reached out to area professors of art and design to see who might be interested in collaborating to create a rich and relevant public art exhibition utilizing these vacant windows. Several answered the call. The project quickly moved forward as a partnership between the Spartanburg Art Museum, Converse College, USC Upstate and Wofford College. From Converse College, Greg Mueller, a sculpture professor, is leading two teams of students to install two projects, one titled, Recycling the Void and the other titled The Mill, which speaks to the rich history of the textile industry in the Upstate. From Wofford College, Ann Stoddard, Kris Neeley and Dawn Dickins are working with students to install in three spaces. Professor Jane Nodine from USC Upstate is working with students from the Art and Design club to install work in two spaces. Student artist Erin Patton from USC Upstate said about her participation, “I think this is an exciting opportunity to be involved in something that the community will be able to enjoy during their everyday lives. It’s not something that viewers have to go to a museum or gallery to enjoy; it is something that can be experienced walking down the sidewalk.” “I am so pleased with how this project has evolved to a truly collaborative effort that will provide real public art exhibition experience to a diverse group of college students who might not have been granted such an opportunity,” said Goddard. “There is growing knowledge that economies improve for everyone when the arts are front and center in a downtown area. People come to see the art, stay for a meal or some shopping. This is what we want for Spartanburg and for South Carolina.” Viewers of No Vacancies will see how the financial support of the South Carolina Arts Commission aids in the transformation. Goddard added, "Support from the state level is a wonderful confirmation that this project is providing a relevant experience not only to a group of artists, but for hundreds, if not thousands, of viewers.” No Vacancies installation takes place in early April, and the opening event takes place April 17 from 5 - 9 p.m. during Art Walk along Main Street in downtown Spartanburg. For more information, visit spartanburgartmuseum.org or call (862) 582-7616. Via: Spartanburg Art Museum

Winthrop students tapped to create art for new credit union headquarters

Family Trust Credit Union has commissioned works of art - to be created by Winthrop University students - for its new headquarters, the first building being constructed in Knowledge Park, a textile corridor connecting Winthrop and downtown Rock Hill. CEO Lee Gardner wants visitors to experience the credit union's commitment and values through art. From the Rock Hill Herald:

Personally or professionally you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Whether it’s yourself, your employees or your business, how things look makes a difference. That’s why Lee Gardner, president and CEO of Family Trust Federal Credit Union, wants to set a high standard when it comes to the credit union’s new headquarters on the corner of West White and Laurel streets in Rock Hill. The new headquarters returns Family Trust to its roots. It was founded in a stock room at the Rock Hill Printing and Finishing Co. in 1957. The design of the new headquarters takes some of its architectural cues from the company’s textile heritage. Construction by J.M Cope is expected to cost between $7 million and $8 million. But it’s more than the building. More than just the front door. When credit union members or others enter the headquarters Gardner wants them to experience Family Trust’s commitment and values through art. Family Trust has commissioned five pieces of art that will have ties to the textile industry, the credit union’s core values and its service to its members and the community. Gardner is relying on the talents of five Winthrop students: • Chelsea Arthur, a senior from Greenville who has experience in sculpture, jewelry and metals. • Nicole Davenport, a junior from Anderson with experience in sculpture and printmaking. • Samantha Oliver of Rock Hill, a graduate student with a bachelor of fine arts in ceramics. • Christopher Smith, senior from Beaufort with experience in jewelry and metals. • Kaitlyn Walters of Greenville, who graduated in December with a bachelor of fine arts and experience in photography and sculpture. Incorporating art into Family Trust offices is not new. The office in York has watercolors of peach sheds and railroad cars. The office in Clover has local photography. But the scale of what Gardner wants at his headquarters is grand. Current plans call for two accent walls to have an art project that includes railroad ties. That idea nicely connects the headquarters to Rock Hill’s history, Gardner said. If the railroad hadn’t come through here, Rock Hill wouldn’t be what it is today. It’s not the first time Winthrop students have been called upon for their talents. Some of the public art in downtown and at City Hall was done by Winthrop students. But it took more than reputation for Winthrop’s students to get the commission from Family Trust officials. The students had to research Rock Hill and Family Trust’s history before developing their concepts. Once they had done that, they presented the concepts to the credit union and the design team for the new headquarters. The meetings tested not only their ideas, but also their presentation skills. Not every concept made the cut. This professional exchange has been a valuable lesson for the students, said Tom Stanley, chairman of Winthrop’s Fine Arts Department. The art should be completed by the end of this semester but likely won’t be unveiled until the new headquarters opens in the first quarter of 2015. Nonetheless, the expectations are high. “It’s amazing what has been proposed,” Gardner said. Gardner said the project is not intended to set a standard for the Knowledge Park, but that’s what should happen. The construction of the Family Trust headquarters is likely to be the first project completed in Knowledge Park, the textile corridor that connects Winthrop and downtown Rock Hill. Other projects should be unveiled soon by the development team of Sora-Phelps. There are great expectations for these projects. If successful, Knowledge Park could change the way people work, live and play in downtown Rock Hill. While the Knowledge Park is a physical area, it also is an economic development strategy to bring high-tech jobs to downtown. Workers of this type, often labeled the creative class, want more than just a place to work and live. They want to enjoy, be connected, interact with their community. And, as Tom Stanley says, Lee Gardner “gets this.” “This is not just an opportunity to put up art,” Gardner said. “This is an opportunity to connect ourselves with our community.”

Art Trail Gallery gets new director, new direction for downtown Florence

From SCNow.com:

The Florence Downtown Development Corporation has decided to hit the reset button on a major cog in downtown as the corporation’s board dissolved the Art Trail Gallery’s board on Monday, citing a need to move forward with the original vision of the gallery acting as an economic engine for downtown. “The volunteers and board have put their heart and souls into the gallery, but we needed to treat the gallery like a business. Changes needed to be made for consistency and ultimately support the operational expenses of the facility,” acting FDDC Board Chairman Karen Leatherman said. “No one will see any difference, except for improvements.” And a new director. David Hobbs, a longtime volunteer at the gallery and a former board member, will replace Gaye Ham. Ham said being relieved of her duty came as a total surprise. “I put in 30-40 hours per week as a volunteer director. We painted, cleaned and did everything we could. I’m upset,” she said. She took over when the gallery relocated in November 2012 to the corner of Irby and Evans streets. Local artist and former board member Bob Feury said he has always been involved since the gallery opened in 2008 by volunteering and showing his own work. He said he was a bit surprised at the decision to overhaul things. “I thought it turned out well with the resources we had. I think it’s a great idea for customers to have a full service place to come to. I would’ve liked to be asked,” Feury, who owns Feury’s Fine Art, said. From the beginning, Florence Downtown Director Ray Reich said the ATG’s vision was to serve two purposes — support arts and culture and be an economic development catalyst for downtown. “We felt it (gallery) needed to make downtown more of a draw, not just for Florentines but also act as a tourist attraction,” Reich said. “There were limited hours that the gallery was open. Volunteers are wonderful to help, but they only have a limited time to give. The plan all along was to become self-sufficient and it’s become less self-sufficient. It needs to operate more like a business. You have to have sales to do that, and eventually we want it to be able to stand on its own two feet.” Hobbs will be the man asked to do that. He comes from decades of managing experience working for DuPont before he retired in 2011. He also serves as the chairman of the Florence County Planning Commission. Working with local businesses, hosting more classes and functions are just some of the goals he has for the gallery. “There’s always room for improvement. I’m going to help make improvements and get the ATG to be more independent. I see potential,” he said. “Things are taking off downtown, and I want to be a part of it. This is just passing the baton.” Two new additions gallery-goers will soon see include bringing in a retailer and giving the Florence Regional Arts Alliance a new home. Roney’s Creative Picture Framing is scheduled to set up a storefront starting in March while the FRAA will be moving in next week. Leatherman said the decision to bring in Roney’s and sign a lease agreement with FRAA will make it possible to have regular hours and be staffed by paid people. Roney’s will take frame, mirror orders on-site. Last month, owners Fran and Charles Gray purchased Kolor Quick and plan to offer enlargements, photo restoration and canvas printing and other services at the gallery. “All of the services will be performed off-site, at Roney’s original location on West Palmetto Street,” Fran said. “I’m excited about getting downtown and in the middle of everything going on.”
Via: SCNow.com

Hub City Bookshop at the center of Spartanburg’s literary community

Christopher George reports on the success of Hub City Bookshop for OurUpstateSC.info:

The bricked sidewalk meanders a bit as it works its way west from Morgan Square in Downtown Spartanburg, and it seems only fitting that it should for a city that has taken its own winding revitalization path. As anyone here will tell you, it wasn't all that long ago when those picturesque paths on W. Main Street were mostly empty past the clock tower and the famed statue that gives Spartanburg's town square its name. Today though, the western end of downtown-known as the Grain District since 2010-is bustling with activity, and at its center, in the ground floor of an 85-year-old Masonic Temple, is Spartanburg's nexus of literary community, Hub City Bookshop. Sitting adjacent to Little River Coffee Bar and Cakehead Bakeshop (both of whom lease space from Hub City), and with covered outdoor seating available under the Masonic Temple's columned facade, Hub City Bookshop is far from typical in this age of big box stores and online retailers. Sure, the 2,000-square-foot space houses many of the same bestsellers you can find in those big chain stores, but like a lot of independent bookstores, the staff-along with a cadre of volunteers-at Hub City are true literary aficionados with the "staff picks" shelf to prove it. But none of that really sets Hub City Bookshop apart from other independent bookstores. What does is the shop's unique place in the community. Hub City Bookshop is a Spartanburg original in every sense, particularly in the role it serves as the retail face of the Hub City Writers Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bolstering Spartanburg's vibrant literary community. In the 15 years prior to the opening of their same-named bookstore, the HCWP had made a name for itself in the independent publishing world. Focusing on both fiction and nonfiction works with "an emphasis on the Southern experience" and "a strong sense of place," the HCWP had released dozens of titles by local and regional writers through its publishing arm, Hub City Press, but after Spartanburg's last independent bookstore closed in 2006, the organization was in serious trouble. "Local book sales of Hub City Press titles had plunged. In fact, they had dropped to a dangerous level and we were beginning to discuss the survival of the press," recalls Hub City Writers Project Executive Director Betsy Teter. Walking past the Masonic Temple, whose lower level had been empty for some time, Teter came up with the idea for a bookshop, a place that would allow the HCWP to do something most other independent publishers can't, control its own destiny. Supporters in Spartanburg rallied behind the idea, raising $300,000 to renovate the space, allowing Hub City Bookshop opened its doors in July of 2010. Over three years in, Hub City Bookshop is thriving and has allowed the organization behind it to continue serving the Spartanburg community exactly as Teter had hoped. "By opening the store, our local book sales increased by $25,000 in the first year and have stayed at that level since," she offers. The bookshop serves as a showcase for the organization's own releases, and creates an important, stable funding stream for the rest of the HCWP's mission, funneling proceeds from book sales back towards publishing and literary programming which includes creative writing workshops, scholarships, two writer-in-residence programs, and dozens of literary events each year. Crucially, the bookshop has become the location for many of those literary events Hub City brings to Spartanburg, featuring writers from around the country. As much as the HCWP has bolstered Spartanburg's literary community through giving local writers an outlet that otherwise wouldn't exist, so too Hub City Bookshop has given those local writers and readers a space they didn't have before, providing a boost to Spartanburg's bourgeoning downtown as well. "Hub City has always had a second mission to help build a sense of community in Spartanburg, and providing redevelopment in the central business district through a gathering spot such as this, brings local people together in important ways," said Teter.

Columbia art supply store closing after four years

The Daily Gamecock's assistant news editor Sarah Ellis reports on the closing of S&S Art Supply:

There’s not much day-to-day bustle at S&S Art Supply on Main Street. On a weekday last month, owner Eric Stockard helped a handful of customers who dropped in throughout the afternoon — a mother and son buying art supplies to make crafts for their home-school lessons, a retired art teacher looking for some frosted mylar sheets. S&S Art SupplyA customer browses what’s left of S&S Art Supply’s inventory. Supplies are being sold at deep discounts to clear the shelves before the store closes this month. Swing music plays on a Pandora radio station while Stockard’s wife, Amanda Ladymon-Stockard, amuses their 1-year-old daughter, Lily, near the cash register. Rows of colorful art supplies line the walls below local artists’ paintings. But there are gaps on the shelves left by many of the store’s last remaining items that have been sold at deep discounts in preparation for the store’s closing this month. Last summer’s back-to-school business was so good Stockard could afford to buy himself a funky old truck to fix up in his spare time and haul away loads of cardboard from the store. This summer’s back-to-school business was so bad Stockard is shutting down the business he started four years ago with his father, Brian. “We had a blast. We had a good time,” Stockard said. “Time to go make some money.” After a year of business on Rosewood Drive, S&S moved to the 1600 block of Main Street in July 2010. Three and a half years later, slow sales and high costs have the Stockards clearing their shelves and making plans for a future that won’t include S&S. “I think with some retail businesses … the only reason why they stay afloat is because they have a lot of family money and backing that we just don’t have,” said Ladymon-Stockard, an adjunct professor of studio art at USC. “We were breaking even four years in, but it wasn’t sustainable enough.” Now, the local arts community prepares to mourn the loss of a Columbia creative staple. The closing of S&S leaves downtown with just one other independently owned arts supply store, City Art on nearby Lincoln Street. “It’ll leave a hole,” said Lee Snelgrove, executive director of One Columbia for Arts and Humanities, which supports and promotes the arts in the city. S&S has been “a hub” for the community’s creative needs, Snelgrove said. Ken May, executive director of the South Carolina Arts Commission, considers S&S to have been “an important part of the kind of renaissance on Main Street.” “We regret that they’re leaving,” he said. “Just knowing those people and being able to walk in and say, ‘Could you get me this?’ and they would order that — having that kind of customized service is attractive, and it comes with a price.”
Read the rest of the article on the Daily Gamecock.

Florence and Lancaster recognized for revitalization and development

Congratulations to the cities of Florence and Lancaster for being recognized by the Municipal Association of South Carolina for downtown revitalization and economic development efforts. In both cases, arts and culture organizations (most of whom have been awarded S.C. Arts Commission grants over the years) played key roles in the cities' achievements. These examples of partnerships and cooperative planning between local governments, educational institutions and arts organizations are models in how to attract new businesses and visitors. Florence's plan for arts and cultural development included a new library and theatre, and a soon-to-be new museum, and has culminated in the state-of-the-art Francis Marion Performing Arts Center:

In 2005, the City of Florence hired a consultant to create a master plan for downtown redevelopment. The plan identified arts and cultural development as a necessity to encourage renewal for the city center. In the years that followed, a new library and theatre were constructed, and the city anticipates the opening of a new museum this year. But the crown jewel of these new developments is the state-of-the-art Francis Marion Performing Arts Center, located in the heart of downtown Florence. Francis Marion University Performing Arts CenterThe $37 million facility boasts a main stage and outdoor amphitheater, a garden courtyard, an academic wing, and upper and lower lobbies for events and receptions. It has been honored with architectural awards for its innovative use of sustainable materials. Officials formed partnerships with private entities to secure the land and fund construction of the Center. The partnership formed between the city and the university is a mutually beneficial one. Francis Marion handles the ongoing costs and daily operation of the performing arts center and, in return, the university’s theatre and fine arts department is in the academic wing of the facility. Pee Dee residents are winners as well, as they now have a venue to enjoy musical and theatrical performances close to home. Using culture and the arts as an economic development tool is working in Florence. After the performing arts center was constructed, a boutique hotel opened downtown. New businesses and restaurants are flourishing as well, and office and retail space in the city center is being redeveloped for new merchants.
The City of Lancaster partnered with USC Lancaster to open a new Native American Studies Center downtown, which provided more room for the half-million Catawba artifacts—the world’s largest Catawba collection—in the school’s possession, as well as space for a growing number of students attending USCL:
Downtown Lancaster needed an anchor. The University of South Carolina Lancaster needed space to store and showcase its large collection of Catawba pottery and artifacts. A partnership was born. Plans for the Native American Studies Center began when Lancaster municipal officials met with community groups to discuss cultural tourism and historical assets as catalysts for downtown revitalization. They brought faculty in on the conversations. The faculty shared that they were in desperate need of more room for the half-million Catawba artifacts—the world’s largest Catawba collection—in the school’s possession, as well as space for a growing number of students attending USCL. Native American Studies CenterThe City of Lancaster purchased a long-empty furniture store on Main Street using funds raised from hospitality taxes and a Duke Energy grant. Officials worked with faculty from USCL’s Native American Studies department to design classrooms, labs and galleries in the renovated space. The city improved existing parking and created additional parking areas. Working with regional tourism and preservation groups, the city then developed a marketing plan to promote the new center. Locating a cultural attraction downtown has been a boon for tourism in Lancaster. Even better, there are more college students spending time—and dollars—in the city center. The project has been so successful that officials are working with USCL to relocate more of the University’s departments downtown. Workshops, festivals, seminars and other public events are in the works as well to draw more people to the Native American Studies Center. A once-empty building is now a cultural asset, and downtown Lancaster is once again the center of conversation.
The awards were presented at the MASC's annual meeting July 20. Via: Municipal Association of South Carolina