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Greenville (S.C.) aims to be the next Portland (Ore.)

Thriving cultural scene rejuvenates Greenville

Everybody who's been there in the last 10 years knows that, but the rest of the U.S. is catching on. None other than the Wall Street Journal checked in last week with a glowing report on Greenville. The city that shares a name with so many others across the nation is aiming to become the East Coast's Portland ... a city that shares its name with so many others across the nation. The WSJ's conclusion is that artists, arts, and culture are the driving factors of the Greenville boom. (Again, you knew that.) From the story:

All of these artists—and hundreds of others—have chosen to live in Greenville, S.C., a Southern city of about 68,000 people that once called itself the Textile Capital of the World. Today, the vibrant arts scene is revitalizing the city itself, attracting other artists, young professionals and families wanting a fun, affordable place to live.

“We came looking for artists,” says Mr. Ambler, who is 47. He and his wife wanted to live somewhere warm, but California was too expensive and they didn’t think Florida was a good fit for his artwork. When a teaching job opened, they moved in 2000 to Seneca, S.C., about 30 miles west of Greenville, and bought a 1,800-square-foot studio for $88,000, selling it seven years later for $210,000.

Go here to read the full story. (Subscription not required.)

Tuning Up: There’s a lot going on!

Good morning!  "Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers curated, quick-hit arts stories of interest to readers. Sometimes there will be one story, sometimes there will be several. Get in tune now, and have a masterpiece of a day. And now, in no particular order...


Getting down to business. The nine-member S.C. Arts Commission Board of Directors begins a two-day meeting in Spartanburg this afternoon. Members will convene at the Chapman Cultural Center at 2 p.m. today for light business and learning time about the vibrant Spartanburg arts scene. Tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. they're all business at the Spartanburg County Public Libraries main branch. "5 Lifetimes of Discovery" opens in North Charleston tomorrow. W.A.M (Women. Artist. Mentors) is a group of five female artists composed of Helen Beacham, Maria Bennett Hock, Kim Minichiello, Debra Keirce, and Carrie Waller. This international artist group develops their practices in different ways and comes together to form a strong and supportive collective. Their exhibition, 5 Lifetimes of Discovery, will focus on their discovery and cumulative experiences as artists living around the world. North Charleston City Gallery (5001 Coliseum Dr.) Free. Opens tomorrow through Oct. 31. Hours vary. South Carolina's creative economy is booming. Thanks to our friends at the S.C. Arts Alliance for putting the data together for each Congressional district. Reminder: in February, SCAC released a report that found the arts and creative sector makes a $9.7 billion impact on the state economy every year. Native American traditions at First Thursday on Main. Head to Columbia Art Center (1227 Taylor St.) from 6-8 p.m. tomorrow as Worlds of Creativity presents "Through Native Eyes: artwork and identity." Enjoy storytelling, pottery, basket demonstrations, drumming group Keepers of the Word. Farther up Main, the USC Concert Choir and University Chorus present their first concerts of the season at Main Street United Methodist Church (1830 Main St.). Both events free. More information here.

VIDEO: Woodward and May on economic impact study

Thursday afternoon,  MidlandsBiz.com released their coverage of the new economic impact study. It included publisher Alan Cooper's interviews with Dr. Doug Woodward, the researcher and economist who completed the new economic impact study, and Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May. Take a look!  

Arts Sector Makes $9.7 Billion Impact on S.C. Economy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 6 February 2018   COLUMBIA, S.C. – The jobs, tax revenue, and spending by South Carolina’s arts-related sector add $9.7 billion to the state’s economy, according to a new economic impact study released today by the S.C. Arts Commission. Additional findings in “South Carolina’s Arts-Related Economic Cluster” include that the arts:

  • support 115,000 jobs,
  • are responsible for $3.8 billion in labor income,
  • and generate $269 million in tax revenue.
According to the study, the arts form a cluster like other large sectors of the state’s economy. Along with manufacturing and agriculture, “the arts-related cluster is a linchpin of state and local economic development.” It goes on to conclude that, “from any perspective, these are considerable economic benefits.” The study was authored by Douglas P. Woodward, Ph.D. Woodward examined 2014 data from the U.S. census and economic analysis bureaus and commerce department to complete the report, analyzing the S.C. economy associated with the arts, design, crafts, and related activities. He is the director of the Division of Research and professor of economics at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. “It’s certainly appropriate for state leaders to pay attention to the arts as a viable economic driver just as they do agriculture, manufacturing, and other key sectors,” S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May said. “This report gives context to the work by artists and arts organizations all over the state and connects those efforts to S.C.’s creative economy.” The study utilized an economic multiplier model to determine the extent of the arts-related cluster’s impact. Researchers first analyzed the number of direct jobs in the sector and then assessed its economic impact using a model of South Carolina’s economic linkages – how spending in one sector spreads. Music and arts organizations, for example, hire workers who spend money in the local economy, leading to a ripple-effect of further income and spending through various other sectors. The concept of an economic multiplier is an accepted and widely practiced technique used to assess the total impact of regional business activities. For context, a recent study on the USC statewide system reported a $5.5 billion impact. Leading sectors in the state include agribusiness at $41 billion, automotive at $27 billion, and tourism at $20 billion. The complete study is available from the Arts Commission website at: http://www.southcarolinaarts.com/economic/artsclusterreport
  ABOUT DR. DOUGLAS P. WOODWARD Dr. Douglas P. Woodward is the director of the Division of Research and professor of economics at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. He earned his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Texas in 1986. Dr. Woodward's primary research interests are in regional economic development. He has published numerous academic articles in economics and regional science journals. Dr. Woodward has conducted sponsored economic research in the United States, China, Morocco, South Africa, Kenya and elsewhere. Over his career, Dr. Woodward has received many grants and awards. He has testified before local, state and national government committees and has presented his research at many conferences around the world, including the prestigious World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzer- land. Dr. Woodward has been quoted frequently in the national press and has often appeared on television and radio programs discussing economic development and related topics.
ABOUT THE SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS COMMISSION The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants, and leadership initiatives 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 SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.

Arts Commission to release economic impact report next week

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 31 January 2018

  • Economist, researcher Doug Woodward to present report at legislative luncheon
  • Statewide arts advocates to gather at State House in support of sector
COLUMBIA, S.C. – With Arts Advocacy Day at the State House in Columbia as a backdrop, the S.C. Arts Commission will release a new economic impact report on South Carolina’s arts sector Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. The new report, the first since 2010, will show the arts’ impact on the S.C. economy with detailed employment and total impact numbers, among other things. It was commissioned by the Arts Commission and completed by Doug Woodward, Ph.D., an economist, researcher, and professor at the USC Darla Moore School of Business who examined 2014 data from the Federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. As the keynote speaker at the 1 p.m. legislative luncheon at the Capital City Club (1201 Main St., 25th floor, Columbia), Woodward will give a presentation on his findings and be available for media questions. “We expect the report will show that the state’s investment in the arts translates to a significant impact on the state’s economy, from jobs created and maintained to the ripple effects of people then transferring wages to other sectors through spending,” S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May said. “It’s certainly appropriate for state leaders to pay attention to the arts as a viable economic driver just as they do agriculture, manufacturing, and other key sectors.” Arts Advocacy Day is organized and presented annually by the S.C. Arts Alliance. Festivities begin shortly after 11 a.m. on the State House steps as 300 choral students from Richland School District 2 in Columbia sing on the building’s Gervais Street steps. Arts advocates then move inside for a rally, enthusiastically greeting members of the House and Senate arriving for the day’s sessions, before moving across Gervais Street for the 1 p.m. luncheon honoring the S.C. Legislative Arts Caucus.
ABOUT DR. DOUGLAS P. WOODWARD Dr. Douglas P. Woodward is the director of the Division of Research and professor of economics at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. He earned his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Texas in 1986. Dr. Woodward's primary research interests are in regional economic development. He has published numerous academic articles in economics and regional science journals. Dr. Woodward has conducted sponsored economic research in the United States, China, Morocco, South Africa, Kenya and elsewhere. Over his career, Dr. Woodward has received many grants and awards. He has testified before local, state and national government committees and has presented his research at many conferences around the world, including the prestigious World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzer- land. Dr. Woodward has been quoted frequently in the national press and has often appeared on television and radio programs discussing economic development and related topics.
ABOUT THE SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS ALLIANCE The South Carolina Arts Alliance is dedicated to advancing the arts for all South Carolinians through advocacy, leadership development, and public awareness. Based at the Younts Center for Performing Arts in Fountain Inn, S.C., the SCAA works across the state with artists, arts administrators, educators, creative entrepreneurs, community leaders, and arts supporters to strengthen the creative sector in South Carolina. More information can be found at SCArtsAlliance.net.
ABOUT THE SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS COMMISSION The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants, and leadership initiatives 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 SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.

ArtsGrowSC – Expanded Funding for Arts-Based Businesses

The South Carolina Arts Commission and CommunityWorks (CW), a community development finance institution based in Greenville, are collaborating on a pilot program designed to increase opportunities for artisans to develop and grow arts-based business ventures that contribute to the $9.2 billion generated by the state’s core creative industries. The ArtsGrowSC pilot will combine the strengths of both organizations to offer resources for qualifying artists, including a savings program, micro-loans, business venture loans, grants, personalized coaching and workshops.

The project is the next logical step for the Arts Commission’s artist development work and its Artist Ventures Initiative Program, says Executive Director Ken May. “Our Artists Ventures Initiative grant provides funding to launch or revamp an arts-based venture, but the grant is a one-time opportunity. Many of those funded artists are now ready for the next level of growing their businesses, and that growth is key to the vitality of the state’s creative economy.  This new collaboration provides CommunityWorks with a pool of artisans vetted through our grants process and helps connect those artisans to much-needed capital through their matched savings programs and loans. The collaboration also adds a funding resource for artists beyond the Arts Commission’s limited grant dollars.” CommunityWorks recognizes that artisans often operate as small business ventures. According to CW’s President/CEO Deborah McKetty, “We hear a lot about jobs created when large corporations set up shop in South Carolina. However, microbusiness development could become an important second-tier economic development strategy for fostering wealth and creating jobs within low-wealth communities.” McKetty is eager to offer CommunityWork’s resources in other parts of the state. “A successful pilot project will enable us to expand our portfolio. Our goal is leveraging funds to grow the creative industries statewide while also recognizing the role artisans and arts-based businesses play in community economic development. We anticipate reaching deeper into the arts community through the Arts Commission’s networks. ” The pilot was launched May 1 in Spartanburg, where creative businesses are fueling economic growth throughout the county. In 2014, Chapman Cultural Center’s “Culture Counts” project identified a growing cluster of creative industries in Spartanburg County. “We believe that this new financing mechanism will help others to jump start or expand their creative businesses to scale,” said Chapman Cultural Center CEO and President Jennifer Evins. “Creative industries and creative workers are very important to providing innovation and creativity to manufacturing, technology and research. We also hope that this new path to economic prosperity for artists will attract creatives from other states to relocate to Spartanburg and South Carolina.” Joy Young, the Arts Commission’s program director for Leadership and Organizational Development, as well as the Artists Ventures Initiative, added, “ArtsGrowSC is a perfect union of resources – arts, financial, personal and professional – to support arts-based business ventures." ArtsGrowSC is comprised of three components targeted to artists based upon their locale and business readiness: Individual Development Account (IDA) for Artisans – This matched savings program will initially focus on Spartanburg-area artisans. Those who qualify will commit to saving an agreed-upon amount of money over six months. CommunityWorks will then match the savings at a 3:1 rate; an artisan who saves $1,000 will receive a match of $3,000. Funds may be used to purchase long-term assets such as equipment or to open a small business. IDA to Artists Ventures Initiative (AVI) – Artisans who take part in the initial IDA program may then qualify for the IDA to AVI program. Artisans receive personalized coaching from the Arts Commission and may apply for an Arts Commission matching quarterly grant to receive business training from a recognized business development source. Additionally, the Arts Commission will help in preparing the Artists Ventures Initiative grant application. Artists Ventures Initiative Business Builder Loan Program – Artists are invited to expand their ventures with a business loan of up to $15,000 from CommunityWorks.  The micro-loan could be leveraged with an IDA account. Previous AVI grantees receive priority; however, any artist may apply. Previous AVI grantees may apply for an Arts Commission AVI-Expansion matching grant of up to $1,500 to assist with application and closing fees. For more information about ArtsGrowSC, contact Joy Young, (803) 734-8203.  

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.

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.

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.

Bluffton earns cultural district designation

Congratulations to Bluffton, the state's newest officially designated cultural district! From Bluffton Today Article by Scott Thompson

A yearlong effort to have Old Town Bluffton designated as a state cultural district paid off on Wednesday. The S.C. Arts Commission Board unanimously approved the town's application during its quarterly meeting, according to Doreen Baumann, co-chair of the Bluffton Creative Initiative, the group which has led the push for the designation since early last year. Baumann made a presentation to the board Wednesday in Columbia. The board "congratulated us on the 'thorough and substantive' application, and Board Commissioner Budd Farillo expressed his compliments by saying it was the best application he has read in 13 years," Baumann wrote in an email on Wednesday. "He said we have come a long way and should be very proud of what Bluffton has accomplished." A cultural district is defined by the state as “an easily identifiable geographic area with a concentration of cultural facilities, activities and assets which serves as the center of cultural, artistic and economic activity.” Uses can include galleries, live performance venues, theaters, art studios, museums, public art pieces, and restaurants, banks or parks that make their space regularly available to artists. Bluffton became the sixth community in South Carolina to earn the designation since state legislation was passed in June 2014, allowing the creation of such districts. It joins Rock Hill, Spartanburg, Columbia, Lancaster and Beaufort, which also recently gained approval. Bluffton's cultural district will span from Bluffton Village south to the May River, and from Burnt Church Road west to Cahill’s Market on May River Road. That area includes 120 cultural attractions and roughly three dozen annual festivals and events, according to town documents. Though no state money is tied to the designation, organizers have said it would generate exposure for Old Town, its businesses and culture through state marketing. Town Council voted in November to submit a formal application to the state on the Creative Initiative's behalf. Image: The Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival attracts 20,000 visitors annually.