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.