The City of Camden and the Arts Center of Kershaw County are thrilled to announce a week-long celebration of the cultural district, featuring art, live music, historical lectures and education, a community art project and a special visit from GRAMMY nominated jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon.
This celebration begins Saturday, Sept. 3 and runs through Saturday, Sept.10. The majority of events will be free or at little cost.
In October 2020, the South Carolina Arts Commission designated a portion of downtown Camden as the state’s ninth cultural district. Cultural districts are defined by the SCAC as walkable geographic areas with a concentration of cultural facilities and activities, galleries and artist studios, theaters and other live performance venues, public art, museums and arts centers, in addition to other attractions like parks, restaurants and bars, and other commercial activity.
The week-long celebration includes:
- Two events on Saturday, Sept. 3:
- a “community coloring” project at the Kershaw County Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to noon at 906 Broad Street, sponsored by First Palmetto Bank. Residents are invited to color one of several large posters that will be hung around downtown.
- A “Let’s Talk About…..” symposium at the Arts Center of Kershaw County from 1–3 p.m. at 810 Lyttleton Street. This discussion will focus on critical race theory (CRT), led by civic activist, author, and former Camden mayor Tony Scully and law professor and practicing attorney, Barbara Ransom. Together, these two individuals representing quite different life experiences will explore what CRT is and is not. “Let’s Talk About…” is a community engagement initiative offered by the African American Cultural Center of Camden, a department of the Camden Archives & Museum. The program consists of a series of lectures, literary readings, panel discussions, and stories woven together to present different perspectives on the achievements, culture, and history of African Americans. Admission is free, with donations welcome. Seating is limited. Register at eventbrite.com or by calling 803-425-6050.
- Monday, Sept. 5, the community coloring project continues from 12–4 p.m. on Town Green, 1015 Market St.
- Tuesday, Sept. 6, join Preservation South Carolina to learn about their statewide Sacred Spaces Program. They will discuss how the organization has built solutions for historic church buildings that have lost or are losing their congregations. Explore the different approaches to help preserve the legacy of these buildings that are a vital part of the state’s cultural landscape. This event will take place at 4 pm at Camden Second Presbyterian Church, 816 Market Street and is free and open to the public.
- Thursday, Sept. 8, see art in all its forms during the downtown Art Walk from 4–7 p.m.will feature the opening reception of “The Mountain Girls” at the Arts Center’s Bassett Gallery, 810 Lyttleton St., which begins at 5:30 p.m. Other locations on the Art Walk include Rutledge Street Gallery (508 Rutledge St.), featuring scenes of Camden by local artist Salley McInerney; Artists Attic (930 Broad St.) and Camden Art Shoppes (1011 Broad St.), featuring works from more than a dozen local artists; Gallery 537 (537 East DeKalb St.), featuring the work of Lori Isom-Starnes; and Laurie McIntosh Art (1014 Broad St.), one of “The Mountain Girls” herself. This event is free.
- Friday, Sept. 9, Gallery 537 will host cellist and Camden native Clair Bryant in the debut of her new album “Whole Heart” from 7–10 p.m. This debut album from Bryant features seven bold works for solo cello and string duo, written by a luminary slate of diverse living composers. These works reflect love and the human experience. “Whole Heart” is a reminder of the collective challenges we face and the resilience and strength that live inside each of us. Gallery 537 is located at 537 East DeKalb St.
- Two events on Saturday, Sept. 10:
- Fire fighters, law enforcement and first responders invite the public to join in or watch as the third annual 9/11 Walk of Remembrance makes its way from Lugoff Fire Department beginning at 9 a.m., along U.S. Hwy 1 and through downtown Camden to Camden Fire Station 1, 1000 Lyttleton St. Register at bit.ly/911walk.
- Rounding out the cultural district celebration, what is truly considered to be the highlight of the week, will be “Thoughts on Grief: An Intimate Conversation with Nneena Freelon.” In this guided conversation with Rosalyn Smith-Stover, executive director of the Family Resource Center and founder of Act Up Drama in Camden, Ms. Freelon will discuss how the loss of her soulmate and husband, renowned architect Phil Freelon, and her sister Debbie have reshaped her way of being in the world. Ms. Freelon has felt the need to find her “voice” once more, through the lens of grief and loss. Her 2021 recording “Time Traveler” (her first studio recording in nearly ten years) is a reflection of this new territory, an intimate expression of her love for Phil and their 40 year journey and a universal love letter to all who’ve lost someone dear. This event will begin at 4 pm at Camden Second Presbyterian Church, 816 Market Street. This event is free, with a suggested $25 donation. Tickets can be reserved online at https://thoughtsongrief.eventbrite.com or by calling 803.549.5648. Tickets to both the conversation and a private 30 minute reception with Ms. Freelon afterwards are available for $35.
In addition to these events, residents are encouraged to explore all of the cultural district’s shops and restaurants, where activities and special events are planned year round. For more information on the cultural district or any of the events taking place during the celebration, visit www.downtowncamdensc.org/cultural-district or call 803.549.5648.
Learn more about South Carolina Cultural Districts here.