Evins to lead Florida arts organization

Will depart Chapman Cultural Center in June

Citing “the immense success that the arts and cultural community has enjoyed” under her leadership, Chapman Cultural Center (CCC) Board President Brant Bynum, Ph.D. announced that Executive Director Jennifer Clark Evins is departing the Upstate arts organization this summer.

Beginning June 21st, she will take on a new role as the president and CEO of the United Arts of Central Florida. Based in Orlando, UACF is the second largest United Arts organization in the U.S. and provides more than $6 million in grants to over 60 arts, science and history organizations, and provides arts education programs to more than 1 million children.

“We are elated for this next chapter in her career and wish her tremendous success and know that the Spartanburg community will miss her dearly,” Bynum said.

In February, the S.C. Arts Commission announced Evins will receive the South Carolina Governor’s Award for the Arts in the individual category at next month’s South Carolina Arts Awards ceremony.

Evins will continue to lead CCC through June 8. An executive search committee has been formed by the Chapman Cultural Center Board of Trustees and will be led by Stacy McBride. The committee’s work has already begun as they are committed to finding the next visionary leader to advance the mission to provide cultural leadership for Greater Spartanburg by developing, strengthening and promoting the scope, excellence, and educational role of the arts, humanities, and sciences, to further their significance in the life of our community.

Despite the impact of COVID-19, Bynum said in the announcement letter that Evins “will leave the organization in a strong financial and structural position with key strategies for sustained success through the recent completion of Chapman Cultural Center’s 2024 strategic planning process.” Strategies include planning for the future with a new county-wide cultural plan, engaging new audiences through next-generation education and arts engagement, promoting equity through increased diversity and inclusion in the arts and cultural sector, and helping creatives thrive professionally through increased advocacy and financial support.

As president and CEO, Evins led the day-to-day operations and management of Chapman Cultural Center, Spartanburg City and County’s local arts agency, and the cog that allows the broader arts, science, and humanities community to thrive. Through her work over the last ten years, she has increased the total sustainable annual funding of the arts and cultural community by $250,000, a 17% increase while also growing operating endowments by 70%. One key achievement was developing a sustainable business model for operating Chapman Cultural Center with equitable allocation of its resources including expanding the general operating grants program to include more local arts, science, and humanities organizations and expanding the pool of grants available to local artists. Along with county-wide arts coordination, Evins provided visionary leadership for the arts and engaged key stakeholders through advocacy, facility operations, finance, marketing, cultural tourism, resource development, arts education, grantmaking, and public art facilitation.

Evins has dedicated 26 years to strengthening the cultural sector as a volunteer and arts professional.  Most notably, as volunteer chair, Evins led the capital fundraising campaign that resulted in the successful construction of the Chapman Cultural Center facility, securing more than $42 million in the process. Throughout Evins’ service in the arts, she has partnered and built successful collaborations with multiple community stakeholders including the City and County of Spartanburg, OneSpartanburg, local and regional foundations, corporations, and higher education institutions.

Evins’ work and leadership were focused on a vision that Spartanburg be nationally recognized as a unique and vibrant cultural community that inspires creativity and collaboration.

Evins achieved this vision as she authored and led the winning Bloomberg Philanthropies $1 million Public Art Challenge “Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light” and aided the City of Spartanburg in receiving an official South Carolina Cultural District Designation for downtown Spartanburg – the second in the state and the only official Cultural District in Upstate South Carolina. She also authored and served as the project director for two winning National Endowment for the Arts grants. Evins was a key facilitator of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training for the cultural sector and encouraged the adoption of the organization’s Cultural Equity Statement and diversity policies and procedures. Evins’ passion to bring the arts to people outside traditional cultural venues has resulted in her vision for Spartanburg Soaring International Kite Festival and downtown Street Musician program that employs over 150 local musicians and helps downtown Spartanburg be more vibrant and welcoming.  In addition, Evins developed Culture Counts, the first cultural asset mapping and inventory initiative in South Carolina that utilizes and promotes Spartanburg’s cultural assets to promote it as a national arts and cultural tourism destination.

Most recently, Evins led the successful $1.2 million fundraising campaign for the expansion of the Chapman Cultural Center brand through its newest arts incubator, Mayfair Art Studios. Through her visionary leadership, Mayfair opened in 2020 in a repurposed textile mill designed to help artists thrive as professionals and make the arts accessible to all. Mayfair Art Studios provides affordable studios for both professional and amateur artists in a range of artistic and creative disciplines while providing additional resources for the entire cultural sector.

Evins is a Diversity Leadership Fellow of the Riley Institute and a Hull Fellow of the Southeastern Council on Foundations and has received numerous awards because of her leadership, including:

  • the Women of Influence 2020 by GSA Business,
  • The Mary Mildred Sullivan Award by Wofford College;
  • Neville Holcombe Distinguished Citizenship Award by the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce;
  • South Carolina Woman of Achievement by the South Carolina Business and Professional Women;
  • Leadership Spartanburg Alumnus of the Year;
  • Elaine Harris Tourism Award, Spartanburg Convention and Visitors Bureau;
  • Distinguished Service Award from the South Carolina Governor’s School of the Arts and Humanities;
  • and the Leadership Honoree of the Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership & Community Change by Spartanburg County Foundation.