This opinion piece by Dr. Roy Fluhrer and Charles Ratterree (below, left to right) also ran in The Greenville News.
What is the one place in Greenville that brings together architecture, creative writing, dance, film, music, theatre and visual arts? A place where emerging artists practice their skills and experiment with their talents? A place where imagination is only the beginning and where the embodiment of that imagination can transform into a life lived fully, richly and deeply.
This place is called the Fine Arts Center – a school whose very being celebrates the individuality of each student and what they can offer to an ever changing culture of excellence.
The Fine Arts Center was established in 1974 as the first specialized arts school in South Carolina and with the original mission of creating a place where gifted students in the arts could receive advanced professional training from accomplished artist-teachers in professional level studio classrooms and theatre. Today, 40 years later, we celebrate our anniversary and also reflect back on our history and major milestones.
The purpose of the school has very much remained the same – to provide advanced comprehensive arts instruction to students who are artistically talented and who wish to take an intensive pre-professional program of study – but we have also grown so much throughout the years. Every student who has ever entered the doors of the Fine Arts Center has left a mark at the school and has helped shape our culture of professionalism and dedication to what we believe in.
The Fine Arts Center is not just a school; it is a place where dreams become a reality and where the next generation of artists is born. It is a place where the daily struggle to DO requires a commitment that cannot be found in a textbook, but only in the Self.
The Fine Arts Center operates within the Greenville County’s public school system and students attend classes five days a week in the morning or afternoon for 110 minutes of instruction, spending the remainder of their time in other academic work at the home high school. Each year, approximately 400 students attend the Fine Arts Center, and, of that number, some ninety percent go on to higher education. Our 2013-2014 graduating class of 88 students earned over 10.8 million dollars in scholarship opportunities to attend over 40 different institutions.
We are now excited to announce the beginning of the application process for the 2015-2016 school year and to meet the next group of emerging talented and committed Greenville artists. We started accepting online applications on November 1st and the application process will remain open until January 16th.
Students are selected on the basis of talent, interest, motivation and commitment to their discipline and can choose between architecture, theatre, dance, visual arts, music, creative writing or digital filmmaking. They can apply in as many areas as they like, but once accepted, they will need to choose one area to study.
We have a diverse student body representing numerous Greenville County Schools, Charter schools and home schools, and we encourage all students who are interested in the arts to apply regardless of their background and previous training. The audition and interview will assess previous experience, yes, but we also evaluate and put a heavy emphasis on the applicant’s talent, creativity and motivation.
Here, at the Fine Arts Center, we believe in empowering our students and allowing them to realize their maximum potential. Aristotle once said that “the aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” This is what we strive to achieve day after day and practice after practice.
We want students to learn to solve problems their way, not someone else’s way, and in doing so, to rediscover themselves in new ways that allow them to shine and to showcase their talents to the rest of the world. That’s what education is: the drawing out of what is unique inside you.
Charles E. Ratterree is chairman of the Metropolitan Arts Council and the assistant director of the Fine Arts Center. Dr. Roy S. Fluhrer is the past president of the Art Schools Network and the South Carolina Arts Alliance and is director of the Fine Arts Center.