Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council marks new fundraising record

From The Greenville News

Story by Paul Hyde

Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council raised a record of $2 million in 2014, MAC executive director Alan Ethridge announced this week.

Most of that money helps support dozens of Greenville arts groups and artists.

“This allows us to provide record high grants to individuals, arts organizations and arts education programs,” Ethridge said. “It’s groundbreaking.”

At its annual meeting, MAC recognized several Greenville leaders for their support for the arts.

Steve Brandt, who retired last fall after a long career as publisher of The Greenville News, received the Lifelong Support of the Arts Award.

Since arriving in Greenville in 1978, Brandt has served on the boards of several Greenville arts organizations — including stints as chairman of Artisphere and the Peace Center. Brandt, as publisher of The Greenville News, supported extensive arts coverage by the newspaper.

“Steve is an eloquent, wildly intelligent, thoughtful leader who is tremendously good at building consensus,” said Peace Center president Megan Riegel. “He was the perfect executive to chair the Peace Center’s board during its $23 million capital campaign.”

Thanks to increases in fundraising, MAC is providing more financial support to local arts organization than ever before, Ethridge said.

Nine local arts organizations will receive $25,000 each in operating support. Those organizations are Artisphere, Carolina Ballet Theatre, Centre Stage, Greenville Chorale, Greenville Little Theatre, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, the Peace Center, the South Carolina Children’s Theatre and the Warehouse Theatre.

Those grants were $10,000 per organization in 2006. They’ve steadily increased to the current $25,000 per organization, thanks to MAC’s fundraising, Ethridge said.

Now in its 42nd year, MAC also provided a record-high of $193,321 in project support grants for specific programs. Those grants went to 19 schools, 20 individual artists and 53 arts organizations.

Ethridge announced that last year’s Open Studios, a weekend MAC event that spotlights Greenville’s visual arts community, involved 121 artists, generated $215,880 in sales and was attended by 44,801 people.

“It was a great year,” Ethridge said.

Ethridge announced also that MAC’s endowment had raised $768,117. MAC plans to use income from the endowment to provide additional financial support to Greenville arts organizations.

The endowment made its debut last year with an eventual goal of $25 million. Such a hefty endowment could produce an income of $1 million in annual support for Greenville arts organizations.

The endowment is a long-term project but MAC plans to embrace ambitious fundraising goals every year — including a goal of $1 million in 2015. Most of that is expected to come from individual and corporate sources. Only a small portion is likely to be raised from government contributions, Ethridge said.

“It’s going to ensure the sustainability of the artists and arts organizations that make Greenville a truly fabulous city,” Ethridge said.

For its general budget, MAC receives donations from a variety of sources: individuals, corporations, foundations, the city of Greenville’s accommodations tax, the South Carolina Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

MAC recognized several arts leaders at its annual meeting. Kerry Murphy, executive director of Artisphere, received the MAC Visionary Award.

Shirely Sarlin, a veteran Greenville stage actress, was recognized with the Put Your Heart in the Arts Volunteer of the Year Award.

The TD Bank Business and the Arts Partnership awards went to: Productions Unlimited, Inc. (businesses under 100 employees) and Greenville Heath System (businesses with 100 or more employees).

The Carl R. Blair Award for Commitment to Arts Education went to Jon Jeffrey Grier, instructor of advanced placement music theory, advanced topics in music and honors music history at the Fine Arts Center, the magnet school for young students in the arts.

Kacee Lominack, development assistant for the Greenville Symphony, received the Young Supporter of the Arts Award.


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