Remembering arts visionary Nick Zeigler of Florence
We note with sadness the passing of Eugene N. “Nick” Zeigler of Florence, who spent a lifetime leading the development of and supporting the arts and education in his local community and in South Carolina. As a state Senator, Zeigler wrote and sponsored the legislation that created the South Carolina Arts Commission in 1967. He helped create the Florence Little Theatre in 1939 and the Florence Symphony in 1950 and founded the Florence Fine Arts Council in 1954. As president of the Florence Museum, he championed the organization’s move to its present location in 1953. He was also a playwright, author, historian and civil rights advocate. Zeigler was one of the first four recipients of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Awards presented by the S.C. Arts Commission in 1972.
An excerpt from “Marking 40 Years and Moving Forward” (a history of the S.C. Arts Commission):
“On Oct. 28, 1965, Gov. Robert E. McNair issued Executive Order No. 5, creating the South Carolina Inter-Agency Council on Arts and Humanities, chaired by E. N. “Nick” Zeigler of Florence. The goal of the council was “to conduct a study of the arts in South Carolina” and to “…determine the potential of the arts within the state.” Upon his election to the South Carolina Senate, Zeigler resigned from the council. After the council presented its findings, Sen. Zeigler introduced legislation to create the South Carolina Arts Commission. On June 7, 1967, Gov. McNair signed the legislation, and the South Carolina Arts Commission was in business.”
We are grateful for Zeigler’s vision and his commitment to the long-range value of state support for the arts in South Carolina. Today we honor his memory.