S.C. Arts Awards: Alan Ethridge
2018 Recipient Feature Series
As the day nears for the 2018 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is taking 10 days to focus on this year’s 10 recipients: five receiving the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts and five receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at USC.
This week, the Verner Awards recipients are featured.
Before becoming Metropolitan Arts Council’s executive director in January 2006, Greenville native Alan Ethridge had served as director of marketing and development since January 2004. He did not replace himself upon taking the higher position and has performed the duties of both roles since. Under Ethridge’s leadership, MAC has exceeded the past year’s fundraising goal each year, and in 2016 its endowment surpassed $1 million. His cumulative fundraising total is $15 million, all of which is sent back into the community, fairly and responsibly, to more than 1,300 artists and almost 60 arts organizations.
Further credited to Ethridge is his diligence in creating cohesion among the regional arts stakeholders, whereas in the past the atmosphere has been more territorial and competitive. Early in his MAC tenure, he brought larger organizations together through the “Cultural Coalition,” offering an avenue for collaboration that was previously non-existent.
Put simply, Ethridge channels his efforts into facilitating the success of others – and his community at large. MAC partners with the city of Greenville to present Thursday night concerts in spring and summer months that attract more than 50,000 in annual attendance. When he began as executive director, 80 artists were participating in Greenville Open Studios – there are now more than 130. Nearly half a million people have visited Greenville artists and purchased more than $2.8 million in local art. After federal funding ended for the SmartArts program in Greenville schools, Ethridge’s nearly single-handed efforts not only sustained the program, but enabled it to expand from just two schools to more than 60 and opened the possibility of grant funding to every public-school teacher in Greenville County.
In addition to his MAC duties, Ethridge serves on the boards of the Greenville Convention & Visitors Bureau, Artisphere, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce and the Greenville Tech Department of Visual Arts. In 2010, Alan received the Excellence in Arts Leadership Award from the Chamber of Commerce and the Peace Center for the Performing Arts.
Ethridge was previously director of donor research in the Office for Development at Clemson University, and prior to returning to Greenville in 1989, worked for Ogilvy & Mather Advertising in Atlanta and Henderson Advertising in Greenville. He is a 1982 summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa alumnus of Vanderbilt University, where he received a bachelor’s in English literature and fine arts.
South Carolina Arts Awards Day is Wednesday, May 2, 2018. Gov. Henry McMaster will present each recipient’s award beginning at 10:30 a.m. in the State House. The event is open to the public. Following the ceremony, the South Carolina Arts Foundation honors the recipients and the arts community at the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon and Art Sale. Tickets are $50. Please go here for more information and reservations.