State Art Collection sets attendance record at S.C. State Fair


COLUMBIA, S.C. – The 12-day South Carolina State Fair exhibition of the State Art Collection, which is managed by the South Carolina Arts Commission, set an attendance record for the 50-year-old collection.

Volunteers representing the arts commission and South Carolina Arts Foundation counted 20,679 visitors to of Pig Tales, Blackberry Winter, & the Cabinet of Curiosities during the 2019 South Carolina State Fair from Oct. 9-20, 2019. Visual Arts Director Harriett Green said that is, by far, the largest attendance ever for an exhibition of the collection.

Green and the S.C. Arts Commission (SCAC) visual arts department curated the exhibition to feature artists who exhibited in the State Fair’s annual exhibition dating back to the early 1960’s, works that reflect aspects of fair culture, and other iconic pieces from the State Art Collection, which was established in 1967 and includes 466 works by 288 contemporary South Carolina artists. The exhibition was interactive thanks to a spinning wheel game that encouraged guests to find a work of art, take a selfie with it, and share it to social media.

“We are excited that, thanks to this partnership with the State Fair, an exceptionally diverse cross-section of South Carolina citizens was able to enjoy their art collection in record numbers,” Green said. “There were around a third of those who are arts lovers and another third who browse everything because that’s just what they do, so they ducked in and ducked out. But there was also a third who were curious and became engaged and excited to learn of the collection and our artists.”

Green said she and fair representatives are exploring future collaborative opportunities because they too were pleased with the exhibition and its attendance. The fair reported 416,320 guests for its 2019 run.

“We were thrilled to partner with the South Carolina Arts Commission to showcase this collection during our 150th anniversary fair,” said State Fair General Manager Nancy Smith. “The arts are a big part what makes our state special, and it was great to see the talents of so many state residents on display this year. Our fair was an even richer experience because of this collection.”

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

With a commitment to excellence across the spectrum of our state’s cultures and forms of expression, the South Carolina Arts Commission pursues its public charge to develop a thriving arts environment, which is essential to quality of life, education, and economic vitality for all South Carolinians.

Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas:

  • arts education,
  • community arts development,
  • and artist development.

Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit or call 803.734.8696.