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Area artists want to see Conway designated as a state Cultural District

From WBTW News 13 CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Area art enthusiasts want the state to recognize Conway’s art and cultural spots as an official South Carolina cultural district. This would hopefully help promote local artists and bring more tourists to the area. The first Indie Market (was) held on Laurel Street on Saturday, and showcase(d) more than 20 local artists along with musicians. Organizers say it’s an example of how the arts are growing into an unofficial identity for the city, one that they’re working to make an official designation. Barbara Streeter is the director of Create Conway, the group behind the Indie Market. Streeter says Conway’s art scene was always vibrant, but was hit hard by the recession in 2008 and is only now coming back. She says art events like Indie Market will help the merchants develop more business and it’s a new part of a bigger trend for the city. “We have developed art and culture as a brand for Conway,” said Dennis Stevens, the president of Conway Cultural Development Corporation. “That’s not officially sanctioned by the city but something bubbling up naturally,” said Stevens, who wants Conway to build its brand on the arts. “There are very tangible ways in which arts and culture can improve the economic viability of a community,” said Stevens. Stevens went to city council to urge them to apply to be designated as a South Carolina Arts Commission Cultural District. “It’s this idea of really putting our collective head around the branding, marketing and branding as a cultural entity,” said Stevens. Six cities have been designated as cultural districts, it’s a way to highlight unique aspects of an area to spur economic development. Steven says it’s a way to stand out from a crowded destination area, “differentiating our selves as a city we can really shine in Horry County.” Businesses downtown say it’s an initiative they can support, as it would bring the possibility of new visitors. Jennifer Hucks is the owner of Jenn’s Southern Threadz, she’s been open for three years and welcomes the exposure arts can bring the city. “I think its going to bring new and different people who have never seen downtown Conway, so it’s an opportunity for all small businesses,” said Hucks. News13 reached out to the city of Conway to see where council stands on applying to create a cultural district, but have yet to hear back.

Grant money lights the furnace for Conway Glass

From MyrtleBeachOnline.com Article by Elizabeth Townsend, photos by Charles Slate

Newly awarded grant money is firing up the furnace at Conway Glass this fall. Ed Streeter, co-owner and visual artist, will use the grant funding to fan the flames of his monthly Saturday glass-blowing demonstrations, which are instructional presentations that show off traditional and experimental techniques in the ancient art of glass blowing to a crowd that grows each year. This year’s first demonstration will be held on Oct. 3 – the same day as the City of Conway’s Fall Festival and the Live Oak Festival events, which will feature arts and crafts vendors and musical entertainment.
During the demonstrations, Streeter works with 2,150-degree heat as he pulls molten globs of glass from the fire and fashions them into pieces of art before an audience in his studio at the back of Conway Glass, at 209 Laurel St. “It’s transformative. They start with a blob of molten nothing and in a brief time colors are introduced and then the little blob of glass is turned into a bowl or vessel, and it’s really fun to watch that happen right before you,” Jim Arendt said, who is also an area artist and has attended the demonstrations for the past five years with his wife and three children. Additionally, Arendt is the director of the Rebecca Randall Bryan Gallery at Coastal Carolina University. Ed is assisted by his wife Barbara, who is also co-owner and a visual artist at Conway Glass. Barbara usually narrates as Ed creates during the 45-minute presentations for audiences, ranging from 20 to sometimes 60 people an hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the first Saturday of every month. “It’s very informative, yet informal. We just have a good time. It’s fun for all ages,” Barbara said of the demonstrations. The Streeters are also occasionally assisted by friend and fellow glass-blowing artist Wayne Fitzgerald, who visits the studio about once a year from the Philadelphia area. Together, the Streeters have been putting on the glass-blowing demonstrations for roughly 15 years and have watched the crowds grow steadily each year. “On a cold fall day, it’s the hottest ticket in town,” Arendt said.
Conway GlassThe demonstrations are often themed; during October it’s glass pumpkins, December brings Christmastime decorations. About 500 spectators came to presentations on a January Saturday when old beer bottles were refurbished into drinking glasses. Flames of the furnace are also sometimes used to make popcorn for audiences and lunches for the Streeters while they’re in between shows. “I would absolutely love to attend the demos. I plan to go to as many as I possibly can,” said Melaney Mills, who is from Lake City but previously lived in the Myrtle Beach area for years. She has heard great things about the demonstrations at Conway Glass and is excited to attend future events. Mills said she enjoys the arts and dabbles in them herself. “I love the vibrant colors in the glass. It’s all so beautiful to me,” she said as she looked around at all the shiny merchandise at Conway Glass. The storefront of Conway Glass is simple, but within is a wonderland of glass orbs and ornaments, of stained glass mosaics and an array of handcrafted merchandise, big and small. The Streeters also specialize in other glass needs such as commercial and residential products, including windows, mirrors, shower doors, safety glass and more. Through a small hallway past the store’s front space and down the rabbit hole, is a large workshop studio where the demonstrations take place. It was revamped last year when Barbara was awarded a $5,000 grant from the S.C. Arts Commission that allowed her to add new video equipment, lighting and other technical improvements, which gave audiences a better view of all the action, Barbara said. The grant money also helped the couple hold the glassblowing demonstrations from October to May 2014 and propelled Barbara’s experimental glass-blowing theater project, which featured two plays with glass-blowing fused into the plots and a performance by a glass-blowing magician. After Barbara and 15 actors put in roughly 700 volunteer hours preparing, every one of the 100 tickets available to each blackbox-theater style event at about $18.50 a piece sold out. Barbara said she would love to do the events again, and may apply for more grant money to continue them. “Conway Glass is a real treasure. A glass-blowing studio is a rare thing in the state to begin with, so to have one in our backyard is really nice,” Arendt said. This year, Ed was awarded a $1,000 Quarterly Project Support for Artist Grant by the South Carolina Arts Commission for the 2016 fiscal year to help keep the demonstrations going. The Streeters said the funding helps pay for advertising, materials and time as the couple devotes an entire day to giving the public a free view of traditional and experimental glass blowing. The Quarterly Project Support for Artists is partly funded by the National Endowment of the Arts and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina. Conway Glass is also helping Ed meet his obligation of matching the arts commission grant with local dollars. “I was just floored when I got the grant. It’s pretty exciting to be recognized by the S.C. Arts Commission,” Ed said. With this grant the Streeters will put on demonstrations on Oct. 3, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5. The couple will apply for another quarterly grant to hold more presentations the first Saturday of each month from January to May. The Streeters offer classes from October through May from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays when demonstrations aren’t being held, and hold them on Thursdays as well. Walk-ins are welcome on Thursdays, but the Streeters request calling for an appointment on Saturdays. Prices range from $28 to $325 per class, depending on what people would like to learn.

More than glass

In addition to their glass-blowing studio projects, the Streeters are stay active in the emerging art scene in Conway. Barbara is executive director of the organization CREATE!, which is a nonprofit 501 C-4 membership organization formed in 2011 and designed by local artists to celebrate and promote the arts in the community. Grant money was also awarded to the group over the summer, including more than $800 from the S.C. Arts Commission, $2,000 from the Waccamaw Foundation and $2,500 from the City of Conway, the Streeters said. CREATE! has about 30 members and is growing each year as more artists participate. The organization gained an administrative office space this year in the Conway Innovation Center near the Streeters’ glass studio in downtown Conway, but Barbara said the growing group desperately needs a bigger space. “I love watching it grow from just a few individuals to a recognized group trying to bring more art to Conway,” Jesse Nevins, membership coordinator and teacher with CREATE!, said in an email. Nevins has been a member of CREATE! for two years and teaches an after-school program for elementary school-age kids from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays at the Mary Thompson building in Collins Park. She also keeps up with CREATE! members and recruits new ones. Nevins was has an art degree from Coastal Carolina University and joined CREATE! after finishing college. She said got involved with CREATE! because she wanted to work with an artist group that was “cutting edge” and “community focused.” “As an artist sometimes you can feel really alone in facing the problems of making. It’s nice to be able to share your frustrations with others who understand and bounce ideas around with others who have a background in art,” Nevins said. The organization’s website has also been revamped and a cultural events calendar was just added. The cultural calendar highlights creative events happening around Horry County such as art openings, cooking classes, wine tastings, plays and more. The Streeters also just established the Conway Cultural Development Corporation in April, which is dedicated to stimulating economic growth in the Conway area through the creation of a vibrant art scene. The Streeters said dollars stay around the Rivertown when cultural events and festivals are held as participants patronize area restaurants and shops, spurring the local economy in the process. Arendt and Mills both said when they visit Conway Glass they eat at area restaurants, shop at the Conway Farmer’s Market and visit other downtown stores. The organization envisions working with local municipalities’ planning departments to work with area artists using both public and private dollars to find a cooperative space for artists to create and to establish an art district in the community. A big project in the works for the CCDC is the creations of the Waccamaw Art & Design Center-MakerSpace — a cooperative gallery and studio in Conway that would allow members to use a shared space with tools and equipment, including a 3D printer, a laser cutter and industrial sewing machines. The nonprofit also hopes to set up a rental studio to recruit and launch design- and art-based companies. “Just having a group advocate for arts in the community is really important. Numerous studies have shown that art-focused communities have a better economic outlook and happier residents. It’s important to have people that care about the arts creating spaces and events for their neighbors to enjoy,” Nevins said. Barbara said the organization has looked at several properties but hasn’t found the right one yet. She said the organization wants to find the right space for area artists to call a creative home, and needs to be choosy to find a property that would suit the needs of a variety of different artists. “The center will really create an energy among the artists as they inspire each other, and if we can create that kind of energy, the sky’s the limit for Conway and Horry County together,” Ed said.

The couple

Ed and Barbara Streeter have been married for 29 years and have operated Conway Glass since 1990. The glass gods slowly sifted the sands of time to bring them together as they both moved to South Carolina in 1968 from different parts of the Northeast. Ed moved to the Myrtle Beach area from Rome, an upstate New York town, after his father was stationed at the Myrtle Beach Air Force base. Barbara, originally from Winslow, N.J., had relocated to Philadelphia with her family before her father got a job transfer to a textile plant in Spartanburg. Barbara has a genetic love for glass which she got from her great-great-grandfather, who was a master glassblower in Winslow in the 1800s. When Barbara was a child, she and her grandmother would take walks on the dirt road near their home leading by the an old, closed-down glass company, collecting bits of scrap glass along the way and fostering her hereditary love for glass. In 1979, Ed got a job out of high school working with glass. Barbara said Ed worked in the Spartanburg area the same time she lived there, but they never ran into each other, despite spending time at some of the same places. “We must have crossed paths several times over the course of 20 years, but we never actually met,” Barbara said. It wasn’t until summer 1985 that the couple would meet poolside at the Arcadian Dunes while vacationing in Myrtle Beach. They married a year later and opened their first glass business. “It was just meant to be,” Barbara said. The couple still pays nostalgic trips to the Arcadian Dunes from time to time. The Streeters started Conway Glass Works on Main Street with friend George McCorkle, who was guitarist and founding member of the Spartanburg-based, classic rock legend The Marshall Tucker Band. Together, the group ran the shop for about three years until the Streeters wanted to grow bigger in the glass business and arts and McCorkle wanted to stay small. The Streeters then opened Conway Glass in 1990. The couple has been perfecting their glass-blowing skills over the years by studying at various schools, including Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, Wheaton Village in Millville, N.J., and the Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass in New York. Barbara attributes their success personally and professionally to Ed’s steady patience and their ability to work together as a team, each combining their skill sets to fuse something strong. “It’s been an amazing journey,” Barbara said of their nearly three-decade partnership. “It’s a wonderful life. When you wake up happy to go to work together every morning — that’s a good thing.”
MORE INFORMATION For more information about Conway Glass and the glass blowing demonstrations, visit http:// www.conwayglass.com or call 843-248-3558. Glass-blowing demonstrations will be held the first Saturday of each month starting Oct. 3 to May 7 at Conway Glass at 209 Laurel St. in downtown Conway and are free and open to the public. Glass-blowing classes are offered at Conway Glass from October through May from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays when demonstrations aren’t being held by appointment and on walk-ins are welcome on Thursdays. Prices range from $28 to $325 per class. For more about CREATE!, visit http://createconway.wildapricot.org/ or call 843-248-4527. To see a calendar filled with cultural events, visit http://createconway.org/arts_calendar.

Conway glassblower receives grant to keep up the good work

From SCNow.com

[caption id="attachment_21678" align="alignright" width="300"]Conway Glass Glassblower Ed Streeter demonstrates his art on First Saturdays in Conway[/caption] CONWAY, S.C. – Ed Streeter of Conway has been awarded a $1,000 Quarterly Project Support for Artists grant by the South Carolina Arts Commission for the 2016 fiscal year. The support will allow Streeter to present the First Saturday glassblowing demonstrations. The demonstrations are free and enable the public to see and learn about the traditional craft of glassblowing. The Quarterly Project Support for Artists, which is funded in part by the National Endowment of the Arts and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina, will allow Streeter and Conway Glass to host glassblowing demonstrations free to the public on Oct. 3, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5. Streeter said he is proud to continue the tradition of offering free glass demos and is honored to be recognized by the South Carolina Arts Commission for his dedication in bringing art to the public. "On the First Saturday I create colorful bowls, vessels and sculpture with 2,000 degree glass and demonstrate various traditional and experimental glass techniques. Assisted by my wife, Barbara, our demonstrations are both educational and entertaining." In Streeter's Conway studio he creates custom stained glass windows and blown glass vessels and sculpture. In addition, he teaches glass classes and demonstrates various glass techniques to the community.

Conway artist uses Artists’ Ventures Initiative grant to make studio wish come true

Letters of Intent for the next round of AVI grants are due Dec. 15. Barbara Streeter, owner of Conway Glass, received an Artists' Ventures Initiative grant of $5,000 for the Conway Open Studio project, a six-month arts initiative to invigorate the arts in downtown Conway, S.C. This account of her experience was originally posted on her blog.
Can Conway be a cool art town?Barbara Streeter by Barbara Streeter

If you had told me a year ago that I would be creating glass in this beautiful studio, I probably would have said, “I wish!” But, through planning, hard work (with the help of friends & family), artist collaborations, a S.C. Arts (Commission) Grant, customer and sponsor support and a bit of serendipity, we pulled it off. The expanded studio is really better than we imagined. It’s a joy to work in the new space...the workflow and positive chi is inspiring. We now have an organized work area for everything we do.

This all began with a meeting in Myrtle Beach hosted by the Myrtle Beach Museum and the South Carolina Arts Commission. Joy Young, S.C. Arts Commission Coordinator for Horry County, presented an informative seminar outlining the grant opportunities available for artists and nonprofits. A few months later Joy sent me a link to the upcoming S.C. Artists' Ventures Initiative Grant. She thought this grant would be a good fit for our business. Had I not attended that meeting, I probably would have missed that opportunity. Joy’s e-mail gave me hope; I was fired up!

The process of applying for the S.C. Artist Ventures Initiative Grant was at first intimidating, until I looked at it in a completely different way. I realized that the documents they were asking for were items I should have readily available anyway. So I did that part first. I struggled over and wrote my artist statement, I polished and updated my resume, I assembled my best photos in the required formats and I added the grant and upcoming art show deadlines to my calendar. I updated my portfolio as well. These are all the basic items I would need for grant applications and art show entries for the upcoming year. With that, half the job was done! I applied and was awarded the S.C. Artists' Ventures Initiative Grant in August 2014. I’ll write about how I tackled the program proposal and the budget part of the application in a future post. Leveraging the money for the project matching funds proved to be the most challenging aspect of pulling my plan together. The S.C. Arts Commission releases funds based on expenditures. In other words, “spend the money, then we’ll reimburse you.” The grant is for $5,000 with a requirement for matching funds of $2,500. When I applied for the grant I assumed the $2,500 matching funds would be available through our business, Conway Glass. Unfortunately, we had an unexpected expense that took those funds. I didn’t want to postpone our renovations and our upcoming projects, so I decided to create a KICKSTARTER campaign. The campaign’s goal was to raise the matching funds. It was a super success! The KICKSTARTER helped us gain new customers, raise over $3,000 and create an art buzz in the community. With total funds of $8,000, I was able to begin the installation of new technology, energy efficient lighting, advertising, fuel for the glass furnace, color and glass batch. We now had everything we needed to kick off the Conway Open Studio Project. In addition, we can now record our classes, demonstrations and other events, right from the studio floor. We’ll soon be able to live-stream our events. Yes, we are moving into the 21st century. Tom Anderson Construction and John Isle Construction played a big part in making this all happen. We couldn’t have completed the renovation without their help. I left the demolition, bathroom, plumbing and electrical work to the experts and they did an excellent job. Tom Anderson Construction (our landlord) also installed a new firewall, which completely transformed the studio space. In addition, this semester I am completing an Independent Study at Coastal Carolina University. The study documents art events, workshops, and artists collaborations in downtown Conway, S.C. It also provides written analysis on how processes developed during the study could help other rural communities through the arts. My goals are to:
  1. Successfully coordinate new initiatives into existing Conway Glass Studio environment.
  2. Collaborate with others to achieve successful marketing outcomes.
  3. Expand and develop community involvement in the arts in Conway South Carolina.
  4. Critically reflect on successes and disappointments during the South Carolina Arts Commission grant period in order to incorporate benefits into future initiatives.

Furthermore, the October First Saturday Glass Blowing Demonstrations were “standing room only” with over 400 visitors that day! Our Experimental Glass Theatre event held on November 8th was a huge success and glass blowing classes at Conway Glass are almost sold out for 2014!

Overall, I heard many positive comments...the best being “I feel like I’m in a cool town that really cares about art!” I guess that sums up what we need in this sleepy little town. A little fun, cool art projects and lots of hot glass activity.

Three artists awarded Artists’ Ventures Initiative grants

The South Carolina Arts Commission's Artists' Ventures Initiatives grants are designed to encourage and enable the creation of new artist-driven, arts-based business ventures that will provide career satisfaction and sustainability for South Carolina artists. Three artists recently were awarded grants of $5,000 each:

  • Michaela Pilar Brown of Columbia for the Mike Brown Contemporary Gallery and Project Space
  • Eduardo Jose da Silva Lucena of Charleston for the Borboleta Audio Mastering Equipment purchase/ lease/ rent project
  • Barbara Streeter of Conway for Conway Open Studio Project - Glassblowing
Read more about Streeter's project in this article from The Digitel.com:
Barbara StreeterBarbara Streeter has been awarded a $5000 S.C. Artists’ Ventures Initiative Grant by the South Carolina Arts Commission for the 2014­-2015 fiscal year. The grant enables Ms. Streeter to promote and produce the Conway Open Studio Project. The Conway Open Studio Project is a six month arts initiative featuring area artists working in collaboration to invigorate the arts in downtown Conway, SC. The Project will include an Experimental Glass Theatre component to be held in the glass blowing studio of Conway Glass at 209 Laurel Street in downtown Conway. The goal of the Conway Open Studio Project is to raise the awareness of art­making as a career and to introduce visitors to entertaining, educational and fun art experiences in downtown Conway. “The S.C. Arts Commission grant makes it possible for me to add video equipment, lighting and other improvements to our glassblowing studio, and also provide the public with an enhanced visitor experience,” said Barbara Streeter, glass blower and Vice ­President of Conway Glass, Inc. “This funding will also help us achieve our mission of providing free narrated educational demonstrations of glass blowing to the public every First Saturday, October through May.” Conway Glass, Inc. is helping Barbara meet her obligation of matching the Arts Commission grant with local dollars. Other artists are also donating their time and talents to the project, they are: Ed Streeter, Michael Gann, Laurie Brown, J.B. Chisnell, and Kim Clayton. Local residents can see how the S.C. Arts Commission grant and local funds are benefiting the Conway Open Studio Project by visiting Conway Glass, Inc. at 209 Laurel Street in downtown Conway. The First Saturday Glass Blowing Demonstrations are free and will be held in 2014 on October 4, November 1 and December 6. In 2015 free demos are planned for January 3, February 7, March 7, April 4 and May 2. All First Saturday Glass Blowing Demos are held 10am – 4pm. In addition, The Experimental Glass Theatre will be held in November 2014 and January and March 2015 (TBA.) About the South Carolina Arts Commission The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission is working to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants and leadership initiatives in three 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 and by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information, visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734­8696. About Barbara Streeter Barbara Streeter is a visual artist and glass blower living and working in Conway, SC. She and her husband own and operate Conway Glass, Inc., a local glass company specializing in stained glass and blown glass. About Conway Glass At Conway Glass, Barbara and Ed Streeter have over 50 years of combined experience in the glass industry. Although they offer many glass products, they are quite different from most glass companies in that they design, manufacture, assemble and teach about this amazing material. "This project is funded in part by the South Carolina Arts Commission which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts."