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Carolina Foothills Artisan Center closes its doors

From the Spartanburg Herald-Journal Article by Chris Lavender
The permanent closure of the Carolina Foothills Artisan Center due to financial difficulties has left a void in the local arts community.

Founded in 2000, CFAC had locations in Chesnee, Landrum and had occupied gallery space at the Chapman Cultural Center in downtown Spartanburg. The site in Landrum was opened in May 2014. The non-profit center's mission was to develop the educational, artistic, cultural and economic growth of the Upstate. The center also provided meeting space to the community and a place for artists to sell their work.

Liz Evans, CFAC executive director, said the center closed its doors in Landrum on Dec. 12. The center's location in Chesnee closed for business in October. Evans said the organization will be dissolved by the end of January. The center closed due to its inability to handle its debt and unpaid payroll taxes, Evans said. Evans had replaced former executive director Laura Ballenger about six months ago.

"I knew we where in trouble as soon as I stepped on," Evans said about CFAC's financial woes.

The center had served over 100 artists in the area. Evans wouldn't disclose how much debt the organization owed or the amount of unpaid payroll taxes. CFAC is scheduled to receive a report soon from the Internal Revenue Service regarding the final amount owed in taxes, she said. The organization will also file paperwork with the state to complete the dissolution process. Evans said attempts were made to improve CFAC's finances last year.

Jennifer Evins, Chapman Cultural Center director of operations, said CFAC's closure is a loss for the community. "It played a very important role for South Carolina and North Carolina," Evins said.

She said the Chapman Cultural Center had worked with CFAC to provide guidance on how to improve its finances. CFAC's financial difficulties weren't new. "For the last three years, it's been a very difficult time (for CFAC)," Evins said. "They really couldn't resolve it. Liz really worked hard to save that and make it successful and put it in a good place."

During its last meeting, Evins said CFAC's board of directors decided to shutdown the organization. Melia McCraw, CFAC board of directors chair, declined to comment.

Rosemary McLeod, of Spartanburg, and Patty Wright, of Boiling Springs, are artists who used CFAC to sell their work.

McLeod said she planned to sell more of her hand-crafted jewelry in Asheville, N.C. due to the center's closure in Landrum. "It's really sad for the arts community," she said.

Wright said she had sold her photographs at the Landrum and Chesnee locations. The center's closure didn't come as a surprise, Wright said. "We already knew about the difficulties they were having."

Carolina Foothills Artisan Center opens new location in Landrum, S.C.

Carolina Foothills Artisan Center, the 2,000 square foot fine and folk art gallery space in Chesnee, S.C., is opening a new location in downtown Landrum. The new Center, located at 214 Rutherford Street, will officially open its doors on Friday, May 30. An opening reception will be held from 5-7:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend and meet the artists. Founded in 2000, the Artisan Center has also occupied temporary satellite gallery space at Chapman Cultural Center in downtown Spartanburg. Its new site in Landrum will provide permanent, additional space for its growing artist base. "Landrum is a scenic little town at the base of the mountains with a wonderfully artsy atmosphere, so I know we'll fit right in," CFAC Executive Director Laura Ballenger said. "The city has been booming both in culture and economy for many years, so we're excited to learn and grow with it." "The Artisan Center is growing faster than I could have imagined," said Ballenger, who assumed the executive director position in 2012. "And this decision comes at a great time since we recently announced the development of The Artist Guild of the Foothills, a juried guild for the most skilled artisans. Fresh talents will be joining us from Landrum and beyond, and now we have a fantastic new facility for them to showcase their works." Carolina Foothills Artisan Center's mission is to develop the educational, artistic, cultural, and economic growth of the Upstate by providing means for North and South Carolina artists to demonstrate their creative process and to showcase the products of their talents to a wide variety of citizens. The Center also provides additional class and meeting space to the community as a place for citizens to learn about and purchase the work of Carolina artisans. For more information on CFAC and its new location, please call (864) 461-3050 or e-mail cfac.sc@gmail.com.