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CREATE Conway opens Holiday Bazaar registration

Seeking artists, artisans, crafters, and food truck vendors


CREATE! Conway presents HOLIDAY BAZAAR 2019 complete with live music, food truck vendors, over 50 exhibiting artists, designers, and crafters. We will be transforming the auditorium and parking lot of Ekklesia Christian Church into a holiday shopping wonderland and we need you!
  • Saturday, Dec. 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • 2469 Highway 501 East,  Conway (Ekklesia Christian Church)
Click here to reserve a spot now.
  • 10' x 10' indoor spaces are $60
  • 10' x 10' outdoor spaces are $35
  • Food truck spaces are $50
Email inquiries to createconway@gmail.com or call Dee at 810.923.3334.

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Grand Strand artists: got plans Saturday?

Create! Conway is inviting you get to know each other


Visual artists, mixed media artists, photographers, musicians, poets, performance artists, actors, any and all creatives, and lovers of the arts: CREATE! Conway wants to get to know you! Come and network! Talk about what you're creating. Share some of the benefits and challenges of being an artisan in the Grand Strand. Or, just hang out and get to know one another. We would love to see you and grow the community, not just in Conway, but in all of the Grand Strand!
  • Saturday, March 30
  • 4-7 p.m.
  • Conway Glass (708 12th Avenue)
  • Bring a dish to pass and your own beverage of choice

Group gets $50,000 grant to help Conway become an art district

From MyHorryNews.com Article by Kathy Ropp

Conway has a large number of talented artists and musicians who want to see the city emerge as an arts mecca, and now it looks as if they will have the money to make that happen. Conway Cultural Development Corporation President Dr. Dennis Stevens says the Knight Foundation has recommended that Conway get a $50,000 grant for the arts, and the Waccamaw Community Foundation has signed off on it. The only thing the area’s artists need now is the support of the Conway City Council, whose members did not discuss the issue in March after hearing from representatives of the S.C. Arts Commission, who explained the process of making Conway a cultural art district. One of the presenters, Joy Young, the SCAC’s arts coordinator for Horry and Georgetown counties, returned to Conway recently to meet with more than 35 artists and musicians in an informal setting to assess the arts possibilities in Conway and see what’s needed to move the city forward. Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy attended that meeting at Conway Glass where she offered encouragement to the group. The SCAC is in the nascent stage of creating a network of art districts throughout the state. Areas already carrying the label of cultural art district are Spartanburg, Rock Hill, Lancaster, Beaufort, the Congaree Vista area in Columbia and, the most recent city to join the group, Bluffton. Florence is working now to create a district in that city. “It’s not really a network like an art trail or anything like that,” Stevens said. “I think it’s more driven by the place and the resources that are in the place and enhancing the community and cataloguing resources. I think they have a specific vision that enables the place to enhance itself. “It’s less about the network of communities and more about the individual place putting forth its best assets.” Stevens says the agency defines the arts broadly so the term includes visual and performing arts, theatre and all kinds of music. Even a writer attended the recent gathering at Conway Glass. One idea Stevens likes is stepping up arts education in low-income areas, perhaps in the Whittemore Park or Racepath communities in Conway. This could be done with an artist-in-residence who might give art lessons, help youngsters secure orchestra instruments or, perhaps, help improve the looks of some of the U.S. 378 corridor, a project getting a lot of attention from Conway City Council recently. Becoming a cultural arts district will open the door for state grants, coordination with other cities and counties and advice from the SCAC. The Cultural Arts Development Corporation is already talking with consultants who can help the group get the process moving and guide its leadership in the direction Conway should go; however, the consultants won’t be signed until at least August when Stevens hopes everybody is on board and the Knight Foundation money is in-hand. If Conway City Council gives its blessing to the program, a board of stakeholders will be created to help guide the process. Supporters of the program say the arts and culture are economic engines that draw people to an area to shop, dine, buy gas and stay over night, and they make a city more livable. They point to Asheville, N.C., and Walterboro in this state to prove their point. Rusty Sox with the SCAC says the art districts program is relatively new, existing for only about 18 months now. He says developing the districts has given him interesting travel around South Carolina. The state’s mission is to create an environment where the arts thrive for all South Carolina citizens, he told Conway City Council back in March. The program hopes to provide quality arts education for youngsters in kindergarten through 12th grade, help artists develop their talents into sustainable careers and improve life for South Carolinians. He says the SCAC can help by offering the assistance of its staff, developing partnerships with other organizations, implementing professional development and training through conferences and meetings, and giving grants to individual artists, schools and arts programs. Some of their ideas include creating studios where people can watch artists work; opening retail shops, galleries, art centers, educational spaces and more. The program takes note of significant architecture and uses nontraditional settings, bank lobbies for instance, to offer art displays. Some cities also offer storytellers and performers. Through all of these activities the arts enthusiasts hope to celebrate and capitalize on an area’s local identification, or, in other words, the things that make each community unique. After the stakeholders are appointed, they will take public input, designate a cultural district and solidify a list of goals. Communities must be reviewed and recertified every five years to remain cultural art districts. Young and Sox recommend identifying a compact, walkable, easily-navigable area for an art district. They categorize it as a place where people can park and walk. Conway and its surrounding areas already have a good start on promoting the arts, according to area artists. Another issue that Stevens and Barbara Streeter with CREATE! Conway are pursuing is an office for arts groups. Streeter and other artists asked at a recent public hearing at Conway City Hall for space for art exhibits and performances in the old Conway Post Office/Horry County museum. Stevens points out that during the tenure of the late Mayor Greg Martin, he helped work on Conway’s comprehensive plan, which calls for a Waccamaw artisans center. He’d love to work out something with the Burroughs Company to see the center located in Conway’s riverfront district. Stevens says once the CCDC has its grant money he expects things to start happening quickly. By the fall of this year he hopes to hold some public meetings to discuss the needs of the arts and cultural community and to start things in motion to meet those needs. “I think everybody is engaged and excited about the possibility of arts and culture in Horry and Georgetown, but specifically what Conway can do to facilitate that,” he said. “There’s no central leadership now. We’re trying and we’re trying to do it in a new way.” Stevens says anyone who’s interested in becoming part of the process should talk with a member of city council because they’re the ones who will ultimately make the decision. “If they say no, I don’t know what comes next,” Stevens said.

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.

New Conway group hopes to build downtown arts scene, boost economy

From The Sun News: Article by Charles D. Perry

When local officials talk about economic development, the discussion tends to focus on how tax breaks and other incentives can be used to entice industry. Dennis Stevens wants to shift that conversation to the arts. Stevens, along with Barbara and Ed Streeter, recently formed the Conway Cultural Development Corporation, an organization dedicated to spurring economic growth by creating a vibrant arts scene. Four years after the Horry Arts and Cultural Council disbanded, the nonprofit hopes to fill that void, not just in Conway but also in Myrtle Beach and other parts of the county. “The fact that there’s no county arts council places Horry County at a disadvantage in terms of these questions about art and culture as they relate to economic development,” Stevens said. “Somebody has to lead that and somebody has to have expertise in that in order for those things to happen.” So what exactly would the CCDC do? The founders envision the organization working with local municipalities’ planning departments to include space for the arts in development projects. The initiatives would use both public and private funding. One idea the CCDC supports is the creation of a 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. Additionally, the nonprofit hopes to set up a rental studio to recruit and launch design- and art-based companies. CCDC’s leaders also support projects that encourage community participation. Consider “Play Me, I’m Yours,” an international exhibit that places pianos in public areas for anyone to use. The program recently arrived in Florence. “It’s a good example of what art can do to make a place more culturally vibrant and livable,” Stevens said, adding that these projects “encourage people to go into public space and have them interact with each other in new ways, to form some basis of community and imagine new possibilities for themselves.” Stevens is a visual artist who was active in the local arts scene in the late 1990s. He then moved to California, attended graduate school in New York and returned the area a few years ago. The Streeters run Conway Glass on Laurel Street. All three are involved with CREATE! Conway, a membership organization that promotes the arts in the Rivertown. The difference between the CCDC and past arts advocacy groups, Stevens said, is the nonprofit’s focus on collaborating with city planners. “That’s where they fell short,” he said. “They lost sight of the municipalities’ strategic plans and the goals that are outlined in there.” This week, the group plans to meet with Conway City Administrator Bill Graham. CCDC representatives already have been in talks with Mayor Alys Lawson and Planning Director Adam Emrick. Lawson said she told the group that Conway leaders want to hear their proposals. “Anything that has the benefit of attracting additional people to your community has a spillover effect,” Lawson said. “Whether or not they are just spending money for the day or if they decide it’s a community where they want to live, I think the more that a community has to offer, the more vital that community’s going to be.” Eventually, the CCDC plans to approach Conway City Council with a proposal to establish a “cultural district” in the city. The designation was created last year by state lawmakers who wanted to highlight communities with certain artsy features. “It really provides an official state recognition that a town has a significant concentration of what we’re calling arts and cultural assets,” said Rusty Sox with the S.C. Arts Commission, which determines if the “cultural district” title is merited. “There are opportunities for either visitors or residents to have direct arts and cultural experiences right in the community where they live or where they visit.” “Assets” could include galleries, theaters, studios, concert halls, museums and businesses that provide spaces for creative pursuits. Sox said 15 other states have similar programs. “In general,” he said,” what they’ve found is that having this type of designation can really be a tool that a city or a town can use in helping to attract visitors, improve downtown [and] engage in economic and downtown development activities using the arts as sort of a focal point to drive interest.” That’s exactly what the new group wants to do. “There are so many needs,” Barbara Streeter said. “But we need a place — and a vibrancy.”
Image: Conway Glass