← View All Articles

Francis Marion University’s Arts International Festival moving downtown

From the Florence Morning News Article by Shamira McCray
[caption id="attachment_19239" align="alignright" width="233"]Chief Kamu Chief Kamu Fire and Hula Show[/caption] Francis Marion University and the city of Florence announced Tuesday that they will partner to bring the Arts International Festival to FMU’s downtown Performing Arts Center in April. FMU President Fred Carter and Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela announced the partnership at a press conference held at the PAC.
The festival, held on FMU’s campus for nearly 40 years, features a mix of art, music and food.
“About every 10 years we revitalize this festival with changes,” Carter said. “The international component was added about a decade ago. Changing venues, I think, will be a very, very positive thing. The festival goes very, very well on campus, but this gives us an opportunity to cultivate new audiences.”
Changing venues will give FMU the chance to create new support partners downtown, Carter said. The festival is not leaving campus, he said, but instead going from one part of campus to another part that is six miles away.
Wukela said the relocation of the Arts International Festival allows for an opportunity to tap in to the cohort that is already accustomed to coming to downtown festivals. With it being centrally located in downtown, people might participate in the festival when they might not have otherwise.
“I think that produces a great, great dynamic,” Wukela said. “Also, of course, it makes very, very good use of the cultural amenities we have already here downtown and the international community that’s here in the city of Florence. So I think all of those melt very well, and I think we’ll have a very successful festival.
The Arts International Festival will serve as the signature spring festival in Florence, Wukela said.
The festival is scheduled for April 11. The Blue Dogs headline the list of artists scheduled to perform. The festival will also feature performances by FMU music groups, the Jabali African Acrobats, hula lessons, an international food court, beer and wine gardens, art displays and the Florence-Darlington Technical College’s welding sculpture competition, among other activities. Image above: the Chinese Acrobats

Francis Marion University’s Performing Arts Center ranked among nation’s best

From SCnow.com:
The design and beauty of Francis Marion University’s Performing Arts Center has wowed citizens in South Carolina and the Pee Dee since it opened. Now it’s grabbing some new attention nationwide.
The PAC is listed in a prestigious new ranking of “America’s 25 Most Amazing Campus Arts Centers.” FMU joins performance halls like the Debartolo Center at the University of Notre Dame, Setnor Auditorium at Syracuse and Goodhart Hall at Bryn Mawr on the list. All were were judged to have uniquely appealing performance spaces and innovative designs in the ranking created by College Degree Search, a Columbus, Ohio-based educational resource for prospective college students.
Mackenzi Flannery, development coordinator at CDS and the director of the arts center-ranking project, says CDS elected to rank collegiate arts centers because of the impact a great center can have on a student’s educational experience. Architectural appeal of the performance space was the largest weighted factor in the ranking. Exterior appeal and innovative design features were also considered.
FMU President Dr. Fred Carter says the inclusion of the Performing Arts Center in the ranking is gratifying, if not necessarily surprising.
“The design and appearance of the Performing Arts Center has played to rave reviews ever since it opened,” says Carter. “It’s clearly one of the most distinctive buildings in the region and the state. The PAC received two national awards the year it opened. It’s not surprising that the facility continues to attract attention for its marvelous design.”
Architect Malcolm Holzman, FAIA, a partner with Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture of New York, designed the Performing Arts Center. The 61,000-square foot center in downtown Florence is operated by Francis Marion University and is home to an 850-seat theatre, a smaller experimental theatre, classroom and office space for FMU’s Music Industry programs.
Since its opening in September  2011, the PAC has hosted a variety of top drawer artists, including Roberta Flack, Lyle Lovett, Travis Tritt, Ricky Skaggs, The Indigo Girls and Mary Chapin Carpenter. The PAC is home to the Florence Symphony Orchestra, the Masterworks Choir and the South Carolina Dance Theatre, as well FMU’s own symphony orchestra, concert band, Music Industry ensemble and concert choir.

National acts attract broader audience for FMU Performing Arts Center

From SCnow.com

The Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center (PAC) has been open since 2011, bringing a rotation of musical acts and performances to downtown Florence. But this year, the PAC took a significant step forward.
National touring acts such as The Indigo Girls, Travis Tritt and Clint Black have all made stops this year at the PAC, and with it, they brought new twists on their traditional performances for the intimate concert hall. The Indigo Girls played with the Florence Symphony Orchestra, while Tritt went unplugged for his Florence date.
Daryl Bridges, vice president for development at FMU, said officials mapped out a strategy to evolve programming at the PAC this year.
“We decided we wanted to bring in accomplished performers,” Bridges said. “We also wanted to broaden the audiences in a geographic sense.”
With the season not wrapping up until November, there are still three shows remaining on this year’s calendar. Lyle Lovett and his Large Band are scheduled to take the stage on Aug. 30, Amy Grant on Sept. 26 and Mary Chapin Carpenter on Nov. 13.
PAC officials are also anticipating bringing in the following Broadway shows: “Sister Act,” “Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Memphis.”
Bridges said upping the star wattage at the PAC has helped increase the venue’s awareness, both with ticket buyers and performers.
“Indigo Girls had a great, great house when they partnered with the Florence Symphony Orchestra,” Bridges said. “We anticipate that Lyle Lovett will sell very strongly, and we anticipate that will be a packed house. Travis Tritt was a packed house. Those are some that jump out to me that had wonderful audiences.”
The venue has also been praised by several performers for its interior and exterior design, as well as for the acoustics.
“We received great feedback from the performers,” Bridges said. “They loved the design, and they absolutely enjoyed the performance space and the intimacy.”
In addition to being a venue for accomplished performers, the PAC is working toward becoming a statewide destination. According to Bridges, patronage has broadened this year.
“For some of the recent shows, up to 30 percent are selling outside of Florence,” Bridges said. “So we know that the PAC is gaining a reputation as a destination. People outside of Florence are beginning to see what we’re doing here, and they’re taking advantage of that.”
Not only is the PAC exapnding its offerings inside the building, but on the outside as well.
The upcoming schedule for the BB&T Amphitheatre, located on the Palmetto Street side of the venue, is still in the works, but Bridges said the community can expect to see some university groups performing there. Some short-notice shows might be scheduled in the fall.
“We’re working on some great things outside for the spring,” Bridges said. “Now that we have the covering on the amphitheater, we’ll be using that much more.”
The amphitheater will also be a venue for the Pecan Festival in November.
With places such as the Florence Civic Center and the Florence Little Theatre also serving as entertainment venues, Bridges said he does not view them as competition but rather as partners in the growing Florence arts community.
“We’re trying to attract to those performers that resonate with the audience and enjoy high-quality entertainment,” Bridges said. “They can get high-quality entertainment right here in Florence. This year we decided to step up with concert-type entertainment.”
Moving forward, Bridges said there are plans to have more local and regional acts perform at the PAC. He said the center’s vision is to become the focal point of the entertainment scene in Florence.
“We’re just excited to be able to provide the type of entertainment and venue the audiences want and the artists deserve,” Bridges said. “This is becoming a statewide venue.”

Florence Symphony Orchestra seeks new executive director

The Florence Symphony Orchestra is accepting applications for the executive director position, a part-time post with flexible hours. Current executive director Roger Malfatti recently announced plans to retire at the end of the season. The deadline for applications is Feb. 28. Candidates should have experience with the arts and/or nonprofit organizations and a good track record in administration, budget management, event planning, public relations, marketing and fundraising. Computer proficiency, website publishing, social media and other related skills are a plus. Direct experience with a symphony, and/or musical abilities are useful, but not essential. Candidates from both inside and outside the Florence/Pee Dee area are sought, but a working knowledge of the area and its people would be beneficial. Malfatti began his work with the Florence Symphony on Jan. 1, 2010. His stint with the FSO followed a long career in the arts and recreation field. Malfatti has years of experience in concert management in New York, and symphony management in Long Island, N.Y.; Des Moines, Iowa; and Savannah, Ga. Malfatti presided over a major expansion of the FSO’s scope and reach. During his three years at the helm, the symphony’s subscriptions increased from 370 per year to more than 600 for the current season. The number of concerts increased from four to six per year, the organization’s income and contributions both doubled and the symphony moved into a new home at the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center. “Roger has done a terrific job as our director, and we have really appreciated his hard work,” said Marion Swink, chairman of the FSO board. “We wish him well, but he’ll be sorely missed.” Said Malfatti, “It has been an honor and a pleasure to have served the Florence Symphony. I’ve enjoyed my time working with the board, conductor Terry Roberts, the musicians and our patrons. I’ll miss it, but I look forward to attending concerts for years to come.” Malfatti will stay on board until a new executive director is hired. A complete job description and information about how to apply can be found on the FSO's website. Via: Florence Symphony Orchestra  

Young violinists! Apply for Florence Symphony Orchestra’s Concerto Competition

Talented violinists enrolled in grades 9-12 who love performing are encouraged to enter the third annual Florence Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Concerto Competition. The competition is open to young violinists with home addresses in Darlington, Dillion, Florence, Lee, Marion or Marlboro counties. Applications, along with a performance CD, must be received by January 3, 2014. Finalists will be notified immediately and assigned a time to perform before a panel of judges on January 25, 2014, at the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center. Prizewinners will be invited to perform their audition composition accompanied by the Florence Symphony Orchestra at the March 31, 2014, concert. Find more information and apply online. Via: Florence Symphony Orchestra

South Carolina presenters invited to meet in Florence

South Carolina presenters and presenting organizations are invited to a gathering in Florence, S.C., on Thursday, May 30 at the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center. The event begins at noon with lunch and will conclude at 4 p.m. A highlight of the event will be the opportunity to meet and interact with two guest speakers: Perry Mixter, president of Mixter Consulting Services and former president of the North Carolina Presenters Consortium, and Bob Boyer, executive director of Tennessee Presenters. Both have agreed to share their experiences in starting a presenters’ consortium and suggest steps that South Carolina presenters can take to do the same. Also on the agenda is a discussion of potential block-booking opportunities for 2013-2014 and future seasons. Laura Sims, director of the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center, is working in partnership with Joy Young, director of performing arts and presenting at the South Carolina Arts Commission, to offer this exciting opportunity to build collaborative relationships among South Carolina presenters. The event is free, but registration is required. To register or for more information, contact Laura Sims, (843) 661-1720. Hotel discount opportunities are available for attendees who wish to spend the night in Florence. [caption id="attachment_5919" align="alignnone" width="600"]Frances Marion University Performing Arts Center Frances Marion University Performing Arts Center[/caption]