Remembering Carl Blair (1932-2018)
The South Carolina Arts Commission notes with sadness the passing of Carl Blair of Greenville, a former commissioner, chairman, and 2005 winner of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Award for Lifetime Achievement (presented annually by SCAC).
Blair served as a commissioner on the Arts Commission and was its chairman for two years. The State Art Collection includes three of his works.
Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May issued the following statement:
"Carl Blair was a gentle giant of the arts in South Carolina. He was one of the pioneers of abstract painting in our state and one of its most successful practitioners. Through his long career as a teacher, he was a major influence on generations of artists who have had significant impact here. As one of the founders of the Hampton III Gallery, he was also a successful artist-entrepreneur.
"As a leader, he was self-effacing but, at the same time, a strong and effective advocate for artists, arts education, and access to the arts in all communities. We will miss his unique artistic voice, his gentle and generous spirit, his wry sense of humor, and the way he lived his values every day."
Details on arrangements can be viewed here
. Below, some who knew or worked with Mr. Blair share feelings or anecdotes about his life.
"Carl Blair was a man of action, whose life exuded a spirit of optimism. He was a mentor to many young artists, who would learn life lessons through listening to Blair’s visual language. His friends were changed by observing his strong faith, guileless heart, playful spirit and creative genius. Carl’s eyes would squint as he admonished, 'always take your art seriously, but never yourself.' A generous, humble man his life reflected grace and gave us hope."
Ms. Rupp is director of Hampton III Gallery in Taylors, which was co-founded by Mr. Blair.
Greenville’s Artisphere seeks logistics coordinator
Note: Applications for this position are no longer being accepted.
Artisphere seeks a logistics coordinator to work in partnership with the executive director (ED), the event management team and a volunteer board of directors to oversee the coordination and administration of all logistical planning, organizing, and executing of the organization’s events both internally and externally.
Reporting to the ED, the logistics coordinator is responsible for carrying out the festival plan designed by management and will oversee internal office operations.
Qualifications include a successful project management track record in either a cultural, not-for-profit or event management organization.
Send resume, cover letter with salary requirements and references by September 16, 2016, to firstname.lastname@example.org
Artisphere is a three-day celebration of the arts, visual and performing, that takes place in downtown Greenville every May. 2017 will mark the 13th anniversary of the Artisphere festival that has become a signature event on Greenville’s cultural calendar. Artisphere is consistently ranked a TOP 10 Fine Arts Festival in the Country by notable industry indices.
TD Bank helps SmartARTS expand in Greenville schools
From the Greenville News
Article by Paul Hyde, photo by Heidi Heilbrunn
[caption id="attachment_27694" align="alignleft" width="225"] Alan Ethridge, executive director, Metropolitan Arts Council[/caption]
The Metropolitan Arts Council’s arts-integration program in local schools got a hefty boost with a $200,000 pledge from TD Bank on Tuesday.
The program, SmartARTS, uses the visual and performing arts to engage students and improve achievement in the core academic subjects in dozens of Greenville County schools.
Cal Hurst, regional vice president of TD Bank, announced the grant at a Tuesday press conference in downtown Greenville.
“SmartARTS has a proven track record of success in improving academic achievement through integration of the arts into the standard curricular of our public schools,” Hurst said.
The pledge will establish the TD Center for Arts Integration at MAC’s office at 16 Augusta Street.
“TD Bank believes in investing in the communities in which we serve by carefully selecting projects and programs of cultural and education value,” Hurst said.
The money, to be paid over several years, will be used “to continue and expand the SmartARTS program,” said Alan Ethridge, executive director of MAC, the Greenville arts umbrella organization.
SmartARTS currently has a budget of $225,000 annually. That money is used to train teachers and artists to partner in the classroom.
Arts integration “is a natural way to engage students and to keep their interest,” said Mary Leslie Anderson, principal at League Academy of Communication Arts.
SmartARTS helps students “to be analytical, critical, reflective thinkers,” Anderson said.
In a classroom with an arts-integration component, an English teacher might use landscape or abstract paintings to inspire student essays. He or she might use self-portraits throughout history to encourage students to write reflections about themselves. Science teachers might use creative movement to help younger students understand cloud formation.
The arts build student confidence and teach broad “21st century skills,” said Elaine Donnan, magnet coordinator at League Academy
“Students will take these creative and problem-solving skills and the confidence they get through these programs and apply them to everything they do in the future,” Donnan said.
League Academy, a magnet middle school with students in grades six through eight, has a particularly strong commitment to the SmartARTS program.
“We try to get as many teachers as we can to do the SmartARTS training in the summer,” Anderson said. “It really helps the newer teachers especially to understand what arts integration looks like.”
SmartARTS began in 2002 with three federal grants from the U.S. Department of Education totaling $2.1 million, said Charles Ratterree, MAC board chairman and assistant director of the Fine Arts Center.
Beginning in two high-poverty schools, SmartARTS subsequently expanded to meet the demand from other schools, including the Charles Townes Center, Greenville’s public school for the highly gifted.
After federal funding expired in 2007, the MAC board decided to continue the program with local funding.
“Since then, over $2.1 million has been raised to expand SmartARTS,” Ratterree said. “It has trained over 200 artists and more than 250 teachers during its training institutes.”
More than 60 Greenville schools have participated in a SmartARTS project since 2002, Ethridge said.
SmartARTS helps to bridge the gaps teachers often find between students’ different learning styles, Ethridge said.
Ratterree drew attention Tuesday to TD Bank’s strong commitment to Greenville.
“For MAC to be able to share in the phenomenal philanthropy of TD Bank is a real privilege,” Ratterree said. “This collaboration between the two organizations is further evidence of TD Bank’s commitment to making Greenville the best city it can possibly be. Since its founding locally in 1986, TD Bank has provided million of dollars in charitable support for Greenville-area initiatives. This is a staggering accomplishment, and one of which the entire community can be very proud.”
TD Bank’s Hurst said the arts contribute substantially to a city’s economic vitality.
“We recognize the value of the arts to a community’s growth and prosperity,” Hurst said. “It’s something we’ve seen vividly in Greenville.”
For more information about the SmartARTS program, call MAC at 864-467-3132.
At age 25, Peace Center has a knack for risk-taking
From The Greenville News
Article by Paul Hyde; photo by Katie McLean
As it celebrates its 25th birthday, the Peace Center has never been in better shape.
A record-breaking 287,100 tickets were sold for 318 events at Greenville’s cornerstone performing arts venue during the 2014-15 season.
Annual revenues, totaling $19 million, are at an all-time high. Plus, there are more shows on tap than ever before.
“We’ve done nothing but go up up up,” said Megan Riegel, the Peace Center’s president and CEO since 1997.
The world-class arts complex also has played a major role in revitalization, observers say, helping to make downtown Greenville one of the sparkling gems of the Southeast.
For the Peace Center, the road to success has been paved with a fair amount of calculated risk-taking — of both the artistic and fiscal sort.
In the past several years, the arts venue has pushed the artistic envelope with musicals such as “The Book of Mormon,” “Spring Awakening” and “Cabaret,” all of which include strong language and sexual content.
The Peace Center, located on a 6-acre site at Main and Broad streets, also has hosted politically oriented “blue” comedians such as Bill Maher, Dennis Miller and Lewis Black.
Maher, who’s often pointedly critical of religion, “certainly raised a lot of eyebrows for people, but he does a great show and he packs the house and people love him,” Riegel said.
The Peace Center, nestled in the conservative South, might have avoided edgy shows in its earlier years, but the community’s tastes appear to have broadened over the past two decades. Several years ago, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” drew picketers outside the Peace Center.
Today, such protests never occur at the center.
“I think we grew together,” Riegel said. “We took a little more risk and people followed. I’ve seen a trend where people are more open-minded, embracing today’s culture. With the support of the board, over the years we became fearless in what we brought in. We wanted to have the highest-quality available. If it’s playing on Broadway and it’s a hit, we want to bring it in.”
Balance also is fundamental to the Peace Center’s mission. “The Book of Mormon,” with its barbed critique of religious credulity, may capture the headlines, but the arts center also brings to town Broadway classics like “The Sound of Music” and family shows such as “Cinderella” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
The Peace Center and its resident companies feature hundreds of children’s shows, educational programs, and theater, dance and orchestral performances.
Serving eclectic tastes is the name of the game. In recent seasons, the Peace Center has hosted singing legends Tony Bennett, Audra McDonald, Liza Minnelli, Johnny Mathis and Diana Ross, singer-songwriters such as Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Melissa Ethridge, country singers Don Williams and Martina McBride, rock bands Foreigner, Counting Crows and Moody Blues, jazz and world music groups such as Pink Martini, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, dance companies like the Joffrey Ballet, Pilobolus and the Dance Theatre of Harlem, comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Kathy Griffin, and humorist/storyteller Garrison Keillor – just to name a few.
“The Peace Center’s goal is always a broad variety of programming,” Riegel said.
The arts center has taken some bold fiscal risks as well. Six years ago, it forged ahead with a $23 million renovation plan in the midst of the deepest national downtown since the Great Depression.
“We launched it right when the recession started in 2009,” Riegel said. “But we had done our homework. We knew what we were getting into. The original plan was for a $36 million renovation and we trimmed that way back. We had a good assessment of what we could raise.”
Fundraising efforts, which proved a tremendous success despite the economic challenges, doubled the size of the Concert Hall’s lobby, added a lounge overlooking the Reedy River, and created an education studio, multipurpose loft, outdoor amphitheater, public plaza and a park along the river.
“It’s an amazing, gorgeous facility,” Riegel said. “I think that capital campaign went so well because people understand the importance of the Peace Center to our community.”
Today, by many measures, the Peace Center reigns as the largest arts organization in the state.
Attendance and revenues have increased exponentially over the years. In the Peace Center’s inaugural season of 1990-91, 75,000 people attended 45 events. This past season, 287,100 tickets were sold for 318 events.
“The fact that people are buying tickets the way they are suggests that we’re getting some things right,” Riegel said.
In 2005, Peace Center revenues were $6.8 million. For the season ending in 2015, that figure is $19 million, representing a 280 percent increase over 10 years.
The arts center has grown in prestige over the years as well, attracting many first national tours of Broadway shows, such as the recent “Kinky Boots,” “Motown” and “Newsies.” Performing arts centers particularly covet first national tours, which generally feature top-notch casts and the direct involvement of the Broadway creative team.
“Tour producers have all taken notice,” Riegel said. “They want to come here.”
Broadway shows often play for one week at the Peace Center. But some blockbusters, such as “Wicked,” “The Lion King” and “Phantom of the Opera” have enjoyed three- or four-week runs — often selling out each performance.
Riegel is particularly proud, however, of the center’s educational programs that reach tens of thousands of students every year. In addition, 1,400 free tickets are distributed annually to under-served communities in the Upstate.
“We’ve seen people who’ve never walked through our doors before and when they do, we try to make them feel that this is their home, too,” Riegel said.
The Peace Center is big business for Greenville, too, creating and sustaining jobs, and helping boost the local economy. The complex contributes particularly to downtown’s roaring economic engine.
A single Broadway blockbuster, for instance, can deliver a multimillion-dollar economic impact. In 2012, “The Lion King” provided an estimated $15 million shot in the arm to Greenville — just over the course of one month. The show brought thousands of people downtown, with many patrons visiting from outside the city and some from outside the state. A considerable number enjoyed Greenville restaurants and stayed in local hotels.
“The Lion King” tour hired two dozen local musicians and backstage crew to assist with costumes and wigs and in other capacities. The production, which returns to Greenville next season, in 2012 included 134 cast and crew members who stayed in local hotels and dined in local restaurants.
Plus, revenues from events sustain the Peace Center’s 52 full-time and 96 part-time jobs.
All of this is a boon for Greenville’s economy.
The Peace Center also has been central to the rebirth of downtown, many local observers say. In the early 1990s, the Peace Center and Hyatt Regency, located at two ends of a struggling Main Street, helped to spark the dynamic economic growth that, in turn, created the vibrant, award-winning downtown that Upstate residents cherish today.
“Along with its significant role in downtown’s revitalization, the Peace Center truly catalyzed an amazing level of interest and support for the arts from both the public and private sectors,” said Alan Ethridge, executive director of Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council.
The idea of building what came to be known as the Peace Center emerged as early as the late 1970s or early 80s with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, said Betty Peace Stall, who was president of the foundation that built the Peace Center.
The orchestra performed regularly at Furman University’s McAlister Auditorium but desired a newer and more centrally located venue.
In 1985, then-Mayor Bill Workman put together a task force to determine the cost of building a performing arts center.
The late Greenville attorney David Freeman proposed a public-private fundraising partnership. Fred Walker, who had recently retired as president of Henderson Advertising, chaired the campaign.
Three branches of Greenville’s prominent Peace family kicked off the capital fund drive by donating $10 million in 1986.
“I think we did it for the quality of life for the people in this region,” said Stall, whose grandfather, Bony Hampton Peace, was a longtime owner of The Greenville News.
“We didn’t have access to the things that come to the Peace Center these days,” she said.
Other prominent local residents, including the Jolley and Furman families, supported the effort.
Eventually, six branches of the Peace family would become involved with the project, Stall said.
A total of $42 million was raised in just a few years, with 70 percent of the money coming from private donations.
At the time, there were no large venues in Greenville capable of hosting major Broadway shows, although McAlister Auditorium provided space for classical concerts. The Greenville Memorial Auditorium, torn down in 1997, hosted big rock concerts — such as the last show by the original Lynyrd Skynyrd on Oct. 17, 1977, the day before the plane crash that claimed the lives of three members of the band.
Project leaders looked at more than 15 possible sites for the new performing arts center and settled on a 6-acre area on Greenville’s Main Street that was then occupied by “a hodgepodge of buildings,” Stall said.
“There was a paint shop in there, a construction office, a dry cleaner’s and a sewing plant,” Stall said. “There was an old coach factory. The first time I went in there, I stepped backwards on a dead pigeon. The Reedy River had been running different colors. That whole site really needed some help.”
More than 1,500 attended the Peace Center groundbreaking in September, 1988.
The Peace Center Concert Hall would have a capacity of 2,100 and feature state-of-the-art acoustics and technology.
Dorothy Hipp Gunter, meanwhile, donated $3 million for a second performance space, the 400-seat theater that later would be named the Gunter Theatre.
The Peace Center opened its doors for the first time on Nov. 19, 1990, hosting “First Night at Peace.”
The center bustled with artistic activity from the start. Jack Cohan, who served as the Peace Center’s executive director from 1989 to 1997, is particularly proud of the range of classical music legends he brought to the Peace Center in the early years. Many were visiting Greenville for the first time.
Violinist Itzhak Perlman, a friend of Cohan’s, performed at the Peace Center five times. Soprano Leontyne Price sang in the center’s first and second seasons. Other classical performers at the venue included soprano Kiri Te Kanawa, mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, pianist Andre Watts, violinist Joshua Bell, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma in recital with pianist Emanuel Ax.
Cohan recalled a visit by flutist James Galway, who phoned Cohan from the downtown Hyatt Regency with a minor emergency.
“Jack, I’ve ripped me trousers,” Cohan remembers Galway saying in his lilting Irish accent. “You’ve got to take me shopping.” (The two found some suitable clothes at a local haberdashery.)
The Peace Center featured Broadway greats Carol Channing and Rita Moreno. Also visiting were groups such as the Vienna Choir Boys, the Canadian Brass, the King’s Singers and the Alvin Ailey Dance Company.
Hal Holbrook offered his iconic portrayal of Mark Twain. Shirley MacLaine performed three concerts at the Peace Center before a European tour.
“We were doing a wide range of programming,” said Cohan, now a Travelers Rest resident who came to the Peace Center after leading a performing arts complex at the University of Connecticut. “There were loads of interesting and high-quality things in every category.”
Another early public performance at the center was a concert by the visiting USSR State Symphony, conducted by Edvard Tchivzhel, who, while in Greenville, requested and was granted asylum in the United States. Tchivzhel was appointed music director of the Greenville Symphony in 1999 and continues to serve in the position today.
The idea for the Peace Center originally came from the Greenville Symphony, of course, and classical musicians routinely praise the Concert Hall and Gunter Theatre for their fine acoustics.
Tchivzhel said both halls offer a “very clear, warm, rich and natural sound.”
He added, “That is why the Peace Center has become a wonderful, beloved home for the Greenville Symphony Orchestra.”
Stall credits Riegel, who became president and CEO in 1997, for the Peace Center’s smooth sailing over the past 19 years.
Under Riegel’s leadership, the center through the years has created an endowment of almost $28 million. Some interest from the endowment can be used for annual operations and capital expenses as well as a cushion when unexpected problems arise.
“It’s put away for a rainy day,” Riegel said.
Among Stall’s favorite events at the Peace Center are its educational programs for students.
“For children to be able to enjoy these performances is really exciting,” Stall said. “When I would be in the Multimedia Building (currently The Greenville News building) and look out at those yellow school buses at the Peace Center, it just made my heart leap.”
The Peace Center recently honored Stall for her many years as chairwoman of the Peace Center board by dedicating an art installation called “Butterflies for Peace.”
Created by artist Yuri Tsuzuki, “Butterflies for Peace” displays 200 stainless steel butterflies in flight, measuring between 6 and 12 inches each. It is located on the south side of the Concert Hall building, on an exterior wall facing the Reedy River.
“I was just blessed to have been a part of this,” Stall said. “It’s really gratifying to see the impact the Peace Center has had.”
Riegel, for her part, is focusing on the Peace Center’s next big project: a multimillion-dollar campaign to address a number of needs, upgrading or replacing boilers, the HVAC system, roofing, sound systems and lighting, among other priorities. The Concert Hall also needs new seats.
She’s confident the Peace Center’s generous supporters will once again step up to the plate.
“I’m grateful every single day for this opportunity to lead this organization,” Riegel said. “I’m grateful for the board and this beautiful facility and the donors and volunteers and staff. It takes a village and everybody is just fantastic. I’m confident we’ll make good strategic decisions for the next 25 years.”
Artisphere receives more than 1,000 applications for 2016 show
The 12th annual Artisphere presented by TD Bank received an unprecedented 1,091 artist applications for the 2016 event -- a 10 percent increase over last year’s applications. Show organizers attribute the rise in applications to an increased awareness of Greenville’s art-loving community as well as the festival’s track record for garnering meaningful sales for participating artists; 2015 exhibiting artists reported average sales of $7,300. This year’s jury review required an additional day to review all applicants.
“Artists apply to be considered in one of 17 different medium categories such as painting, sculpture, jewelry and glass,” stated Tod Tappert, Artisphere juror and vice president of the board of directors. “Each artist submits four images of their work and one image of their display booth. The jury panel scores all applicants, and the top scoring artists in each medium category are invited to exhibit at the show.”
The list of participating artists will be announced in early 2016.
This year’s panel included Greg Colleton, director of operations, Redux Contemporary Art Center, (Charleston, S.C.); P. A. Kessler, watercolor painter and Artisphere 2015 third place award winner (Hilton Head Island, S.C.); Jaydan Moore, artist in residence, Penland School of Craft (Penland, N.C.); Tod Tappert, painter and vice president for the Artisphere board of directors; and Valerie Zimany, assistant professor of art, Clemson University (Clemson, S.C).
Reported average artist sales earned the festival a spot on Art Fair Sourcebook’s Top 10 Fine Art Shows list three years in a row, and Artisphere organizers hope the 2016 sales will push the show higher in the rankings. “It is our goal to break into the Top 5,” stated board of directors president Marion Crawford. “With Greenville’s growing appreciation for original artwork and support from partners like TD Bank, we feel confident we can reach our goal.”
“TD Bank strives to support organizations that create a better place to live and work, and we believe that the arts play a vital role in sustaining Greenville’s vibrant quality of life,” said Cal Hurst, regional vice president, TD Bank. “TD is pleased to support Artisphere as its presenting sponsor for the 12th consecutive year and looks forward to seeing the positive results the festival continues to have on our community’s economic development.“
Artisphere is scheduled for May 13-15, 2016, in Greenville, S.C. For more information, visit www.artisphere.org.
Image: work by Megan Clark, 2015 Artisphere artist
Peace Center celebrates 25 years
From WYFF Greenville
Click here to see the video version of this report.
On November 19, 1990, what is now South Carolina's largest art center opened its doors.
Peace Center transformed downtown Greenville in the 90s.
On Thursday night, a woman who made it all possible was honored in a special way.
“In honor of Betty Stall for a vision that transformed Greenville,” said Peace Center President Megan Riegel.
Two hundred stainless steel butterflies now shine on the south side of Peace Center Concert Hall, all to honor Betty Peace Stall, who Riegel said made the performing arts center possible.
“She truly went every step of the way developing the Peace Center,” said Riegel.
Riegel said much like the transformation of a butterfly, Betty's vision transformed Greenville.
“It's so exciting to see what it has done for Greenville and to look around us and to see the beautiful things that have sprung up, and the Peace Center being at the heart of it,” said Stall.
Before the development of Peace Center, Stall said that area of town was not a place you'd want to go.
“It was a neglected part of town where you didn't want to be caught after dark,” said Stall.
This section of South Main was littered with rundown buildings, but after Peace Center opened its doors restaurants, shops and hotels started popping up.
“Across the river here was nothing but fields of kudzu and look at it now. You've got million-dollar condominiums across the street,” said Riegel.
Riegel said in the last 25 years, Peace Center has become the hub of cultural life in the Upstate.
“It is a magnificent, magical place,” said Riegel.
Riegel said you can expect even more in the next 25 years.
Crafters and artists invited to apply for sixth annual Indie Craft Parade
Indie Craft Parade is accepting artist applications for the sixth annual Indie Craft Parade, to be held September 18-20, 2015, in Greenville, S.C. Applications must be submitted before midnight EST on June 22, 2015, and will be accepted via the online form. Apply now!
At Indie Craft Parade, you'll find the best handcrafted goods in the following categories: 2D fine art (prints and originals), 3D fine art (ceramic, glass, wood, metal), fiber art (felted, knitted, crocheted, woven), wearables (jewelry, clothing, purses, hair accessories), paper goods (stationary, handmade books, paper crafts) and everything else (toys, pet accessories, home goods, garden). There will also be a selection of local food, so come ready to have a good time!
Crafters and artists who reside in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia are encouraged to submit their work for consideration. For details about the application and selection process, visit www.indiecraftparade.com.
Via: Indie Craft Parade
The Peace Center seeks senior vice president of development
The Peace Center of Greenville, South Carolina, seeks to fill the position of senior vice president of development.
Reporting to the president & CEO, the senior vice president of development is the Peace Center’s leading development professional responsible for the planning and implementation of all annual, capital, endowment and planned giving campaigns. The Peace Center successfully concluded a $23 million building renovation campaign in 2012 and administers a $2 million annual campaign. The next strategic direction for the organization will be developed through a board/management planning process to take place early next fall. The strategic plan will articulate an exciting future for the Peace Center, which will likely be realized through a major comprehensive fundraising campaign. The senior vice president is responsible for building the development department staff and program and concentrating on major gift relationships, which will enable the Peace Center to successfully realize its goals through the next major comprehensive campaign.
Required professional skills and abilities:
The ideal individual will possess the highest level of professional development knowledge, skills and experience, a collaborative spirit, excellent written and verbal communications skills, and the ability to manage an eclectic team of development professionals. Success in this role requires someone who is imaginative, highly self-motivated and who works in a self-directed manner.
A bachelor’s degree is required, as well as at least five years of experience as a senior development professional with a measurable record of major gift accomplishment. The successful individual will have the ability to manage the department’s day-to-day fundraising activity, the ability to conceptualize and organize specific campaigns and initiatives, and a total knowledge of state-of-the-art fundraising practices. This individual must be able to articulate a well-thought-through plan with clear goals and objectives and then manage the program areas to organize and carry out the plan. This position requires imaginative thinking and tremendous initiative. Excellent written and verbal communication, management, and organizational skills are essential. Proficiency in the Microsoft Office Suite of products, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint is necessary.
Interested candidates are invited to submit a cover letter and resume with a list of references and salary requirements in confidence to Mr. Dory Vanderhoof and Ms. Rosalind Bell, email@example.com.
The complete job description is available online.
Greenville Symphony receives $1 million bequest
From the Greenville News
Article by Paul Hyde
The Greenville Symphony Association has received a $1 million bequest from the estate of the late Mr. and Mrs. Wilson C. Wearn of Atlanta.
Wilson Wearn was the president and CEO of Multimedia Inc., which once owned The Greenville News.
"Mr. and Mrs. Wearn's bequest to the Greenville Symphony Association is a testament to their love of live, symphonic music, and we are incredibly grateful for their benevolence," said Greenville Symphony Association board president Bob Nachman in statement to the media.
"Their generous gift ensures the Greenville Symphony Orchestra will not only continue to play, but will continue to grow and thrive for future generations."
The Wearns, who lived in Greenville from 1953 until 2004, were active in civic, religious, arts and cultural institutions in Greenville.
Wilson C. Wearn, who was born in Newberry, was a graduate of Clemson University and served as an officer in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific during World War II.
He moved to Greenville to assist a group of local businessmen start a new television station called WFBC (now WYFF) and helped build a national media company in Greenville when WFBC merged with The Greenville News-Piedmont in 1968 to create Multimedia, Inc.
He served as president of Multimedia Inc. from 1966-1977, its CEO from 1978-1981, its chairman of the board from 1981-1989, and chairman emeritus from 1989-1995.
"Mr. and Mrs. Wearn were great supporters of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra and they understood the positive impact live orchestral music can make on the human spirit," said Greenville Symphony executive director Sherwood A. Mobley in a statement to the media.
"We are very honored that Mr. and Mrs. Wearn chose the Greenville Symphony Orchestra as the beneficiary of their extraordinary bequest," Mobley said. "Their legacy will live on in the performances of our musicians, the enjoyment of our patrons, and the enrichment of our community."
He served on various boards in Greenville and served as president of the Greenville Symphony Association from 1977-1978. Wearn died in May 2007.
Mildred Wearn was born in Alligator, Mississippi and grew up in Arlington, Texas before moving to Washington, D.C. where she met Wilson Wearn. According to the Wearns' daughter, Joan Gilbert, Mildren Wearn, affectionately known as "Millie" by her friends, was always by her husband's side as a supportive partner in all of his civic involvements. She died Dec. 15, 2014.
The Wearns were great supporters of the performing arts and had a special affinity for the Greenville Symphony Orchestra.
During a time when the orchestra was experiencing a financial shortfall, Wearn was credited with saving the orchestra by not only making a significant personal contribution, but also by soliciting personal friends and supporters.
"Without the continued support of Mr. and Mrs. Wearn throughout the years, the Greenville Symphony would not be the accomplished, highly professional orchestra it is today," Nachman said.