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Tuning Up: Update on relief funding awards to S.C. arts orgs

Good morning!  "Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers curated, quick-hit arts stories of interest to readers. Sometimes there will be one story, sometimes there will be several. Get in tune now, and have a masterpiece of a day. And now, in no particular order...


The Columbia Museum of Art announces it has been selected as a recipient of a CARES Act economic stabilization grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The $150,000 award will support public programming associated with the upcoming major exhibition Visions from India: 21st-Century Art from the Pizzuti Collection. “I am pleased that the Columbia Museum of Art has received funding allocated through the CARES Act,” says Congressman James E. Clyburn. “The museum serves as a community center, art studio and entertainment venue. We must continue to support them as they strive to provide safe opportunities to participate in meaningful cultural experiences and connect with others.” From Oct. 17, 2020, through Jan. 10, 2021, the CMA will present Visions from India, a breathtaking sweep of 21st-century painting, sculpture, and multimedia works from India and its diaspora. The museum is eager to showcase this exhibition for diverse local and regional audiences and believes it will make an important impact on the community. The NEH is generously providing support for exhibition-related activities that require retaining humanities staff to maintain and adapt critical public programs.


Local arts organizations have received another infusion of COVID-19 relief funds thanks to a $100,000 contribution from Hollingsworth Funds Inc. The funding, which is being distributed by the Metropolitan Arts Council, was awarded to the following groups: Artisphere, Centre Stage, Greenville Chorale, Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville Symphony Orchestra, Greenville Theatre, Metropolitan Arts Council, Peace Center, South Carolina Children’s Theatre and Warehouse Theatre. Each of the 10 organizations will receive $10,000 within the next few days, said Alan Ethridge, executive director of the Metropolitan Arts Council.

Jason Rapp

Metropolitan Arts Council distributes relief funding in Greenville Co.

In conjunction with the Graham Foundation and the Canal Charitable Foundation, the Metropolitan Arts Council of Greenville is distributing $275,500 to 28 local arts organizations.

Metropolitan Arts Council“All of us at MAC are very pleased to be in a position to raise and provide this level of funding for these organizations that are such important assets to Greenville,” said Alan Ethridge, MAC executive director. The fund was started with a $102,000 withdrawal from the MAC Endowment for the Arts which was established in 2009 for the organization’s grants program.  “This is the first time we have withdrawn any funds from the endowment, but it was very important to do so given the projected losses of so many arts organizations,” said MAC board chairman Michael Cooper of TD Bank. “Once we realized the severity of the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the MAC board and staff went immediately to work to begin a relief fund.” “The Graham Foundation and the Canal Charitable Foundation contributed to the fund very generously,” Ethridge continued.  “Greenville is so fortunate to have such philanthropic partners who realize the importance of the arts in the vitality of our amazing city.  Throughout their histories, both entities have ensured that the arts have had a very visible presence in the community by providing very substantial funding to cultural initiatives.  It is a privilege to be working with both of them during these challenging times.” “Arts organizations have had to cancel/postpone performances, events, exhibits and fundraisers. That loss of income can be devastating. These relief funds will have a tremendous impact on our cultural community,” Artisphere Executive Director Kerry Murphy said. Holly Caprell, Greenville County Youth Orchestra executive director said, “I am so thankful for MAC’s dedication to helping small organizations like ours.  Looking ahead to our next season, there are so many unknowns.  This grant will help us bridge funding gaps and give us the freedom to plan projects that will encourage our students to grow musically.” Ethridge also said that additional relief funding may be necessary as we are not yet familiar with the distancing norms for the latter part of the year and 2021. “MAC will certainly assess the future needs of our organizational constituents and perhaps be able to provide additional relief funding. I certainly want to thank the MAC board of directors and staff, the executive committee and the endowment committee for making sure the fund came to fruition.” The 28 arts organizations receiving funding are Artisphere, Carolina Dance Collaborative, Carolina Music Museum, Centre Stage, Chicora Voices, Emrys, Foothills Philharmonic, GLOW Lyric Theatre, Greenville Center for Creative Arts, Greenville Chautauqua Society, Greenville Chorale, Greenville Concert Band, Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville County Youth Orchestra, Greenville Jazz Collective, Greenville Symphony Orchestra, Greenville Theatre, Greer Cultural Arts Council, International Ballet, Makers Collective (Indie Craft Parade), Mauldin Cultural Center, Peace Center, SC Bach, South Carolina Children’s Theatre, Vaughn Newman Dance, The Warehouse Theatre, Wits End Poetry and Younts Center for Performing Arts.

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Tuning Up: SCAC Fellows exhibition news

Good morning!  "Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers curated, quick-hit arts stories of interest to readers. Sometimes there will be one story, sometimes there will be several. Get in tune now, and have a masterpiece of a day. And now, in no particular order...

The Hub generally doesn't delve into exhibitions because of volume and their (no offense) rather ubiquitous nature. (Plus, that's why we offer Arts Daily.) However there are exceptions, so let's briefly cover those.
  • Newsworthy exhibitions. This is a must because The Hub is a news website, and we have a journalism degree. Yesterday's post about West Main Artists Co-op? First juried exhibition = newsworthy.
  • The other exception? South Carolina Arts Commission Fellows. #SCartists who receive that particular recognition for artistic excellence get promoted as we can, and The Hub caught wind that two are or will be exhibiting. So let's get you information on those.
  CONTINUUM | Sept. 13-Oct. 18, 2019 | Greenville Metropolitan Arts Council members who are SCAC Visual Arts Fellows are exhibiting at the council's offices. Those artists are Patti Brady, Jamie Davis, Ben Gilliam, Diane Hopkins-Hughs, Elizabeth Keller, Linda McCune, and Mike Vatalaro. An opening reception is TONIGHT from 6:30-8:30 p.m. with a 6 p.m. pre-reception talk by select artists. The exhibition is sponsored by TD Bank. 16 Augusta Rd., Greenville; M-F, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. MICHELLE VAN PARYS: BEYOND THE PLANTATIONS | Oct. 4, 2019 | Boone, N.C. The mountains? In the fall? Check and check. You'll have to act quickly on this one, as it runs only Oct. 4 and only from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Turchin Center for the Performing Arts at Appalachian State University (in conjunction with Boone's Art Crawl). Van Parys will provide an overview of her work as a photographer working with a large-format film camera in the American landscape. The talk will be held in the lecture hall followed by a Q & A session in the Mezzanine Gallery. 423 W. King St., Boone. Free. The S.C. Arts Commission salutes its fellows past and present. Applications are now open for FY2021 fellowships:

S.C. Arts Awards: Alan Ethridge

2018 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2018 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is taking 10 days to focus on this year's 10 recipients: five receiving the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts and five receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at USC. This week, the Verner Awards recipients are featured.
[caption id="attachment_34788" align="alignright" width="205"] Image courtesy of TownCarolina.com[/caption]

Alan Ethridge

Individual Category Before becoming Metropolitan Arts Council’s executive director in January 2006, Greenville native Alan Ethridge had served as director of marketing and development since January 2004. He did not replace himself upon taking the higher position and has performed the duties of both roles since. Under Ethridge’s leadership, MAC has exceeded the past year’s fundraising goal each year, and in 2016 its endowment surpassed $1 million. His cumulative fundraising total is $15 million, all of which is sent back into the community, fairly and responsibly, to more than 1,300 artists and almost 60 arts organizations. Further credited to Ethridge is his diligence in creating cohesion among the regional arts stakeholders, whereas in the past the atmosphere has been more territorial and competitive. Early in his MAC tenure, he brought larger organizations together through the “Cultural Coalition,” offering an avenue for collaboration that was previously non-existent. Put simply, Ethridge channels his efforts into facilitating the success of others – and his community at large. MAC partners with the city of Greenville to present Thursday night concerts in spring and summer months that attract more than 50,000 in annual attendance. When he began as executive director, 80 artists were participating in Greenville Open Studios – there are now more than 130. Nearly half a million people have visited Greenville artists and purchased more than $2.8 million in local art. After federal funding ended for the SmartArts program in Greenville schools, Ethridge's nearly single-handed efforts not only sustained the program, but enabled it to expand from just two schools to more than 60 and opened the possibility of grant funding to every public-school teacher in Greenville County. In addition to his MAC duties, Ethridge serves on the boards of the Greenville Convention & Visitors Bureau, Artisphere, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce and the Greenville Tech Department of Visual Arts. In 2010, Alan received the Excellence in Arts Leadership Award from the Chamber of Commerce and the Peace Center for the Performing Arts. Ethridge was previously director of donor research in the Office for Development at Clemson University, and prior to returning to Greenville in 1989, worked for Ogilvy & Mather Advertising in Atlanta and Henderson Advertising in Greenville. He is a 1982 summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa alumnus of Vanderbilt University, where he received a bachelor’s in English literature and fine arts.
South Carolina Arts Awards Day is Wednesday, May 2, 2018. Gov. Henry McMaster will present each recipient's award beginning at 10:30 a.m. in the State House. The event is open to the public. Following the ceremony, the South Carolina Arts Foundation honors the recipients and the arts community at the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon and Art Sale. Tickets are $50. Please go here for more information and reservations.

Arts Commission announces five 2018 recipients of Verner Awards for the Arts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 27 February 2018 COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Commission is announcing the five South Carolinians to receive the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts – the highest arts honor in the state – in 2018. The following five recipients from their respective categories are being recognized for outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina:

  • ARTIST: Tom Stanley, Rock Hill
  • INDIVIDUAL: Alan Ethridge, Greenville
  • ARTS IN EDUCATION: Dr. Anne S. Richardson, Columbia
  • BUSINESS: Bank of America, Columbia
  • ORGANIZATION: Ballet Spartanburg, Spartanburg
“Each recipient of these Verner Awards is an outstanding ambassador for our state and contributes greatly not just to the arts community, but the overall quality of life," S.C. Arts Commission Chairman Henry Horowitz said. "Such dedication to the arts benefits South Carolina’s people and, as we’ve just learned, adds to the arts’ $9.7 billion impact on our state’s economic vitality. As the Arts Commission nears completion of its 50th anniversary celebration, we are honored to recognize organizations and individuals who live out the service, commitment and passion that helped the arts here thrive throughout the last half century.” A diverse committee, appointed by the S.C. Arts Commission Board and drawn from members of the South Carolina community at large, reviews all nominations and, after a rigorous process, makes recommendations to the Board for final approval after a series of panel meetings produces a recommendation from each category. The 2018 Verner Awards are sponsored by Colonial Life. Awards will be presented Wednesday, May 2 in a morning ceremony at the State House. The S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients afterward during a fundraising luncheon at the USC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). South Carolina artists’ work will be on sale to support the programs of the S.C. Arts Commission. Luncheon tickets are $50 per person and are to be available for purchase by mid-March. For more about the Verner Awards or the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon, call 803.734.8696 or visit SouthCarolinaArts.com.
  • Tom Stanley (Artist Category) is the recently retired chair of the Winthrop University Department of Fine Arts. He was the first director of the university galleries and became department chair in 2007. The native Texan earned two graduate degrees from USC and taught on college faculties in Arkansas and Florida before returning to South Carolina. He increased student artist and department visibility while at Winthrop through partnerships in both Carolinas. His work has been exhibited throughout the southeast and in four European countries, and he has completed commissions for public art in several states. He resides in Rock Hill.
  • Alan Ethridge (Individual Category) became executive director of the Metropolitan Arts Council in Greenville in 2005 and maintains the position after previously serving as its director of marketing and development. A tireless and selfless advocate of the arts, he has universal recognition in the Upstate for playing a critical, leading role in fostering a growing arts environment. Ethridge is a summa cum laude graduate of Vanderbilt University and previously worked in fundraising at Clemson University. He resides in Greenville.
  • Dr. Anne S. Richardson (Arts in Education Category) entered the teaching profession in the late 1980s while continuing to dance professionally until 1995. She started a jazz dance company in Columbia in 1987 and taught ballet in various public schools while earning her graduate degrees. In 2001 she began the dance program at Palmetto Center for the Arts. She aspires to create original thinking through arts integration in her students at Westwood High School in Blythewood, where she is a drama teacher and former chair of the fine arts department. She resides in Columbia.
  • Bank of America (Business Category) has a rich history of commitment to the arts, which translates into global programs as well as local support for what is most relevant in each community it serves. In South Carolina, the bank has given more than $2 million to support the arts across the state and arts disciplines in recent years, its associates have contributed 81,000 volunteer hours in the last five years, and associates will serve on four boards in 2018. Its South Carolina headquarters are in Columbia.
  • The mission of Ballet Spartanburg (Organization Category) is to promote dance and dance appreciation in Spartanburg County and surrounding areas by providing the highest quality dance training, education, performance, and outreach. Ballet Spartanburg is recognized as a regional dance company with an exceptional commitment to education and outreach activities in the Upstate. It is headquartered in Spartanburg.

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 works 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, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.

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 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.

Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council marks new fundraising record

From The Greenville News Article by Paul Hyde

[caption id="attachment_25924" align="alignright" width="300"]greenvilleMACawards Lorraine Goldstein and Hal Weiss accept the 2015 MAC Lifelong Support of the Arts Award at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Metropolitan Arts Council in Gunter Theatre on Tuesday, March 29, 2016.[/caption] Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council raised a record of more than $2 million in 2015, MAC board chairman Charles Ratterree announced Tuesday. Most of the money generated helps to support dozens of Greenville arts groups and artists. “This allows us to provide record high grants to individuals, arts organizations and arts education programs,” said MAC executive director Alan Ethridge. Among MAC's grants recipients, eight local arts groups received $25,000 each in operating support. Those organizations are Artisphere, Centre Stage, Greenville Chorale, Greenville Little Theatre, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, the Peace Center, the South Carolina Children’s Theatre and the Warehouse Theatre. MAC also committed $10,000 to the Greenville County Museum of Art to purchase works by Greenville-area artists for its permanent collection. To support its grants, MAC receives donations from a variety of sources: individuals, corporations, foundations, the city of Greenville’s accommodations tax, the South Carolina Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Greenville’s arts scene has never been more vibrant and prosperous, Ratterree said, speaking at MAC’s annual meeting at the Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre. “We are in the midst of an arts renaissance in Greenville, with over 60 arts nonprofits that display not only the incredible talent in our community but an enthusiasm for sharing with others,” Ratterree said. “One of the great things about Greenville is the idea that the arts are for everybody. Many arts events are free and open to the public.” Now in its 43rd year, MAC also provided $111,336 for specific programs or projects to 60 schools, individual artists and local arts organizations, Ratterree said. Ratterree announced that last year’s Open Studios, a weekend MAC event that spotlights Greenville’s visual arts community, involved 132 artists, generated a record $277,548 in sales and was attended by 41,284 people. Before announcing MAC’s annual awards, Ethridge remembered Sherwood Mobley, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra’s executive director who passed away Feb. 26. MAC honored several Greenville arts leaders. The MAC Visionary Award went to Sally Potosky and Caroline McIntyre, sisters who lead the Greenville Chautauqua Society. The MAC Lifelong Support of the Arts Award was presented to local arts philanthropists Lorraine Goldstein and Hal Weiss. The Carl R. Blair Award for Commitment to Arts Education went to Dr. Gary Robinson, a faculty member of the Fine Arts Center and longtime director of the Young Artist Orchestra, one of the ensembles of the Greenville County Youth Orchestras. The Young Supporter of the Arts Award was presented to Elizabeth and Michael Fletcher. Elizabeth Fletcher is the vice president for strategy and business development for Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. Michael Fletcher is a real estate broker and attorney. The TD Bank Business and the Arts Partnership awards went to: McKinney Dodge Ram Chrysler Jeep & Mazda (businesses under 100 employees) and BMW Manufacturing Company, LLC (businesses with 100 or more employees). The Put Your Heart in the Arts Volunteer of the Year Award went to Carl Sykes.

Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council marks new fundraising record

From The Greenville News Story by Paul Hyde

Greenville's Metropolitan Arts Council raised a record of $2 million in 2014, MAC executive director Alan Ethridge announced this week. Most of that money helps support dozens of Greenville arts groups and artists. "This allows us to provide record high grants to individuals, arts organizations and arts education programs," Ethridge said. "It's groundbreaking." At its annual meeting, MAC recognized several Greenville leaders for their support for the arts. Steve Brandt, who retired last fall after a long career as publisher of The Greenville News, received the Lifelong Support of the Arts Award. Since arriving in Greenville in 1978, Brandt has served on the boards of several Greenville arts organizations — including stints as chairman of Artisphere and the Peace Center. Brandt, as publisher of The Greenville News, supported extensive arts coverage by the newspaper. "Steve is an eloquent, wildly intelligent, thoughtful leader who is tremendously good at building consensus," said Peace Center president Megan Riegel. "He was the perfect executive to chair the Peace Center's board during its $23 million capital campaign." Thanks to increases in fundraising, MAC is providing more financial support to local arts organization than ever before, Ethridge said. Nine local arts organizations will receive $25,000 each in operating support. Those organizations are Artisphere, Carolina Ballet Theatre, Centre Stage, Greenville Chorale, Greenville Little Theatre, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, the Peace Center, the South Carolina Children's Theatre and the Warehouse Theatre. Those grants were $10,000 per organization in 2006. They've steadily increased to the current $25,000 per organization, thanks to MAC's fundraising, Ethridge said. Now in its 42nd year, MAC also provided a record-high of $193,321 in project support grants for specific programs. Those grants went to 19 schools, 20 individual artists and 53 arts organizations. Ethridge announced that last year's Open Studios, a weekend MAC event that spotlights Greenville's visual arts community, involved 121 artists, generated $215,880 in sales and was attended by 44,801 people. "It was a great year," Ethridge said. Ethridge announced also that MAC's endowment had raised $768,117. MAC plans to use income from the endowment to provide additional financial support to Greenville arts organizations. The endowment made its debut last year with an eventual goal of $25 million. Such a hefty endowment could produce an income of $1 million in annual support for Greenville arts organizations. The endowment is a long-term project but MAC plans to embrace ambitious fundraising goals every year — including a goal of $1 million in 2015. Most of that is expected to come from individual and corporate sources. Only a small portion is likely to be raised from government contributions, Ethridge said. "It's going to ensure the sustainability of the artists and arts organizations that make Greenville a truly fabulous city," Ethridge said. For its general budget, MAC receives donations from a variety of sources: individuals, corporations, foundations, the city of Greenville's accommodations tax, the South Carolina Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. MAC recognized several arts leaders at its annual meeting. Kerry Murphy, executive director of Artisphere, received the MAC Visionary Award. Shirely Sarlin, a veteran Greenville stage actress, was recognized with the Put Your Heart in the Arts Volunteer of the Year Award. The TD Bank Business and the Arts Partnership awards went to: Productions Unlimited, Inc. (businesses under 100 employees) and Greenville Heath System (businesses with 100 or more employees). The Carl R. Blair Award for Commitment to Arts Education went to Jon Jeffrey Grier, instructor of advanced placement music theory, advanced topics in music and honors music history at the Fine Arts Center, the magnet school for young students in the arts. Kacee Lominack, development assistant for the Greenville Symphony, received the Young Supporter of the Arts Award.

Local (Greenville) artists open their studios Nov. 8-9

The 13th annual Greenville Open Studios takes place Nov. 8-9 and features 129 artists and their studios. Visit the Metropolitan Arts Council's website for a list of the artists, maps, an app and more info. From The Greenville News (Editorial):

Greenville did not become known for its arts and culture by accident. It took much hard work, a bold vision and an appetite for taking risks to create a lively and welcoming environment that has both inspired artists to push forward with their calling and nurtured a community that has appreciated and rewarded those artists. Much as Artisphere has done in the spring to promote the arts and publicly declare this community’s love and support for them, Open Studios has done in the fall by allowing people to take a tour of the world of local artists. Like most local events that have exploded in popularity, Open Studios started small, in November 2002. The idea for the event came with Patti Brady when she moved to the Upstate from San Francisco, according to a Greenville News story by Ann Hicks, who was the newspaper’s arts writer at the time. Brady had experience with such projects on the West Coast, and wanted to bring the concept to Greenville where the public could visit artists’ studios. Fifty-nine artists signed up for the first Open Studios tour in 2002 that had a simple mission, according to the story: “Meet the artists. Ask questions. Watch them create. Buy original artwork.” At that time Open Studios had goals similar to what they are today. From the beginning Open Studios gave voice to local artists so they could make people familiar with what they do and how they do it, according to that first news story. And the event helped artists create a sense of community, and people who once worked alone started to know each other. From these experiences a deeper appreciation for the arts and greater familiarity with local artists took root in our community. And those local artists began to meet and collaborate. This weekend 129 artists will be participating in Open Studios, and 29 of them will be new to the event. Artists will showcase their work in a variety of media that includes painting, sculpting, print-making, stained glass, metalsmithing, textiles, mosaics, ceramics and mixed media. As Alan Ethridge, executive director of the Metropolitan Arts Council that coordinates this event, wrote in an op-ed on these pages on Sunday, “These artists have invested their valuable time and resources to ensure that the weekend promises something for everyone from an avid art collector to a first-time buyer or a curious observer.” Here’s how Open Studios works: There are many ways that you can see where the artists and their studios are located. You can dig out your official catalog that ran last week in this newspaper, you can call the MAC office at 864-467-3132 or you can visit www.greenvilleARTS.com. You also can download an app at www.greenvillearts.com. (Don’t simply go to your phone’s App Store or you could end up with a tour in another state). Open Studios traditionally has taken place on Saturday and Sunday, and this year the hours are Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from noon until 6 p.m. Some studios will be open on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m., and those are listed in the materials about the event. After you plan your tour, get ready to meet some great local artists and interact with them inside their studio. You can talk about what inspires them, ask questions about how they approach their painting or sculpture, and even watch them while they work. You also can purchase some of the best local art you will see in our area. More than 350,000 people have visited various studios since this event began in 2002, and those patrons have purchased about $2 million in art from our local artists. Sculptor Dave Appleman, who will be participating for his fourth year in Open Studios, explained the appeal of the event to Greenville News arts writer Paul Hyde. “I’ve enjoyed it because it gives artists an opportunity to talk about our work. People have a lot of questions and I enjoy talking about what I do and showing my work.” The arts are vital to Greenville. The arts enhance our community’s quality of life and give greater meaning to the lives of people who live here. Make no mistake though, the arts are a powerful tool for economic development and most certainly have played a major role in the growth and success of the Greenville area. They help attract not only businesses and entrepreneurs to our community, but also they bring money into our community. The arts account for an overall annual economic impact of about $200 million in Greenville County. Events such as Open Studios would not be possible without generous corporate support, the expertise of groups such as the Metropolitian Arts Council, and, of course, the artists themselves who are eager to share of their time and talent. This year’s event is free as Open Studios has been since its humble beginnings. The 2014 presenting sponsors are Regions Bank and SEW Eurodrive. Other sponsors and volunteers also have helped bring this event back for its 13th year. Map out your plans for the weekend. Visit as many studios as you can. Talk to some great local artists. And don’t go home empty-handed.

The arts — a tool in every community’s toolbox

Thanks to G.P. McLeer for sharing his thoughts on this topic. Building a community is hard work. Imagine a room of 100 hungry, tired and opinionated toddlers, and then try to create a place where every child walks around with a smile on their face, content with their surroundings. This is essentially what building a modern community is like. When community leaders sit down to plan how to better develop their city/town/state, they have a lot of things to consider: public safety, public health, infrastructure, logistics, opinions (a lot of those), industry needs, residential needs, quality of life enhancements - the engines of growth that make this “machine” move forward. Community leaders, volunteers, officials and stakeholders can all be considered the “builders” of a community, and the community itself a monstrous machine. To build, maintain, fix and continue to develop this machine, the builders have an equally large tool box full of helpful instruments that assist in measuring, tightening, loosening, adjusting and building additional components. For the builders of a community, these tools include things such as sewer and power lines, asphalt, garbage trucks, police cars, hospitals, fire stations, arts centers or councils, parks, zoning requirements, codes, laws, regulations and city hall. Wait a minute -- did I just say "arts centers and councils?" Yes, I did. No longer should someone see the arts as a sign of solely a “healthy," “successful” or “rich” community.  The arts are not solely a sign of success; they are not an amenity, a frill or elitist. The arts are one among many tools to be used by communities at all stages – developing, new, old, successful, struggling – to assist in constructing the framework of a place that is more than an interstate stop or a point on a map, but a place called home, a place called vacation, a place that puts a smile on every “toddler's” face. The arts are in every community's tool box, but it is up to its leaders to take out the arts and apply them to their machine.  A community that ignores the arts as a tool, but rather regards the arts as an added benefit, neglects not only the functionality of its community, but sets their community afloat without any agent to bond the people together. A community that doesn't acknowledge art as a vital component of infrastructure, or at the very least an important part of their machine,  is broken before it's even turned “on." When successful communities revitalize themselves, re-identify themselves, or develop themselves, they include the arts. In 1982, more than a dozen corporate leaders from Greenville, South Carolina, traveled to Memphis, Tennessee – not to discuss business stats or company policies -- but to talk arts. As Greenville began looking at revitalizing its downtown, corporate leaders took notice of the important role their companies could play in helping arts organizations re-invigorate the community.  This trip, organized by Greenville's Metropolitan Arts Council and the Memphis Arts Council, sparked a discussion that no doubt was the starting point for using the arts as a tool for community development. Greenville is the perfect example of what is possible when the arts are viewed as a tool and is one of the most creatively inspired and arts friendly downtowns in the country.  Meanwhile, Fountain Inn, S.C., is well on its way to capitalizing on its arts offerings, and right here in Mauldin, we're working hand-in-hand with our community leaders to ensure that our programs at the Mauldin Cultural Center are geared towards strengthening our great community. I urge you all to start looking at the arts not just as a way to advance your local arts organization's mission, but as a vital tool in building your community. G.P. McLeer is executive director of the Mauldin Cultural Center in Mauldin, South Carolina.  

G.P. McLeer