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South Carolina through the eyes of its artisans

Kudos to our colleagues at the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism for this art-inspired promotional video produced for the state’s tourism marketing program. Artisans featured are claysmith Rob Gentry of Pendleton, basket artists Angela and Darryl Stoneworth of Mt. Pleasant, and painter Mary Gilkerson of Columbia.

South Carolina is home to an array of artistic talent. Whether you’re touring an art gallery or admiring a sweet grass basket stand on Highway 17, you’ll discover every piece of art captures the local pride of the Palmetto State. Check out this short video highlighting a few of the artisans behind these works, and get inspired for your next trip to South Carolina.
Via: South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism

City of Rock Hill named first cultural district in S.C.

The South Carolina Arts Commission has named Rock Hill’s downtown as the first state-recognized cultural district in South Carolina. A cultural district is an easily identifiable geographic area with a concentration of arts facilities and assets that support cultural, artistic and economic activity. Rock Hill was the first city to apply for the new cultural district designation, which was created by the S.C. General Assembly and Gov. Nikki Haley in 2014. City officials will use the cultural district designation to attract visitors and residents to downtown and promote the area as a hub of arts and culture. City of Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols commented, “Rock Hill’s cultural initiatives thrive because of successful partnerships among local government, community organizations, the business community and patrons of the arts. We are confident this designation will lead to increased notoriety and economic development opportunities. I’m proud that the South Carolina Arts Commission honored us with this title, once again proving that Rock Hill is always on!” The Arts Council of York County coordinated the application process, working with local leaders and Arts Commission staff to develop a map of cultural assets and a strategic plan for the district. “The cultural district recognition will enhance what is already a vibrant arts scene,” said Arts Council Executive Director Debra Heintz. “Promoting our downtown as a cultural district will increase support for existing businesses and attract new ones. Being identified with a cultural center is a plus for artistic organizations and other organizations, such as banks and restaurants that support the arts.” Those non-arts businesses are important pieces of a cultural district, says Ken May, S.C. Arts Commission executive director. “A successful cultural district attracts creative enterprises, such as galleries and theatres, whose patrons want to dine out and shop, so nearby retail and other businesses benefit from that increased economic activity.” The S.C. Arts Commission staff will assist communities in developing a brand and marketing their cultural districts. “The cultural districts legislation is a vibrant new initiative for the S.C. Arts Commission that entwines the value of the arts with the benefits of economic growth to promote a thriving local arts environment,” said Arts Commissioner and Rock Hill resident Dr. Sarah Lynn Hayes. “This program was developed after reviewing successful cultural district designations in other states and gathering input from key S.C. stakeholders, including representatives from economic development, tourism, local government and the arts. Naturally I am thrilled that Rock Hill is the first community to embrace this concept and that other communities have begun the work to achieve this designation. The Arts Commission is excited and ready to support others wishing to join Rock Hill.” Other states with similar cultural district programs include Massachusetts, Kentucky, Texas and Colorado. For complete guidelines, visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com or contact Rusty Sox, (803) 734-8899 or rsox@arts.sc.gov.  

Rock Hill plans for first state-recognized cultural district

From the Rock Hill Herald: Story by Anna Douglas

Rock Hill may soon become the first city in South Carolina to have a state-recognized cultural district in its downtown area. The Arts Council of York County has been working with local and state leaders the past several months to apply for cultural district designation through the South Carolina Arts Commission. The initiative was approved by state lawmakers late last year. Gaining recognition for downtown Rock Hill as a cultural district should attract visitors, businesses and foot traffic to the area, said Debra Heintz, Arts Council executive director. The application for the designation is backed by the Rock Hill City Council, but the Arts Council will manage the district and its marketing efforts. Heintz said the establishment of a downtown cultural district fits into other efforts underway in the area and in the neighboring textile corridor along West White Street. There, city officials and a private developer have plans to build a high-tech business park, called “Knowledge Park,” along with residential, entertainment and retail buildings. Recent downtown development – which includes a new park, four-story office building, street upgrades and a proposed apartment building – and the future Knowledge Park aim to attract the “creative class” to Rock Hill, Heintz said. The term creative class generally refers to young people or young families who have creative or high-tech jobs, are college-educated and seek to be engaged with activities in their home city. “These kinds of folks look for lively entertainment options” like films, festivals, live music and art, Heintz said. Already, she said, downtown Rock Hill has a diverse art and culture scene. With a new state cultural district distinction, she said, the Arts Council will help brand, market and promote the downtown area as a hub for creative activity. Potential benefits of the new district classification, Heintz said, include attracting more businesses to downtown and increasing the city’s chances when applying for grant money to support local art and cultural activities. The goal is for downtown Rock Hill to be “the center of cultural, artistic and economic activity.” The district’s downtown boundaries, if approved by the state, are Elizabeth Lane to Dave Lyle Boulevard, running along Main, White and Black streets. This week, the City Council signed off on the cultural district plan, with several council members expressing excitement and support for the Arts Council’s goals. Heintz said the city has not been asked to spend any money on the district. At some point, she said, money for marketing or public arts may be available from the state, but not yet. Rock Hill is an early adopter and will serve as a “pilot site” for the new state designation, said Rusty Sox of the South Carolina Arts Commission. Sox is the program director for the new cultural designation initiative. Four cities or towns, including Rock Hill, are working on applying for the designation. Next month, Sox said, the state commission’s board could meet and approve Rock Hill’s application, making it the first city in the state to earn the designation. Less than 15 states nationwide have a program for establishing cultural districts in cities and towns, Sox said. South Carolina has started its program at a time when “there’s not a lot of money to put behind it,” he said. For now, the main goal of the district designation is “all about image and identity,” he said. In the future, Sox hopes the Arts Commission will be able to partner with other state agencies to provide funding or other support for local cultural districts. The various goals of designated cultural districts include attracting artists and creative entrepreneurs to South Carolina communities. Proponents of the program say cultural districts encourage economic development, foster local cultural identities, and attract tourists and promote contributions to public art. In preparing Rock Hill’s application for the district designation, the Arts Council made a “cultural inventory” of facilities and programs in downtown. Major sites on the list include the Arts Council’s Center for the Arts and its Community Performance Arts Center; the York County Culture and Heritage Museum’s Children’s Museum on Main Street; the outdoor amphitheater on Black Street; and the new Fountain Park on Elizabeth Lane. In total, more than a dozen buildings or programs were listed on the inventory. As part of the application process, officials with the state Arts Commission visited Rock Hill last month to evaluate arts and cultural sites. If approved, Rock Hill’s cultural district designation would be in effect for five years, with the Arts Council and others tracking investments and growth in the area. Cities with cultural districts will be asked to track the number of visitors to the area, the building occupancy rate, tourism activity, sales tax collections, employment figures, and the volume of art-based industries.

Arts agencies, visitor bureaus and destination marketing organizations invited to apply for award

Application deadline is Sept. 9, 2013. Americans for the Arts has partnered with Destination Marketing Association International to establish the 2013 Arts Destination Marketing Award. The Arts Destination Marketing Award is presented annually to leaders from destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and/or convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs) and local arts agencies that work collaboratively using the arts to market the community as a travel destination. This award recognizes the importance of a strong relationship between a community’s destination marketing organizations and its local arts agency. A total of two awards will be presented at The National Arts Marketing Conference, November 9-11, 2013, in Portland, Oregon. The application deadline is Sept. 9, 2013. The application process is simple, and complete guidelines are listed on the application, along with a link to a cultural and heritage-focused toolkit. For more information, e-mail Theresa Cameron at Americans for the Arts. Via: Americans for the Arts