The City of Greenville and the Columbia Museum of Art are front and center in providing quality arts experiences for residents and visitors in their communities. Read more about these recipients of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts below, and find out more about all of the activities taking place as part of the South Carolina Arts Awards on May 11.
The City of Greenville, Government
From the public art on nearly every corner to the many museums and galleries that call the city home, Greenville is a haven for the arts.
However, as recently as the mid-1980s, Greenville was a far cry from its current status as the Upstate region’s cultural epicenter. The city’s Main Street was a four-lane road that bisected a tired downtown district. As business after business along Main Street either closed or fled to the suburbs, demolition crews moved in to raze the vacant buildings left behind. Realizing the future of its urban core was in jeopardy, the city launched an ambitious downtown revitalization project. In addition to narrowing Main Street, planting trees, and establishing commercial anchors, the project emphasized the arts.
It was this focused effort to revitalize downtown that fostered the public-private partnership responsible for creating the Peace Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 1999. Since then, the arts have been thoroughly integrated into multiple facets of the community fostering an environment that, today, abounds with public art installations, performing and visual arts venues, festivals celebrating nearly every arts discipline, and strong community-based arts organizations. Though this booming arts scene is exceptional in and of itself, the crux of the achievement is how the City of Greenville used the arts not only to help reverse the city’s downward trajectory but to nurture its unique sense of place.
The Columbia Museum of Art, Organization
The Columbia Museum of Art is a centerpiece of cultural life in downtown Columbia and has played a key role in the revitalization of the city’s Main Street corridor.
From its beginnings in the historic Taylor House in 1950 to the move to Main Street in 1998, the museum has transformed from a historic house museum to a major regional art institution serving more than 135,000 patrons each year. These visitors come to experience world-class collections of American, European, Asian and contemporary art exhibited in 20,000 square feet of gallery space and anchor the museum’s contributions to downtown tourism and the city’s economy.
The museum has placed education at the core of its mission and programs, with initiatives focused on engaging youth audiences, developing free programs for K-12 educators, college students, families and children. Programs for adults and seniors include opportunities for artistic growth and skill development. The museum has also pioneered programs that place the museum at the center of the city’s social scene with events and activities that entertain while they educate, combining visual and performing arts. The museum’s outreach efforts include multiple affiliate groups that focus on unique interests and offer their own range of programs.
The Columbia Museum of Art embraces the role of the modern museum as a catalyst for both progress and meaningful conversations with the community it serves.