What is this?

This blog will be a resource for recording thoughts, ideas, schemes, and anything else that develops on the way to forming a unified voice and center for the Charleston arts community. Everything presented here is subject to change.

How does this work?

There will be a designated set of authors who will be responsible for posting topics for discussion, to begin with anyone may comment on a discussion topic or suggest a new post but only the authors may post new topics (this is mostly to avoid spamming and over posting). In time this can develop into an online wiki or discussion board style web page of information and ideas, but at the moment a blog is the most direct, immediate and open way to track the development of the ideas being developed. if you have a suggestion or want to post please send email to

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Charleston Arts Coalition by Elaine Hruska

Posted in This Month's Easel
(The Newsletter from the Charleston Artist Guild)

The Charleston Arts Coalition by Elaine Hruska

Back in the spring an open forum was held at Redux Studio to discuss the lack of affordable space in downtown Charleston for artists. Passionate individuals from within the arts community subsequently met to exchange ideas and continue the conversation; a grass-roots organization was born.

Today The Charleston Arts Coalition is a formal organization whose mission it is to unite, enhance and sustain the greater Charleston arts community. Jessica Bluestein, of the Tate Center for Entrepreneurship at the College of Charleston, is president.

The Coalition is a forum for creative individuals and organizations from all artistic disciplines to collaborate on projects, exchange ideas, and host special events, all with the goal of promoting
Our very talented and gifted artistic community.

This new organization is seeking feedback from musicians, artists, performers, dancers, architects, designers, filmmakers, writers, poets, publishers, chefs, patrons and visual & performing arts organization. A survey is being taken in order to understand how to best serve Charleston’s creative community. The organization would greatly appreciate our Guild members taking the time to visit their web site, www.charelstonartscoalition.com, to take part in this survey.

“We'’d like to hear from you. You are Charleston’s creative class, a driving force for economic development in the greater Charleston area” says Bluestein.

One of the first projects that has resulted from the formation of the Coalition is a new web site, www.CharlestonCulture.com. This interactive and comprehensive website will be a virtual home for our community to share its creativity with each other and the world.

Personally I’'m proud to be part of this new vehicle that will unite the entire arts community, support our colleague’s endeavors and allow all our voices to be heard by a wider audience. I believe the Coalition will be of great benefit to our members and I hope in turn you will be supportive of its efforts.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Survey Is Finished

In order to better know what Charleston's Creative Community is in need of, the CAC has put together a very quick survey.

The Coalition is seeking feedback from Musicians, Artists, Performers, Dancers,
Architects, Designers, Filmmakers, Writers, Poets, Publishers, Chefs,
Patrons, and Visual & Performing Arts Organizations. Please take our survey
so that we can learn how to best serve YOU. You are Charleston's Creative
Class, a driving force for economic development in the greater Charleston

TAKE THE SURVEY and guide us with your feedback as to how the Coalition can best serve you at:


The Charleston Arts Coalition
Create. Unite. Inspire.


Website Update

The wonderful local web company Butter Fat (www.butterfat.net) is almost finished building the CharlestonCulture.com website for the arts community in Charleston.

WOW! This is exciting news. This site will have it all and will have it completely independently of any other single organization in Charleston, the only people that are involved in promoting the site are the volunteer members of the CAC, they do not own or control the site, YOU DO, Charleston's Creative Community. Once complete, the creative community will have control over dispersing their own information and increase the visibility of the Arts by managing their own content. Yup, no big brother watching over.

A couple things that I'm excited about:
There are no advertisements on the site.
Individual artists (not just organizations) can post their own information and update it.
There is only a $20 fee to be a member of the site (and if you can't afford this there are scholarships available). The money generated from the site is 100% used to promote the site both locally and nationally.
I think more than anything else, the calendar, which any member can post their events on, is going to be wonderful. Imagine clicking on "Friday" and knowing every art "Happening" in town from the biggest music event to a small opening that a local painter or architect is having in their living room.

It's going to be amazing and is a very needed resource for Charleston. Thank you to everyone that has been donating their time to make it happen, especially the guys at Butter Fat.

Below is a sneak peak of what it will look like.


Thursday, July 31, 2008


One of the first goals of the newly formed Charleston Arts Coalition is to create a website. Please see the proposed idea below and as always feel free to email any ideas, changes, or input to the group. We're always looking for members and support!  You will find below just a general outline of the website and how we will be creating it. All of this is open to change.


Main Categories: Visual / Literary / Film / Theatre & Dance / Music / Culinary / Wearable / Art Supporters

charlestonculture.com would be the foremost Arts promoter in the Charleston area providing a network of arts information and resources, which connects all sectors of community life, and is accessible to the general public. The site also creates an avenue to foster a dynamic arts environment by: broadening public access, appreciation, participation, and education in the arts and culture of the area.

About & Need:

charlestonculture.com is needed in Charleston so that the creative community can have control over dispersing their own information and increase the visibility of the Arts by managing their own content. charlestonculture.com will have:

a customizable, user-friendly web interface
a searchable calendar of events
directory listings for organizations, venues, and schools
individual artist profile listings
online forms for community submissions
and much more

please refer to the creativewilmington.com site as a model. Charlestonculture.com will consist of over 1200 creative categories in 8 disciplines.

Purpose & People:

The Charleston Arts Coalition, a team dedicated to unifying the arts in Charleston, will be initially responsible for promoting the site among Charleston's art community. CAC is a newly established Charleston based arts group, working for a broad public understanding of, and appreciation for, the positive impact the arts play in enriching cultural, economic, and intellectual life in our community (the CAC's full mission statement and memorandum of understanding are currently in development).

A portion of the annual fee generated from the site will be used to market the web site through various media. The advertising will be done locally, and everyone on the site must live, work, or be able to work in the Charleston area. The website will be developed and maintained by Modular Graphics & Media of Wilmington, North Carolina.

The Board of Directors of charlestonculture.com includes one or two people from each discipline.
*this list is subject to change before the launch date, set for September and is just preliminary.  If you are interest in being a board member please email or call.

Visual - Anne (Gallery Director) & Karin (Artist & Director)
Literary - Marcus (Writer)
Film - Jason (Videographer) & Kevin (Photographer)
Theatre & Dance - Emily (Preforming Arts Advisor) & Sharon (Performer)
Music - Quinton (Musician) & Matt (Musician)
Culinary - Colleen (Culinary Supervisor) & Mickey (Restaurant Manager)
Wearable - Ashley (Boutique Owner)
Supporters - Andrea (Gallery Owner) & Elaine (Charleston Artist Guild)

In addition to this list there are supports and volunteers working under each of the directors.

The Executive Directors of the site are:
Megan (Gallery Owner & Web Designer) & Olivia (Magazine Owner & Graphic Designer)


Thursday, July 10, 2008

thanks sarah yoder

we have been getting lots of nice emails and after we have our task force meeting on monday i am sure more people will post them, but here is one i just got that seems helpful

hello, my name is sarah boyts yoder, i'm an artist (painter) here in charleston. i used to have a studio over at spark gallery & studios and am a member at redux...
i attended the first meeting re. arts space in downtown charleston at redux a while back and have since been keeping up with the blog, etc.

i just came across this website from a company in boston, ma. they seem to address the same issues at hand here in charleston in an interesting way. artists, developers, real estate companies/agencies working together. there certainly is no shortage of any of these people in charleston..

anyway, thought i would pass along something interesting and related to the discussion here.

sarah boyts yoder



Friday, July 4, 2008

What People are Saying

I wanted to share some snippets from a few of the many emails we have received following the last panel, comments from the cards filled out at the panel, and also a very important thing that John Stoehr noted in the paper. I don't mean to misrepresent anything expressed by only posting parts of your emails and article but I think the ideas, concerns, and passion expressed should be shared.

John Stoehr's City Paper Article:

"...Think about what’s happened since October. PURE Theatre left its space at the Cigar Factory. It’ll be turned into condos. The American Theater is going to converted into space for wedding receptions. Buxton’s East Bay Theatre got shuttered. The leases for Charleston Ballet Theatre and Redux Contemporary Art Center will run out at the end of 2009. As for live music venues, Cumberland’s and the Map Room closed their doors. And this week, we learned that The Plex in North Charleston is going to be demolished to make way for an office building..."

Link to the full article: http://arts.ccpblogs.com/2008/07/01/the-magical-thinking-of-a-peoples-arts-center/

Emails & Comments from Cards:

"...I am saddened to learn that Charleston doesn't have an arts council, that there is no professional repertory theater company, no opera company, no modern dance companies, no contemporary art museum, no science museum, etc. The only contemporary art center studio - Redux - is losing its lease; the only contemporary theater company - PURE (albeit non-equity is continually searching for a home), that most of the downtown galleries sell beautiful marsh landscapes and the Gibbes Museum seems out of step due to lack of funds and vision..."

"..I wanted to share a perspective that might be helpful, as it appears you are just starting out. And that is to focus not on what you need for the community and for artists today, but for what you want the community to be like 20 and 30 and 50 years from now. What is your vision for the future of the community, if your work is successful?..."

"Raising money to buy or restructure a building does not solve the problem of operating costs..."

"...The facts say Charleston survives on the hospitality/tourism industry. Real estate is at a premium and too expensive to attract significant numbers of emerging or even experienced working artists. Also, there hasn't been an effort from city officials that is inviting and welcoming to artists with tax incentives and policies regarding artist housing and mixed-use development. I think Americans for the Arts did a study that reveals less than 1% of the artists in SC make their living as artists. Have you ever wondered why the City of Charleston, individual artists and the preservationists have never come together to discuss incentives and fixed leases for artists to rehab the dilapidated and boarded-up buildings for living and gallery space?..."

"Thank god! finally an arts coalition!"

"...Look at Peekskill, NY best practice where the Westchester Arts Council was instrumental in persuading NYC artists to relocate to Peekskill to revitalize downtown Peekskill through tax incentives and fixed leases. In no time buildings were spruced up with artist living and gallery spaces, book stores, boutiques, cafes and restaurants. This was an effort to bring people from the suburbs to downtown Peekskill and it worked. Once the artists came so did others. Businesses moved in, schools were transformed, and neighborhoods improved with pride of ownership. On a much larger scale, this happened quite recently in Providence...."

"We need this. It is vital to our community and future."

"Millennium Music would be the perfect spot but it is going to be turned into condos..."

"...I would suggest looking at the best practices of Providence, Portland, the Loft District in Cleveland, Houston, Austin, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Scottsdale, San Diego, San Jose, Tampa, Miami, Boston and Minneapolis. I can tell you in each case there was strong involvement from local arts councils, arts activists, historic preservationists, arts administrators, consultants, business and community leadership, educators, individuals and families who knew and understood how the arts can transform communities. All these cities have several things in common -- they are tolerant of different types of life styles, are progressive and attract educated individuals, families, singles, and retirees. Most of them have a strong educational component with the presence of a major university and/or college and a technology hub..."

"Why does the majority of the theater community not know about this?"

"The art center could have cobble stone floors and gas lanterns mixed with contemporary sculpture and clean white walls. I think that the city is afraid of supporting something that is to drastic. Charleston has a history of mixing the future with the past in an elegant way. The center could reflect this without..."

"I hear no mention of having fashion design studios or film studios. Charleston in the last few years has an established Fashion Week that received national recognition and an emerging Film Festival but they need more support too. I think that they could be a welcome addition to the proposed arts facility...."

"....Here's a thought. Remember when MOMA was shut down due to the redesign and construction and the art work was housed and on display in Queens. Everyone started going over to Queens (including the tourists) to see the art and were surprised to find a thriving arts and cultural community not to mention great restaurants. Now, Queens has become a tourist destination and hot bed for artists. Or how about Williamsburg in Brooklyn - long considered a Jewish ghetto riddled with crime. Enter artists and developers and in less than six years the community is revitalized and so transformed that people were actually moving out of SoHo and other parts of Manhattan to live in trendy Williamsburg..."

"Condos Condos Condos - what are these people going to do once they live here?...."

"...FYI, don't think this was discussed but maybe a center for the arts might involve an arts incubator where dance, theater, music, literary and visual and media arts tenants can be housed. This in addition to gallery and performance space (which could be rented), may help toward the financial sustainability piece and be attractive to potential funders..."

"What can we do as artist to make this happen?"


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

this is good

During the panel, i wrote this is good, at the top of my notepad as both a note and an affirmation for myself. Leading up to the panel i felt a twinge of anxiety that we might have given the impression that we had the answers and were inviting people to listen, but the truth was the answer is just revealing itself to us now. During Fred Delk's presentation about his development projects in columbia I began noting the ideas that might be applicable to developing a possible charleston model:
1)an emphasis on local talent
2)the development of an ownership model
3)for charleston the development of a flexible use space similar to yerba buena
4)a focus on an open process of development
5)an emphasis on cross collaboration between discplines.
Delk and muldrow also talked about multiple models for financial stability for an artist space, including the co-op model, development of a community land/building trust,and a clear focus on the audience that would be served. Chris price of primesouth, was very open to exploring the feasibility of building or retrofitting an existing space to create this artist owned community. He pointed out the fact that if we created something like the torpedo factory or similar artist communities, we would create a real tourist draw for the city and provide an anchor for the artistic community. All the panelists agreed that cities are remembered for their culture and not necessarily for their retail. Tripp emphasized the idea that we want to avoid the "mt pleasant towne center effect" It also seems essential that for out next meeting we involve city planners, design developers, city managers, and bankers who develop financing schemes for these types of projects. I was also really pleased that members of the theater and music community were present and made a commitment to come to future planning meetings. At dinner afterwards we were already discussing the ideas for our next panel. I think one other strong take away point was something buff cited from the Yerba Buena mission, and that was the development of themes for all the arts to focus on together. I still drive by the old coppleston's cleaner building on meeting street and think that would be the place. Last night was alot to digest but it will also trickle in as we sort through the questionnaires that people filled out and the emails that will trickle in in the next several days, again it feels like the work is only beginning.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Architects from Columbia

So I'm very excited that Brian Balzer from Watson Tate Savory architects in Columbia will be joining us for the July 1 panel discussion. His firm is well versed in sustainable renovations, and was, if I'm not mistaken, designed the first LEED certified building for University of South Carolina. Check out their website www.watsontatesavory.com
I think that it would be fantastic to incorporate sustainable architecture into the people's art center...


Looking Forward

It's been wonderful talking to the art community and working with the members of the Charleston Arts Coalition on this exciting project.  I can't walk past a vacant building in Charleston without visualizing a potential home for the arts center.  I can already see artists at work through the windows and giant bulletin boards filled with upcoming events on the walls.  The July 1 roundtable discussion is just another step in helping this amazing city achieve such a place.


Happy Canada Day!!

I think it’s appropriate that this discussion is to take place on July 1st, which to me will always be Canada Day. Canada Day is Canada’s Birthday because on this day in 1867 the British colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Federation Provinces of Canada finally joined together to form one unifying country.

So this is an appropriate day for the arts organizations of Charleston (namely Redux Contemporary Art and Pure Theater and others) to discuss a plan to amalgamate into one facility in downtown Charleston.

Additionally, it is regarded that Canada became a kingdom in its own right on that date, in 1867. The British Parliament at first kept limited rights of political control over the new country, which were shed by stages over the years until the last vestiges were ended in 1982, when the Constitution Act patriated the Canadian constitution.

This slow release from Britain is why Canada Day is not referred to or treated as an “Independence Day” as in other countries. The day does not commemorate a clear-cut date of complete independence.

Just so you know! Happy Canada Day!!


Sunday, June 22, 2008

what we can do now to get ready for the panel

as the panel gets closer, and the weather moves from spring to summer now is a good time to contemplate what we can do. while having lunch with our moderator buff ross he reminded me of another grand model for integrating arts and culture into the fabric of a city, the Yerba Buena center for the arts and the yerba buena alliance. We also talked about how the panel is a chance for everyone to get on the same page in developing a unified center. One analogy for our project could be something like the Charleston Visitors center relationship to tourism. The People's art center would be a unifier and access point to the larger arts, music, theater, and literature communities of Charleston. Rather than competing with or supplanting another cultural institution's role in our community, the Peoples art center would be the visitors center for the arts in Charleston. We are at a unique moment in Charleston's cultural history, and we are poised to take an active role in developing the direction that history can take.
What we can do now is put our ideas, questions, examples of other models and ideas for discussion topics down in email format and shoot them over to questions@peoplesartcenter.com
all questions will be compiled and used to help develop the flow of the panel and to make sure that as many voices as possible are represented


Thursday, June 19, 2008

after weeks of phone and email tag here it is

Contact: Jonathan Brilliant or Megan Lange questions@peoplesartcenter.com (843) 805-8052


The People’s Art Center of Charleston Roundtable Discussion Scheduled for July 1
The Charleston Arts Coalition “Creative Spaces: Developing a unified Center for the Arts ”

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (June 10, 2008)—Open discussion to be held on July 1 at 7:00p.m, Creative Spaces: Developing a unified Center for the Arts, to follow up the Creative Spaces panel discussion hosted at Redux Contemporary Art Center on April 24, 2008. All interested parties are invited to join the newly created Charleston Arts Coalition from 6:30 – 8:00 PM at Theater 99 on July 1, 2008.

The format for the follow-up meeting on Tuesday will be more of a roundtable discussion and continuation of the conversation that began in April. The panel will consist of at least Chris Price, of PrimeSouth Group, LLC, urban planner Tripp Muldrow, of Arnett Muldrow & Associates, Jonathan Brilliant local artist and staff member of the Gibbes, and Fred Delk of Columbia Development Corp., with Buff Ross, serving as moderator. The panel is comprised of individuals that have worked on collaborative projects similar to the vision of The Peoples Arts Center. The goal is to create a roadmap of what action needs to be taken based on successful examples of Arts center development in other cities in the Southeast.

The panel discussion at Redux in April was a rare moment for Charleston artists, musicians, performers, writers, and patrons to discuss the rapidly diminishing real estate available to the arts in Charleston. Panel members and the more than 100 people in attendance discussed this issue.

From this panel discussion, the Charleston Arts Coalition was formed. It is a group of artists, arts professionals and members of the community who have joined together to work towards creating an all inclusive unified center for the arts, encompassing visual, performance, music and literary art. Their goal is to find and modify real estate through out the city of Charleston, to house production, presentation and education space for the creative arts. The ultimate project goal is the creation of the people’s Art Center.

The purpose of the first panel discussion held at Redux was to open a dialogue about the lack of art space in Charleston. The focus of the follow-up on July 1 will be on how to effectively begin to solve this problem and foster collaborations between the arts and the real estate development community.

The arts are a vital part of Charleston, benefiting the economy, tourism, real estate and the general cultural capitol of the city. The arts in Charleston must be advanced through the development of a space that could provide the living artists of Charleston with support and a venue to interact effectively with the public. This would foster collaboration among artistic disciplines enhancing each other and the community through exciting cultural events throughout the year.

Visitors planning on attending the event on July 1 are encouraged to draft questions and email them to questions@peoplesartcenter.com ahead of time as there will only be minimal time to answer questions the night of the event. Theatre 99 has graciously offered their space to host the discussion in a format that will accommodate a large audience comfortably. Theatre 99 is located at 280 Meeting Street, downtown Charleston, South Carolina, above the Bicycle Shoppe, with an entrance to the upstairs at the rear of the building. (843) 853-6687

Visit www.peoplesartcenter.com for more information about the roundtable discussion and to see some of the ideas being discussed.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Some ideas from Andrea

About potential names:
The NexArt Center
The nexus of art; it's what's next for art; going forward together.....

check out this web site from the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo <www.acgt.org>.
They've just begun a project that resembles what we're discussing--
production, presentation and living— "Live Work Create Toledo"

Live Work Create Toledo is a City of Toledo initiative to attract the creative talents and energy of artists to revitalize our Downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods. The program will facilitate the development of incentives to leverage the creative talent of individual artists and our cultural assets to spur economic growth, build community prosperity, and transform our central city neighborhoods.

Working with real estate agents, businesses, artists, arts organizations, and homeowners in communities, the City seeks to attract artists and concentrate our existing artist population to become permanent residents and business owners in our central city. The Arts Commission of Greater Toledo is working with the City to develop a package of tax credits, professional development opportunities, and grants and with banks to establish favorable lending terms for artists. Together with an emphasis on the cultural assets that Toledo already supports, Toledo will be competitive with other cities and programs across the country in attracting and retaining artists who are critical to the development of a creative economy in our region.

The "creative economy" is a great leveraging point with the Mayor and other stakeholders. It's going to take some time to develop an educated workforce to attract more hi-tech firms-- BUT there is a base/foundation here and now around the creative economy.

Other resource to Check out www.paducaharts.com or www.lowertownartdistrict.com about Paducah, KY .
Artist Relocation Program
At a time when funding for the arts is constantly being cut, Paducah has established an environment where artists and the arts are flourishing. Paducah’s Artist Relocation Program was started in August of 2000 and is now a national model for using the arts for economic development. The Artist Relocation Program has been awarded the Governors Award in the Arts, the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, The American Planning Association National Planning Award and most recently Kentucky League of Cities Enterprise Cities Award. Please see our awards section for more details.

While we don't need to relocate artists here-- there are bound to be strategies and points from this effort that translate to ours.



Sunday, June 8, 2008

Price for Art

On Friday June 6th Seth Cursio and I met with Chris Price of PrimeSouth Group. The overall feeling of the hour and a half meeting was positive and Chris has confirmed his attendance at the July 1st panel discussion at Theater 99. Very encouraging of the task force's ideas about a 'Model Art Center' Chris Price was happy to be be involved in the project. He advised us to establish exactly what we need as soon as possible. We need to decide what organizations will be needing floor space in this multi function facility. Then establish the specific operational demands of each organization as far as square footage and ceiling hight. In this brain storming session Price focused mainly on building a new facility on the peninsula.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

tom starland of carolina arts blogs his mind about our future

Tom starland of Carolina arts has some thoughts on our mission,

Most things they want are possible and possible with the help of the community - once the artists - like commercial gallery owners - are willing to put their own money and futures on the bottom line. Money makes the world go round and it’s the mother’s milk of the arts. Once artists stop waving around pumped up economic surveys about the impact of the arts in front of the community and adopt a healthy respect for other people’s money, they will find that many are willing to become partners with them on sound projects. Don’t continue to delude yourselves or insult the intelligence of the public. The call for this movement - if there will be a movement, should be - get real, get serious and you might just get what you want.

Carolina Arts will do its part - if presented with a sound proposal, but then we have to fight to survive everyday to keep what we have.

follow the link here to read his full post.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

frank martin says

Hi again to all...here is one more name from my "research"...Randy L. Wilson is president of Community Design Solutions and he is the
person leading the team for the Columbia Studios development project.
his website www.communitydesignsolutions.com
It could be beneficial to contact him during the
planning process as well. Part of the challenge is that the Columbia project is being orchestrated by Developers and professional
planners as well as representatives from the Arts Commission (arts administrators on a state-wide level) our group is
essentially beginning from scratch (which could have some very clear benefits in terms of conceptualization..but which
presents certain organizational challenges..
I hope that this is of some use.


seth curcio's notes+video from the first panel discussion in april

Creative Spaces from redux on Vimeo.
Creative Spaces – Panel notes
From Thursday, April 23, 2008

Panel Participants:
Todd Smith – former Director of the Gibbes Art Museum
Jeannette Guinn – SC Arts Commission
Jean Paul Huguley – American College of the Building Arts
Seth Curcio – Director of Redux Contemporary Art Center
Sharon Graci – Director of Pure Theatre
Mark Sloan – Director of the Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art
Linda Fantuzzo – Visual Artist
Ellen Dressler Moryl – Director of the Office of Cultural Affairs

Panel Mediator:
Marion Mazzone – Dept. Chair of Art History at the College of Charleston; President of the Redux Advisory Board

Q: What are the possibilities/constraints of downtown artists?

Mark Sloan:
• Artists have been forced to flee downtown due to rents, etc.
• Charleston has many positive developments…organize and craft some response to incorporate the arts as a necessity of downtown
Ellen Dressler Moryl:
• “The City is very interested and very concerned with keeping the artists in Charleston. We need to come together with one voice and present a sound presentation to the mayor and to the public…We are committed to helping and finding a solution”
Jeannette Guinn:
• We are in a great place to be a model for the County
• The Mols Carse (sp?) economic theory – ex: making a flatscreen tv can be done efficiently which can be cheaper; art (handcrafted) cannot be done efficiently to be made cheaper
• Aristotle said “We stand a far greater chance of hitting the target if we know what it is”
• Is this really about economic development? Social improvement? Business ventures?
• Understand the sides of economists, lenders, real estate agents, etc.

Q: What is our vision as a group?

Judith Allen, involved in Charlotte’s renovated art spaces:
• Charlotte was a business deal, so it had to be a win-win situation
• An entitlement attitude will not work
• Charlotte P.A.C. is attached to the Bank of America tower (win/win)

Other members of the audience:
• “My concern is, in this drive to be modern/contemporary, we seem to have severed our connection with the past. When I go to these fundraisers, I see young artists helping each other, not old money funding you. You should reestablish that connection and try to connect with the money that is in Charleston. We do not have the banks like Charlotte does”

On developers, business people, etc.…

• There are (were) no developers, bankers or real estate brokers at this meeting
• Also, no marketers
• Chris Price from PrimeSouth turned down the offer to come speak on our panel or even attend the panel meeting.

• Do developers feel that artists are too wild and outlandish to work with?
• Art interests tend to build value, so why would developers turn us down?
• Any point of recycling a building will take a rezoning of the neighborhood and lots of jumping through hoops
• “It’s the role of artists to understand their roles as a business”
• the intrinsic value of the arts for arts sake
Todd Smith:
• Audiences that support us need to be the ones advocating for our organizations
Audience member:
• Has the group partnered and allied with the city council or any politicians?

We need to realize what Charleston values, so… what does it value?
• Audiences
• Philanthropic Communities

• Memminger Auditorium is currently being used for Spoleto Performances – what about during the rest of the year? Possibly looking to use Memminger for alternative art spaces during non-Spoleto times

• Young people will not move here if there is not a younger, vibrant art scene

• Money talks. Businesses and developers would miss us a lot if we were not here. The quality of life would be harmed.

• Is it such a crazy idea to suggest that we all work together to get a multi-use building?
• Redux looked to its partners to ban together our resources
Jonathan Brilliant:
• We should see each other’s spaces and try to collaborate
List of Tasks:
• Figure out how much space is really needed
• Figure out what types of spaces are needed
• Figure our how to make it a high honor for businesses to benefit the art scene
• Creatively think about our city parks
• Think about how we can make Charleston a model for art scenes around the country
• Expand diversity. Almost all of our audiences and art groups are white
• Be innovative about how we think about ourselves and our art


Friday, May 16, 2008

production versus presentation

Something Sharon said at the last meeting prompted me to think about the public's perception of the artist and their role in society. She mentioned how it is the artist’s job to keep pushing that boulder up hill. Her statement was a reference to the Greek myth of Sisyphus. It is generally understood that Sisyphus’ job was to push a boulder uphill only to have it roll back down and begin the uphill push again. This myth is often cited as a tale of persistence and discipline. While it is true that Sisyphus’ role was to push the boulder up hill, much like the artist/musician/writer/performer must do to develop their craft, the similarities end there. Sisyphus, who’s name provides the source for the Sisyphean task, had no choice in his punishment, artists today do. Sisyphus’ boulder pushing was a punishment for all eternity levied upon him for his betrayal of Zeus, and for his life of double dealing. Artists today make a choice to engage in cultural production, rather than being sentenced to an eternity in Hades doing and undoing their work. In recent history the role of the artist has shifted from one of alienation and disenfranchisement from society to one of engagement and social interaction. In his essay “Conversation pieces The role of Dialogue in socially-engaged art” Grant Kester, associate professor of art history at the university of California at San Diego, asks the question:

How do we form collective or communal identities without scapegoating those who are excluded from them. Is it possible to develop cross[disciplinary] dialogue without sacrificing the unique identities of the individual speakers?

His question speaks directly to everyone’s concerns about a large multi use space and it’s possibility of limiting autonomous artistic identities. Additionally I see the issue as one of production versus presentation. If we are working towards creating a multi discipline space, festival, event, or project who would this serve? Are we serving the producers or the consumers of culture? I personally believe that interesting art, music and literature can be produced in any environment. If Olivier Messiaen was able to produce masterworks while a prisoner of war, we can easily produce our art in cramped ill equipped facilities. What we can’t do in limited space is work collaboratively, present to the public, and create an impact on the community. Grant Kester answers his own question by encouraging the audience to think of works of art as a locus for conversation. This can be something to think about as we come together as a group of individuals with shared goals. The “art” we produce collectively can be the conversation we generate, and in turn all our personal artistic production and interests will benefit. As for a concrete model to look to, I was fortunate enough to see one first hand when I lived in san Jose California. In one depressed post-industrial neighborhood a developer built an artists housing community called the art ark. The focus of their project was to provide affordable housing to artists and create a community. The location however was determined by a couple of other factors. One factor was the city of san jose's recently built bestor art park that featured a community garden, playground ,basketball court, and concrete pads for outdoor sculpture. This project helped bring the neighborhood around. Also in this neighborhood was the San Jose state university sculpture studio, and a large warehouse with 30 artist studios, a print center and a karate studio. This area become a hub of artistic production(this text is linked to an article about the neighborhood). The location was several blocks from the central downtown area. In the central downtown area along a street of mixed use facilities the city helped relocate several non-profits engaged in cultural presentation(creating the sofa or south of first street district linked here). Through careful planning and some financial subsidies the city was able to create two arts districts, one for presentation and event based programming on a main street lined with bars and night clubs, and another for production in a slightly off the beaten path part of town. While Charleston is not a city of a million people like san Jose, and we do not have the tax revenues generated from the dot com businesses, we do have an abundance of non-profits and cultural producers here. The possibility of a unified urban plan to integrate the arts into the cities fabric might be one to consider. On a practical note every time i drive past the coppleston’s cleaners building on meeting street i think that it would be the ideal location for something like this plan.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

mark sloan says look at creative wilmington

Wilmington, NC has an interesting collaborative called Creative
that may have some features we wish to emulate:


There is a $25/yr membership fee (which I have never paid, but I
their monthly e-blasts). I think this is the fee for organizations and
artists who wish to be listed. That's a really small fee for good
and coverage. Perhaps we can discuss at the next meeting?


Mark Sloan
Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Inspiring Trolley

I love the idea of the Trolley Barn - funky and kinda old school AND still downtown. Has anyone pitched this idea to Ellen Dressler Moryl?  How much would it cost to rent and/or buy?  And could we use it in the meantime? 


Saturday, April 26, 2008

linda fantuzzo's thoughts

I would like add these few ideas to the blog:

There is a great building at 645 Meeting Street know as The Car House or Trolley Barn. I believe the city owns it and is considering it's options for the property right now. It would be wise to investigate this as soon as possible. Perhaps a petition with many names would guarantee a response from the mayor and council.

There are other buildings of scale that might work, but they would be costly to purchase. They are the Uniroyal building at 311 Huger St ( near the tracks and over pass) and the Church at 554 Rutledge Ave.

We like the idea of a large cultural center, but the need for smaller spaces should not be overlooked. Studio space for individuals is tough because the property values are extravagant. I wonder if there some way the city or the state can offer tax break incentives to landlords in order to make downtown space available to artists of all disciplines?


Friday, April 25, 2008

Space the final frontier?

While last nights panel discussion began by discussing the rapid displacement of artists, musicians, and other creative practitioners from the Charleston peninsula, a positivity and energy emerged from the standing room only crowd. It is a testament to the vitality of the arts in Charleston that on a Thursday night, a crowd of enthusiastic, creative people came together to dialog. Through the course of the dialog one thread re-emerged continuously, what if we all worked together? In the time leading up to the next panel discussion/organizational meeting this blog will help flesh out ideas about what a unified voice for the arts might look like.