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

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?