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

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.