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

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?"