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Greenville, South Carolina, Weaves a Vibrant and Diverse Arts and Culture Scene

Greenville offers a one-of-a-kind community for creatives.

By Kelly Rogers on October 13, 2022

Cecily Witcher, artist and owner of Traveling Butterflies, at work in her studio at Greer Center for the Arts.
Stephen Stinson

At its core, Greenville is a place for creatives.

It’s one of the major reasons why the community is growing so steadily and why so many transplants are choosing to make Greenville their home.

Downtown, you’ll find eye-catching art around every corner, whether it’s in the form of a colorful mural or intriguing public art installations. You can also tour the many private Greenville art studios and galleries during First Fridays, a free, monthly public art crawl.

First Fridays is one of the many programs sponsored by the Metropolitan Arts Council (MAC), formed in 1973 to provide funding and other services to artists, arts organizations and arts education throughout Greenville County.

“One of our most prominent and popular programs for visual artists is Greenville Open Studios, held annually the second weekend of November,” says Alan Ethridge, executive director of MAC. “Since its inception in 2002, the event has grown from 48 participating artists to 149.”

Peace Center Concert HallGETZCREATIVE
GETZCREATIVE
Peace Center Concert Hall

Supporting Local Artists

Besides hosting programs and events, MAC dedicates much of its resources to its grants program.

“Our grants program is truly the backbone of the organization,” Ethridge says. “These grants make a lot of art happen in Greenville.”

Distributed quarterly, MAC grants reflect the great diversity and originality of art providers throughout the region, Ethridge points out. “It is always fascinating to witness firsthand some of these great concepts come to fruition,” he says.

MAC is just one of the many organizations that offers assistance and resources to individual artists who call Greenville home.

Cecily Witcher, artist and owner of Traveling Butterflies, at work in her studio at Greer Center for the Arts.
Stephen Stinson
Cecily Witcher, artist and owner of Traveling Butterflies, at work in her studio at Greer Center for the Arts.

Cecily Witcher, owner of Traveling Butterflies, has experienced this firsthand since moving to the area in 2021. A multimedia artist, Witcher weaves dream catchers from metal, paints on glass, paints on canvas and makes butterfly accessories.

Already, she’s received support from multiple local groups, including the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Village Launch, the Metropolitan Arts Council and LaunchGVL. And Witcher, for her part, has already started making a difference in the Upstate.

“My biggest success [so far] has been getting the first All Black Artist Exhibition in Greer approved,” Witcher says. “We had over 200 people of all nationalities show up to support this monumental event.”

The Radio Room in Greenville, SC
Joey Wharton
The Radio Room

Showing Up

One of the biggest events of the year is Artisphere, a festival that takes place every spring and showcases art of every kind, including visual, performing and even culinary arts. The event draws thousands of attendees who peruse the sprawling booths and exhibits along Main Street and other streets in downtown Greenville.

A family-friendly event, there’s a special section just for kids, as well as engaging street performers on every corner. Individual artists sell their goods at their booths, specialty artists offer demonstrations – like glassblowing and blacksmithing – and there are even interactive art experiences, like one graffiti artist who spray-paints designs onto eager participants’ clothes.

But support for fine arts is just the beginning.

“Beauty & The Beast” takes the stage at the Greenville Theatre.
Will Crooks Photography
“Beauty & The Beast” takes the stage at the Greenville Theatre.

High Notes

With all the amazing venues throughout the city, there’s always a wide array of entertainment available. Greenville Arena District, which operates the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, hosts over 100 events each year. Other large venues include the Peace Center and the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, but there are plenty of small, intimate settings as well, including Smiley’s Acoustic Cafe and the Radio Room.

The Greenville Theatre, the Upstate’s oldest and largest locally producing professional company, just finished its 96th season. The theater produces Broadway musicals, plays and concerts each season, which are locally cast and directed.

“The talent in the Upstate area is tremendous,” says Max Quinlan, producing artistic director. “The expansion in Greenville and the Upstate has been so immense, with people moving to this area and falling in love with it. We are so excited to be an artistic home for all the artists that choose to bring their artistry here and live here.”

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