S.C. Arts Commission board designates state’s 10th cultural district in Hartsville

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(Columbia, SC) — The South Carolina Arts Commission is announcing that its board of commissioners enthusiastically designated the 10th South Carolina Cultural District in the city of Hartsville by a unanimous vote.

The arts have a clear influence on this district, as it is called the hARTSville Cultural District. Located in the heart of the city, its 129 strollable acres house some of the best cultural assets in the area.

  • The Hartsville Museum and Gallery, Sculpture Courtyard, The Center Theater are on its northern side.
  • A key educational asset anchors the eastern side. Coker University boasts galleries, performing arts spaces, and stellar artistic programs. The nearby South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics offers similar features. Though not in the district, it partners with business and galleries that are in it to showcase student work.
  • The diverse neighborhoods of the Fifth Street and Sixth Street corridors on the southern side are prime for murals and other public artworks.
  • Rounding out the district to the west, history meets the arts in the previously established “Historic W. College Avenue District,” which is highlighted by architectural details, color theory, and expressive design. Throughout the center of the district, visitors will find a plethora of artistic programs, galleries, public art, artist-supportive businesses, and a general feeling of strong, creative placemaking.

The SCAC board approved the district in October 2023. With the holiday season now in the past, the hARTSville Cultural District will officially kick off programming with a Spring Wine and Arts Stroll on April 26, 2024, highlighting local artists leading up to the event.

“In embracing the designation of our downtown as a South Carolina Cultural Arts District, we celebrate the convergence of heritage, creativity, and community. This recognition not only honors our past but ignites a vibrant future, fostering a hub where artistic expression thrives. It serves as a testament to our commitment to nurturing culture, inviting locals and visitors alike to experience the tapestry of our history and contemporary artistry woven into the very fabric of our streets,” Hartsville City Manager Daniel Moore said.

Cultural districts are defined by the SCAC as strollable geographic areas with a concentration of cultural facilities, activities, and assets. They are easily identifiable and serve as centers of cultural, artistic, and economic activity. They frequently have galleries and artist studios, theaters and other live performance venues, public art, museums and arts centers, and arts schools in addition to non-cultural attractions like parks, restaurants and bars, and other commercial activity.

Legislation ratified by the South Carolina General Assembly in 2014 authorizes the SCAC to grant official state designation to cultural districts. The legislation specifies the following goals of this program:

  • attract artists, creative entrepreneurs and cultural enterprises to communities
  • encourage economic development
  • foster local cultural development
  • provide a focal point for celebrating and strengthening local cultural identity

“Cultural districts prove that arts and culture drive growth, bring people together, and make our communities stronger. They show the best of what South Carolina has to offer. Our board congratulates and welcomes Hartsville as the home of a new cultural district. We hope other cities and towns make a point to follow Hartsville’s lead and make arts and creativity critical pieces of their progress,” SCAC Board of Commissioners Chair Dee Crawford said.

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