A Well Kept Secret

We seem to have a well kept secret here in Spartanburg. A secret that many who live here don’t realize. Many go outside the county to find what is available right here and that is sad because that secret is a beautiful part of our local culture and our heritage, even to those of us who have adopted this place as home.

What I am talking about is the amazing wealth of artistic talent that we have here. We have artists from every genre, people with abilities to inspire, to entertain and to make this place more rich and beautiful. We have people who turn objects into works of art, musicians who’s music covers almost every genre, actors who’s portrayal of dramatic stories keep audiences spell bound for three hours, and dancers who’s grace on a lit stage make all of us want to move to the music.

We are fortunate for a vibrant community of artists who volunteer their time and resources to share their talents with all of us. They are helped by even more talented people who work behind the scenes, the costume designers, set designers, authors and composers of some of the original works that are shown here, the gallery owners, those that help provide supplies or services that allow events or showing to occur. When we put it all together, the list of people involved in a say, a single community theater production is rather large.

The beauty of it is that we can enjoy the best that Spartanburg has to offer at very reasonable prices. The fact that what we can see and hear is often as fine in quality as can be found in larger venues in larger cities.

We tend to focus on the talent found in our nightlife venues, and I am not discounting their talents at all, as I’ve had the privilege of listening to some wonderful acts since I moved here. We show up to hear great acts for Music on Main, or Jazz on the Square. Maybe we peek into a gallery during the Art Walk, but there’s more. We need to enjoy these local acts at Delaney’s or NuWay or my favorite haunt, Little River Coffee Bar. There is room for growth in diversity in this genre, but I think it is growing, which is a good thing. By seeing these artists perform so we support an aspect of the arts and a local business at the same time.

Each of our colleges have art galleries and they are generally free. There is usually either a visiting artist or student artists on display. The displays are always interesting as a display of art should be These colleges also hosts concerts, film events, poetry or story readings by established authors, and theatrical productions. This past weekend, three of our college had a major artistic event. This is not an uncommon occurrence. The college was not the only entity putting on a theatrical production as the Chapman Center also had an event as well. Even though one act, the Darius Rucker concert was imported, the other three had clear home grown elements. Even the concert at Converse had local people who helped make that concert very successful event, even though I am told it was on the chilly side.

So why am I saying all of this? Because I agree with what my colleague Chris George had to say about our town and Greenville and the comparison people keep trying to make. Why do we want to look at the grass on the other side of the cultural fence? What is wrong with our own grass? Yes I know we can do better in several avenues, but one thing that we do damned well is in the arts. We commonly have several wonderful things going on in the art world and not near enough people are taking time to enjoy it. We need to realize how valuable the arts is to our community and how it helps to support local economy, and in ways we may not expect.

So I have a little bit of homework for you. Take some time over the next few weeks and see what there is to do around here. Visit the websites of the college, the Chapman Center, the auditorium, as well as places as The Showroom and some of the many night spots around. Discover what art galleries there are around, the museums, and stop by our downtown bookstore and discover a new author who also happens to be from here. Then get back to me and tell me what you found.

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