Letters to the Editor

New Area Initiative For Arts

A new Coastal Arts Alliance will work to bring together the diverse arts community and promote the Grand Strand as an arts capital to help grow cultural tourism. The alliance is an initiative of the Horry County Arts and Cultural Council, a nonprofit organization that has financially sponsored a variety of artistic endeavors, such as the Long Bay Symphony, Carolina Master Chorale and Atlantic Stage. It has also provided ongoing cultural education programs in public schools.

"We want to be the voice of the arts," Sandi Kendrick, executive director of the Arts and Cultural Council, says of the alliance. Outlining the initiative last week to the Rotary Club of Little River, Kendrick says the alliance will work with business, education, tourism and arts interests to elevate "the visibility of the arts in Horry County, increasing audiences and promoting regional cultural tourism." Catherine Kresken of Briarcliffe Acres, the new president of the Arts Council, says the purpose of the alliance is to "make Horry County communities more connected through the arts and educating residents on the importance of art in our lives." Kresken is a portrait and landscape painter.

The Arts Council formed an "Arts Around the Table" forum, Kendrick says, which is "still building" and includes the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum, Children's Museum of S.C., the symphony, Master Chorale and Atlantic Stage. Forum representatives concluded that the arts community has been fragmented and needs "an advocate that can speak in support of each group [of artists] and collectively for the arts," Kendrick says.

The Arts Alliance will be a resource for individual artists and arts organizations. Kendrick says the plan is to create "an online cultural calendar," as well as an online "cultural trail" and an artist registry. The Arts Council will continue its other programs such as fiscal sponsorship, professional development opportunities, technical assistance and cultural education. Craig Hill, past president of the council, said its "help for 501(c)3 organizations is significant," especially as all nonprofits must look to new sources of revenue. Governmental funds for nonprofits have all but disappeared as entities such as Horry County struggle to maintain basic services.

Kendrick points out that the arts have "a huge impact in the community." In South Carolina, "the creative industry" generates $2.4 billion dollars annually for the state's economy. The University of South Carolina Moore School of Business determined that the cultural industry accounted for 31,490 jobs (2006 data) including $766,249,688 in salaries and wages. In the United States, according to the USC Arts & Economic Prosperity studies, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates a total of $166.2 billion in economic activity a year, including $104.2 billion in household income and nearly $30 billion in local, state and federal tax revenue.

The Horry County Arts and Cultural Council was incorporated in December 2005. Kendrick was named executive director in 2007. Prior to moving here, she was the chief executive of the Stanly County Arts Council in western North Carolina.

In its alliance initiative, the Arts Council has taken an important step to unify the arts community, increase awareness of the arts and promote cultural tourism.