The City of Anderson Economic Development Office hosted a lunch and learn session about public art on August 22. Members of the Anderson Artists Guild were among those in attendance.
The speakers were Kimberly Spears, the city’s Economic Development Director (and former Executive Director of the Anderson Arts Center) and Beth Batson, who works for the city in various capacities. They spoke about the role of public art, examples of public art in Anderson, the Church Street Heritage Project, and resources for artists interested in applying to be part of public art projects.
Spears referred to public art as “creative placemaking that leverages the power of the arts, culture, and creativity to serve the community’s interest while driving the broader agenda for change, growth, and transformation in a way that also builds character and the quality of a place.” Public art, she said, can be a visual and memorable way to help identify what makes a place special.
Examples of public art in Anderson range from the “Fish out of Water” pieces to the statue of William Whitner downtown to the Heritage Quilt trail. A major public art project, the Church Street Heritage Project, took 10 years from funding in 2007 to completion in 2017. Located behind Mellow Mushroom, it uses clay reliefs, marble sculpture and animation to tell the story of the former African-American business district that was dismantled in 1980 for a parking lot. Among the artists involved was AAG member Diann Simms. For more information about the Church Street Heritage Project, visit http://www.churchstreetheritageplaza.com/.
Among the resources cited as useful for artists interested in public art projects are the following: South Carolina Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Humanities, LISC (Local Initiative Support Corporation), ATAX (SC Allocating Accommodations Tax), South Carolina Humanities, South Carolina Library Grants Research Assistance, South Arts, Fundsnet, Municipal Association of South Carolina, and CaFÉ.