Beaufort, and the Arts

By Deanna Bowdish  |   When we think of Beaufort, SC, many things come to mind and hopefully one of them is “the Arts” as the arts are big business here in the Lowcountry.  With its vast vistas and charming ambiance, it is no wonder so many artists choose Beaufort as their home and source of inspiration and that so many visitors return year after year to enjoy the beauty of the Sea Islands.  Personally, the arts are my love, my life and my livelihood, and I spend the majority of my time touting the arts in Beaufort.  One of the things I love about Beaufort is the access to the arts.  Art can be found everywhere here on all levels from naïve outsider art to community theater to nationally acclaimed performers and musicians.  We definitely offer something for everyone.  Sometimes it is easy for me to forget that not everyone is as tuned in to what is going on in the arts scene here in the Lowcountry, so hopefully I can fill you in on what you have been missing and opportunities to get involved.  Before we get to that I want to share some of the “art -i-facts” about Beaufort and South Carolina.
Did you know?
-Beaufort has been named one of the “100 Best Art Towns in America”
-Beaufort has been voted the 12th best small town for art in America
-Currently, Beaufort is the 16th best small town for art in America.
-Based on per capita statistics, it has been stated that Beaufort may have the largest saturation of square footage occupied by retail art galleries than anywhere in the country.
-The arts are the 5th largest industry in the state, representing nearly 5% of all jobs with an economic impact of $9.2 billion.
-Our public schools provide a model for arts education for the rest of the country, and students uniquely benefit from arts integration county-wide.
-There are over 20 creative retail businesses just in the core historic district of Beaufort.
-The arts and culture boost tourism.
-The arts and culture are essential to a state’s quality of life, regional identity and small business marketplace. 

I am always amazed when I look at some of these statistics; all of this is happening in little old Beaufort and I could not be more excited.  So, now that we have some of the numbers under our belt, let’s see what has made this data come to be.

As grants and funding for the arts disappear, arts businesses and non-profit organizations here are fine-tuning their missions to nurture, celebrate and support the arts.  We are bringing the arts back home and looking to local audiences and collectors to improve the range of programming and cultural offerings. With your help, we want to catch the attention of the rest of the country and amaze everyone by our community.

Whether you want to hear a concert, attend a play, catch the opera, see the ballet, attend a storytelling festival, see an independent film, get lost in a book, or view the work of more than 800 visual artists during an Art Walk, you can do it all in Beaufort – and the best part is, a fair amount is being produced by your friends and neighbors.  The saturation of talent that exists in the Lowcountry is astounding if you are willing to seek it out.  Many are from here and many have come to be a part of the experience.  Regardless, we are all here for one thing, to share our creations quite often inspired by our immediate surroundings.  
So we want to know, will you seek it out?  If you do, the internet is a great way to find out what is going on and you have come to the right place because you can find all that info right here on this site on the Events Calendar.
This leads to my next thought, participation.  “We Need You”… to come out and experience.

Participation can happen in many ways and for every price point, even free sometimes.  The most important aspect to this thought is to actually go out and do it, or see it, or paint it, or read it, or listen to it, or dance to it.  Nike summed it up best, “just do it”, simple as that!

Ultimately, these cultural offerings exist because there is a demand for it;  I have to say kudos to you, the community, for wanting to make the arts an integral part of your community.  The work is not over, we must continue to seek out the artistic gifts and celebrate the creators and the organizations, businesses and institutions that educate them.  I always say that we need admirers, appreciators, and collectors just as much as we need creators.

The arts abound in the Lowcountry and are integral to the success of the community. Whether through direct monetary contributions to the tax base or the impact upon a child as they hear the symphony for the first time, the benefits are lasting and potentially life changing. I hope that you have the desire to go and seek out your next cultural offering and help celebrate what makes Beaufort amazing. In case you just don’t know what to do, here are just a few options of some of the arts happenings that I think should not be missed over the next few weeks.

Beaufort Intergalactic Storytelling Festival & Liars Competition

Chuma Gallery exhibit at Penn Center 

Beaufort Art Association Spring Art Show and Sale

Print maker Carol Henry at Charles St. Gallery 

Production of Catholic School Girls at ARTworks

Guild of Beaufort Galleries presents Spring Art Walk, March 17th
New Vibrations, group abstract show at USCB Center for the Arts