The McClellanville Arts Council was organized in 1977 by three young women who wanted to bring the fine arts, arts instruction, and cultural activities to the sleepy little fishing village where they had chosen to live. Furthermore, working through the local schools, churches, and fraternal organizations, they hoped to encourage residents to record, preserve, and publicize the unique culture of the coastal area encompassing the northern half of Charleston County.
For over three decades, the Arts Council has flourished by offering programs and performances that appeal to people across racial, social, and economic boundaries. Our catchment area now extends from the northern end of Mt. Pleasant to the south, northward to Georgetown and Pawley’s Island. We regularly serve a resident population of more than 20,000 and large numbers of visitors.
The members of our Board of Directors are chosen for both their leadership qualities and their cultural diversity. They represent area craftspeople, artists, teachers, business leaders, and environmentalists, senior and junior citizens. The Arts Council plans activities by soliciting ideas from the community and corresponding with artists and performers. Each year the Arts Council runs workshops in a variety of media, from silk painting, printmaking, watercolor, creative writing, and photography to ceramics, dance, stained glass and glass fusing. We encourage residents to use our piano, darkroom, potter’s wheel, and kiln. We sponsor annual art exhibits, host book signings for local authors, and provide a venue for lectures and classes of local interest.
In 1989, the Arts Council received the prestigious Phoebe Fund Award, given by the Fund for Southern Communities in recognition of our strong grassroots support and our commitment to quality arts programming. In the early 1990s, a team of experts in rural economic development visited McClellanville and singled out the Arts Council as a model organization, important both for stimulating the regional economy and for its capacity to appeal to people in all walks of life. Coastal Heritage magazine called our consignment shop “an engine for economic development” and quoted a local citizen as saying that in an atmosphere sometimes marked by racial and social division, the Arts Council “has brought together young and old, black and white, Republican and Democrat. It has become a melting pot.” In 1997, South Carolina Governor David Beasley and the South Carolina Arts Commission presented the McClellanville Arts Council with the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award for outstanding contributions to the arts.
We can proudly say that many McClellanville area children whose first exposure to the arts was in an Arts Council class or workshop are now going to college as art and music majors. Several young people who make their living practicing and teaching the arts have acknowledged the Arts Council’s role in the maturation of their talents. We believe that a healthy Arts Council is vital to the future of the village. McClellanville is home to an increasing number of artists and writers who are drawn to the area by its natural beauty, by the unspoiled quality of the national forest and the coastal reserves, and by the town’s reputation as a place that is congenial to creative people and independent spirits. Assisting the Arts Council with a donation or membership is an investment in rural development that will pay dividends to the state for as long as South Carolina treasures its rural roots and cultural traditions