Long before Charleston became a mecca for hotels and rapid growth, our city was burning bright with art. Local artists have long been the heartbeat of the Lowcountry, pumping blood into our collective conscious through world-class performances.
When I moved to Charleston in 2003, local arts festivals were in abundance. The MOJA arts festival, Piccolo Spoleto and Kulture Klash were the leaders of the pack.
Now, in 2017, the options are beautifully overwhelming. We are no longer a city reliant on festivals to provide us with our only chances to experience art – we can now look to individuals and venues to fill that void, year-round. Also, our landscape has evolved to include many more options outside of the peninsula. There’s a wealth of arts and entertainment experiences to be had in and around Charleston.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. It’s simply some places to start if you want to get acquainted with our arts scene, focusing on names that you might not be familiar with.
Flowertown Players. Nonprofit theater company in Summerville.
New executive director Courtney Daniels (formerly of Threshold Repertory Theatre), has a wealth of ideas and energy for the theater company. Its 42nd (!) season is full of risqué dramas, comedy and superb acting.
PURE Theatre. Nonprofit theater company on the peninsula.
PURE is one of the first names people think of when they reference theater in Charleston. Rightfully so, because PURE has been putting on through-provoking shows since 2003. The company’s current season contains an interpretation of Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home” graphic novel, along with four other shows.
South of Broadway Theater. Theater company in North Charleston.
South of Broadway Theater founder May Gould is a passionate advocate for the arts. We are lucky to have her. Her theater company puts on high professional productions in North Charleston and host summer camps and workshops.
Fabulon. Art gallery in West Ashley.
Tucked on the busy Wappoo Road in West Ashley is Fabulon, an eclectic art gallery. Fabulon has been a great resource and space for local artists: the space hosts our city’s only LGBTA open mic event, and has hosted an enlightening mix of art shows and classes.
REDUX. Nonprofit art gallery on the peninsula.
REDUX’s new space on King Street is perfect for its mission: promoting and fostering creativity through diverse exhibitions. They’ve hosted large-scale exhibitions, poetry events, music shows and more.
Creative Arts of Mount Pleasant. Art center in Mount Pleasant.
Creative Arts of Mount Pleasant (CAMP) provides art classes and workshops for youth and adults in various mediums. Check its website for a list of classes in photography, sculpture, poetry and more.
The Unspoken Word. Nonprofit poetry group bringing poetry to Charleston.
The Unspoken Word was started by College of Charleston graduate and author Derek Berry. Derek brings in regional poets to Charleston and works with area youth.
Dojo Nowhere. Experimental music series
Local musician and artist Nick Jenkins’ Dojo Nowhere is a brand new six-week music series for Charleston. It focuses on experimental music, featuring performances and artist talks at various venues.
Ill Vibe the Tribe. Community created by artists, for artists.
If you go to an Ill Vibe show, you could experience music, arts, crafts, dance and more. The events are in many different venues, all featuring independent artists.
Marcus Amaker is a graphic designer, web designer and musician. He is the poet laureate of Charleston and a former editor of The Post and Courier’s Charleston Scene entertainment section.