1. The film industry took off this year with Danny McBride's HBO hit comedy "The Righteous Gemstones." Will South Carolina approve additional monetary incentives to bring more films and TV shows to the Palmetto State next year?
It was a big year for the film and TV industry in South Carolina, with three different productions shooting in Charleston around the same time: "The Righteous Gemstones," "Mr. Mercedes" and Netflix's "OBX."
"The Righteous Gemstones" was Danny McBride's newest HBO comedy hit about a greedy televangelist family. It wracked up ratings and put South Carolina on the Hollywood map this year. Here at Charleston Scene, we talked to McBride himself, in addition to an actor and extra. The show has since been renewed for a second season, and filming is expected to start early next year.
McBride has been pushing for the state to add additional Film Commission incentives to encourage more movies and TV shows to come to South Carolina for filming. "Halloween 2," whose predecessor was filmed in the Lowcountry, had to move up to North Carolina for filming because of a lack of incentives.
For a moment, it seemed as though despite South Carolina's lack of incentives, we still might get an influx of Hollywood productions. This year, Hollywood reacted to the states that introduced abortion ban bills. Georgia, with its movie-making hub of Atlanta, was one of those states. Some shows and films threatened to pull out of the Peach State, with a chance of heading to the nearby Palmetto State instead. But no incentives meant no chance of that happening. Shortly after writing this article, an abortion bill was introduced in South Carolina.
2. Copyrights came into question. Are artists' rights falling into a legal gray space in an ever-increasing digital world?
This year was the year of artists challenging the infringement of their rights.
Local musicians rallied in Charleston, in New York City and in other areas across the country to stand up for their rights in an industry where Spotify streams earn them fractions of a penny per song play.
When thousands of musicians were left waiting for money that may never come after a popular music crowdfunding site shuttered this year, local artists were left in the lurch, despite protests.
A "Southern Charm" star allegedly plagiarized a local artist's murals for her own mural at a local restaurant to the scorn of the artist, local arts organizations and the public. She has since painted over the mural.
Also, a Charleston-area venue was sued by a copyright organization over music licensing fees. ASCAP isn't messing around with getting money back to artists for songs played.
Garbage Humans, a brand and business run by local artist Cathy Aycock, became internet viral for a funny sticker. The problem was that the sticker was posted all over Instagram, Reddit and other social media sites without giving her credit, and then disseminated further. According to an intellectual property lawyer, this was completely legal.
3. Black artists made waves this year, from the first hip-hop artist to play the Spoleto finale to Gullah group Ranky Tanky's "Today Show" appearance and Grammy nomination. How will black art continue to expose Charleston's riddled past while working toward creating a more inclusive future?
This year, Benny Starr became the first-ever hip-hop artist to perform during a Spoleto finale. He also released "The Water Album," a politically and socially charged statement covering local issues from flooding to gentrification. He was named the "Person of the Year" by the Greenville Journal.
Charleston's first art gallery to feature all black artists opened in 2019. Neema Gallery's goal was to do away with the myth that African Americans don’t buy art or can’t afford it.
A South Carolina blogger has made her brand "The Black Southern Belle" into a successful business that also looks into the history of black-owned businesses in the South.
Last year, Charleston rapper Walter Brown touched on issues in the local hip-hop scene, particularly the disconnection between artists in different geographic locations around the Lowcountry. This year, an all-hip-hop concert at the Music Farm called "Love 4 Hip-Hop" brought together artists for a diverse show within the genre.
This year, there was a music festival featuring all black artists in April in The Royal American parking lot.
A Columbia hip-hop artist who has performed with Snoop Dogg, Lauryn Hill and Notorious B.I.G. also brought the scene together with an album featuring 40 South Carolina collaborators.
North Charleston also established the Palmetto Rose Art Showcase to highlight black artists monthly in the wake of rising tensions and controversy between city officials, tourists and vendors of handcrafted palmetto roses.
4. Despite modern technology, this year's trend was going vintage, from vinyl to drive-in movie theaters. What does this wave of nostalgia mean for the future of entertainment?
After the rise in popularity of CDs in the ’80s and the emergence of the controversial digital music website Napster where millions of consumers could download music for free, it's an unexpected development that vinyl is back and record pressing plants are increasing production year over year. South Carolina musicians and vinyl shops have been reveling in the resurgence.
VCRs and Netflix led to the decline of the drive-in. Now, nostalgia is fueling their comeback. Across South Carolina, drive-in movie theaters are still hanging on and more popular than in recent years.
5. Women were doing big things in the arts scene this year. Will sexist attitudes continue to wane in the new year, and will broken barriers cease to be remarkable achievements and become the norm?
It was a year for the ladies in the local arts scene.
Beware of Dog Productions, an all-women music collective in Charleston consisting of arts management students and locally based creatives with long-term music industry goals, was booking shows and making moves. IllVibetheTribe, another all-women music collective, also was working to break the stereotypes.
"Me and My Girlfriend," a July exhibit at Redux Contemporary Art Center, brought together two women artists exploring female identity and relationships.
“I won’t be judged by my cat art,” Grace Stott says. “I feel like it’s important to assert our femininity in a very unapologetic way.”
Then, in November, a comedy show with an all-women lineup set out to break the stereotype that men are funnier.
“When comedy comes from discomfort or things that would be ‘embarrassing,’ it’s funnier,” Charleston comic Maari Suorsa says. “And what’s more mortifying than, like, being a woman in any situation?”
A free music and art event called the Venus Art Show featured works by local artists that celebrated the many iterations of femmehood. Planned Parenthood representatives staffed a congressional letter-writing station and informational booth.
Columbia wasn't left out, with a block party that featured all women and femme vendors and musicians dubbed "Girls Block." Several Charleston artists were showcased.
6. Being sober can be hard in Charleston, a party city. Does the area's drinking culture lend itself to abuse and addiction?
In Charleston, alcohol and drugs have become integrally and culturally tied to having a good time. Booze and fun not only overlap, they’re hard to separate.
Alcohol is not only available, but often seemingly inescapable — and requisite to the entertainment industry’s business model. For one Charleston musician, the struggle has been personal. This year, he played his first show since returning from rehab for opioid addiction.
But what does that mean for area residents, when an MUSC researcher has said it is hard to recruit “light drinkers” in Charleston?
7. Art and politics collided. These artists used their platform to promote local causes and political efforts. How will those causes continue to shift and evolve in an election year?
Confederate monuments were under attack in 2019, particularly by a group called the Make It Right Campaign that helped bring down "Silent Sam" in North Carolina. They headed to Charleston with their eye on the Calhoun monument. Will it be brought down in 2020 and put in a museum or continue to stand above Marion Square?
Some Charleston punk artists used the stage to promote conservation this year with a show at the Tin Roof.
“People (in Charleston) are funky, they have a can-do attitude, there’s a rebellious streak. It’s a hot bed for activism, so let’s get it activated," said Carlos Salinas, member of punk band Blowback.
Other artists used their voices to raise money for an organization called CHARM that provides health care to local musicians. Among those voices were Justin Osborne of Susto and Mel Washington.
Two local printmakers also teamed up for an event in support of the ACLU.
Visual artist Tyrone Geter hit on racism, abortion and women’s rights in his Charleston exhibit “Speak Easy, Speak Free.”