When fall whorls into Charleston, the city's arts scene is a flurry of activity, too. Whether you're mad about the theater, you're all about visual art or you live for live music, you're sure to find something that satisfies your cultural cravings on any given weekend.

For starters, theater lovers can take their pick from more than a dozen companies that run the gamut from mega-musical productions to feel-good Southern fare to regional premieres of edgier plays. The music scene is equally wide-ranging, with offerings spanning classical, jazz, R&B, gospel, pop, hip hop and experimental genres and venues from grand concert halls to inspired holes-in-walls.

Those with an eye on visual art would do well to see the big fall shows at established institutions, and will also find plenty on view at hosts of galleries and alternative art spaces.

And, of course, Charleston overflows with festivals, which congregate culture-lovers of varying passion points. 

Visual art 

Since its sleek renovation in 2016, the Gibbes Museum of Art has continued to innovate, with thought-provoking exhibitions, year-round programming that cross-pollinates disciplines, as well as a chic cafe with good coffee and prime people-watching. Over near the iconic pineapple fountain, City Gallery at Waterfront Park presents wide-ranging contemporary works from Lowcountry artists, as well as from those who are farther afield.

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston also continues to push the boundaries, by way of shows that spur exchange and never cease to surprise the senses, while Redux Contemporary Art Center mounts work by both emerging and established artists.


The Gaillard Center's state-of-the-art concert hall inspires appreciative nods from both patrons and performers with an ear for acoustics. Be sure to visit the Gaillard Center website for the fall lineup, including the season's offerings of Charleston Symphony, as well as a robust list of touring productions.

The mid-sized Charleston Music Hall is a local go-to, hosting organizations like Charleston Jazz as well as visiting musical acts. Lovers of live music and lively crowds can head for The Royal American on Morrison Drive or the Charleston Pour House on Maybank Highway. 

Film festivals

Each year on James Island, Terrace Charleston Film Festival shows screenings of local, indie and international films to a discerning crowd of cineastes. Those who like their viewing options with an Italian accent would do well to peruse the Nuovo Cinema Italiano Film Festival, which gathers far-flung film talents for its annual immersion in Italian culture and language.


Charleston's theater scene continues to evolve in noteworthy ways. Pure Theatre starts its first full season at the newly renovated Cannon Street Arts Center, and Footlight Players forges ahead in its same venue under the new name of Queen Street Playhouse. Meanwhile, Charleston Stage, the professional company housed at the historic Dock Street Theatre, has added a West Ashley annex, while Cultural Arts Center Charleston, which mounts musicals and revues, has now set up shop in Citadel Mall.

There is also Village Repertory Co. at the Woolfe Street Playhouse; Theatre 99 for improv comedy; Art Forms and Theatre Concepts for works by and for African-American artists; South of Broadway Theatre Company near Park Circle in North Charleston; Flowertown Players in Summerville; Threshold Rep; Midtown Productions; 34 West; and 5th Wall.

While you won't be at a loss for quality options throughout the high cultural season, you may be at a loss for which to choose. No matter, though. With the embarrassment of riches, it's really hard to go wrong.

Contact Adam Parker at aparker@postandcourier.com or 843-937-5902.

Maura Hogan is the arts critic at The Post and Courier. She has previously written about arts, culture and lifestyle for The New York Times, Gourmet, Garden & Gun, among other publications.

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