The Arts Center in Clemson was founded on the ideology of creating an outlet for the growing artistic community of Clemson.
Founders Julie Peters and Deborah Pagano created a plan that would allow people of all ages and abilities to participate in such a program. Fortunately, the community agreed.
Mayor Larry Abernathy became an advocate for this program. When Clemson Elementary was built, the Morrison Annex Building became available for sale by the school district. Mayor Abernathy negotiated the sale of the building to the city, and it was named the Calhoun Bridge Center. It became home to three non-profits in the community: Clemson Child Development Center, Clemson Area African-American Museum and the Upstate Center for the ARTS.
The name The ARTS Center was adopted and opened for business in the city’s newly renovated building at 212 Butler Street in Clemson. In fact, all roads lead to The ARTS Center because the Calhoun Bridge Building is located at the top of the town in the triangle of land nestled between Highways 123, 76 and 93.
Like most businesses, the ARTS Center was affected by the troubled economy, however, once more, the Clemson community proved to be a strong patron of the arts by pledging their support for the ARTS Center. Over the next few years, the ARTS Center increased its community involvement with gallery exhibits, open studios and interactions among different community groups like the Clemson Area Storytellers.
Despite this positive growth, the Board of Directors longed for a new direction and a larger proliferation of the ARTS Center within the community. Therefore, the Board hired Executive Director Tommye Hurst, who has since moved The Arts Center in a positive direction. She has created annual events such as the Clemson Festival of the Arts and hosts the State of the Arts Luncheon. Additionally, this new direction includes an Artist Guild in which artists of all mediums may participate. All in all, Hurst’s new direction has increased the Arts Center’s memberships from 91 to 250.0
Director Tommye Hurst explains, “Our Board had adopted a simple and focused mission statement for The ARTS Center, so it made a direct road map for me to follow in creating a vibrant ART SCENE in Clemson.” The mission statement to “provide exceptional art education and make art exciting and accessible to the community” is being realized in a number of ways. We provide adult and children education for ages 3-90, a dynamic Summer ART Camp for ages 3-15, teen workshops and classes, and advanced workshops for fine artists. We have created a program, The ARTS Center @, that expands our exhibit space to satellite galleries throughout the area, including Clemson City Hall, Clemson Area Chamber of Commerce, the Clemson Area Transit building, and at Clemson Little Theatre’s Cox Hall Galleries at the Pendleton Playhouse, as well as our exhibit spaces in The Arts Center. The Board created a strategic plan to focus on our mission statement by balancing our work among art and artists, community involvement, membership, education and financial sustainability. We welcome you to come see us soon and often and find out how you and your family can enjoy all The Arts Center has to offer.