28 April 2013

Artfields, Lake City, S.C.

Artfields, Lake City, S.C.
I don't need to ask if anyone else made the trip to the arts festival in tiny little Lake City this past week because the town was bustling with people touring the art displays. What a brilliant idea! Lake City is the home town of Darla Moore. Under her guidance, they renovated some of the buildings, encouraged business owners and announced an art festival with combined prizes of $100,000. That was enough to get people's attention!

The entire town seems in on the idea with paintings hanging in restaurants, shops and barbershops. Locals asked if I wanted to take pictures of them (I did!) and posed for me. The hostess of the buffet restaurant was amazing that she had a piece of art valued at $50,000 on her wall. Visitors were invited to vote on their favorites which meant every single one of us was welcome to traipse through each business. I loved the idea! I didn't have enough time to visit all the art but did a quick run through town and then headed out to Darla Moore's botanical garden.

Here is a quote from Charleston Magazine's recent interview:
But will the experiment work? Will visitors coming to see art be seduced by a quaint town’s quiet charms and stay a while, spend some tourism bucks? Maybe buy one of those 1910 fixer-uppers? Start a small business? A new hotel is already slated to open soon, a hopeful sign. ArtFields takes its lead from a similar event in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that had positive economic development outcomes, but the net gain for Lake City, besides the prize winning artworks that will stay in the city’s public spaces, remains to be seen. “Dr. George Washington Carver said, ‘Where there is no vision, there is no hope’,” says Lake City mayor Lovith Anderson Jr. “The people of Lake City and the surrounding communities are the beneficiaries of the hope and promise and progress which have sprung from the visionary effort and leadership of Darla Moore.”
My daughter took business and economics at USC and Darla Moore has been so generous in supporting her Alma Mater and the Darla Moore School of Business that I have been grateful fan for years. I will be delighted if this experiment works to revive a sleepy small town in South Carolina. Next year let's get some buses lined up to take people from Charleston for a field trip!