The Chapman Cultural Center campus in Spartanburg

    Intro by Jennifer Evins, Executive Director, Chapman Cultural Center

    Chapman Cultural Center’s mission is to provide cultural leadership for all of Spartanburg County. We are the leading local arts agency and we own and operate the Chapman Cultural Center in downtown Spartanburg.

    In addition to our own programs in arts education, public art projects, and providing operational funding to local artists and non-profits, CCC serves as a cultural and entertainment destination with the co-location of 8 local nonprofit arts, science, and humanities organizations that manage their own staff and programs. A term we often use to describe our facility is that we are like a shopping mall for the arts. Because inside CCC, you’ll find classrooms, art and dance studios, a performing arts theater, and exhibit galleries!

    Through these unprecedented times, we’ve had to increase our leadership role in responding to COVID-19 and setting the policies and procedures for how our campus operates and determine timing and protocol on how we reopen and serve our community.

    For a century, Spartanburg has enjoyed a very strong cultural sector in our community. We believe that arts and culture are critical for quality of life, wellbeing, education, and economic development. That is why we are committed to pushing through these unprecedented times as our community wants the arts to be strong and vibrant when we reopen our communities.

    Below is a “Q&A” with a few of the organizations that we fund through General Operating Support Grants, some of which are also located on our campus.


    Artists’ Guild of Spartanburg, Carrie Caldwell, Executive Director

    The Artists Guild of Spartanburg

    What are you most looking forward to in the future when things start to open up?

    We cannot wait to see everyone’s smiling faces in the gallery again! The Artists’ Guild has a wonderful line up of shows for the remainder of the year (beginning June 3rd) and we are looking forward to seeing our artists, patrons, and the public as they visit the gallery. If a Guild representative is not there, please be sure to sign our guestbook and leave a comment so that we know we had visitors! To ensure everyone’s safety, we will be installing clear markings in the gallery to help with social distancing, and hand sanitizer will be available at the door.

    What kinds of permanent changes, for good or ill, do you think may come to your organization or to the arts in general from the after-effects of COVID-19?

    We believe that going through COVID-19 has strengthened the arts community as a whole. We have seen our artists try new ways to work like socially distanced porch portraits, participating in Virtual Art Walk, selling their art online, and providing porch pick up for customers. We have witnessed artists pledging to buy art from another if one of their pieces sells- a kind of pay it forward that is heartwarming to see. We have also come together as an organization. Our board has been in contact regularly to discuss the trials facing the Artists’ Guild and at the core each member just wants to see the organization thrive. We would also like to give a big shoutout to the Chapman Cultural Center. The leadership they have provided at this time has been phenomenal – thank you to the entire Chapman family for all you have done to keep the arts alive during this time!

    Teresa Hough, Executive Director, Ballet Spartanburg

    Ballet Spartanburg, Teresa Hough, Executive Director

    What have you been surprised by in terms of community support?

    Ballet Spartanburg has been overwhelmed with the kindness of our community and beyond. We had and continue to have so many parents of our Center for Dance Education who understand the hard financial impact we faced when we had to close March 13th. The sense of Ballet Spartanburg family never faded. Our patrons and tickets holders who generously donated the money they had spent of tickets rather than asking for refunds for the last two ballets we had to postpone; we simply did not expect the gifts and donations. We felt such an enormous amount of love from our ballet patrons, families, businesses, and community.

     What are you most looking forward to in the future when things start to open up?

    I think we are looking forward to the same thing everyone wants…. communicating face to face with the people we haven’t see in months even if it is at a distance, seeing smiling and laughing children, watching parents who are happy to see some sense of a routine outside of the home, dancers back in the studio, our audiences, just human connection with new modifications and tweaks, of course, to keep everyone safe. It will be strange with new adjustments, but we are ready and prepared to make those adjustments to dance again!

    Spartanburg Science Center, Mary Levens, Interim Executive Director

    Mary Levens, Interim Executive Director, Spartanburg Science Center

    What creative ways have you found to reach your audiences? Have you found people to be responsive to virtual events?

    The Spartanburg Science Center was fortunate to have our new Educational Director, Jesseca Kusher, on board when Covid-19 reared its head, and she was a master at developing virtual programming and delivering wonderfully fun lessons to the community. We realize that kids love to learn, and they love Jess! We received reviews from as far as Maine and Minnesota!

    That alone showed the power of the Internet and the wonderful capability of delivering fun and exciting science to kids of all ages. It was obvious that humans relate to animals and some of the animals housed at the SSC have become instant “internet stars”! We also noticed that the animals seemed to miss having folks visit and interact with them. I guess you could say it was really too quiet around here—we were in every day to feed and they seemed searching for the kids!

    I think too much of anything can be overload, and the virtual events were plentiful, but I think we will have visitors coming once we open to see these great animals in person. The good thing about virtual events is that parents can choose when to view them, some saving them and some watching live! The part we really miss is watching kids and adults marvel at the wonderful animals we have when they meet face to face. We are hoping to see folks soon in the science center! We will be holding summer camps virtually as well as face to face beginning June 8th. I cannot wait to see our kids again!

    What have you been surprised by in terms of community support?

    We have enjoyed support by the Spartanburg Community for over 40 years! We were frankly hoping for continued support during this crisis and we were not disappointed! Most of our work is done in the schools and after school programming. Birthday parties on the weekends help provide the budget to feed our animals. All of those sources stopped on March 13, 2020! We put out the call for leftovers of vegetables and fruits and the call was answered! Restaurants like The Deli Korner and Willy Taco’s jumped to our aid! The food leftovers we received from private citizens and these restaurants were enough to get us through to this point. We are now back buying food and hoping to generate funds through our summer camps to make sure everything continues normally. We have received some private donations, which was most surprising, as the economic situation affected everyone!

    I really cannot say THANK YOU! enough or loud enough to the community for remembering us! We always strive to deliver a top program wherever we go and Spartanburg remembered and is thinking of us during this time! We are anxiously waiting for our regular clients to return and new folks to come and see the science center that is still here! THANK YOU SPARTANBURG COMMUNITY!


    Hub City Writers Project, Rebecca Arrowsmith, Bookshop Events and Marketing Manager

    Rebecca Arrowsmith, Hub City Bookshop Events and Marketing Manager

    What collaborations have you formed that you hadn’t thought to do before this?

    During this hard time for all of us, there are a few positive things happening at the Hub City Writers Project and a big one is the opportunity to virtually meet amazing writers that we wouldn’t ordinarily connect with due to the distances between us. With the help of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, we’ve been able to bring bestselling authors right into our customer’s living rooms. Our patrons were even invited to an exclusive book club with National Book Award winner, Susan Choi! Writers need readers just as much as readers need writers. We are, and always have been, in this together.

    What creative ways have you found to reach your audiences?

    As an organization built on community narratives, we’ve leveraged the impact of COVID-19 to return to our roots and curate a new WPA-style blog series titled Sheltering in Spartanburg. The blog spotlights how local writers, artists, service workers, community centers, educators, and small businesses are experiencing our new normal. Through Sheltering in Spartanburg, we hope to archive the hopes, fears, frustrations, and celebrations of those living through COVID-19 in Spartanburg, South Carolina.


    Spartanburg Philharmonic, Kathryn Boucher, Executive Director

    Kathryn Boucher, Executive Director, Spartanburg Philharmonic

    Tell us about how this has impacted your organization in terms of programming, the ability to carry out your mission.

    In March, April, and May, we had to cancel three ticketed concerts and the associated “Classical Conversations” lectures that surrounded these concerts.

    Additionally, in these months, we had to cancel our Youth Orchestra weekly rehearsals and their final concert in April. This is truly devastating as this concert featured solos by two of our seniors who had worked tirelessly to showcase their talents for their family and friends. The loss of these rehearsals has been a factor in the ensemble’s cohesiveness and full experience for the first year of our Youth Orchestra.

    Our free bi-weekly concerts “Music Sandwiched In,” at the Spartanburg Downtown Library were canceled as well. These concerts provide an opportunity for students, seniors, businessmen and families to enjoy live performances of different genres of music.

    The long-term impacts of COVID-19 are most concerning for the Spartanburg Philharmonic. With many data projections showing the desire and intent of audiences to return to the concert hall as very low, we will most likely have to cancel our season for 20–21. We will make these determinations in the next few months using the data that we have available to us.

    What collaborations have you formed that you hadn’t thought to do before this? Will this lead to any future/lasting collaborations?

    In the wake of government recommended closures and the mandated cancellation of all public events, performing arts organizations across the world have been forced to cancel concerts and shows, effectively limiting the community’s access to quality, live arts. Seeing the need for continued inspiration in this difficult time, the Spartanburg Philharmonic, Ballet Spartanburg, Spartanburg Art Museum and Spartanburg Little Theatre have banded together to form a new partnership—Together SpARTanburg, which seeks to give the community access to the performing arts with regularly scheduled programs available online through social media, and the organizations’ websites.

    Each weekday at 10:00am, the Together SpARTanburg partners post episodes designed to engage and entertain viewers of all ages in a fun and meaningful arts experience. The Philharmonic episodes contain musicians at home educating audiences on their instruments, the history of classical music time periods and short performances. The Philharmonic pays our contributors for their time, knowledge and experience for the Together SpARTanburg episodes.