The annual North Charleston Arts Festival is just one month away, set to kick off on May 2 and conclude on May 10. Now in its 32nd year, the nine day event has matured into one of the most comprehensive arts festival in the state, drawing thousands of residents and visitors to experience the talents of national, regional, and local artists and performers in the areas of dance, music, theatre, and visual, media, and literary arts. Nearly 200 festival offerings are scheduled to take place in a variety of venues throughout North Charleston and the surrounding area, including libraries, community centers, schools, businesses, civic auditoriums, and parks.
Recognized by the Southeast Tourism Society as a Top 20 Event, the North Charleston Arts Festival offers something for everyone – from classical to contemporary, funky to formal. The City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department organizes and presents the event each year, striving to maintain the spirit of a public celebration with the mission of presenting a broad, multidiscipline event schedule that provides a wide range of performances, exhibitions, and activities for people of all ages and backgrounds. Many of the offerings are free, and those that are ticketed are moderately priced.
“The variety of Arts Festival offerings and the inclusiveness of the event have really become a point of pride for the City of North Charleston,” says North Charleston Mayor, Keith Summey. “We look forward to this time each year when we are joined by thousands from throughout the Southeast to celebrate the importance of art within our world.”
The Arts Festival Main Event, held on Saturday, May 3, and Sunday, May 4, at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center and Charleston Area Convention Center, offers free admission and parking to over forty performances on four themed stages: General Audience, Cultural Heritage, Youth Entertainment, and Bands. Other features include judged fine art and photography exhibits; the 13th annual South Carolina Palmetto Hands Fine Craft Exhibit; youth art from Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester county students; the Lowcountry Gem & Mineral Society show and sale; the Village Antiques & Collectibles show; children’s activities at Box City and Creation Stations; art & craft vendors, a food court, and much more.
Individual events take place throughout the nine days of the festival at various locations. An exciting array of free and ticketed offerings include concerts, theatre presentations, film screenings, workshops and demonstrations, poetry readings, exhibition receptions, children’s programs, and much more. This year’s festival Gala, the Sweetgrass Soiree, will take place on Friday, May 2, from 7:00-11:00pm at the Performing Arts Center Entrance Hall. Tickets for this premier event are $50. Other highly anticipated programs include an Art Walk on Wednesday, May 7, an interactive murder mystery dinner theatre on Thursday, May 8, and street dances featuring beach/variety music and reggae on Friday, May 9. Examples of visual art exhibitions on view during the festival include a series of cut paper collages and prints by Lillian Trettin (Becoming Southern Steampunk); mixed media works by Cuban born artist, Maribel Acosta (Pieces); paintings and found-object sculptures by Gingi Martin (Landscapes of Mozart and Beethoven); the 9th annual National Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition; a group exhibition featuring Charleston area female photographers (Through the Lens); an Art & Fine Craft CoOp Gallery & Sale; the 8th Annual African American Fiber Art Exhibition (JOY!); and the 2nd Annual Wearable Art Competition and Exhibition. This festival’s Grand Finale on May 10 features a Tri-County School Steel Drum Festival, dance demos and performances, a slam poetry show, children’s activities, food trucks, and an evening concert by The CoastRunner Band. The event concludes with a fantastic fireworks display over the Cooper River.
Visit NorthCharlestonArtsFest.com for complete details for the 2014 North Charleston Arts Festival or contact the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department office at (843) 740-5854. Applications are still being accepted for participation in the Festival’s Art Walk. Entry instructions for the Festival’s Judged Fine Art Exhibition, Judged Photography Exhibition, and Tri-County Youth Art Exhibition, as well as volunteer sign-up forms are also available. All forms and instructions can be downloaded at NorthCharlestonArtsFest.com/apply.