Downtown Lancaster could become a three-county arts hub

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City council hears feasbilty study results

By Denyse Clark

Downtown Lancaster could become the biggest hub of the arts this side of the Greenville-Spartanburg region of the state, said a representative of Cottle & Associates.

Helena Beyersdale-Cottle gave a PowerPoint presentation about an Arts Incubator Feasibility Study at the Tuesday, June 10, meeting of Lancaster City Council.

“The object of the study,” Beyersdale-Cottle said, “was to determine the feasibility of regional arts in the city of Lancaster.”

In August 2013, Lancaster City Council unanimously approved acceptance of a $50,000 Rural Business Opportunity Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

The city had applied for a $75,000 grant but received $50,000. The money went toward the arts/business feasibility study.

An arts incubator is a space for artist residencies, arts education and community-based arts projects, as well as exhibitions, performances and talks. 

In other words, the incubator program nurtures the growth and development of artists or arts enterprises and their small businesses.

Beyersdale-Cottle said there had been numerous studies done of an arts incubator and she also discussed the economic impact including employment gained by this project.

“The state’s cultural industry generated $2.4 billion in economic output for South Carolina’s economy,” she said. “Tourism generated more than 113,000 jobs.”

The city had addressed the benefits of tourism in the original grant application.

“The increased income and availability of local products would encourage more artists and crafts people to stay in the region and to become economically viable small businesses,” city staff wrote in the grant application. “Because availability of local products is a top tourism interest, the region would gain from increased tourism as well.”

Shopping goes hand-in-hand with this enterprise, Beyersdale-Cottle said, and the study identifies more than 800 artists in a seven-county area. 

“There are 126 artists, (including performance artists) identified in the community,” she said. “There’s no specific building that’s being looked at for this. It’s all based on what the artistic community says and how much they’re willing to pay.”

An analysis would have to be done on existing trends and the economic impact of the arts incubator, she said, which, if created, would target municipalities and communities in Chester, Fairfield and Lancaster counties. The finalized study will be complete Sept. 30.

In addition to receiving information about the feasibility study, the council unanimously approved a “safety month” proclamation, a resolution authorizing the submission and acceptance of a Duke Energy Foundation grant. Council also passed first reading of an ordinance adopting the 2014-15 fiscal year operating budget.


Contact reporter Denyse Clark at (803) 283-1152