Support for arts benefits community

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By The Staff

Hanging on a wall in the back of Picture Perfect is a self portrait of the late artist Bea Sisson wearing an evening gown. Time has taken its toll on the large oil painting done in the 1950s. But the beauty and talent are evident even through the curling oil flakes.

Sisson was a Lancaster resident who inspired many local artists with her talent and creativity.

We thought of Sisson the other day when two Lancaster residents were awarded state honors for their work with the arts.

David Platts, fine arts specialist for the Lancaster County School District, received the S.C. Art Educators Association (SCAEA) administrator of the year award.

Teresa Petty, art teacher at Indian land Middle School, received the SCAEA middle level art educator of the award.

Lancaster County Council of the Arts paid recognition to the two at a recent reception at the Springs House.

We’ve said it in the past; Lancaster is fortunate to have so many talented artists in the county. Platts and Petty continue that tradition. We’ve introduced you to several artists through stories in our newspaper. We also published an editorial praising the accomplishments of local artists and even listed some of them.

While we have so much local talent, community support is a key reason we have such a strong arts representation in our county. And that support produces an environment for artists to thrive.

That support is evident. Take a look at some examples of that support:

n Lancaster County Council of the Arts

n Performing Arts Center at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster Bradley Arts & Sciences building

n  Several art studios, including Bob Doster and  Christina Chastain

n Increasing turnout for the two art crawls a year held in downtown Lancaster

n Marian Hagins Art Contest, as well as other contests

n Monthly art displays at Springs Memorial Hospital

n Annual classical music concerts

n The much-anticipated opening of the Artisan’s Center on Main  Street

The reason for such strong support is because the community realizes the importance of arts.

Platts summed it up well when he said arts are important to the learning process. They’re not measured like math or reading, but inspire creativity, which has lasting benefits, he said. Through arts, students learn to work in groups and communicate with others.

“The arts are essential to the formative process for any child,” Platts said.

Petty echoes Platts’ sentiments when she said art benefits students because they use higher-level thinking skills.

“My favorite part of being an art teacher is that all of the students have the same assignment, the same materials, the same project, and they each give me something different back,” she said.

We have artists who have turned their talent into successful businesses. Jim Shore is one example. While, unbeknownst to some neighbors, Shore has become a national celebrity. His figurine collectibles are sold throughout the world. Though talent and passion are the driving forces for his art, he acknowledges that good fortune played a key role in his success.

The fact that we have such strong community support for the arts is also a good fortune.

The artists benefit and the community is enriched. It is a win-win situation.