City honored for arts

Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award is state’s highest art honor

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Octo 2 by Anthony Howe // PROVIDED BY THE CITY OF GREENVILLE

The City of Greenville has won the state’s highest honor in the arts – the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts – in the government category.

The awards, announced Wednesday, honor outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina. The awards will be formally presented to the winners in Columbia on May 11.

“Each of these Verner Award recipients has attracted positive national attention for the Palmetto State,” said Henry Horowitz, chairman of the South Carolina Arts Commission.

The South Carolina Arts Commission, which presents the awards, called Greenville a haven for the arts. The awards committee recognized the public-private partnership responsible for creating Greenville’s Peace Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 1990.

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Peg Leg Bates by Joseph B. Thompson // PROVIDED BY CITY OF GREENVILLE

Since then, the arts have been thoroughly integrated into multiple facets of the community, fostering an environment that “today abounds with public art installations, performing and visual arts venues, festivals celebrating nearly every arts discipline and strong community-based arts organizations,” wrote Ed Zeigler, an architect with Craig Gaulden Davis and chairman of the city’s Arts in Public Places Commission, in nominating the city for the award.

“Though this booming arts scene is exceptional in and of itself, the crux of the achievement is how the City of Greenville used the arts not only to help reverse the city’s downward trajectory, but to nurture its unique sense of place,” Zeigler wrote.

South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities President Cedric Adderley added in a letter of support, “Greenville has, by far, the most holistic and interconnected cultural life of any city in South Carolina.”

Six awards are given each year. The Phifer-Johnson Foundation/The Johnson Collection in Spartanburg, the only other recipient from the Upstate, won in the business/foundation category. Hootie and the Blowfish and poet Nikki Finney will receive special recognition.

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