Metropolitan Arts Council has record-breaking year in 2018

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If the Metropolitan Arts Council’s 2018 were a song, it would have been a chart-topper.

The nonprofit that provides support for Greenville’s arts organizations and artists in each arts discipline had the best year in its 45-year history.

MAC raised a record high of $1.78 million, and its total budget surpassed $2 million for the fifth consecutive year.

In 2018, MAC funded 75 grants totaling $156,286 to schools, artists, and arts organizations.

Greenville Open Studios 2018 had record sales of $318,975.

MAC’s SmartARTS program received its largest foundation gift ever — $220,000 from the Graham Foundation. MAC has raised $2.4 million for the arts integration program since federal funding expired in 2007.

MAC’s endowment balance grew to more than $1.45 million.

“MAC’s ascendency is based on Greenville’s love of the arts and its collective civic pride. For a city our size, we have truly experienced a Renaissance of sorts in terms of our cultural offerings, which far exceed those in cities three times our size,” said MAC Executive Director Alan Ethridge. “Greenville’s reputation as a cultural destination is growing daily and exponentially. All of us at MAC are very proud to be a part of this evolution.”

Five primary awards were announced and are listed below. Several other awards were given to individuals and businesses for their support of the arts.

MAC Lifelong Supporter of the Arts Award

Bobbi Wheless

After MAC’s first director lasted eight months and the next slightly longer, Roberta “Bobbi” Wheless took the helm in 1975, when the organization had fewer than 20 member art organizations, significant debt, and a lack of focus. When she left in 1991, MAC had grown to more than 100 members and was one of the largest art councils in the state. Under her leadership, MAC established a grants program for member organizations and worked with the city to start Downtown Alive, MAC’s current single largest fundraiser. Wheless was the Peace Center’s development director for three years. She received the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award in 1981.

Carl R. Blair Commitment to Arts Education Award

Linda McCune

Linda Williams McCune has been teaching art at Greenville Technical College since 1989 and has been academic program director, assistant department head, and lead professor of fine arts. In addition to teaching, McCune’s works have been exhibited throughout the Upstate, the Southeast, and the nation. Not only is McCune committed to the thousands of students she has taught but also to the local visual arts community. Most recently, she participated in MAC’s 2018 “Direct Experience: Cancer and Art” exhibition. McCune received her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Tennessee, and she completed graduate courses in art education and curriculum management from there, as well. She earned her master’s degree in fine arts with an emphasis on drawing and sculpture from the University of South Carolina.

Ann C. Sherard Young Supporter of the Arts Award

Cary Weekes

Cary Weekes has been associated with the arts throughout her life — from being a student at the Lawrenceville School to attending the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in drama/theater arts and graduating from Duke University. During her time in Greenville, Weekes has served on the board of the Peace Center, the Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, and the Charity Ball. She has chaired the boards of the Children’s Museum of the Upstate and Christ Church Episcopal School. She is a member of the Carolina Foothills Garden Club.

Carrie and Skip Gordon Teaching Artist Award

Adam Schrimmer

Adam Schrimmer is a visual artist whose passion is to use public art murals to reach, inspire, connect, and beautify neighborhoods, communities, and schools. Adam is founder and owner of Blank Canvas Mural Co. and is a SmartARTS teaching artist. He is founder of the Communities of Opportunity Mural Program, which aims to improve overall neighborhood health through resident-driven mural projects. Schrimmer is originally from Norwalk, Connecticut, where he graduated from The Gunnery, then received his BFA in illustration from Ringling School of Art and Design.

Carrie and Skip Gordon Emerging Teaching Artist Award

Sunny McGowan

Sunny Mullarkey McGowan is a fine artist residing in Greenville. In addition to creating her fine art pieces in her studio in the arts district of the Village of West Greenville, McGowan also paints murals and signage, as well as teaches printmaking in her studio and the Greenville Center for Creative Arts. She joined the SmartARTS teaching artist roster in 2018. The award recognizes a Greenville artist who shows great promise in their artistic and educational practice to impact and inspire the lives of students. It includes a scholarship to attend a national professional conference with a focus on both the arts and education.

Other awards

Escobar Photography won the TD Bank Business & the Arts Partnership Award for businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Canal Insurance won the TD Bank Business & the Arts Partnership Award for businesses with more than 100 employees. William Brown won the Put Your Heart in the Arts Volunteers of the Year Award. Roger Ables won the MAC Board of Directors Award.

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