Let’s encourage our local artists

 

COVER TO COVER

 

When I say “the arts,” some cities in our neck of the woods might come to mind: Greenville has the Peace Center, and is home to the Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. Of course, there’s also Centre Stage, Greenville Little Theatre, and in Spartanburg, there’s the Chapman Cultural Center.

While it’s fun to “get away” to see a show in one of these larger cities, or slip down to our state’s capital city to visit the Columbia Museum of Art (among other attractions), we must also recognize and celebrate the outlets we have in our smaller towns, too.

One of these is Laurens County Community Theatre, which just finished running Philip King’s See How They Run. I was delighted to play a part in this production, along with some of my dear friends. If you love live theatre, LCCT offers shows year round, with tickets usually going for $10 to $12 per person. You can see all their upcoming shows (and auditions, too) at www.lcct.net

No, it’s not quite the same as seeing a Broadway show at the Peace Center. But to me, there’s something very special about going to your local community theatre and witnessing the talents of someone you may work with, or go to church or school with. Along with providing entertainment, local theatres like LCCT instill in their audiences a new level of admiration for friends and relatives on stage, as well as develop a brand-new appreciation for the community at large.

But it’s more than just theatre, mind you. We must also celebrate our local music groups, from Laurens County Chorale to the high school marching band, and everyone in between. Additionally, we must take every chance to play witness to, and encourage public art projects. And for every bestseller we read, we should make it a goal to read something written by a local writer. 

 

This is something you can accomplish fairly simply by continuing to read your hometown newspaper!

 

The other day, I had lunch with my new friend, Monte Dutton. People know him best as the sportswriter for GoLaurens.com. What I didn’t know is that Monte is also a novelist, having written several novels and a collection of short stories. I look forward to reading a few of his books very soon (you can find them on Amazon).

 No, our local artists aren’t paid a lot for sharing their gifts with us. The vast majority aren’t paid at all. And yet, that’s what makes them exceptional. Ron Rash, author of Serena and The World Made Straight, spoke in support of aspiring artists in an interview he gave a few years ago. As a young writer myself, his words stuck with me. “I think you have to, as a writer, ultimately you have to write because it’s something you feel like you have to do,” he said. “There’s something in it that gives you a kind of satisfaction that nothing else in your life does.”

That’s why it’s important that we encourage those artists, authors, actors, singers and stagehands that live in our own neighborhoods. While they may never receive the level of recognition they dream of getting (and deserve), we must acknowledge the part they play in helping to make our communities a brighter, better place.

 

Graham Duncan is a graduate of Clinton High and Lander University. He works as a staff writer at Lander, and is pursuing a master’s at Converse College. He can be reached at gduncan@lander.edu.

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