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Be Driven by the Arts
The Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Awards
The City of Anderson, SC
2013 Government Award
As the first city in the United States to have a continuous supply of electric power, Anderson, South Carolina, has always been out front in setting the standard. The city’s embrace of public art as a necessary component of downtown is just another example of the city’s leadership. The South Carolina Heritage Corridor recently noted that “of all the communities along the Heritage Corridor, the City of Anderson embraces public art the best.” Through judicious use of resources and carefully cultivated partnerships, the City of Anderson sets a standard for public art in South Carolina.
The City of Anderson has partnered with artists, arts organizations and public and private institutions to bring art to its citizens on streets, sidewalks, buildings and parks. From the enduring and educational representation of William Church Whitner, the Anderson native who brought electricity to the city to the restoration of a 19th century generator wheel, to the charming installations of wren sculptures throughout the city, Anderson has spurred the metamorphosis of public space by including an arts component in every phase of downtown revitalization. The sheer volume and visibility of public art has inspired many of Anderson’s restaurants and retailers to feature local original art
Twelve separate and distinct art installations dot the city with more than 200 opportunities for exposure. Beginning with banners created by schoolchildren and local artists to six foot fish sculptures for the project “Fish Out of Water: Hooked on the Arts,” the city’s willingness to collaborate with other organizations has resulted in a downtown that enhances the quality of life with whimsy, education and history in a walkable environment. That environment attracts tourists and inspires other communities. Officials from Walterboro to Greenville and key state tourism administrators have visited to glean inspiration from Anderson’s success.
With a population of just over 25,000, Anderson has made art truly accessible for residents and visitors. Anderson has raised the visibility of art and its role of preserving history and inspiring the future, not only among peer communities, but even among larger cities. Anderson has set the example for publicly embracing art and its value to the community.