Archive for the ‘Wishful Thinking’ Category

Charleston County (SC) Public Library System – Best Value and Best Investment in Our Future

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Editor’s note: If you live in Charleston County SC, you need to go to at least one of these meetings if not all of them to show your support for the Charleston County Public Library system – now and into the future. You won’t hear me say this often – but $100 million dollars is peanuts compared to other projects being funded – yet serve so few people. The libraries in this community serve all the people – rich, middle-class, poor, and homeless – of all ages. If Charleston can cough up $100 million to fix the Gaillard Municipal Auditorium the way it should have been to begin with – it surely can give the same amount of funding to expand and renovate our libraries. So read the official press release about these meetings – then participate. And artists remember – the libraries present art exhibits in several of its branches. Don’t let some small minded people teabag this project.

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Charleston County Public Library in Charleston County, SC, Will Conduct Community Meetings to Explain Library Construction/Renovation Proposal

Charleston County voters will consider a proposal this November, 2014, to fund the renovation of existing library branches and construction of new ones, a question last on the ballot 28 years ago.

To help voters understand the proposal and what it means for their neighborhoods, Charleston County Public Library is holding a series of 10 community meetings throughout the county between March 31 and April 21, 2014.

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The building plan is a result of two years of study that included community input, a detailed survey of the library’s existing 16 branches, research into library service and technology trends plus a review of population and demographic changes since the last library referendum in 1986. Approved by 76 percent of the voters at the time, that referendum included funds to construct four regional libraries – Mt. Pleasant, Dorchester Road, St. Andrews and Otranto Road – plus expanding or constructing a new Main Library.

The current proposal calls for constructing four new buildings, renovating 12 existing branches and moving library support services out of the Main Library to free up that space for public use. Estimated cost to construct, renovate and relocate the 17 buildings is $103.8 million, which would cost the owner of a $100,000 owner-occupied home a maximum of $12 annually.

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In January, Charleston County Council agreed to put the building referendum on this November’s ballot. The proposal came after the library completed a Strategic Plan that determined the library’s buildings and services fall far behind services provided in other areas and are below standards established by the S.C. State Library for public libraries in the state. As a result, county and library staff worked with architects and engineers to do a detailed analysis of all library facilities to determine what buildings can be renovated, where new buildings should be located, what technology updates are needed and develop estimated costs.

Now that the analysis is complete, it is being presented to area residents during a series of community meetings to gather input. County Council hopes to finalize the proposal and the wording for the ballot in early summer.

If approved by voters, officials estimate the four new libraries could open by late 2017 or early 2018. The renovation of existing branches would be staggered, with most of it completed in 2018-2019.

Studies looking at library services and buildings determined shortcomings in several areas, including the need for updated buildings, technology and the ability to provide more modernized services. Since the 1986 referendum, the county’s population has grown 27 percent while the library’s circulation soared by 289 percent in the same period. Current circulation is nearly 3.4 million items annually. Additionally, the library offered nearly 6,000 free programs, classes, exhibits, concerts and similar programs last year, attracting more than 166,000 residents.

In a comparison to public library standards adopted by the S.C. State Library, CCPL fell far below the standards in multiple categories. For instance, the standards say libraries should have 1.25 square feet of public space per capita. Locally, that would equal more than 450,000 square feet of libraries to serve local residents, but CCPL’s 16 branches have 155,458 square feet or about .43 square feet per resident. In the area of technology, the state says libraries should have three public computers per 1,000 residents or more than 1,000 locally. CCPL has .9 public computers or 349 public computers.

For a complete list of Community Meetings, a map showing the construction/renovation proposal and a breakdown of the estimated costs, visit the library’s web site at (www.ccpl.org). Residents unable to attend one of the community meetings can send their comments by e-mail to (letusknow@ccpl.org).

Artists Be Smart – All Shinny New Things Are Not All Good

Monday, January 6th, 2014

If you’ve been on the internet looking at publications this holiday season you may have seen ads for a new online gallery with a slogan – Ugallery original art. original you. I’ve even see it on our Google Adsense ads on our website and blogs – of which we have no control.

After seeing it for the 50th time I clicked on the link to see what it was all about and essentially it was nothing new – an online gallery. Although it looks slicker than most and doing the most advertising than any I’ve seen it’s still like most online galleries – lots of pictures of a variety of art. The only difference is they boost of having the “top emerging artists” and the key word here is “emerging” – meaning artists who are not that popular yet. Which was true when I looked at the artist’s roster. I did not recognize any of the names I saw representing North or South Carolina. Which means they haven’t been exhibiting in galleries in the Carolinas. At least ones we’ve been covering.

Here’s their basic statement: “Here at Ugallery, we represent the top emerging artists from across North America and photographers from around the world. We’re passionate about our collection and our artists, and we are always looking for talented artists with positive attitudes to join our community. The application process is a quick one, and we’ll get back to you within one week to let you know if you’ve been accepted to the website. For more information on how we operate, be sure to read our Artist FAQ.”

Here’s a few of their FAQ’s that stood out to me:

One more thing – we charge a small non-refundable fee of $5 to apply to the website. Bummer, we know, but it helps us ensure that the artists who apply are serious and committed.

We split the sale of artwork 50/50 and we cover all of the costs of packaging and shipping the work.

We currently represent 450 artists.

UGallery has the exclusive right to the artwork displayed on the website. This prevents the risk of selling the same piece of art to two different parties. However, we encourage you to pursue physical gallery representation while exhibiting on our site. This increases the exposure of your work as well as of our gallery.

OK – if I were an artist those four answers to FAQ’s would give me second thoughts about applying to be the 451st artists in their roster. And when you take a look at some of those 450 artist’s work – you better hope you have something really different than what I saw to help you stand out. Besides I’m not sure how many people will look through that many different portfolios in this day of short attention spans. And, I bet after this media blitz their roster has doubled. They might just be making money off the $5 application fee. And, does $5 really make you serious and committed? That’s a laugh.

Ask yourself what are they doing for their 50% cut? Except tying up the rights to the works you send them. And what does that mean? Do they have the right to sell your images to be used in advertising or what? This media blitz won’t last forever and each time they run it – it will just increase their stable of artists – unless the turnover will be that great. Then you have to ask yourself why it there that much turnover?

The problem with most galleries – from an artist’s point of view is that they represent too many artists and don’t spend enough time promoting their work. Think about that 450 number now.

The one good thing I read about Ugallery is that you still hold onto your work. So you won’t get lost in some warehouse with thousands of works stacked up in it, but once you send the work off to their buyer (regardless if they pay for shipping) – will you get paid in the time frame they state? Your work is gone. And if you don’t – who do you call to find out about when you get paid and where is Ugallery anyway?

Sure this system may be good for some artists – emerging artists – but I hope “emerging” in this case doesn’t mean learning tough lessons about the art industry.

I’m just saying – be smart – ask questions – ask around.

I’ve got a question for Ugallery. How do you think that physical gallery is going to feel when they find out that you want their artists to stay with them while playing around with you at the same time? You’re not playing on an equal basis. Ugallery isn’t like a physical gallery in another city 300 miles away – paying overhead, local taxes, and greeting customers who come through the door.

Has Hell Frozen Over or What?

Monday, July 9th, 2012

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As I post this entry today, the South Carolina Arts Commission has been shut down. Am I celebrating? I wish. Due to a fluke in the legislative calendar our Governor’s token veto to please her Tea Bagger friends has caused a closing of the Arts Commission – just as long as it takes the SC Legislature time to re-convene and override the token veto.

So for a week or a little longer, the SC Arts Commission will be shut down. Is this the end of the arts in South Carolina? Hardly – most won’t notice a difference. Sure, those folks who receive funding from the Arts Commission or hope to one day will cry and claim that this is the end of all arts in SC.

Am I against public funding for the arts? No! I never have been. I just don’t like the way the folks at the SC Arts Commission operate in what they say is their mission – to foster and support the arts in SC. It they did that, I’d be one of their biggest supporters. But they don’t do that – they never have. What they do is pick and choose who and what they want to support as if they know better and they manipulate others involved in the arts by pulling the strings of support in the form of funding. You do what they want, the way they tell you – or no funding for you.

What I’ve always wanted to see done with the SC Arts Commission is to have it torn down and rebuilt to be an agency that helps all in the arts. An agency that acts as a supporter not a dictator. An agency that doesn’t say we can’t because others don’t. An agency that is a true friend of the arts, not in many cases an enemy.

When I say I don’t care for them – don’t worry – the feeling is mutual. If they are still around the day we come to an end – they will be celebrating.

When people remark to us – thanks for all you do for the arts – I wonder how can that be true, what do they mean by that? How could we be helpful to the arts -we’re not sanctioned by the Arts Commission?

I mean think about it – when the state agency dealing with the arts won’t send us the press releases they send out to other media – because we might not agree with something in it or question something and dare to say so – that should show you we’re not helpful – we’re something to be avoided. Their policy is you’re either with them or against them. That’s a helpful attitude to have as a state agency. An agency created to serve the citizens of SC.

If it sounds like I want a piece of the pie or this is sour grapes as I can’t ever have a piece of the pie, you’re missing the point. We’ve existed for 25 years without their money and will for many more without it. Have there been things we could have accomplished with public funding – yes, and there are hundreds of projects that could also do wonders with public funding, but they won’t ever happen – while many more get funding and accomplish nothing more than supporting – supporters.

If you want an example of what I’m talking about, here’s one. Many years ago artists complained that there weren’t enough critical reviews being done in SC. There still aren’t. We talked with folks at the Arts Commission about setting up a program where they would pay writers directly for doing reviews that we would include in our paper – providing more reviews. They said this would not be possible as this would be a benefit to us – that we might profit from it. That is forbidden. I had to scratch my head in thinking how we would benefit – the paper is free, only the writers would be paid and we would have to cover the cost of the space we would be giving up in the paper that could otherwise be used to sell ads. How was I going to profit from that? We can’t afford to do this on our own – so nothing is accomplished toward solving this problem. Although they did do the same thing giving thousands of dollars to a publication coming out of Chicago to do the same thing – only not many people in SC ever saw that publication. But, that paper was a non-profit so it was OK to throw that money down the drain.

My point all along is that the majority of the successful parts of the greater art community lies in the commercial side of the arts. When you see surveys that talk about how many jobs are created and the economic impact of the arts – the majority of those figures are counted from businesses dealing in the arts – not non-profit arts groups. Non-profits in the arts generate few jobs and fewer profits. If they did, they wouldn’t be so worried about losing their meager public funding, which most of the time has to be matched by funding from other sources. Other sources who would probably give them funding – if they felt the group was serving the community.

No non-profit in SC exists solely on the money they receive from the SC Arts Commission.

But, the SC Arts Commission and the folks who do get funding from them would like you to believe that without the SC Arts Commission and the funding they provide to select groups – all arts in SC would shrivel up and die. That notion is so funny it hurts to think about it. Would we stop? No! Would art galleries close up? No! Would creative people stop creating? No! Would some people be out of a meal ticket? Yes! If the art welfare stopped coming – some folks would have to find something else to do. And, in most of those cases they would have to find something they are better at than what they are doing now to survive.

So, am I celebrating the Governor’s little victory over the SC Arts Commission? No, not at all. Will I lift a finger to help save them when they’re not really in jeopardy? No. Do I wish our state would do something better to help the arts and help our state profit more from a stronger cultural industry? Yes! Yes I do. Am I hopeful? No. In a couple of weeks we’ll all be back to the same old thing.  Yay, SC.

Want to Get Away from it All and Ham it up at the Same Time – the Carolina Renaissance Festival is Looking for You

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

This will be one of my goals – when I retire. Here’s a photo of one of my costumes for this festival.

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Here’s their press release:

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Renaissance Festival Auditions Underway – Your Chance To Act and Play!

The Carolina Renaissance Festival, a combination of outdoor theater, circus, arts and crafts fair, jousting tournament and feast, will hold open auditions on Wednesday, June 27th from 6:30 to 9pm and Saturday, June 30th from 9am – noon at Ballantyne Arts Center located at the 11318 North Community House Road, Charlotte, NC, (on the second floor).

In addition to the open auditions, the Renaissance Festival is also seeking to fill the following specific roles:

·       Adult male actors to fill the role of The Royal Guard.
·       Interactive Living Statues.
·       Variety performers (jugglers, circus skills, etc.).
·       Outgoing personalities to portray renaissance era villagers.

Professional and amateur opportunities are available. Prepared material, head shots, and resumes are appreciated but not required. Auditionees should be age 16 or older.  Contact 704/896-5555 or e-mail (Vreanie@royalfaires.com) to schedule an audition appointment. Additional information can be found at (www.RenFestInfo.com).

The 19th annual Renaissance Festival will be underway for seven weekends, Saturdays and Sundays, October 6 through November 18, 2012, on a 245 acre site minutes north of Charlotte, between Concord and Huntersville, at the junction of NC 73 and Poplar Tent Road

Shoestring Publishing Company Has Been Publishing an Arts Newspaper for 24 Years

Friday, July 8th, 2011

In early 1987, I got a real crazy idea. For some reason I thought what Charleston, SC, needed was an arts newspaper to tell its story and inform the good people of Charleston what was going on, from month to month, in its art community. I waited until after the Spoleto Festival was over to launch the paper in July, 1987. Now, 24 years later I’m thinking – What was it thinking?

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I mean, why did I wait until after Spoleto, when the largest arts audience was in town? I knew why I started the paper. There wasn’t enough coverage of the arts in Charleston and it’s still a problem today – not just in Charleston but all over the Carolinas.

Somewhere along the line we decided to just focus on the visual arts – mainly exhibitions.

I’m sure there are many more people out there besides me who are wondering – How has that paper survived this long? All I can contribute on my behalf is – just stubborn I guess. I have no excuse for Linda, my better half – she should know better. But, I’ll shift the blame to all those people who over the years provided us with information (by deadline) and took out paid advertising – which is what really kept us alive. And, some credit goes to our printing company, Tri-State Printing – who we’ll still be paying money to for awhile.

I’m not going to take you readers on some long historical journey, I’ll save that for the 25th anniversary – if we make it. I just wanted to mark the occasion and say – Thank You – to all our supporters. Maybe by the 25th I’ll get that fourth interview with myself done. I always enjoy talking to that guy.

Truth Be Told About Spoleto Festival USA – Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

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I found these two quotes from Nigel Redden in an interview from the Reuters News Service about funding cuts to the arts on the internet. They are the first quotes I’ve seen with some truth told about the festival mixed in with a little wishful thinking.

The first quote is the wishful thinking on the financial impact of the festival: “Those cuts have come despite the fact that the Spoleto Festival brings between $55 million and $70 million to South Carolina each year,” Redden said.

$55 to $70 million – that’s quite a spread there. But, if this was true, the hotels, restaurants, and airlines should put up most of the $7.5 million budget for the festival – they’re the ones that would benefit the most. But those numbers come from economic formulas – not hard numbers. It’s economic guessing.

The second quote was the truth part: “The festival draws 25,000 to 35,000 people to the coastal city, and they buy 73,000 performance tickets and spend money on hotels, food, merchandise and tourist attractions,” he said.

Finally, we get the truth about how many people the festival attracts each year. They used to repeat this phrase until every reporter had it ingrained in their vocabulary when talking about Spoleto. “The Spoleto Festival attracts 100,000 people each year to Charleston and generates $70 million in economic impact”.

One year I called the box office after the festival was over and asked how many tickets they sold. The answer was around 70,000. Very interesting.

Unless 30,000 people were getting free admission, that was a long way from 100,000. There are a lot of folks who get given free tickets, but you have to be someone of fame, power, or at least have influence over funding. I knew there were very few people who come to Charleston to just attend one event. I also knew that a lot of locals go to Spoleto events. So, it wasn’t hard to figure that the real number was closer to 25,000 people coming to Charleston for the festival and it could even be less than that. It could be as little as 10,000 people coming from out of town to attend Spoleto events and if you start thinking about how many people come from towns and cities not too far from Charleston, but are in-State residents – the number could even get smaller.

There is a good reason Spoleto starts its festival every year during the Memorial Day Weekend. Charleston will be full of people that weekend and it makes it look like they’re all here for Spoleto, but if you ask people on the streets if they are here for Spoleto, 9 out of 10 won’t be and 7 of those won’t even know what Spoleto is. The festival has contracted the College of Charleston to do surveys, but what that means is positioning students in front of Spoleto venues before performances and asking folks going in the doors if they’re here for Spoleto – it’s very scientific.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re lucky to have the Spoleto Festival, but it has been over-sold for years as far as its impact on the economy and the city of Charleston. And, 10,000 well-off folks spending money in Charleston is nothing to throw away. But the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, a visual art event, says they attract the same number of people, if not more, and have the same economic impact, if not more – and it’s an extended weekend compared to the three weeks of Spoleto. Of course its audience might be considered a little less refined. But they spend big bucks all the same.

Frankly, all events like this embellish the numbers on attendance and economic impact – they have to in order to attract donations and sponsorships. It’s the American way. We can’t be happy with reality – we have to be BIGGER than life.

It was refreshing to see the truth said for once – even if it was in an interview not seen in any local or regional papers. They’re all still repeating the original phrase of 100,000 visitors/$70 million impact.

Of course Spoleto could improve those numbers – if they actually put a visual art component back into the festival. But because they have no place they can present such visual arts and charge admission – they’re not interested. But it would attract more donations, more press coverage, and more people interested in visual art events.

Of course without the Spoleto Festival USA there would be no Piccolo Spoleto Festival – the “little” festival with its overkill of 700 plus events. And, without Piccolo there would be no cover for the City of Charleston to inject more funding into local performing art groups – who are paid to participate – here, there, and everywhere.

Talk about affirmative action and art welfare – Piccolo Spoleto is the poster child for propping up art groups who operate in the red constantly. And after June 11 – they will disappear until September when and if they can afford to present a “season” once more. I think of them as the part-time arts community, but with benefits. Except for the underpaid musicians of the Charleston Symphony who have to be the cheapest professionals on the planet – I’m not sure you should be able to call yourself a professional when your income is way below the poverty level.

So what’s my point in all this? It’s very simple.

The visual art community in Charleston is the real economic engine in this area and they get very little support or respect from the local, state, and national government sectors. They’re offering the arts all year long – in most cases for free. There is no “season” for the visual arts community. Sure, some times of the year are busier than others, but the show goes on no matter what.

So, maybe it’s time to concentrate on giving the visual art community some support, which will deliver a bigger economic payoff for the community, instead of pouring money down a black hole in trying to support arts groups who will always be a drain on the resources of the community.

But, then again, when I think that we have the same leadership in the arts community that we’ve had for the last 20-30 years – I know nothing is going to change.

Carolina Arts Has Facebook Envy

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

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I don’t know what it is but Facebook and I don’t get along. Maybe it’s because I ignored it for so long, but when we converted to an online paper, people told us – we need to get on Facebook.

Unfortunately after setting up the page, I did something (don’t let me near your computer) that has set us a back a few light years. I can’t even explain what I did, but there also doesn’t seem to be anyone at Facebook who will answer our pleas for help, so we go forward – limping into the future.

Our Internet guru Zelda helped straighten us out some, but I’m still the weak link in our organization. With a monthly newspaper that has doubled in size and two active blogs, I find myself left with little to add on Facebook, but I’m sure I’ll find my voice – someday. I didn’t understand blogs at first either.

So far, 102 people have liked us, and I’ve liked a few back, but I’ve been warned to stay away from the Facebook page until I understand what I’m doing. So, here I am – in a medium I understand – asking any and all out there who are reading this – to go to our page and like us.

I know we should have more people out there who really do like Carolina Arts, but some don’t do Facebook, or like me don’t know how to do it. Oh, they have a Facebook page that someone set up for them because they were also told they needed to be on Facebook, but like me – they have now been warned – don’t touch.

So, you folks who do Facebook and still read blogs – go to our Facebook page at (http://www.facebook.com/carolinaartsnewspaper) and like us. Ask your Facebook friends to like us. I want more likes. I need more likes. I have like envy. People won’t believe so many people are reading Carolina Arts, (over 17,000 so far this month) yet it has so few likes. What those two numbers have in common I don’t know, but we could use a few more likes.

Now, could someone explain to me what a like is?

Annual Carolina Renaissance Festival Takes Place in Huntersville, NC – Weekends Through Nov. 21, 2010

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

I don’t think it’s really fall until I’ve tasted some of the King’s nuts. Once I have, I know I’m back at the Carolina Renaissance Festival, usually in costume, where most people think I’m part of the festival. I love those roasted almonds. The King only accepts the best.

I’ve been going back in time for about a decade. I guess I keep hoping one year they’ll be offering some of the Queen’s tarts. Well, anyway I know all about it but there may be a few of you readers who don’t know a thing about this festival. So here’s the scoop.

Located just north of Charlotte in Huntersville, NC, is a village where imagination, fantasy, and history burst to life. It is a place where adults can feel and act like children while children are treated as royalty. It is a magical realm where you will forget about your daily cares and enjoy the magic of a simpler time and place.

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It is the Carolina Renaissance Festival and Artisan Marketplace.

Introduced to the Charlotte area in 1994, the Carolina Renaissance Festival and Artisan Marketplace contained just six acres of village attractions. Now, the event has grown to become one of the largest renaissance themed events in the country as well as one of the largest attractions in the Carolinas.

Operating 7 consecutive Saturdays and Sundays in October through November 21, 2010, the 22-acre tree-lined Renaissance Festival village is nestled amongst 245 acres of beautiful forest coated in autumn colors. A perfect setting for a fictional, story-book renaissance village filled with charming cottages, castles, kitchens and pubs, all with the feel of a 16th century European village. A fictional village called Fairhaven – a peaceful shire where pleasure and celebration rules the day.

It is within the walls of Fairhaven that villagers, artists, crafts-people, musicians, performance troupes and food vendors have gathered together to create a marketplace festival in celebration for the arrival of their visiting King and Queen.

Entertainment

With trumpets blaring and cannon blasting, the gates of Fairhaven swing open at 10am and close at dusk. The day is filled with an abundance of attractions appropriate for all age groups, including 11 stages, each packed with a unique mix of continuous music, dance, comedy shows, and circus entertainments. From sword swallowing to one-of-a-kind old world musical instruments, the entertainment options are endless. The shows are always spontaneous, and you can take part in the action if you wish – or sit back and enjoy watching the audience volunteers who make a spectacle of themselves. You will never know what happens next, on stage or off.

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The “Not to be Missed” Don Juan & Miguel Show

One of the special features of the Carolina Renaissance Festival is that the entertainment is not confined to the stage. The fun takes place right in front of you on the streets of Fairhaven Village, as a costumed cast of 300 medieval commoners, knights, and royalty celebrates a 16th century day of play. Part of the Renaissance experience is meeting and interacting with the colorful characters roaming the village, creating an interactive street theater. Musical fairies and lively woodland sprites embody childlike innocence. Close up magicians amaze and amuse. Wonderful statuary comes to life. There is even a walking tree! You can take audience with the King and Queen, or mingle with the mud covered peasants who endlessly proclaim… “Welcome to the greatest show in Earth!  Huzzah!”

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Outrageously unpredictable and unstoppably hilarious, the Carolina Renaissance Festival blends the comedy of Monty Python with the mythology of The Lord of the Rings.

One would be remissed without mentioning the incredible array of live musical performances – many of which are accompanied by ethnic dance influenced by Ireland, Scotland, India, Africa, and the Middle East.  Ancient old world instruments such as the hurdy gurdy, hammered dulcimer, penny whistle, along with classical guitar ensembles and gentle harp music all fill the lanes of the village. Even scurrrvy pirates and old Irish folk songs have a home with adventure filled ballads that make you sing and shout along – all part and parcel of the Festival day.

Attractions

In addition to the non-stop schedule of entertainment, you cannot miss the birds of prey exhibition where the royal falconer will don his hunting garb and take you on a thrilling trip into the past explaining and demonstrating the use of falcons, hawks, owls and more in the ancient sport of falconry! Listen to fascinating bits of history delivered while a hawk flies overhead in a simulated hunt displaying the unique skills that enraptured nobles long ago and made falconry the sport of kings. It is both educational and awe inspiring as you learn about the popularity of falconry in the renaissance while watching a falcon dive at over 100 miles an hour!

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A modern recreation of the Renaissance era wouldn’t be complete without a depiction of one of the grandest events of the time period – the tournament Joust! Easily the Carolina Renaissance Festival’s most popular attraction, the joust is full of pomp, pageantry, and chivalry. Three times daily, noble Knights strap on the heavy suits of armor and mount two tons of snorting steeds. With plumes waving and chain mail clanking, they take up their lances and charge at one another in tilt. Shattering lances, clashing swords, and daring deeds of bravery all collide into a realistic recreation of a joust to the death! These Knights (actually stunt riders and actors) battle inside the village on a large tournament field in a 2,000 seat arena.  Adults and children alike can join in the fun and cheer their favorite knight with creative and sarcastic chants taught by the Fairhaven rabble rousers!

Games & Rides

The Carolina Renaissance Festival is home to plenty of activities for children including a most unusual collection of people powered rides and games of skill. Inspired by the joust? Try your skill with a lance on the Slider Joust challenge game. You can storm the castle in a paintball battle or try to solve the riddle of climbing Jacob’s Ladder. Mix skillful pleasure and comic adventure by throwing tomatoes at the insulting fools locked in the stocks at Vegetable Justice. Test your skill at games like the Dragon Climbing Tower, the Archery Range, and the Maze. Fly high into the sky on the Pirate’s Assault Catapult. Take a ride on Christopher Columbus’ Voyage to the New World, the Piccolo Pony (a rocking horse bigger than an elephant), and Leonardo’s Flying Machine; a people powered amusement ride based on Di Vinci’s designs for human flight.

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A family favorite is Mother (and Father) Goose brought to life with their costumed ducks and geese, the Petting Farm, and Camel and Elephant Rides.

Already the Carolinas’ largest costume party, put the Carolina Renaissance Festival on your Halloween list of things to do with free event admission for all children 12 and under, with free tricks & treats to be found all around the Festival village, and a Halloween Treasure Hunt with prizes! Children are encouraged to show off their Halloween costumes and enter the Halloween Costume Contest!

Shopping

In addition, the Renaissance Festival is a great place to buy your Halloween costume or accessories. Early holiday shoppers can peruse over 100 craft shops in an open-air village market which provides a diverse selection of handmade items such as pottery, jewelry, perfume, glass blown ornaments, ceramics, bath & body products, medieval costumes, hand carved candles, unique musical instruments, children’s toys, a full spectrum of clothing, and much more. You can even create your own special gift at the raku pottery booth.

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Housed in rows of storybook shops and medieval style tents, you can watch artisans make a masterpiece right before your eyes. Enjoy demonstrations of fine skills such as weaving, woodcarving, blacksmithing, glassblowing, pottery, and jewelry making – all through the use of ancient skills and low technology.

Eating

Did you work up an appetite perusing all the shops and enjoying all the entertainment? Well you will be pleased to know that the food is as spectacular as all the attractions. In addition to the shows, music, crafts, and the wonder of getting lost in another time, people visit the Carolina Renaissance Festival for the food as well. Village kitchens cook up an endless feast of bread bowl stews, steak-on-a-stake, gourmet sausages, and the festival’s famous giant roasted turkey legs. For dessert, try the fresh crepes, the cakes and cookies from the Monks Bakery, candy delights from the Chocolate Shoppe, Italian ice, gelato, and a favorite of all renaissance wanderers: a bag of cinnamon-roasted almonds (the King’s nuts). Festival pubs soft drinks, a wide variety of craft beer, wine, champagne, ale, honey mead, lemonade and Medieval Margaritas to compliment the day-long feast of hearty foods fit for royalty.

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Each year the Carolina Renaissance Festival adds new entertainment and new facilities making it the fall destination for quality entertainment in the Carolinas. And for visitor convenience, the Festival has embraced modern times. In addition to purchasing advanced discount tickets at Harris Teeter grocery stores region-wide, visitors can now print their own tickets in advance on the Festival’s website at (www.RenFestInfo.com). So bust out your sense of good cheer, leave your cares behind, and take a day trip out to the wildly popular and entertaining time machine known as the Carolina Renaissance Festival and Artisan Market Place.

Advance Discount Tickets: $18 for adults, $7 for kids ages 5-12; available at Harris Teeter Stores region wide. Children under 5 are always free. Tickets purchased at the gate are $1 more, or print your own online at (www.RenFestInfo.com). Senior (60 and over) and adult Military discount tickets are $17 at the gate. Parking is free courtesy of Harris Teeter.

Event Sponsors: The Carolina Renaissance Festival is presented by Harris Teeter, Carolina Blonde, Pepsi, and the Charlotte Observer.

For more event information call 704/896-5544; toll free at 877/896-5544, or on the web at (www.RenFestInfo.com).

Carolina Renaissance Festival near Huntersville, NC, Sets Attendance Record in its First Weekend

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

I got an e-mail at Carolina Arts from the management of the Carolina Renaissance Festival, located near Huntersville, NC, that nearly 20,000 attendees enjoyed the magic, mirth, and merriment at the 16th Annual Carolina Renaissance Festival this past weekend (Oct. 10 & 11, 2009). This comes as a pleasant surprise to Renaissance Festival management – who were prepared to experience a decline due to the tough economic climate.

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“The Renaissance Festival has always been a place where people can go to set aside their daily cares while experiencing unique entertainments, shopping, and food. The turnout this past weekend shows that at the Renaissance Festival – escapism reigns!” says Matt Siegel, marketing and entertainment director for the Festival.

I wish I was going to the Festival this year – not with those 20,000 during the first weekend, but sometime this fall, but alas – I’ll not be able to attend. I need an escape – back a few centuries.

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Rengarr the happy Germanic

Our family and some friends have attended the Festival many times – in costume – costumes so good, visitors thought we were part of the Festival staff – so good, some asked to take our pictures. At least I hope it was because of the costumes.

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Rengarr in full gear

The Carolina Renaissance Festival is a medieval amusement park, a 10-stage theater, a twenty two acre circus, an arts and crafts fair, a jousting tournament and a feast – all rolled into one, non-stop day long adventure.

The Carolina Renaissance Festival is open every Saturday and Sunday, now through Nov. 22, 2009. Festival hours are from 10am-5:30pm – rain or shine.

The Festival Park is located just north of Charlotte, NC, between Concord and Huntersville on Highway 73 at Poplar Tent Road (between I-77 and I-85). Exit 25 on I-77 or exits 52 or 55 on I-85.

Parking is free courtesy of Harris Teeter. Thank you Harris Teeter!

Advance discount tickets are available at Harris Teeter stores region wide. They are $18 for adults, $7 for kids ages 5-12, children under 5 are always free. Tickets purchased at the gate are $1 more. Print your own tickets on-line. Senior discount tickets (60 and over) are $17 at the gate.

For more information visitors should call 704/896-5544 or toll free at 877/896-5544. Visit the Festival website at (http://www.royalfaires.com/carolina/).

Go escape for a few hours to a land – far, far away from today’s troubles, but don’t forget to take some money. The Festival also features a village of artisans offering a wide variety of hand-crafted items from hand-blown glass, pottery, and metalworks. Even way back when – money was the mother’s milk of a good time. And, don’t forget to taste the King’s nuts – they’re good!

I’ve Been Taking a Survey of Charleston, SC, for 35 Years

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

I came to the Charleston, SC, area from Michigan in November of 1974. I liked what I found here and have found no reason to leave since – although I eventually moved 45 miles away to Berkeley County – a place where I could afford to do an arts newspaper and own a home. And, maybe 35 more years or so from now – I might own that home one day, if I live that long.

I came, so many years ago, as an adult. And I only mention this in the context that when dealing with many people in the art community these days – I’ve lived and dealt with Charleston’s art community – long before most were born – some in Charleston – most from somewhere else.

I mention that last bit about coming from somewhere else because I’ve been and still consider myself part of Charleston’s working class. We’re the folks that do stuff – offer services, create new – well, everything. That’s the way it’s been in Charleston for the most part – the people that built up the community come from somewhere else – first from Europe, then Africa, and now from other parts of South Carolina, the South, and America. Most, not all, who were born here are connected to a heritage of leadership and consumers – they’re the deciders and users. Both are vital parts of any community.

That was most evident at a recent meeting of arts people gathered together for a mid-June lunch at the Gibbes Museum of Art in downtown Charleston – to get to know each other. Most were relatively new to Charleston, some were what I consider very young and a handful were seasoned veterans of the Charleston art community. I myself, carry my scars of past battles (culture wars) and am easily frustrated by the enthusiasm of these newbees – in that they are going to change Charleston. I find myself more interested in deeds, not words. In fact, it is very hard to get me to go to one of these gatherings anymore. I still make the effort if I can see reason or opportunity, but as I said, I’m not impressed by words. I make my living dealing with words and I know how easily they can be offered without anything to back them up.

I’m a realist, I play the devil’s advocate, I’m pessimistic at times, I’m what my high school German teacher called facetious, but I’m also an optimist – I have to be – I publish an arts newspaper in the Carolinas. I could have done a newspaper about NASCAR and probably made a lot of money by now. But I love the arts. I’m focused on the visual arts, but I like it all – well most of it.

What I don’t like is being asked from time to time to join other folks to step into a big hamster cage and take a spin on the big wheel. I’m too old to ride that wheel anymore – spinning around and around just makes me dizzy. And, I find I don’t get much work done when I’m dizzy.

And spinning in place is what has drawn me to my computer today. ThePost & Courier newspaper has just offered another – State of the Arts article subtitled, “How are Charleston arts organizations weathering the current financial drought?” in it’s Weekend section (7/16/09). It’s as if they don’t even read their own paper – what did they expect to find?

I’m not familiar with the author of the article, (I’m a daily subscriber to theP&C) but I can only guess that it was a young person, fairly new to Charleston’s art community. No veteran would have written what was offered. The article was about a page and a quarter of a regular newspaper page, so expectations were very low to begin with. It’s not like this was considered a major subject for a series.

And, I’m not coming down on the Post & Courier (this time) – many other newspapers have gotten around to offering this same, limited look (more like a peek) at the state of the arts in their community. I’ve seen them in the FreeTimes in Columbia, SC, and the Charlotte Observer in Charlotte, NC – they’re all the same – a cursory look at how bad things are in the arts during this economic downturn. Duh! At least in this latest look at the state of the arts no one from Charleston said they depend on making people feel guilty to support them – as one arts person said in Columbia, SC.

Most of these articles are just another plug for a few nonprofits hoping to gain a few more donations, some like this latest version by the P&C were based on national surveys – this one was a National Endowment for the Arts 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts. Guess what – it’s down.

Another darn survey of the arts!

Here’s a truth. No amount of survey results is going to change my thinking based on my own experience and I imagine that’s the way it is for most people. We are after all creatures of our environment and experience – knowledge based on anything else is hard to accept. We can do it, but it doesn’t come easily. Otherwise how would you explain that there are very large numbers of people in this country – educated under the same system that most people were in America, who believe the earth and the universe is only a few thousand years old. The rest, what most of us call history and science, is all made up by people who just can’t accept their way of thinking or their beliefs.

Surveys are not scientific – they’re just another form of advertising or wishful thinking on most people’s part. And, I’ve never seen one done about the arts that I could believe or that is anywhere close to my own experience – based on the last 35 years. And why is that so?

Most people in the arts don’t participate – that’s the truth. They don’t like the questions asked and they don’t see what difference the survey results will make. That’s even if you ever are offered a close up look at the survey results. Most of the time the only thing offered is someone’s interpretation of what those results mean. They don’t want you to see the raw data because it’s ugly, it might not show the organizers of the survey in a good light, and people who take the surveys plan their answers to project certain results. But the big problem is most people won’t participate. Surveys are no better than opinion polls. You can get any results you want by cooking the questions and selecting who you ask. Make people sign their names to a survey and tell them they are going to be made available for public viewing and I bet you would get entirely different results – if you could get them to take the survey under those standards.

Most of the public doesn’t care about survey results either – they’ve been offered survey results too many times that were just manufactured to project a favorable point of view by the folks paying for or organizing the survey. It’s unfortunate, but true. So, why do so many arts organization believe that doing a survey will change the public’s mind or at least the minds of people making decisions on who gets the money, on how valued the arts are to society? You got me. Look, they either get that point by now or they never will.

In today’s world, I think most people are like me – they want to see deeds, not hear or read words about what the arts are doing for them or how it can enlighten their lives. Show them the deeds and they’ll show you the money – if they have any to spare.

The Charleston Arts Coalition is conducting a survey. You can find it at on their website. The cut off day to participate is July 29, 2009.

Should people in Charleston’s art community take this survey in view of everything I’ve just said? Yes, but only if they are going to be honest and willing to work towards the goals that survey suggests – otherwise why bother? The Charleston Arts Coalition doesn’t just need your 2 cents worth, it needs your participation.

I first offered comments about this group at the very beginning of this blog on May 26, 2008, after going to one of those art community gatherings – this time it was about the lack of affordable space in Charleston for artists. Back then at the end of my blog entry I said, “Most things they want are possible and possible with the help of the community – once the artists – like commercial gallery owners – are willing to put their own money and futures on the bottom line. Money makes the world go round and it’s the mother’s milk of the arts. Once artists stop waving around pumped up economic surveys about the impact of the arts in front of the community and adopt a healthy respect for other people’s money, they will find that many are willing to become partners with them on sound projects. Don’t continue to delude yourselves or insult the intelligence of the public. The call for this movement – if there will be a movement, should be – get real, get serious and you might just get what you want. Carolina Arts will do its part – if presented with a sound proposal, but then we have to fight to survive everyday to keep what we have.”

Since then the Charleston Arts Coalition has been formed, they have a website, a blog and have created another website called Charleston Culture, launched May 14, 2009. The focus of the group seems to be on spreading information about the art community. The lack of space issue has faded into the background for some reason.

I have not found a lot of participation on any of these sites or the blog. Not many people are joining in or offering comments.

I’m still hopeful about this group, but somewhat frustrated with where they seem to be going and at this point – it seems to be the big wheel – in my opinion. Participation is the key and at this point I don’t see a lot of signs of it. A few folks are probably working a lot on this project, but they have yet to gain the attention of the greater Charleston art community. Time will tell and that’s always the case. I’ve seen so many efforts like this come and go – not just in Charleston. Getting the arts community together is like herding cats. I’m stealing that from Christopher Rico an artist and blogger in Clinton, SC.

Getting a large art community together – like Charleston is near impossible. Charleston is small and can’t support such a large art community, which makes for rough and tumble competition for funding and resources. Trust is low and based on past experience.

I’ve taken the survey, I’ve plugged the survey, and I’ve looked at the Charleston Culture and organization’s websites and am trying to figure where and if I fit in. I was trying to participate in a roundtable discussion, but the schedule was during my delivery time for Carolina Arts and that comes first. I don’t live in Charleston so I’m not in the social loop of this group.

I haven’t joined the organization because I’m not sure what I’m joining and where my membership dollars would go. Besides being part of the local media, I’m not sure you can be part of something and comment on it at the same time, and be honest. It’s not an easy thing to do. My best contributions my be as an observer from outside the group.

Either way, build or fade – this group’s efforts depend on the art community’s participation and past experience tells me – they’re not into it – right now at least. What will make them change their minds? I’m still working on that 35 year survey of trying to figure out Charleston’s art community. I’ll let you know when I have it figured out. I haven’t found a lot of logic at this point. But I do know they are not keen on participation, or working on goals where the payoff is in the future, and they have a hard time overlooking self interest for the good of all. This makes them not much different than art communities anywhere else or other people in general.

Now, one thing’s for sure about the Charleston Art Coalition – they have lit a fire under some other groups in Charleston that are supposed to be serving the public. Ever since the Coalition started talking about plans for a cultural website, the City of Charleston’s Office of Cultural Affairs has stepped up work on their efforts to promote Charleston’s cultural events. Even the Coastal Community Foundation suffered an uproar when it stepped in to just help a few groups suffering in the art community over the holiday season. They tried to promote a Charleston Art Alliance to make them look more inclusive, but they learned the art community is bigger than their usual myopic vision.

So if anything the Charleston Arts Coalition has stirred things up some, but time marches against them. People will lose interest – even those involved now, if they don’t see their time and efforts build on something – something not already being offered – something everyone in the art community can be a part of – whatever that is.

But, then again – I’m just one of the old farts of the Charleston art community who has grown tired of spinning in place and sees the negative side of things much more than those who seem to see only the positive future – unknown territory to most of us old veterans. Please, make me wrong folks. I want to be wrong on this subject. I won’t mind it at all.