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Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston Arts: Art Scene in Charleston

Discounts

Charleston offers the best of old world southern charm with the added bonus of an ocean view. From its beautifully preserved historical districts to its mouthwatering low-country cuisine, this South Carolina city celebrates southern heritage with panache. Charleston is home to several professional performing arts companies, as well as the notable Gibbes Museum of Art.

Charleston Arts Information

  • Charleston City Paper—Alternative weekly paper with features, reviews, news, and opinion pieces about the local arts and entertainment scene
  • Art Mag—Full-color free magazine that is a great guide to Charlston’s arts scene
  • Arts Daily—Calendar run by the South Carolina Arts Commission
  • CharlestonArts.sc—Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs site offers info about local arts festivals, cultural events, and exhibitions, as well as a section for art professionals

Art Museums

Gibbes Museum of Art

Gibbes Museum of Art

Funded by a $100,000 trust from Charleston resident James Shoolbred Gibbes Sr., the city’s main museum opened to the public in 1905. Since then, the original Beaux Arts structure has expanded along with its permanent collection. It collects from all time periods and nations, and also focuses on work by local Lowcountry and Southern artists.

The museum’s colonial, Charleston Renaissance, and contemporary art collections are notable. Highlights from these holdings include …more…

Theater

Charleston-Stage

Charleston Stage

South Carolina’s largest professional theatre company, Charleston Stage has delighted audiences for over thirty years, and is celebrating a recent $19 million dollar renovation of its historic home at the Dock Street Theatre (one of the oldest theatrical buildings in the country). The charming downtown landmark has found recent success with a steady offering of area premieres, classic plays, and musicals.

Appealing to both locals and the city’s booming tourist industry, …more…

Footlight Players

Footlight Players

The Footlight Players are Charleston’s oldest theater company, formed in 1931 as a means of staging a group of one-act plays at the Charleston Navy Yard. They hold court, and performances, in a cavernous old cotton warehouse on Queen Street that was converted into theater space in the late 1980s.

In recent years, productions have ranged from Susan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer-winning Topdog/Underdog to the satiric The Bible: The complete Word of God …more…

Pure Theater

Pure Theatre

A small professional theatre company devoted to bringing Charleston audiences the best in contemporary, cutting edge drama, the PURE Theatre has, in just under a decade, found huge success, providing a welcome alternative to the low country’s more traditional arts scene. With a playlist that has included such controversial new works as The Pillowman, Reckless, and Killer Joe, the company has found equal acclaim for its participation in Charleston’s internationally recognized Spoleto …more…

Classical Music

Charleston Symphony Orchestra

Charleston Symphony Orchestra

A cultural mainstay in South Carolina since 1936, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra currently employs a distinctive, three-pronged approach to its concert programming.  The CSO supplements its Masterworks series of primarily Romantic period composers like Brahms, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, and Puccini with its five-program Pops series and the new Dock Street Theatre series.  The latter is a thought-provoking mix of orchestral music and multimedia programming that explores the connection between music and …more…

Jazz

The Charleston Jazz initiative

The Charleston Jazz initiative

The Charleston Jazz Initiative is a primarily a research project devoted to collecting and archiving oral, media and historical records relating to Charleston’s role in early jazz history.  Though quite a few important jazz artists of the past seven decades have called Charleston home (including Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Green and Lucky Thompson), the Initiative delves deeper into the history of the music.

The roots of jazz in Charleston may be traced …more…

Dance

Charleston Ballet Theatre

Charleston Ballet Theatre

Charleston Ballet Theatre performs an annual array of adapted story ballets, themed gala performances, and standard 20th century classics. Their campy Rocky Horror show is a Halloween tradition and their annual Nutcracker has a unique local flavor with its 1860s Lowcountry setting. The highlight of the season, however, is their February “Masterpieces” production which features significant masterworks from world renowned choreographers. Charleston Ballet Theatre is the only company in South Carolina licensed …more…

Multi-Arts Festivals

North Charleston Arts Festival

North Charleston Arts Festival

(April – May) The North Charleston Arts Festival just about swallows North Charleston whole for nine days each spring, offering up dozens of concerts, competitions, street dances, craft shows and art exhibitions at various venues around North Charleston. It kicks off with the Main Event, a weekend-long extravaganza held at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center and the Charleston Area Civic Center, featuring over 40 different performances on four stages, …more…

spoleto

Spoleto Festival USA (Charleston, SC)

(May 25 – June 10, 2012) Devised as an American counterpart to Italy’s Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi, the Spoleto Festival USA is an annual celebration of art at its finest. During the 17-day event, opera, ballet, modern dance, theater, classical-music, and jazz performances are held in churches,theaters, recital halls, and other venues throughout historic Charleston, South Carolina. Spoleto USA has premiered works by legends like Arthur Miller, Laurie Anderson, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Allen Ginsberg, while also featuring many emerging artists. ...more...

Art Museums

Gibbes Museum of Art

Gibbes Museum of Art

Funded by a $100,000 trust from Charleston resident James Shoolbred Gibbes Sr., the city’s main museum opened to the public in 1905. Since then, the original Beaux Arts structure has expanded along with its permanent collection. It collects from all time periods and nations, and also focuses on work by local Lowcountry and Southern artists.

The museum’s colonial, Charleston Renaissance, and contemporary art collections are notable. Highlights from these holdings include …more…

Theater

Charleston-Stage

Charleston Stage

South Carolina’s largest professional theatre company, Charleston Stage has delighted audiences for over thirty years, and is celebrating a recent $19 million dollar renovation of its historic home at the Dock Street Theatre (one of the oldest theatrical buildings in the country). The charming downtown landmark has found recent success with a steady offering of area premieres, classic plays, and musicals.

Appealing to both locals and the city’s booming tourist industry, …more…

Footlight Players

Footlight Players

The Footlight Players are Charleston’s oldest theater company, formed in 1931 as a means of staging a group of one-act plays at the Charleston Navy Yard. They hold court, and performances, in a cavernous old cotton warehouse on Queen Street that was converted into theater space in the late 1980s.

In recent years, productions have ranged from Susan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer-winning Topdog/Underdog to the satiric The Bible: The complete Word of God …more…

Pure Theater

Pure Theatre

A small professional theatre company devoted to bringing Charleston audiences the best in contemporary, cutting edge drama, the PURE Theatre has, in just under a decade, found huge success, providing a welcome alternative to the low country’s more traditional arts scene. With a playlist that has included such controversial new works as The Pillowman, Reckless, and Killer Joe, the company has found equal acclaim for its participation in Charleston’s internationally recognized Spoleto …more…

Classical Music

Charleston Symphony Orchestra

Charleston Symphony Orchestra

A cultural mainstay in South Carolina since 1936, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra currently employs a distinctive, three-pronged approach to its concert programming.  The CSO supplements its Masterworks series of primarily Romantic period composers like Brahms, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, and Puccini with its five-program Pops series and the new Dock Street Theatre series.  The latter is a thought-provoking mix of orchestral music and multimedia programming that explores the connection between music and …more…

Jazz

The Charleston Jazz initiative

The Charleston Jazz initiative

The Charleston Jazz Initiative is a primarily a research project devoted to collecting and archiving oral, media and historical records relating to Charleston’s role in early jazz history.  Though quite a few important jazz artists of the past seven decades have called Charleston home (including Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Green and Lucky Thompson), the Initiative delves deeper into the history of the music.

The roots of jazz in Charleston may be traced …more…

Dance

Charleston Ballet Theatre

Charleston Ballet Theatre

Charleston Ballet Theatre performs an annual array of adapted story ballets, themed gala performances, and standard 20th century classics. Their campy Rocky Horror show is a Halloween tradition and their annual Nutcracker has a unique local flavor with its 1860s Lowcountry setting. The highlight of the season, however, is their February “Masterpieces” production which features significant masterworks from world renowned choreographers. Charleston Ballet Theatre is the only company in South Carolina licensed …more…

Multi-Arts Festivals

North Charleston Arts Festival

North Charleston Arts Festival

(April – May) The North Charleston Arts Festival just about swallows North Charleston whole for nine days each spring, offering up dozens of concerts, competitions, street dances, craft shows and art exhibitions at various venues around North Charleston. It kicks off with the Main Event, a weekend-long extravaganza held at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center and the Charleston Area Civic Center, featuring over 40 different performances on four stages, …more…

spoleto

Spoleto Festival USA (Charleston, SC)

(May 25 – June 10, 2012) Devised as an American counterpart to Italy’s Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi, the Spoleto Festival USA is an annual celebration of art at its finest. During the 17-day event, opera, ballet, modern dance, theater, classical-music, and jazz performances are held in churches,theaters, recital halls, and other venues throughout historic Charleston, South Carolina. Spoleto USA has premiered works by legends like Arthur Miller, Laurie Anderson, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Allen Ginsberg, while also featuring many emerging artists. ...more...