Charleston SC Lifestyle: Arts and Culture

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Charleston SC Arts and Culture

Since the first building in America constructed specifically for theatrical performances was established in Charleston back in 1735, the city has maintained a great tradition in the fine arts. That venue, The Dock Street Theater, still features a fine assortment of professional productions throughout the year in a magnificent setting restored to the exact detail of its colonial elegance.

The charming atmosphere of an historic city filled with the beautiful creations of world-famous architects and artisans lends a splendid backdrop to artists of every persuasion, and American Style magazine has listed Charleston among the top five arts destinations in the United States. Charleston features a first-class symphony orchestra, a number of professional ballet and stage companies, and a wealth of nationally-renowned artists and authors.

Each May, Charleston hosts the internationally-acclaimed Spoleto USA Festival, a 17-day event that features an incredible range of artistic styles and forms, including classical ballet, modern and post-modern dance; opera, chamber, symphonic and choral music; jazz, theater, and visual arts. Created by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Giancarlo Menotti in 1976, the Spoleto festival is heralded for its new and innovative works and its role in expanding public appreciation of the arts.

In February, Charleston is the place to be for the largest wildlife art event in the nation, the Southeast Wildlife Exposition. Featuring hundreds of the world's most outstanding wildlife artists whose works include paintings, sculpture, carvings and photography, SEWE attracts 35,000+ to the city for world-class art works and exhibits. Each quarter, more than two dozen of the city's finest art downtown galleries host the French Quarter Art Walk, featuring incredible works in a variety of mediums.

Spring brings nature's art work in banks of blooming flowers, and The Historic Charleston Foundation's Festival of Houses and Gardens featuring the interiors and gardens of some of the finest private residences in America celebrating the city's magnificent architectural and floral design.

In September, the MOJA Arts Festival celebrates the African influence on Charleston's heritage, featuring authentic music, story-telling, basket weaving and other forms of art that originated in Africa and was brought to America on slave ships and continues to be handed down through generations as a cherished means of identity.  The Charleston Music & Heritage Festival is another September event held on Daniel Island that features wonderful jazz music and original artworks.

The Sculpture of the South Festival in May highlights the grandly-chiseled features of this classic art form.  The Charleston International Film Festival takes place in May to showcase the art and talent of emerging filmmakers in shorts, features and documentaries. Featuring premieres, panels, seminars, and special events, the festival is dedicated to perpetuating the artistic environment so well exemplified in the nature of Charleston itself.

Charleston's historic Gibbes Museum of Art features world-class collections of paintings, sculpture and other mediums, including a complete chronological range of works by noted Charlestonians that provides a thorough interpretation of the visual culture of the city.
Other performing arts organizations and venues around the city include:
- Charleston Ballet Theater
- Charleston Music Hall
- The Actors' Theater of South Carolina
- Footlight Players/Queen Street Playhouse
- Gaillard Municipal Auditorium
- North Charleston Performing Arts Center
- Sottile Theater
- Theater 99


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