When Candace and Monifa, the Co-Founders of The Watering Hole were children in South Carolina, the place was a literary desert for them. Candace had grown up having never met a writer, let alone a writer of color. Monifa grew up in New York City and when she moved to SC after spending summers here while she grew, she felt the same lack in the creative community and felt the need to do something. They recognized that professional writers were coming out of South Carolina, but then they were either moving away or living in isolation from other artists by staying here. In addition, arts were not a part of our weekly lives in South Carolina. There was church, school, family, and sports. We were artistic children who had to learn the ropes in isolation.
The Issue: When arts are absent,
- both children and adults are less empathetic to the experiences of others,
- both children and adults are less reflective and less able to connect diverse situations to each other,
- both children and adults perform mental activities at lower levels,
- and both children and adults have lower self-perception.
Studies have proven the power of arts time and time again. Arts makes room for pensive self-expression, the ability to see things in a new way, and creative exercise improves performance both in the classroom and on the jobsite. Creativity through the arts is essential for a critically engaged, progressive, and empathetic community.
Solution: The Watering Hole has been creating arts spaces for adults and youth since 2013 and now we want to do this in a permanent home–a Live Work Arts building. Here, artists will be able to live for free and work on their art. There will be indoor and outdoor performance spaces for writers and musicians, galleries for visual artists, multi-use rooms for community classes, and several lofts and apartments for artist residences. Arts will be happening all day, all year, for all ages. This artist village will be a premier destination in the South.
In addition, some of these lofts and apartments will be rented at market rate to non-artists who want to live or work in an artistic space. They will have the benefit of engaging in arts activities as frequently as they’d like, while also knowing that their rent goes to support the artists who are living and working around them. There will also be commercial spaces for rent. Imagine a local coffee shop, restaurant, or bookstore leasing downstairs spaces and further supporting local arts and artists. This project is designed to support itself by strategically engaging the community at large. These strategic partnerships will also attract a diverse shared audience.
Impact: More importantly, this Live Work Arts space will help change the face of literary arts in the South. Having this kind of Harlem Renaissance space in the New Contemporary South will help make art more a part of everyday life for our community.
Imagine grabbing a coffee at The Watering Hole Lofts, hearing some poetry, seeing someone painting, and heading back to work. Or dropping the kids off at a collage class and sitting in on a poetry class in the next room, both classes taught by professional artists in residency. Or spending Saturday mornings doing yoga in the community garden.
Imagine resident artists teaching supplemental classes in Richland County schools to increase literacy and empower at-risk youth through the joy of art. Imagine Columbia as an arts oasis. Imagine having an oasis like this in every state capital. Imagine yourself being on the forefront of what will become a major self-sustaining arts movement.
How You Can Join the Movement: We are looking for community partners to make this happen. We have a three-year goal of raising $1 million, with a first benchmark of $80,000. We need more local business people, more city officials, more local organizations, more educators, more concerned families, and more artists to make this a priority on all fronts. This investment in the community is one that could become a national model.
You can join the Tribe, too! Click the donate button or contact us to continue the conversation about how we can work together.
Want to read more about the benefits of arts? Check out these links.
“New NEA Research Shows Potential Benefits of Arts Education for At-Risk Youth” by The National Endowment for the Arts
“Out Of School – Adult and Lifelong” by Arts Education Partnership
“How the Arts Benefit Student Achievements” by National Assembly of State Arts Agencies in collaboration with the Arts Education Partnership
“Why the Arts?” by Arts for Life
“The Mental Benefits of Arts are for Everyone” by Be Brain Fit
“Arts and Smarts” by Greater Good
“Aging: What’s Art Got To Do With It” by Geriatric Medicine
“Whom Do Arts Benefit Most? Older Adults” by Next Avenue