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  • Paul Shewmaker

🎉 Celebrating Simpsonville's Thriving Arts Center 🎭

The City of Simpsonville was recently honored by the Municipal Association of South Carolina (MASC) with the prestigious Joseph P. Riley Jr. Award for Economic Development. I had the privilege of accepting this award on behalf of our incredible city at the MASC Annual Conference.

Council and staff with the award: (L to R) Community Relations Specialist Justin Campbell, Councilmember Lou Hutchings, Councilmember Jenn Hulehan, Councilmember Sherry Roche, City Administrator Dianna Gracely, Mayor Paul Shewmaker, Arts Center Manager Melissa Sturgis, Councilmember Aaron Rupe, City Clerk Ashley Clark.

MASC Executive Director Todd Glover presenting the award to Mayor Shewmaker

This achievement is a testament to the dedication and vision of our city council, both before and during my tenure as Mayor. Together, we transformed the historic Simpsonville Elementary School, a building that had stood empty in our downtown for nearly two decades after its closure in 2002, into a thriving hub of creativity and culture—the Simpsonville Arts Center. The journey to this success story was a true community effort. Here's a glimpse of what we accomplished:

🏫 Renovations and Upgrades: We invested in extensive renovations, including an upgraded auditorium with new plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems, as well as state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems. These improvements ensure that the Arts Center provides top-notch facilities for stage productions and artistic performances.

💰 Funding and Grants: We secured crucial funding through various sources, including a generous $500,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. Additionally, we utilized hospitality and accommodations taxes, organized fundraisers, and even received a $75,000 contribution from a donor who won a lottery ticket right here in Simpsonville.

🎨 Thriving Arts Programming: The Simpsonville Arts Center opened its doors in 2022 and has since flourished. Today, we have Melissa Sturgis, a full-time manager who oversees the space, which includes five studio spaces for talented local artists. We offer diverse programming, from art classes to exhibitions, and collaborate with local theater companies to bring performing arts opportunities to our community. We've even had the privilege of hosting renowned acts like the Greenville Symphony Orchestra and the Cornerstone Ballet.

💼 Economic Impact: The impact of the Arts Center on our city's economy has been extraordinary. The crowds it draws to downtown Simpsonville have resulted in an estimated annual economic impact of $991,305. This thriving Arts Center has become a cornerstone of our downtown revitalization efforts.

🏗️ Downtown Amplification: Our commitment to amplifying the vitality downtown doesn't stop here. We're actively working on projects such as a new municipal complex, streetscaping, traffic improvements, trail extensions, and beautification initiatives. These endeavors are all part of our mission to make Simpsonville an even more vibrant and welcoming community.

I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved together, and I'm excited about the bright future ahead for Simpsonville. The Simpsonville Arts Center is not just a place; it's a symbol of our city's creativity, resilience, and commitment to fostering a thriving community.

Thank you for your support and dedication to making Simpsonville an exceptional place to live, work, and enjoy the arts.

With my warmest regards,

Mayor Paul

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