BENEFITING: COLUMBIA MUSIC FESTIVAL ASSOC
Last fall, devastating rains and floods put many communities in South Carolina under water, including my hometown of Columbia, South Carolina, also home to Ann Brodie’s Carolina Ballet. Carolina Ballet is a civic company that has an outstanding reputation for training talented dancers who go on to enjoy celebrated dance careers in both the United States and abroad. Miss Ann was my first ballet teacher at age 3, and my early training with her is where I learned everything about being a performer. She shaped me into the ballerina I am today.
In the 1990s, my mom Sharon Mearns, her late brother Jeffrey Potter, Thom Jones, then president of the Columbia Music Festival Association (CMFA), and John Whitehead, the current artistic director of the ballet company and executive director of CMFA, found a dilapidated warehouse and completely transformed it into a place that would be a 23,000 square foot cultural arts center known as the CMFA ArtSpace, all through personal funds and sweat equity. Carolina Ballet, founded in cooperation with CMFA, is the resident ballet company with access to two studios, a black box theater, costume shop, warehouse, and props storage.
This ArtSpace has been through a lot, but nothing compared to the damage and devastation last fall during the floods. When I was home visiting over the holidays and I saw the studio damage in person, my heart just broke. The main studio floor and roof were destroyed, along with damage to the warehouse and costume shop. That place houses so many memories for me, seeing it in shambles moved me more than I can say.
So, I had to do something, and this is where you come in.
In this day and age, arts organizations, especially civic ballet companies, need all the help we can give. The CMFA and Carolina Ballet boards and staff have been able to bandage the situation so that the ArtSpace can continue to operate as a unique community resource, but there are many more repairs to be done. Every year, 300 students take class there, and the studio presents several full evening productions including Nutcracker and annual recitals. Over 22,500 people use the warehouse ArtsSpace to attend programs every year and it also used for free by non-profits and artists as a community resource.
It is my turn to give back and I hope you will help me. Any amount is appreciated and tax deductible. The entire ArtSpace community will be so grateful. Thank you for your support of my hometown studio- it is so much more than just a studio to me. It’s where I fell in love with dance.
With much gratitude,