Create a space for the arts


Not so long ago, all art classes and enrichment programs at Newberry relied on the initiative of individuals and community groups to organize them. The Town of Newberry did not yet have a budget line for arts programming.

But when approached with a proposal, Scott Sawyer, director of parks, recreation and tourism, said: “Let’s try it. Al Harvey, city manager at the time, recognized that the arts could contribute to economic development and improve the quality of life for residents. In 2014 Harvey approved a plan to start an arts program as part of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. He was also instrumental in securing space for the Newberry Arts Center in its current central location at the Old Newberry Hotel.

The community was invited to participate and came out excitedly, first to an event to launch the new arts program, then to clean up and renovate the space.

During the year, the classes were already filling up. The city knew there was a need for arts programming, but not how great the need was. From offering programs in partnership with the Newberry Literacy Council to launching South Carolina Clay’s only annual conference, the opportunities to serve the community were endless.

These opportunities changed lives. As for Megan, who found more healing after the loss of her husband in playdough than in a bereavement support group. And Caroll, who moved to Newberry and felt an immediate sense of belonging to an art class. And for countless children like Sebastian, Neveah and others who have had creative experiences not available in school arts programs.

In just five years, the demand for the arts has exceeded space and human resources. In particular, the city wanted to ensure that participation scholarships were always available for fair and equitable access to the arts. It was time to take another leap.

To meet these needs, Cultivating Rewarding Experiences through Arts Training and Education (CREATE) Newberry was established in late 2020. Marquerite Palmer, who has worked in the city since the founding of the Newberry Arts Center, is currently the executive director of the nonprofit non-profit. . CREATE Newberry is a 501(c)(3) whose mission is to work with partners to provide lasting support that will ensure the growth and appreciation of the arts through Newberry Arts Center’s programs and services.

CREATE Newberry will provide cohesive support for artistic experiences that bring together diverse populations of the greater Newberry community, regardless of ability to pay or background. In its first year alone, CREATE Newberry has already fulfilled this commitment by offering more than $3,000 in full and partial scholarships for participation in arts programs. CREATE funds have also supported art beyond the walls of the Newberry Arts Center with Arts in the Park, a program offering free art classes to children on Fridays during the summer at various parks around Newberry.

The City of Newberry purchased The Newberry Observer building in late 2021 as the permanent home of the Newberry Arts Center and CREATE Newberry will support the city in its transformation into a visionary space for art classes, events, and more. In the longer term, CREATE Newberry may even help the Newberry Arts Center integrate more programs into the community across the county. CREATE Newberry will provide an opportunity for tax-deductible support directly to the arts and improve flexibility to meet needs beyond annual city dollars.

To be good stewards of donations toward our mission, we as the CREATE Newberry Board of Directors are working through a strategic planning process in coordination with the city, and we are taking action to advance our goals. Donors are already responding to our efforts and we are grateful to partner with individuals and organizations to make access to creation available throughout the community. It’s an exciting time for the arts at Newberry, and we look forward to the next chapter of the story to unfold. As the arts programming reaches another milestone, we will once again be inviting the community to participate in the launch of our next steps.

As CREATE grows, we share the stories of lives changed through the arts that are the reasons we continue to move forward and grow. Please follow the “Newberry Arts Center – NAC” Facebook page ( or sign up for the Newberry Arts Center newsletter on the website ( for stories of impact and more news to come on our progress.


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