ArtFields: Taking Root

A Plan for the Arts in Lake City

Ten years ago, art changed Lake City. In turn, Lake City made its own mark on the art world. ArtFields, simply by existing, challenged many notions of how contemporary art has traditionally been displayed and appreciated. Through its success, it rewrote the rules by breaking down barriers between the people of a small Southern town and artists from the South. Today, many know what we’ve always believed to be true: Art can, and should, be experienced by everyone. And Southern art, and Southern artists, are something special.


Looking back at a decade, it’s humbling, inspiring, and exciting to be where we are. This year, the work of 369 artists from 12 different states will be on display during ArtFields. Over 250 South Carolina students will be part of the ArtFields Jr. Competition and thousands of students will attend field trips during the event. Hundreds of volunteers will come together to welcome thousands of visitors, and our millionth dollar in artist prize money will be awarded at the close of the competition.


Today, the ArtFields Collective manages not only the April festival but three year-round galleries, the statewide ArtFields Jr. competition, a public art program, and a host of other educational programs. Everyone from the artists to our supporters to every person who has rallied around art in Lake City has helped put Southern art on the map, has made art more accessible, and has given ArtFields and Lake City an impact far beyond its small-town roots. At this milestone moment, we are celebrating how far we have come and, more importantly, looking forward to what’s next.


Here’s how we plan to build on this foundation, starting with three ongoing commitments:


ArtFields will continue to support and enrich the lives of the people who first rallied around art and made ArtFields possible: the people who call Lake City home.

ArtFields will continue to elevate and celebrate Southern art with an emphasis on increasing artist opportunities and improving the competition experience for artists and visitors.

ArtFields will continue to foster a local environment conducive to artistic expression and growth, making Lake City a place where artists will want to live and work.



• Prioritize and foster inclusivity and diversity in ArtFields Collective programming and throughout Lake City, always.
• Invite open dialogue and provide transparency in all ArtFields Collective activities and communications.
• Expand and diversify the creative economy in Lake City.
• Strengthen existing partnerships and boost collaboration among local organizations, schools, and businesses.
• Invest in and build working artist studios in Lake City.
• Bolster year-round arts programming, with an expanded focus on performing arts.
• Develop and launch an ongoing Artist-in-Residence program.
• Expand and increase access to educational opportunities.
• Foster an equitable competition that continues to proactively discourage bias.
• Grow and expand the ArtFields Jr. Competition.
• Create opportunities for artists to receive constructive feedback from arts professionals throughout the competition process.
• Streamline and simplify the public voting process for our People’s Choice prizes.
• Collaborate with partners and supporters to offer more exhibition, residency, and commission awards to competition artists.
• Reevaluate the competition prize structure and artist payment process to ensure the best possible artist compensation experience for the artists we engage.
• Enhance visibility of all winning artists and their work.





This document is a public statement of our intentions. The commitments outlined above are just that, long term commitments that will guide our work. But what we’ll do to reach those goals is almost certain to evolve and change over time. The actions summarized here are important next steps, based on current conditions and present opportunities, but where they take us will emerge as we go.





To develop this plan, we engaged three key groups: staff of the ArtFields Collective, artists who have participated in the ArtFields competition (over 500 completed surveys), and numerous volunteers and stakeholders in Lake City and the region. These people have intimate knowledge of the festival and other programs; they know what has worked and what hasn’t; and they have a lot of ideas about where we go from here. Their buy-in and active participation are also critical to realizing the plan.



We would like to thank those who participated in the process so far. We look forward to working with you to see the plan through. And even as that process begins, we will seek guidance from others, so our list of participants will grow.



Special thanks also to our planning consultants Ken May and Harriett Green.