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Dec 15, 2015

The Peace Center: Performing Arts for a Thriving Community

South Carolina Homes

By Kelly Church

With the hope that a cultural center would help revitalize the city of Greenville, SC, the Peace Center was born. The facility was not named after a desire for peace, but rather a family who donated the initial $10 million to initiate the campaign and advocate for the build. It's the primary performing arts center for the area, hosting roughly 600 events on the six-acre property each year and drawing more than 360,000 people.

"Performances are the heart and soul of the Peace Center," says Tara McNamara, Director of Public Relations at the facility. "A critical goal has been to offer diverse programming to serve all communities and ages."

Just in the last few months, the Peace Center has brought in major performers, including Willie Nelson, the Gipsy Kings, and Broadway star Audra McDonald. The 2015-2016 Broadway series includes the most shows they have ever had in one season - from Mowtown The Musical and The Bridges of Madison County to classics like Cabaret and The Sound of Music.

In addition to bringing performers, artists and shows to Greenville, the Peace Center supports the local community through education initiatives designed to enrich lives and spur creative thinking. Their Peace Outreach Program (POP) is a series of performances geared towards the youth in the community. Shows include presentations from National Geographic Live!; performances of Hamlet; cultural musicals including Southern Voices: Black, White and Blues; historical pieces focusing on key points in American history such as the American Revolution; and literary segments including Living Library: The Folktales of Zora Neale Hurston. There are also performances for even younger children, including The Cat in the Hat and Goodnight Moon & The Runaway Bunny.

"Arts education is a vital part of the growth and well-being of a community," McNamara says. "Studies routinely show that children who are exposed to the arts score highly in creative thinking skills, collaboration and problem solving."

The Peace Center also has a poet-in-residence program called Peace Voices, where in-house poet Glenis Redmond uses poetry to engage teenagers and adults when sharing personal stories and having important conversations. Simultaneously, this program helps support writing and verbal skills.

Events at the Peace Center are held throughout the year. Tickets for shows can also be purchased online through the Peace Center's online box office.