Friday, May 27, 2016

Spoleto Festival USA starts in three, two, one ...

Let the Festival begin

Posted by Connelly Hardaway and Joe Riley on Fri, May 27, 2016 at 3:55 PM

It's here, it's here! cried the village people. Charleston is the village and that thing everyone's so excited about? That's Spoleto, y'all. We sent our intrepid new intern, Joseph P. Riley (seriously), to check out the festival's opening ceremonies earlier today, and he was impressed with what he saw.

click to enlarge Mayor John Tecklenburg presided over his first Spoleto kick-off today in front of City Hall - SAM SPENCE
  • Sam Spence
  • Mayor John Tecklenburg presided over his first Spoleto kick-off today in front of City Hall
The chair of Spoleto, Ed Sellers, spoke after Betty Clark, the pastor of Mother Emanuel AME. In his speech, Sellers talked about how he hopes this festival will be a celebration of life which is especially important when coming up on the anniversary of the Emanuel AME tragedy. Sellers also hopes this festival will help to memorialize the victims of that shooting's lives. He says that this festival will explore "the physical reality" of Charleston and the city's relation to its African-American community.

New mayor John Tecklenburg spoke for the first time at a Spoleto festival opening ceremony (the past 39 fests had Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr., not to be confused with our new intern, at the helm). In his speech, T-burg thanked former mayor Joe Riley with what he called the "modern renaissance" of Charleston and the revival of arts in the city.

Every opening ceremony features a short snippet of one of the festival's performances, and this year was no different, with dancers from the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane dance company performing. Catch their show, Play and Play: an Evening of Movement and Music tonight at 7:30 p.m. at CofC's Sottile Theatre.

While the opening ceremonies were, for the most part, celebratory, there was one protestor in the crowd holding signs that read, "Gentrification in South Carolina is like apartheid in South Africa," and "History proved us wrong to trust integration with whites."

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