Art Reinvents Tiny South Carolina Town

Once a booming bean-farming community whose fields eventually went bare, Lake City has a new story to tell. In 2013, ArtFields started with a simple goal in mind…to honor the artists of the Southeast with a week’s worth of celebration and competition in the heart of a traditional Southern small town.

The continued success of ArtFields' nine-day arts event, which quite literally turns the entire town into a public gallery, has resulted in art being brought front and center throughout Lake City. ArtFields was founded by Darla Moore and has grown into the South’s biggest arts competition. 

In many ways, art now serves as the lifeblood of the town. Public murals now decorate the walls of old agricultural buildings, sculptures adorn new public gardens downtown, the former feed and seed store transformed into a state-of-the-art Smithsonian-Certified gallery, arts education is worked into school curriculum, and everyone in the town is talking about art. 

In 2018, Lake City was named the ‘Best Small-Town Cultural Scene’ by USA Today. The community has transformed rapidly and with a measurable impact. Art is now the city’s driving economic force, bringing tourists and prompting the need to open hotels, restaurants and businesses along its once-quiet main street. 

The competition has given away nearly $700,000 in prize money to winners over the years. 

ArtFields takes place April 26-May 4, 2019.