The Daily Gamecock

Local art community leads discussion at Tapp's Art Center

Most people expect to find flourishing art scenes only in cities like New York or Los Angeles. However, many might be surprised to find out that they exist right here in Columbia as well. 

Tapp’s Arts Center on Main Street is devoted to nourishing the developing art community in the Midlands. Tapp’s was founded in 2011 and prides itself as an "artistic laboratory" that encourages and provides opportunities for local artists across all mediums to share their talents with the public. This includes hosting exhibitions, dance performances, art studios and even art education discussions. 

One such event took place Tuesday night, when Tapp’s hosted a panel titled “Emerging Columbia: Public Arts in the Midlands” in collaboration with Columbia Opportunity Resource, in an effort to educate the public on the benefits and importance of supporting local artists.

Executive director Caitlin Bright has been with Tapp’s since with 2014 and is excited to witness the organization’s growth and impact within Columbia.  

“We’re looking for artists that are pushing the boundaries of what normal is, and the reason why we do this is to push the boundaries on social and community conversations,” Bright said.

Among those on the panel were Joelle Ryan Cook, from the Columbia Museum of Art; Lee Snelgrove, from One Columbia; Jarrod Haning, a local musician; and Michaela Pilar Brown, a local visual artist. The event was moderated by local rapper, Fat Rat Da Czar. 

Each speaker offered a variety of perspectives on both the problems and the potential solutions that affect Columbia on its journey to becoming a thriving arts scene. While Snelgrove and Cook were able to provide statistics from an economic aspect, Haning and Brown shared their first-hand experiences as working artists. 

Several topics that were mentioned included the importance of tourism, combatting gentrification, promoting inclusion with the art community and the importance exposing children to art at a young age. 

When asked about the of the significance youth engagement with the arts, Brown described it as “taking young people from the virtual world to the world of flesh and blood."  

“Conversation in virtual spaces is often truncated. The abbreviated nature of the conversations and the cover of anonymity has cast a shadow over civil discourse. The arts are a soft place to land for hard conversations,” Brown said. 

More than anything, Bright hopes that by including the public in these conversations, Tapp’s Arts Center will encourage them to help create the world they want to live in.