By Carol Antman for Island Eye News
“Piccolo Spoleto is little but by no means small,” says Charleston’s Office of Cultural Affairs Director Scott Watson. In fact, the 17 day festival that begins on May 27 will include over 500 performing literary and visual arts events. Begun as a companion to the major Spoleto Festival, Piccolo is dedicated to making arts experiences accessible to everyone. Ticket prices are low; many events are free; venues include many neighborhoods and programming appeals to a wide variety of ages and artistic tastes.
Regional and local artists are particularly spotlighted. “In a cultural capital like Charleston, you will discover that just about everyone has something to contribute to our rich artistic life and to our shared cultural heritage,” said John Techlenburg, Charleston’s new mayor and a performing jazz pianist. The mainstays of the artistic community reprise their best acts. Art Gaillard, Founder of Art Forms and Theater Concepts, has been producing for Piccolo for most of its 38 years. This year’s production is “It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues” a musical revue with dozens of songs and a live band. There are newcomers to Charleston like Gracie and Lacy who sing vintage vocals and tap dance. Regional artists from across the Southeast fill stages at churches, schools, auditoriums and parks. New collaborations are inspired such as a cello concert with a live rendering of the musician’s brain functioning by Norbert Lewandowski and Jacobo Mintzer. New venues are enlivened: the reopening of Colonial lake, a 3-day mini-festival in Avondale, a Piccolo Party at West Ashley High School and a gala orchestra Experience with Ben Folds and the Charleston Symphony on Daniel Island. Although the festivals draw thousands of visitors from around the world, Piccolo is a great opportunity for an inspiring “staycation.”
A program guide with complete festival listings is available around town or by emailing CulturalAffairs@charleston-sc.gov. Tickets are available online and at the festival box office at the Gaillard Center at 95 Calhoun Street.