Back in the limelight | News | The Press and Standard

by | February 1, 2018 5:00 pm

Last Updated: January 31, 2018 at 10:32 am

Mardell talks to national audience about Walterboro.

The East Washington Street complex that is home to Colleton Museum and Farmers Market and Colleton Commercial Kitchen again drew national attention last week.
On Jan. 23, Matt Mardell, who oversees the operation of the county facility, traveled to Washington D.C., to join Susan DuPlesis, S.C. Arts Commission project coordinator for The Art of Community: Rural South Carolina, for a press briefing hosted by the National Assembly of State Art Agencies (NASAA) and held at the National Press Club.
DuPlesis and Mardell were invited to the press briefing to outline how the museum, farmers market and commercial kitchen have become a role model for the concept of creative placemaking.
Creative placemaking, DuPlesis explained, “brings artistic and creative activity to the core of community planning and development. In practice this means having arts and culture represented alongside sectors like housing, economic development and transportation; all holistically working together and contributing to a community’s vibrancy as well as its future.”
Pam Breaux, executive director of NASAA, said there are smart strategies behind the concept of creative placemaking. “Through the arts, citizens are reclaiming their communities. You see what progress looks like in Walterboro, in Colleton County,” Breaux told the audience. “There is an important story, one of the results today and the potential for tomorrow.”
“Being on the federal stage is great,” Mardell said during his portion of the press briefing.
Mardell gave the audience a brief overview of the operations of the museum, farmers market and commercial kitchen and their garnering of national attention and honors.
Part of the reason for the acclaim, he said, was the facilities’ uniqueness. When others learn about Colleton County’s success in combining a museum with a farmers market, “everybody thinks its bizarre idea, but it works.”
That initial success, he said, continued with the addition of the commercial kitchen. “We have plenty to brag about,” Mardell said.
Originally, Mardell was to join DuPlesis and Gary Brightwell during the briefing. The plan was for DuPlesis and Brightwell, who had a leadership role in Colleton County’s portion of Art of Community: Rural South Carolina, to handle most of the presentation.
Brightwell, the former director of the county facility, was to handle the history of the complex and its embracing of the creative placemaking concept.
But a few days before the trip to Washington, D.C., Brightwell became sick and had to back out of the trip.
That left Mardell to take on a larger role in the presentation. Because he has been involved in the operation of the facility for the past five years, Mardell said, “I knew the story.”

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