At any great organization there is a great leader. At Metropolitan Arts Council that’s Executive Director Alan Ethridge, who has been with this local Upstate art organization since 2004. We recently had the chance to sit down with Alan to discuss everything from his role, his favorite kind of art and what’s next for MAC. Without further ado, let’s go meet Alan Ethridge.
360: Tell us a little bit about your career before MAC.
Alan: I want to downplay this. Prior to coming to MAC in 2004, I had been employed in advertising and fund-raising. Coming to MAC was the perfect opportunity for me, given my course of study in college (English Literature and Art History) and my interest in the arts. After college I worked at Henderson Advertising in Greenville, Ogilvy & Mather in Atlanta and the Clemson University Office for Development.
360: How do you sum up your role as Executive Director at MAC?
Alan: The major part of my job is fund-raising, followed by arts advocacy on a local level. It is extremely important in any thriving community that the arts have financial resources to operate and to present and produce a variety of cultural initiatives to meet an ever-diversifying population. It is MAC’s mission to be sure that our constituents of individual artists, arts organizations and arts education programs are integral parts of Greenville. Over the last 15 years, Greenville has truly experienced a Renaissance – just looked at what has happened – Artisphere, the Peace Center expansion, the Greenville Center for Creative Arts, GLOW Lyric Theatre, the new South Carolina Children’s Theatre, the Carolina Music Museum, the Children’s Museum of the Upstate, to name just a few. MAC will continue to be a source of funding for such entities and assist the new cultural initiatives that will inevitably arise.
360: What do you love most about your job?
Alan: Working with the MAC staff is a true gift. These four people are some of the most talented and dedicated individuals I have ever encountered. We work hard, but we have a great time doing what we do with each of us adding greatly to the sustainability of the organization. All of us have wonderful (albeit different) senses of humor, and if we can’t laugh, there’s not much point. Having an outstanding Board of Directors and fantastic Board Chairmen is also a real pleasure.
Love of the job continued…
Alan: Just since 2006, we have had the privilege of working with Dave Posek, Mike Zeller, Mark Johnston, Mary Hipp, Charles Ratterree, Ken Betsch and Michael Cooper at the helm. Every day is different at MAC – we constantly interact with new people who are interested in participating in Greenville’s outstanding cultural scene – both from an artistic and a supportive standpoint. The success of the arts community here is predicated on civic pride, and the response from the public to our cultural offerings is nothing short of miraculous. Greenville has to be one of the most generous communities on the planet.
360: What’s your favorite kind of art?
Alan: This question is impossible to answer. It’s like being asked what’s your favorite book, movie or song. How do I just pick one? Having zero artistic talent myself, I have a great appreciation of any artist – visual, performing or literary. By interacting with all types of artists, I can experience their talent through a sort of osmosis. And in Greenville we are very fortunate to have such talent across all art forms. As a pre-teen, I tried my hand at acting. Instead of landing a leading role, I was cast as a mushroom and had to walk onstage in a foam cap and grey tights. Thus began and ended my brilliant career as a thespian. My place in a theatre is Row G center, thank heavens.
360: When you’re not working, what do you love to do in Greenville?
Alan: When am I not working? Seriously, I am most fulfilled when I am working because I believe in what MAC is and what it accomplishes. Being a part of this is very personally rewarding. But I do have to sleep unfortunately. Otherwise, I would have to say how much I enjoy reading, exercising and attending arts events. In terms of entertainment, Greenville has a phenomenal array of options any night of the week.
360: What’s next for MAC?
Alan: To continue to grow organically while promoting our great arts scene throughout the Greenville area. As one of the fastest growing areas in the country, Greenville is expanding rapidly. We want to be sure that these new residents along with current ones are informed of just what an outstanding arts environment we have.
360: You’re the best, Alan! Thank you for your time and all your efforts in supporting Greenville’s art scene. Keep up the great work! Talk again soon.
You can follow with what’s happening with MAC by visiting their website at www.greenvillearts.com. You can also, follow along with them via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Want to know what’s going on with MAC this Winter and Spring? For more info click here.