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The Town of Ridgeway received a Municipal Achievement Award for its arts project. Officials accepted the award during the Municipal Association of South Carolina's Annual Meeting on July 22. The city won in the 1 – 1,000 population category. Thirty-two cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives.
Several years ago, the Town of Ridgeway identified tourism as a key economic driver, so town leaders created a marketing campaign to showcase local art and history. The campaign showcases Ridgeway's gallery space, art depicting historic Ridgeway and the restoration of the town's most photographed structures.
Town Council and residents first laid out the ideas for "The Arts: A Picture is Worth More than 1,000 Words in Ridgeway" in the town's strategic plan and then developed these ideas through the work and collaboration of town committees and county and state organizations.
The newly created Fairfield County Arts Gallery in downtown Ridgeway showcases and sells pieces created by local artists. A second-story gallery space will be used for art classes and events. Selling posters, cards, calendars and a coloring book depicting historic Ridgeway provides funds to preserve the iconic structures of Ridgeway — the World's Smallest Police Station, the School Arch and the telephone booth, which has a phone that still works for just 25 cents.
Additional funding for preserving Ridgeway's iconic structures came from the Town of Ridgeway, the Fairfield County Arts Council, the Arts on the Ridge Committee, the Ridgeway Merchants Association, Ridgeway event sponsors and a Hometown Economic Development Grant awarded by the Municipal Association.
Volunteers on town committees were a central part of the effort, so the town highlighted their work in it's newsletter and website. Future plans include additional art gallery events, finishing the restoration of the iconic town structures, and a pictorial Ridgeway book sold to the public that highlights the history and people of the community.
"A project like Ridgeway's is a team effort. This 360-person town built a successful team by encouraging all residents to participate and celebrating their efforts along the way," said Miriam Hair, executive director for the Municipal Association.
These winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. Information and a video about the project are available on the Association's website www.masc.sc (keyword: Achievement Awards).
The Municipal Association of South Carolina initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.