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Voices. Knowledge. Solutions.

Joseph P. Riley Jr. Award

Simpsonville Arts Center 

Simpsonville Elementary School, built in 1939, stood empty in Simpsonville’s downtown for nearly two decades after its closure in 2002. After the city bought it and spent years assembling funding, the building emerged as the Simpsonville Arts Center, where valuable facilities and strong arts programming have bolstered the community’s growing economy and cultural scene substantially.  

Renovations included an upgraded auditorium with new plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems, as well as lighting and sound systems. A $500,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission jumpstarted the project, which also received funding from hospitality and accommodations taxes, fundraisers and even a $75,000 contribution from a donor who bought a winning lottery ticket in Simpsonville.  

The center opened in 2022 and now has a full-time manager overseeing the space, which rents five studio spaces to artists and offers such programming as art classes and exhibitions.  The city partners with local theater companies to offer performing arts opportunities to the community Guest performances have included the Greenville Symphony Orchestra and the Cornerstone Ballet.   

The crowds of downtown visitors made possible through the center are bringing new commercial activity to Simpsonville, with a calculated annual economic impact of $991,305. The Arts Center has become an important early step in ongoing downtown revitalization drive, where the city is building a new municipal complex and pursuing streetscaping, traffic improvements, trail extensions and beautification projects.  

Contact Dianna Gracely at or 864.967.5404.