Festival season is coming to a close again for the 45th time, and it’s time to spread around a lot of thank-yous.

Thanks to the professionals at Spoleto Festival USA and Piccolo Spoleto Festival for again delivering a celebration of the arts that is an envy of the world. These two festivals prove you don’t have to go to New York or London or Paris or Berlin to experience world-class arts. You get it consistently in Charleston.

The vision to have Spoleto Festival USA and its affordable companion festival in Charleston is annually affirmed to be good for the city, her people and the arts. For a walkable city of our size, we play with the big boys in arts during the 17 days of the festival — and the infrastructure that is here for the rest of the year offers continuous infusions of creativity, talent and artistic joy to people who live here and others who visit.

Thanks also go to all of the visiting artists and back-of-the-house staff who came to Charleston as well as our homegrown creatives for sharing and showcasing their drive, energy and art. Spoleto Festival USA offered truly memorable shows from the theater production of  An Iliad and to operatic delight of Vanessa to memorable jazz performances by Leyla McCalla, Henry Threadgill and his Zooid quintet, and Immanuel Wilkins. Piccolo Spoleto Festival’s traditional offerings — from free concerts to chorale music to marching band tunes from the Seed & Feed Marching Abominable on a soggy weekend — continue to delight, as do the craft show at Wragg Square and art tents at Marion Square. And if you haven’t yet checked out the Black Mermaids show at the City Gallery, you have until July 9 to stop by and be wowed.

Both festivals also should be proud of all of the chamber music they offered, with more than 30 shows at Spoleto Festival USA, many of which channeled the soaring enthusiasm and spirit of the great, late performer Geoff Nuttall. While the two festivals have a lot to be proud of year after year, their commitment to keeping chamber music alive and relevant is noteworthy. 

The festivals also improved their accessibility for everyone this year. Piccolo Spoleto’s free and affordable tickets makes the arts open for anyone who is visiting and interested. And Spoleto’s “pay what you will” tickets for some shows expanded its offerings throughout our community. 

If you ever wondered whether the global pandemic would cause Spoleto Festival USA and Piccolo Spoleto Festival to dampen what they do, this year’s offerings should be crystal clear evidence that the festivals are back in full force. And we’re happy to have them.  Congratulations to everyone who participated and thank you for enhancing what’s already a great city.

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