The Bethel Cultural Arts Center will be a cultural and performing arts venue as well as a museum.
Our vision is to renovate this historical building and create a one-of-a-kind, 500 to 600-seat performing arts facility that will enhance Columbia City Center’s inventory of venues.
There will be three levels in the Bethel Cultural Arts Center. The first level will house, protect, preserve and document the history of African Americans in the Midlands. This level will also be a part of the Heritage Tour and will occupy primarily 1) the role played by the African-American church in the community-at-large to include education, civil rights and contributions made by notable parishioners; 2) history and artifacts of other African American Churches; 3) space to have work shops; and 4) a gift shop with memorabilia’s of events, tours, artists, etc.
The second floor is the performing arts venue that will be used as a multipurpose space to utilize the arts as a means to bring communities together and establish a common ground. This level will encompass a hi-tech up fitting with a seating capacity of 500-600 to sustain smaller venues that will attract local, state and national artists in theatre, dance, concert performances, and seminars. This will be a tremendous asset to the community and the city, which will foster our cultural community.
The third level will house the Bell Tower Sanctuary of Spirituality and Healing Chapel, which will serve as a sanctuary for individuals, families, friends and patients at the neighboring hospital. Over the past ten years, the importance of patient spirituality has been adopted by some of the nation’s leading medical and health care organizations. “The spiritual dimensions of people’s lives are an avenue for compassionate care- giving”. According to a USA Today Weekend poll, 63 percent of Americans would like their physician to discuss spirituality with them. To meet this need, medical schools and residency training programs across the country have taken notice and have begun to integrate such approaches into their curriculum.
Bethel AME Church was built at 1528 Sumter Street in 1921, by James Anderson Lankford the first registered African American architect in the United States, who is known as the “Dean of Negro Architecture.” Lankford established a reputation as a renowned architect around the country because of his usage of elegant stained glass windows and grand steeples and was also appointed the official architect for AME churches. The Church is on the National Historic Register.
Moved by the proud and illustrious history of Bethel Church, the Renaissance Foundation plan to utilize the arts as a means to bring communities together and establish a common ground for diversity. The Bethel Cultural Arts Center is under the leadership of the Renaissance Foundation which was organized in 1996 and became a 501 © 3 non-profit in 2001. The Renaissance Foundation provides cultural diversity, outreach, resources, partnerships and initiatives within the community. It is the intent of the Bethel Cultural Arts Center to provide a variety of events that will attract a diverse audience to the museum and performing arts locally, statewide and nationally. The Bethel Cultural Arts Center is centrally located in downtown Columbia which will allow easy access to hotels, restaurants, and shops in the area.