Shining Light in the Dark: Caitlin Bright on Culture Shake and the underground arts scene By Haley Sprankle


Every day we are faced with monotonous opportunities. We revel in routine and consistency. We stick to what we know because it’s safe. How often do we challenge ourselves and step outside of our comfort zones?

Caitlin Bright, Executive Director of Tapp’s Arts Center, asks Columbia just that with her recent Culture Shake initiative.

“We wanted a formalized program to present off-the-beaten track cultural experiences to shake up the understanding of contemporary art,” Bright explains.

The project started in January of this year and focuses on a variety of art from performances to new media. In its infantile stages, the selection process for featured artists is working to become a more streamlined process.

“We reach out to the community and talk with artists to hear about new projects, new ideas, and innovative events. Soon we will be promoting an invitation to submit proposals online so we can expand our reach,” Bright says.

Upcoming featured artists include AC Flora High School’s production of The Giver on June 12, Al Black’s Songversation every second Tuesday of the month, and the Happiness Bomb Variety Showcase—Eye Candy: Sensory Overload! on July 11. With such a wide spectrum to offer the community, Culture Shake educates and informs Columbia on art they might not have seen at their regular, local theatres or art museums.

“Our goal is to get larger, more challenging, and incite as many ‘wow’ moments as we can from our audiences,” Bright elaborates. “We want to inspire our audiences to engage art in every capacity, and highlighting the myriad of ways creativity can be expressed will hopefully expand minds and enrich Columbia.”

Columbia regularly features exhibits at the Columbia Museum of Art. Patrons religiously attend shows at local community theatres like Town, Workshop, and Trustus. The South Carolina Philharmonic mellifluously fills the air with music with their well-established performances. Columbia City Ballet and Columbia Classical Ballet take turns gracing the Koger Center stage with their enchanting choreography. Bright, however, wants Columbia to embrace the copious amounts of lesser-known, or the underground, artists that the capital city has to offer.

“My experience with how Columbia sees art’s role in our community is a celebration of beauty, talent, and contemplation,” Bright delineates. “The arts are a way for us to visually explore what it means to be human. It clarifies our perception, challenges our world views, inspires our beliefs, entertains our senses and allows us momentary indulgences in the present.”

Like Tapp’s Arts Center on Facebook for more information on upcoming Culture Shake events and check them out at Tapp’s Arts Center online.

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