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A new era in Charleston arts: meet the dynamic leaders who have taken the helm of four influential institutions

A new era in Charleston arts: meet the dynamic leaders who have taken the helm of four influential institutions
May 2022

Discover changes coming to Spoleto Festival USA, College of Charleston School of the Arts, Charleston Gaillard Center, and the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art



(Clockwise from top left) Mena Mark Hanna, Spoleteo Festival USA; Katie Hirsch, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art; Edward Hart, College of Charleston School of the Arts; Lissa Frenkel, Charleston Gaillard Center

Mena Mark Hanna - General Director, Spoleto Festival USA

Officially, he’s Dr. Mena Mark Hanna—as anyone holding a doctorate from Oxford University can justifiably be called. But the new general director of Spoleto Festival USA shrugs off the honorific—he’s simply Mena, the 37-year-old dad to two-year-old Hugo and the guy walking Agatha Christie, the family mutt, in their Hampton Park neighborhood. And they’ll all soon lose bragging rights as the new Hannas in town. That title will go to a baby girl due as this story goes to press. Yes, indeed, that means Hanna and his wife, Sarah Moriarty, will be in the throes of newborn life as he births the 2022 Spoleto Festival back into post-pandemic, full-fledged, glorious swing. Good thing the musicologist and composer knows a thing or two about harmony. >>READ MORE HERE

Katie Hirsch - Director & Chief Curator, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston

Among the many hidden gems in Charleston—the obscure alleyways, the secret gardens, the waterfront breezes at the tucked-away Irish monument—there’s a tiny cinema in a back corner of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston, where videos revealing artistic genius run on continuous loop. It’s a fabulous oasis, and like the Halsey itself, a haven of inspiration—just one aspect of the Holy City’s premier contemporary art gallery that is now Katie Hirsch’s creative playground. As the new director and chief curator of the Halsey, Hirsch not only gets to be a teeny movie-house director but also set the tone for all things edgy, quirky, and provocative for the city’s art scene. >>READ MORE HERE

Lissa Frenkel - President & CEO, Charleston Gaillard Center

It’s 70 degrees and sunny, a glorious day for an alfresco interview at Theodora Park across the street from the Gaillard Center, where newly planted tulip magnolias, in full fuchsia bloom, have taken center stage. “They just got snow in New York,” says Lissa Frenkel, clearly savoring her first Lowcountry spring after spending the past 20 years in Manhattan. Frenkel joined the Gaillard as president and CEO in July 2021, in the midst of a pandemic pause. But in recent months, the center’s performance schedule, like the tulip magnolias and azaleas embracing the hall, is blossoming again—the Charleston Symphony Orchestra is back in action, school field trips are happening, Spoleto Festival USA soon will be taking up residence, and Frenkel, a Boston-area native and art history major who segued into arts management, is happily in her element. >>READ MORE

Edward Hart - Dean, School of the Arts, College of Charleston

The blaring beep, beep, beep of a construction truck backing up is a make-shift horn section, while the percussion of hammers and pile drivers keep steady rhythm outside the Charleston single house where the office of the dean opens to a piazza overlooking Cistern Yard. “Welcome to my prime spot for Spoleto concerts,” grins Edward Hart, dean of the School of the Arts (SOTA) at College of Charleston. >>READ MORE HERE