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Looking back at 20 years of Artisphere

From the inaugural Artisphere to Maya Angelou’s visit to becoming one of the country’s premiere art festivals, we’re looking back at 20 years of Artisphere.


The very first Artisphere in 2005. | Photo via Artisphere

Picture this: It was the weekend of April 22-April 24, 2005 and Greenville had a new festival downtown. It was two years after the River Place Arts Festival ended in 2003, and the inaugural Artisphere: The International Arts Festival of Greenville — later to become just Artisphere — featured artists, performances, and a children’s craft tent.

By the numbers

In honor of this year’s 20-year milestone festival, we’re rolling back the clock to compare Artisphere then + now.

Artists and applicants | In 2005, 282 artists applied to participate in the first festival with 100 selected. This year, 140 artists were selected from ~1,100 applicants, which makes Artisphere one of the country’s top, and most selective, art festivals.

Patrons | Talk about growth — in the second year of Artisphere, 45,000 attendees visited the festival compared to 92,500 in 2023.

Stages | Three stages hosted performances across the first festival, including “Celebration-Congo” — a group that traveled from Africa. This year, there will be five stages showcasing local, regional, and national talent.

The date | After several years where rain affected the festival, Artisphere conducted weather studies and moved the annual festival from April to the second weekend in May. We love it when a plan comes together.

Know before you go

As you prepare for this year’s festival, bookmark our guide + follow us on social media so you don’t miss what’s new at the 20th annual Artisphere festival.