Graham Foundation donates $1 million to the Metropolitan Arts Council

Coinciding with MAC’s 50th anniversary, the trustees of the Graham Foundation awarded the arts fund its largest single donation to support its artist grant program and SmartARTS educational partnership.

Customers stand around tables of pottery at an Open studios event.

More funding for artists = more handmade pieces around Greenville. | Photo by Irina Rice

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The Metropolitan Arts Council (MAC) just got its biggest birthday present yet.

The Graham Foundation, a private family foundation and longtime contributor to MAC, donated $1 million to help support Greenville artists. For those keeping score, that’s a third of the foundation’s total contributions to MAC — totaling over $3 million as of this announcement — in a single grant.

MAC turned 50 years old this month, and Greenville Journal reports that this donation is the largest single gift in the council’s entire half-century history.

This $1 million influx will fund two big programs: SmartARTS and MAC’s grant program.


Started in 2002, SmartARTS — housed at the TD Center for Arts Integration — partners with Greenville County Schools to elevate art in the classroom. The program pairs traditional educators with “teaching artists” (read: working artists trained to share their craft with students).

Teaching artists’ creative skill and knowledge, plus the classroom experience and standards-driven approach of teachers, combine to produce lesson plans that continue to enrich the arts in Greenville even after the partnership is over.

MAC grants

MAC awarded $510,455 in grants in 2022 — that’s half a million to individual artists, collabs, and programs to help see their projects to fruition. Priority is given to projects that are open to all residents, and that ultimately feed back into Greenville’s artistic community. A few grant recipients from last year: