Sometimes, a sea change is just what the doctor ordered—although it is kind of unusual when the doctor orders it for herself. However, this is precisely the case with Dr. Carmela P. Bryan, who came on board April 29 of this year as the new director of the Sumter County Cultural Commission. The position involves oversight of Sumter County’s arts programs, including the Sumter County Gallery of Art, Patriot Hall Performing Arts Center, Gallery 135, and the Sumter Little Theatre, and Dr. Bryan couldn’t be happier or more excited about her new responsibilities.
“I’ve been involved in Sumter’s arts community for a very long time,” she says, “and when the opportunity presented itself to do something full-time that I’ve already been doing as a volunteer for years, I knew it was time for a change.” Indeed, she has an intense involvement with the arts—and not only in Sumter. A native of Naples, Italy and educated in Rome, where she earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, Carmela grew up amongst some of the world’s greatest artworks, including those of the High Renaissance period. Locally, she has served on the boards of the Sumter Little Theatre and the Sumter County Cultural Commission, and was actively involved in Sumter’s Accessibility Project. She is also an art collector, a director, and a talented actress (whom I particularly enjoyed as the gender-challenged therapist Leslie, in SLT’s 2010 production of Sylvia).
A long-time Sumter resident, Carmela spent 26 years as a staff psychologist and therapist for Sumter Behavioral Health Services. She sees her new position as “still giving something valuable to the community, only in a different way.”
Right now, Gallery 135 at Patriot Hall is hosting “Flux,” part of the Emerging Artist Series and presently featuring the work of mixed-media artist Kevin Morrissey. The Sumter County Gallery of Art will open the annual Sumter Artists Guild Show tomorrow evening, July 11, 2013, with a reception taking place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. (the show runs until August 29). In August, the Sumter Little Theatre presents the musical Cabaret. And that’s only the beginning for what Carmela sees as the challenge of expanding on the quality cultural programs that Sumter has brought to the community for many years.
Carmela Bryan fairly bubbles when discussing her plans for Sumter’s artistic future. “We’re working on a lot of different things,” she says. “Right now, we’re working on a show for September that will feature the human body as an artistic medium—tattoos, henna painting, body painting, and other things. And in October, we’ll be bringing back a fall festival for the arts.” This revival of a popular Sumter event that hasn’t been held in several years is still in the planning stages, but will encompass the entire Sumter County Cultural Center and include both visual and performing arts, with the Civic Chorale, area bands, a gallery show and several short plays already on tap as featured performers and events. Patriot Hall is located at 135 Haynsworth Street in Sumter.
Of course, the organizations involved in hosting for these events could always use enthusiastic volunteers. Want to be part of the start of something big (or bigger, anyway)? Contact the Sumter County Cultural Commission at (803) 436-2260 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, that sounds like just the right medicine!
by Colette Daniels