Megan Riegel receives Leadership in Arts Award
AN EXPANSIVE VISION
by Paul Hyde
The Peace Center takes the stage as more than a performing arts venue
The story of the Peace Center is one of continuing growth and expansion since it opened its doors in 1990. While the pandemic posed significant challenges to the performing arts nationwide, Greenville’s cornerstone performing arts venue has bounced back, stronger than ever.
“We just finished the best year we’ve ever had,” says Megan Riegel, the Peace Center’s president and CEO. “We came back quickly and strongly. It has been terrific. The audiences were ready to return.”
Under Riegel’s leadership, the center is abuzz year-round with activity, from Broadway shows to dance, jazz, comedy, classical music, and a wide range of popular music.
When it comes to Broadway shows especially, the Peace Center punches far above its weight. Greenville may be a medium-sized city, but Upstate audiences get to enjoy the sort of national tours that also travel to Los Angeles, Chicago, and other bustling cities.
Recently, a two-week run of the dynamic musical Six was followed by a three-week stint of the blockbuster Wicked, with almost every performance selling out.
“We’re getting the best that is on the road today,” says Riegel, who has led the Peace Center for almost three decades. “Greenville has an amazing love for Broadway. It’s a huge driver of our success.”
The center is a regular base for several Greenville arts organizations, including the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, International Ballet, Carolina Ballet Theatre, Upstate youth orchestras, the Fine Arts Center, and the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities.
The Peace Center not only enhances Greenville’s sparkling quality of life but contributes substantially to the state’s business vitality, with a $90 million economic impact for South Carolina, according to a recent study.
The center already hosts more than 600 events a year, but future plans call for continually expanding its artistic reach. In the works are two new music venues: The Coach Music Factory, a 1,300-capacity music club; and The Mockingbird, a 250-capacity listening room and lounge on Greenville’s Main Street.
“We want to appeal to a broad audience with eclectic tastes,” Riegel says.
Peace Center by the Numbers
- Hosted over 6 million patrons since opening in 1990.
- Nearly 13,000 performances and events.
- Average number of events per year (2010-2020): approximately 660.
- Average annual attendance (2010-2020): approximately 350,000.
Spreading Peace: Community Engagement
- Peace Voices: offers insightful dialogue through film, lectures, and poetry.
- Fine Arts Center artists-in-residence: provides students with instruction and mentorship from world-class artists in dance, jazz and classical music.
- Jazz All Stars: spotlights young jazz musicians from the Fine Arts Center in Genevieve’s at the Peace Center.
- Master Classes: gives emerging artists an opportunity to enjoy coaching and mentoring from world-class performers, such as dance group MOMIX and soprano Renee Fleming.