New Carolina Celebrates Launch of Creative Industries Cluster in South Carolina’s Lowcountry

November 13, 2008

Event unites creative industries in Charleston and surrounding areas

CHARLESTON, SC – November 13, 2008 – New Carolina–South Carolina’s Council on Competitiveness is celebrating the launch of a new Creative Industries Cluster in South Carolina’s Lowcountry.


Chef Nico Romo presents at Pecha Kucha Night in Charleston on November 12, 2008.

The Creative Industries Cluster focuses on areas such as preservation and restoration, cultural heritage, architecture and urban design, performing arts, visual arts, culinary arts, literature and publishing, and digital media and design.

A cluster is defined as a group of businesses in a certain region that focus on or service the same industry. New Carolina’s number one goal is to build globally competitive industry clusters—such as the creative industries–to sponsor business growth, attract higher-paying jobs, and advance South Carolina’s economy.

“The clustering strategy has proven to add value because companies within clusters come together to increase efficiency and innovation within that industry, while boosting the overall economy in their region,” says New Carolina’s Executive Director George Fletcher. “We believe that the launch of the Creative Industries Cluster will support new business development, enhance existing business, and recruit new companies to the area.”

New Carolina Change Agent Beth Meredith says that the Creative Industries Cluster has been launched to further enhance an industry that already has a strong presence in the Lowcountry.

“We wanted to shine the light on the fact that creative industries are a major economic driver in the Lowcountry,” Meredith says. “Companies in this non-traditional industry are thriving, starting businesses that create jobs, and attracting like-minded people to the area.”

Over the last several months, cluster organizers have held a series of discussions and planning meetings to determine how to build the right infrastructure for creative industries firms. That planning culminated in an event last night –called Pecha Kucha Night–to celebrate the launch of the Creative Industries Cluster in the Lowcountry.


Marcus Amaker, a poet, musician, and graphic designer, presents at Pecha Kucha Night in Charleston on November 12, 2008.

Though last night’s event was the first one of its kind held in Charleston, similar Pecha Kucha Nights have been held in 135 cities around the world. The phrase Pecha Kucha is Japanese for the ‘sound of conversation.’ The event is designed to provide a forum for creative people to meet, network, and showcase their work. Presenters for the first Pecha Kucha Night, which was held at Charleston’s Memminger Auditorium, were from the fields of graphic design, advertising, visual and performing arts, literature, architecture, and urban planning.

Robert Prioleau, founding partner of Blue Ion Digital Marketing & Web Design who has been part of New Carolina’s cluster advisory group, emphasizes that Pecha Kucha Night is serving as a way to connect and strengthen creative industries in the Lowcountry.

“The creative industry has an enormous impact on the Charleston area’s quality of life as well as its economy,” he says. “Everyone has been very excited about the Pecha Kucha Night as a forum to better connect and celebrate the diverse creative talent that’s here. Pecha Kucha Night is just one of a series of events that the team can initiate to support the area’s creative industries.”

In addition to New Carolina, other event sponsors include Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau; Charleston Regional Development Alliance; Computer Science, College of Charleston; PDA GreenLight; and the Culinary Institute of Charleston at Trident Technical College. More than 200 people attended the event, surpassing original projections.

The Charleston Regional Development Alliance, which is focused on advancing competitive industry clusters in the three-county region, has been instrumental in identifying the creative industries as a main economic driver in the Lowcountry.

“This region has a convergence of high-end expertise in areas like urban design  and architecture plus a number of lifestyle attributes important to smart, creative people,” says Stephen Warner, who handles business development and marketing strategy for the Charleston Regional Development Alliance. “We wanted to learn how to better promote the creative sector here, so we looked to other communities that are successfully nurturing their creative industries like London and Austin. Although this is not traditional bricks-and-mortar industry, creative businesses have a major and growing impact on our local economy. We believe that the growth of the Creative Industries Cluster could lead to higher wages and greater economic sustainability.”

Warner notes that the Pecha Kucha Night was designed to build energy for the cluster. Longer term, the goal is to mobilize cluster members to drive policy and other issues important to the continued growth and success of the cluster.

“A tremendous amount of energy has come from this group (cluster organizers and volunteers),” Warner says. “We just kicked it off about three months ago, and the enthusiasm and energy have been amazing. We’re already looking forward to another Pecha Kucha Night in January with lots of people asking to present and venues offering to donate space.”

“In the Lowcountry, we recognize the economic importance of this dynamic industry,” says New Carolina’s Meredith. “We are working to attract, nurture, and grow related companies to build a thriving Creative Industries Cluster.”

To learn more about Pecha Kucha Charleston, visit

About New Carolina

New Carolina–South Carolina’s Council on Competitiveness is a public-private partnership working to increase per capita income and drive the movement towards a New Carolina – a South Carolina with a brighter future and a competitive, winning economy. The focus is on a strategy to play to the strengths of the state’s core industries, emphasize education, and build an environment that fosters innovation. Visit for more information.