Change is something many people fear, but it is also a notion that brings about improvement and new approaches. When you look at the Etherredge Center at USC Aiken and its programming, there is more to it than that meets the eye.

Each performance is meant to be entertaining; however every performance is also selected to meet the community’s needs. Each performance is a reminder of our power to appreciate creativity and innovation. After all, what would Aiken be like if arts organizations stopped presenting or creating performances for all to enjoy?

For 28 years, the Etherredge Center through the Cultural Series, University Theatre and the Music and Art programs has presented events for the residents of Aiken in an effort to promote an appreciation of creativity and innovation. We believe the performing and visual arts give us the power to be creative by providing examples of how art transforms your daily lives through imagination. In fact, the arts provide each of us with an opportunity to escape those obstacles that we encounter day in and day out. The arts also provide a bridge to every vocation and interest known to man while providing a foundation that allows you to think critically on any topic.

For example, as I planned the Cultural Series for this year, I kept in mind our mission “to promote and inspire cultural and intellectual opportunities for the benefit and enjoyment of individuals in the CSRA” by:

• Attracting prominent artists in the performing arts;

• Supporting the growth of community arts groups;

• Developing and promoting excellence in the performing arts at USC Aiken;

• Providing arts-related education and programming opportunities through collaborative efforts; and

• Providing an atmosphere for programs that enhance the cultural and intellectual growth of the community.

Another fact also became increasingly clear. A new generation of theater goers needed reasons and opportunities to participate in a series that has been a hallmark for the community for more than 28 years. With the generosity of our sponsors led by Daybreak Adult Care Services, Inc., we believe we have accomplished the task by providing an exciting range of performances from the Broadway Boys to Presidio Brass to an Evening with Hal Linden. There is truly something for everyone.

First, we have added an online ticketing system that will allow patrons to purchase tickets from any computer. The system will allow patrons to print their ticket at home or have it waiting for at the box office. Visit us online at to learn more.

Second, we added several package options for the patron’s convenience. You can now order the entire seven show season or choose a four show Classical or Light series.

If these options are not what the patron is looking for, they can also select a four-show package, where they select the shows they want. Finally, patrons will be able to select performances individually instead of selecting one of the packages.

So while change is sometimes challenging, it also is at the heart of why the arts exist. After all, the arts challenge, inspire and change people because audiences are encouraged to answer questions about life and can be adapted and applied in a very individual way because the arts challenge the individual to believe in themselves.

We hope to see you at the Etherredge Center this year!

Jack Benjamin is the executive director of USC Aiken’s Etherredge Center for Fine and Performing Arts.