About

Mission

Tapp’s Arts Center is a giant artistic laboratory for community engagement. We encourage artistic agency through exhibitions, cultural events, workshops, classes, and studios to help Columbia create, learn and grow.

Since 2011, Tapp’s Arts Center:

  • PRESENTED over 105 exhibitions, and served approximately 1000 artists.
  • PRODUCED over 250 concerts and performances including dozens of local and traveling performers.
  • PROVIDED 30 low-cost studios to a variety of exceptional artists whose talents have resonated throughout the southeast and beyond. Studio 23 Recordings, Ashley Moore’s Tiny Coven, Uniquely MC, The Jasper Project, Scenario Collective, Michaela Pilar Brown, Nicole Heere Art, The Elegant Elephant, Kristi Berry, Jim Seigler Fine Art Photography, Brenda Snell, Temika Black, Tabitha Ott, Becky Hyatt Rickenbaker, Olivia Thompson, Exclusif Entertainment, Molly Harrell Photography, Nicole Neely, Cory Bennett, Joe Kendrick, ECLAT Design and Tailoring, Julian Adams, Barbie Mathis, and Giovanni DiFeterici have built an amazing community in the Tapp’s building. Check out our 2017 artists’ information here.
  • COLLABORATED WITH THE COMMUNITY by partnering with First Thursdays on Main, Artists U, The Jasper Project, The Watering Hole, Tiny Coven, Owlette Academy, Infinite Room, Carolina Film Network, University of SC, McKissick Museum, Deckle Edge, POV, Savvy Musician, “Songversation” with Al Black, The Nickelodeon, Trustus Theatre, 701 CCA… and so many other independent makers and creators. 

In addition, Tapp’s has had wonderful features in the State Newspaper, Jasper Magazine, Free Times, and was thrilled to celebrate Tapp’s Programs Director, Shigeharu Kobayashi in Fig Magazine’s Arts Preview!

 

The History of the Building

Tapp’s Arts Center is situated in the singularly iconic Tapp’s building at the corner of Main Street and Blanding Street in Downtown Columbia, South Carolina. The History of the Tapp’s Building is particularly noteworthy for its long and storied past. The building was constructed in 1940 specifically for the namesake, James L. Tapp, a local entrepreneur who founded a series of upscale department stores in the tri-state area. The architecture of the building still reflects the “Depression Modern” style, which celebrated the streamlined form and kinetic lines of the, then,  new industrial age.

The department store quickly became a destination, as it was the only one east of the Mississippi River to offer its customers an air-conditioned shopping experience. Additionally, Tapp’s offered in-house dining via a restaurant located in the basement. Its popularity facilitated the permanent advertisement ‘Meet Me At Tapp’s’ on the rear exterior wall of the building, still present on the facade to this day. Another original feature of this landmark building still greeting visitors as they arrive on Main Street is the clock face, a common architectural accent in the 30s and 40s, and now the emblematic symbol of Tapp’s.

In 1979, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Generally, there is a fifty-year minimum, but this was waived due to the building’s architectural significance. Tapp’s continued to serve downtown Columbia, until 1995, when the store closed due to a declining consumer interest in large department stores. It wasn’t until 2011 that Tapp’s would once again delight the Columbia community, this time as a multi-functioning contemporary art center.