May 17, 2021

Creating Opportunities: Bill Stephenson

“What GCCA offers isn’t being done anywhere else in Greenville,” says Bill Stephenson, and he should know. Bill has been an avid art collector and arts enthusiast, advocate, and philanthropist in Greenville for many years. He has made it his mission to support local artists and has served on the board of several Greenville nonprofits. Since retiring from a career in banking, Bill continues to serve on the board of directors for the Metropolitan Arts Council (MAC) and is a member of GCCA’s Development Committee as an ambassador for fundraising. But perhaps Bill’s most influential contribution to the arts community is his personal art collection. Bill is pleased to share that now over 90% of his collection is made up of the work of local artists.

At a GCCA community artists’ show several years ago, Bill bought a piece of artwork from an emerging artist who had been taking classes at the Art School with artist Pat Kilburg, a GCCA instructor and current Board Chair. The artist approached Bill, thanking him profusely and could barely contain his excitement. Later, Bill found out that he had purchased the very first piece this artist had ever sold. It was not only a meaningful moment for the artist, but is a memory that has stuck with Bill.

Experiences rubbing shoulders with emerging artists and seeing first-hand the impact of offering fledgling artists opportunities to learn and grow as creatives fuels Bill’s passion for the arts. “I think scholarships and programs like the Brandon Fellowship are important for the growth of young and budding artists to have more opportunities in the arts. The welcoming environment at GCCA provides art education and support to artists at all levels, which is a big reason why I give to GCCA.”

When he first learned about the inception of a new organization in GCCA, Bill immediately recognized the need for an art center to provide hands-on art instruction at all levels from novice to professional. He recalls getting a tour of the former Brandon Mill that would soon be home to GCCA and being excited that this historic property would also be a community hub for the visual arts. He was also impressed by the tenacity and foresight of the founders, particularly the women leaders who had a vision, saw an opportunity, and took action; and it made him want to get involved. 

Bill is excited about GCCA’s role in strengthening Greenville’s reputation as a “city of the arts.” “My donations allow GCCA to continue to expand its offering of art classes, grow its programs for emerging artists, and showcase exhibits that feature artists both locally and from across the county. I am excited about the future of GCCA and want to play a part in its growth and success.” In so many ways, Bill’s service and philanthropy are creating opportunities for local artists and contributing to their long-term success. 

We are thankful for dedicated supporters like Bill who make it possible for GCCA to fulfill its mission. We cannot do this work without you! If you’d like to contribute to GCCA’s Annual Fund, please click here. We appreciate your support!