Joye in Aiken is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making the best in the performing arts available to our citizens, and especially our students. In 2016, Joye was awarded the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award (South Carolina’s highest honor in the arts) for its Educational Outreach Program.
Because providing wide access to the arts is an important part of our mission, a majority of our events are free or low-cost. Ticket sales furnish only 12 – 15% of our budget, and we receive no funding from The Juilliard School. It is the very generous support of individuals like you that sustains our efforts.
For ten years, Joye in Aiken has brought world-class actors, dancers and musicians into our neighborhoods to bring the excitement of learning and the pleasure of artistic discovery to our students. It’s an exciting and rewarding journey.
Joye in Aiken is named for Joye Cottage, a beautiful Gilded Age mansion that serves as a place of retreat and renewal for the artists who participate in our Festival and Outreach Program. The name is meant to honor the central role that Joye Cottage has played in our history, while suggesting the nature of the program itself, which has brought boundless joy to thousands of adults and children.
We invite you to share it with us.
With a surprisingly cosmopolitan feel, a long history of support for the arts, and the world-class talent supplied by Joye in Aiken, Aiken is taking its place among the Southeast’s important cultural destinations. Already, the Joye in Aiken Festival draws a large portion of its attendees from elsewhere in South Carolina and from many other states, and (by virtue of their stays with welcoming host families here) many of the world’s best young artists now regard Aiken as a second home. This vibrant mix gives Aiken a rich cultural environment, a unique place in the landscape of the arts, and a special warmth and energy not found elsewhere.
Sprawling grasslands and mild winters, tall pines and mature hardwoods fill the southwestern portion of South Carolina where Aiken is located. This charming southern city is a unique blend of progressive initiative and relaxed southern charm. In Aiken, there is an exciting business environment in a quaint little town; an advanced healthcare system staffed with friendly, hometown people; and attractive, modern housing situated among grand and historic estates to complement a thriving historical downtown shopping district.
Few cities have enjoyed as colorful and vibrant a history as Aiken. It was chartered in 1835 and named after William Aiken, president of the company that built a railroad connector from Charleston, South Carolina, to Augusta, Georgia. Soon after the completion of the railroad, Aiken became a popular health resort for Low Country residents from the coast of South Carolina who were attempting to escape both the heat and malaria that plagued the coastal region. Beginning in the 1870's, the era that truly made Aiken rich in history began as wealthy Northerners, intrigued by the equestrian activities of the area, began settling in Aiken for the winter months and Aiken became known as the Winter Colony. The new residents brought with them horses, money, polo, golf and a desire to make Aiken magnificent. Many of the buildings and facilities constructed during the era of the Winter Colony residents are still in use today.