David passed away on May 24, 2018 after battling a long period of illness. He continues to inspire Artists throughout the country through his legacy of mentoring, creative works and community service. The Manning Avenue Free Studio Art Project is a tribute to his legacy in the Sumter Community.
The Sumter Item Newspaper chronicled the history of the Manning Avenue Free Studio in an article a year after David’s passing when the original MAFS was torn down on as part of the City of Sumter’s continued renovation of the Manning Avenue area, “The end of one era can spark the beginning of another, and that’s the case for a South Sumter art studio. Once owned by David Sanders, a local artist and former educator, the Manning Avenue Free Studio was torn down on April 30 as part of the City of Sumter’s continued renovation of the Manning Avenue area.
The studio won’t be forgotten, as it holds more history in the artwork that was left behind, according to David Sanders’ son, Ivan Sanders. “It started out as a safe haven,” Ivan Sanders said. “My father had the first feed-a-child program, one of the first in Sumter, and he used to do a summer camp and taught the kids a lot of the visual arts.
With this in mind, his family and the City of Sumter knew they had to treasure and save the building’s valued contents before it was demolished. From drawing and painting to pottery and sculpture, David Sanders put his heart and soul into that studio, according to Ivan Sanders, and he saved about 25-30 art pieces inside before they were lost forever in the rubble.
“The tearing down of the building kind of symbolizes the end of one era and the start of a new one,” Ivan Sanders said…”We’re going to keep that as an icon in the community,” Ivan Sanders said, especially for the south side of Sumter.”
Since the article in the Sumter Item was published, the Manning Avenue Free Studio earned 501c3 nonprofit status from the IRS and an Advisory Board of Directors was established to share information and ideas on the best approach to move forward with the Manning Avenue Free Studio Art Project. The Advisory Board of Directors is composed of dedicated Artisans, Community Leaders, and Representatives of Local Government and Private Organizations. Their charge is to bring to fruition the vision and mission, as well as solidify the location, management, sustainable funding, staffing and programming for the Art Project.
The Manning Avenue Free Studio (MAFS) Art Project, a 501c3 non profit organization in Sumter, South Carolina is aligned with this concept and designed program goals that will build a bridge between Art and Culture, Workforce Development and Social Supports needed and required in a community whose growth has been stunted by poverty, crime, substance misuse, unemployment/under-employment and neglect.
Ideally, MAFS will be a place where Artists, Children, Youth and Adults can engage with other Creatives to enhance and acquire skills in Painting, Ceramics, Photography Creative Writing, Screen Printing, Filmmaking, Drama, Music, Sculpture/3-D Art, and Crafts. MAFS will be a Creative Place for established Artists, Artisans and a new generation of untapped talent seeking support and a safe haven.
Along with Creative Space for Artists and Artisans, the MAFS Art Project will offer Art Classes and Programs, Vocational Training/Job Developing to prepare participants ages 16-24 for opportunities to obtain competitive employment in Screen Printing and other Art related fields and a Case Management/Counseling component to address psycho-social factors that may impede success.