Greenville Co. Hispanic Alliance misses thousands in grants after art exhibit controversy

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GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Greenville County Council voted to redirect thousands of dollars in grant money away from the Hispanic Alliance Tuesday night, following pushback over its ‘Wings of the City’ art installation.

The Wings of the City art exhibit is a six-month installation of nine pieces of art, featuring lifelike sculptures of men in Falls Park. The art, made by a world-renowned Mexican artist, has generated both praise and complaints from community members.

Ellen Stevenson is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Hispanic Alliance.

She said that she’s seen overwhelming support for the art sculptures and that the grant money was aimed to draw people from all over to Greenville.

“We hoped that we could encourage the county council to see the value to the community in bringing the tourism back to Greenville,” Stevenson said. “And seeing the improving the economy as we come out of the pandemic.”

County Councilman Lynn Ballard was also on board with the funding.

He voted in favor due to personal reasons— having two adopted daughters from El Salvador, but also wanted to support the Hispanic Alliance.

“It’s important because the Hispanic Alliance is a very great organization that is very supportive of the large Hispanic population here in Greenville County,” Ballard said. “They do a lot of work in the community and they’re well supported by lots of companies and organizations here in town.”

But for people like Jessica Saravia, she said her opposition has nothing to do with the Hispanic Alliance.

“I just didn’t want money to go in support of these naked, occultic statues,” Saravia said.

She’s been working for weeks to get the sculptures out of the public eye.

“These statues have been put down in the middle of a very public place, in the middle of downtown, on Main Street, in Falls Park, where people who have a moral conviction against these things are forced to be exposed to,” Saravia said. “This is where we live too. We don’t want those there.”

County Councilman Joe Dill voted no to the tax allocation after commenting that he’s received lots of complaints from those within the community, and said he wants the funds sent elsewhere.

“I just didn’t feel like the money was appropriately given to them,” Councilman Dill said. “And I really wanted to take it from the place that it was put in committee and spread among those that didn’t get any.”

That money, meant for the Hispanic Alliance, will instead go to Artisphere.

The City of Greenville said the Wings of the City sculptures will remain in downtown Greenville through October.

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