Vicki Smith King Day in the Life

Vicki Smith King Day in the Life

Vicki Smith King stays busy as executive director of the Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center.

There are so many things to deal with, she said.

“It’s a lot of stuff, more than I even dreamed of when I came in, that one person does all that,” she said.

King was the owner and operator of Vicki Smith’s Dance Studio for 32 years, closing the studio in May 2016. She took over as the center’s executive director from Beth Thomas, who retired in December 2016 after 20 years in the position.

King always enjoyed the arts and making crafts in her spare time, such as painting sand dollars.

“I always thought this would be a neat, cool job to have,” she said.

When she first heard of the job opening, she jumped at the chance.

“When I saw it in the paper that Sunday, I looked at (husband) Joey and said, ‘Uh oh, I think I’m going to apply for that job,’” she said.

Thomas helped get her up to speed for her first few days on the job, but King said there’s been a bit of a learning curve for her.

“Miss Beth had done it for 20 years. And she did a great job trying to tell me what needed to be done month by month,” she said. “But she was only with me for seven days, so in seven days there was no way for her to remember every little thing that would have to come up.”

First, there are the more mundane duties having to do with the day-to-day operations of the arts center.

“I pay all the bills, do all the financial stuff, apply for all the grants, write the (requests) for city and county money,” she said.

She attends the center’s board meetings, where she takes the minutes and fills out all the paperwork. And she checks in and checks out people or groups who rent the building for events.

But then there’s the more fun and artsy stuff like planning and organizing classes, buying art supplies, lining up teachers, and getting the word out to the media and the community about classes and other events.

She secures the local artists that are featured each month and helps hang their works in the Lusty Gallery. And she lines up everything for the regular luncheons in the Terrace Gardens, sometimes even catering the events herself.

She also plans and organizes Showcase Orangeburg, the annual kickoff event of the Festival of Roses.

And she tries to spread her enthusiasm as she seeks to recruit new members for the center.

“So really and truly, it’s quite a lot to handle,” she said.

But she enjoys what she does, she said.

“Having taught dance for 32 years and dancing (as a student) for 13 years, I’ve always loved art in other forms too,” she said.

In other creative endeavors, King has been involved with the Orangeburg Part-Time Players and the Calhoun Players, as both a choreographer and an actress, and also has helped craft the props. Most recently, she portrayed Lucy Van Pelt in OPTP’s musical production of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

“Not the best singer in the world, but I do like to sing,” she said.

She said that the best part of her job is being around people of all ages.

“I’m involved with children, all the way up to adults in their 80s,” she said. “I enjoy all the interaction with people of different age groups and from different areas. ... I love that part of it.”

The part she enjoys the least is all the paperwork that goes with the job, she said.

“But I’m getting used to that,” she said.

King was born in Charleston while her father was serving in the U.S. Air Force and she moved around a bit as her dad was reassigned.

In one assignment, the family even lived in old World War II barracks on Midway Island for 18 months. There was only one car on the entire island and everybody got around on bicycles.

“So I learned to ride a bicycle very quickly,” she said.

The bright side of living on Midway was that the family got to take their vacations in Hawaii, she said.

“And that’s where I took my first dance lesson,” she said. “We have a picture of me in a hula outfit at 3 years old.”

An Air Force pilot with an engineering degree, her dad eventually retired from the service and brought his family from his last assignment in Ogden, Utah, to Orangeburg, where he worked for Applied Engineering.

She grew up in Orangeburg and began taking dance lessons from the late Tom Hendrix when she was 6 years old.

She eventually attended the University of South Carolina, majoring in early childhood education. Hendrix passed away during her freshman year. With the May dance recital only a week away, she was asked to step in and help.

“From that point, parents started saying, ‘Vicki, why don’t you take over the dance studio?’” she said.

And with the blessing of Hendrix’s family and business partner, she did just that, juggling a full class load at USC and teaching at the studio two days a week.

“They basically gave me the dance studio at the end of my freshman year,” she said.

When it came time to do her practice teaching, she couldn’t make the schedule work. So she decided to leave college and stay where her heart told her she belonged, at the studio.

She even started an award-winning dance company. And she did get back into teaching later, leading art and music classes at Calhoun Academy for 10 years before taking the arts center job. Even now, with her studio closed, she still gives dance lessons.

During her time at the University of South Carolina, she was a member of Carolina Alive, a vocal and dance ensemble. She met and fell in love with fellow member Joey King, and the two later married.

They have two sons, Cameron, 22, and Morgan, 17. As one might expect, both of them dance, she said.

In her spare time, she still likes to paint sand dollars. She enjoys cooking when she gets a chance.

But many nights will find her at the arts center, working late.

That's her real pastime these days, she said.

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