May 11 is South Carolina Arts Awards Day! Join us!

Wednesday, May 11 is South Carolina Arts Awards Day – a celebration of the arts in South Carolina! The day begins at 11 a.m. in the lower lobby of the State House with awards presentations to recipients of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Artand the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards. The awards presentation is free and open to the public. Other events include a ticketed luncheon and the South Carolina Arts Gala, which features an art sale of original works by some of the state’s finest contemporary artists AND a dance party with The Root Doctors! The South Carolina Arts Gala takes place 7:15 p.m. at 701 Whaley in Columbia. Tickets are $75 per person and available online at or by calling (803) 734-8696. Presented by the South Carolina Arts Foundation, the gala is a fundraiser that benefits schools and communities around the state through the South Carolina Arts Commission’s arts education and arts development programs. Last year, the S.C. Arts Foundation contributed more than $55,000 to programs such as artist fellowships, arts education and artist training. The gala art sale will offer paintings, glass, pottery, sculpture, fiber arts and other original works of art by South Carolina artists, plus “arts experiences” created to showcase cultural and culinary arts. Prior to the gala, recipients of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts and the Folk Heritage Awards will be recognized at a concert taking place at 6:15 p.m. at Southside Baptist Church, 702 Whaley St. The concert will feature a reading by Verner Award recipient Nikky Finney and a bluegrass and gospel tribute to the late Harold Clayton, who is receiving a posthumous Folk Heritage Award. Overview of events (find more at

  • 11 a.m. – State House awards presentation to recipients of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts and the Folk Heritage Awards; free and open to the public.
  • 12:30 p.m. – luncheon hosted by McKissick Museum at Michael’s Cafe, 1620 Main St., Columbia. Tickets $20; reservations required by May 4. Email or call Jane Przybysz, (803) 777-3712 or
  • 6:15 p.m. – concert featuring bluegrass and gospel; recognition of award recipients, Southside Baptist Church, 702 Whaley St. Free and open to the public.
  • 7:15 p.m. – South Carolina Arts Gala, featuring an art sale and dance party with The Root Doctors, 701 Whaley St., Tickets $75; purchase online or call (803) 734-8696.


Verner Award highlights: City of Greenville and the Columbia Museum of Art

The City of Greenville and the Columbia Museum of Art are front and center in providing quality arts experiences for residents and visitors in their communities.  Read more about these recipients of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts below, and find out more about all of the activities taking place as part of the South Carolina Arts Awards on May 11. The City of Greenville, Government

City of GreenvilleFrom the public art on nearly every corner to the many museums and galleries that call the city home, Greenville is a haven for the arts. However, as recently as the mid-1980s, Greenville was a far cry from its current status as the Upstate region’s cultural epicenter. The city’s Main Street was a four-lane road that bisected a tired downtown district. As business after business along Main Street either closed or fled to the suburbs, demolition crews moved in to raze the vacant buildings left behind. Realizing the future of its urban core was in jeopardy, the city launched an ambitious downtown revitalization project. In addition to narrowing Main Street, planting trees, and establishing commercial anchors, the project emphasized the arts. It was this focused effort to revitalize downtown that fostered the public-private partnership responsible for creating the Peace Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 1999. Since then, the arts have been thoroughly integrated into multiple facets of the community fostering an environment that, today, abounds with public art installations, performing and visual arts venues, festivals celebrating nearly every arts discipline, and strong community-based arts organizations. Though this booming arts scene is exceptional in and of itself, the crux of the achievement is how the City of Greenville used the arts not only to help reverse the city’s downward trajectory but to nurture its unique sense of place.
The Columbia Museum of Art, Organization
columbiamuseumofartcompositeThe Columbia Museum of Art is a centerpiece of cultural life in downtown Columbia and has played a key role in the revitalization of the city’s Main Street corridor. From its beginnings in the historic Taylor House in 1950 to the move to Main Street in 1998, the museum has transformed from a historic house museum to a major regional art institution serving more than 135,000 patrons each year. These visitors come to experience world-class collections of American, European, Asian and contemporary art exhibited in 20,000 square feet of gallery space and anchor the museum’s contributions to downtown tourism and the city’s economy. The museum has placed education at the core of its mission and programs, with initiatives focused on engaging youth audiences, developing free programs for K-12 educators, college students, families and children. Programs for adults and seniors include opportunities for artistic growth and skill development. The museum has also pioneered programs that place the museum at the center of the city’s social scene with events and activities that entertain while they educate, combining visual and performing arts. The museum's outreach efforts include multiple affiliate groups that focus on unique interests and offer their own range of programs. The Columbia Museum of Art embraces the role of the modern museum as a catalyst for both progress and meaningful conversations with the community it serves.


Verner Award highlights: Joye in Aiken and Phifer-Johnson Foundation/The Johnson Collection

Joye in Aiken and the Phifer-Johnson Foundation/The Johnson Collection of Spartanburg are excellent examples of organizations maximizing their roles as innovators, supporters and advocates of the arts for their local communities and beyond. Read more about these recipients of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts below, and find out more about all of the activities taking place as part of the South Carolina Arts Awards on May 11. Joye in Aiken - Arts in Education

Joye in AikenSince its founding in 2009, Joye in Aiken (originally Juilliard in Aiken) has leveraged its one-of-a-kind partnership with the Juilliard School in New York to bring more than 200 Juilliard students, faculty and alumni to present arts education programs and events for South Carolina children in Aiken and surrounding counties, typically reaching between 3,000 and 4,000 students per year. While serving a cross-section of children from all backgrounds, the outreach program pays particular attention to underserved neighborhoods, selecting schools on the basis of need. All outreach activities are provided free of charge, including transporting groups of students from their schools to centralized events. Although the centerpiece of Joye in Aiken’s education outreach is its annual weeklong music festival that incorporates in-school performances, centralized programs and master classes for area students, its education programs continue throughout the year to include extended artist residencies and summer camps. It has formed a partnership with the Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities in Greenville to provide individual instruction for its students in master classes with Juilliard artists. It has a long-standing partnership with East Aiken School of the Arts, Aiken County’s only Arts in Basic Curriculum School, where Joye in Aiken has contributed to that school’s successful integration of the arts across all areas of instruction, and where arts integration is proving to produce impressive outcomes in student achievement. In all of its activities, Joye in Aiken continues to uphold the standards of excellence established by The Juilliard School, as well as Juilliard’s commitment to public service.
The Phifer-Johnson Foundation/The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg - Business/Foundation
Phifer-Johnson FoundationWhen Susu and George Johnson’s personal art collection outgrew their home and office space, they decided to share it. What began as an interest in paintings by Carolina artists in 2002 has grown to encompass over 1,200 objects that chronicle the cultural evolution of the American South. Three scholarly books have been published around the Johnson Collection’s holdings. Each of the books is accompanied by a touring exhibition that travels to leading museums in South Carolina and across the South for two to four years. In contrast to most touring shows, the Johnsons share these exhibitions with all participating museums at no cost. These efforts to provide broad access to the arts for free have attracted national attention from such prominent publications asAmerican Art Review, The Magazine Antiques and Garden & Gun. A website for the collection features images and notes on hundreds of Southern artists and a searchable catalog of the collection’s library of over 4,000 volumes. The collection’s curator serves as a visiting scholar and lecturer at local colleges, and students are invited to apply for curatorial internships. A gallery in downtown Spartanburg presents regular exhibitions from the collection and loans artwork to a variety of public and educational institutions, making the collection highly accessible to the public. The Johnsons’ philanthropic commitment to community, arts and culture extends beyond the Johnson Collection to support local and statewide arts programs and initiatives. The Phifer-Johnson Foundation is a major benefactor of the South Carolina First Novel Prize, which is establishing a national profile for South Carolina’s most promising writers. They have been important to the success of Spartanburg’s Chapman Cultural Center, a centerpiece in Spartanburg’s active cultural scene. They are key supporters of arts organizations and activities that add vibrancy and attract youth and talent to their community, including the Hub-Bub Artist in Residence Program, Ballet Spartanburg, the Music Foundation of Spartanburg, Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Brookgreen Gardens, and more. Equally dedicated to arts advancement and arts accessibility, the Johnsons generously share their vision, energy, passion and resources to benefit the arts in South Carolina.


Countdown to SC Arts Awards Day – highlighting awards recipients

SC Arts AwardsWednesday, May 11 is a big day for the arts in South Carolina! The day begins at 11 a.m. in the lower lobby of the State House with awards presentations to recipients of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Art and the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards. The awards presentation is free and open to the public. Other events include a ticketed luncheon and the South Carolina Arts Gala, which features an art sale of original works by some of the state's finest contemporary artists AND a dance party with The Root Doctors! Overview of events (find more at

  • 11 a.m. - State House awards presentation to recipients of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts and the Folk Heritage Awards; free and open to the public.
  • 12:30 p.m. - luncheon hosted by McKissick Museum at Michael's Cafe, 1620 Main St., Columbia. Tickets $20; reservations required by May 4. Email or call Jane Przybysz, (803) 777-3712 or
  • 6:15 p.m. - concert featuring bluegrass and gospel; recognition of award recipients, Southside Baptist Church, 702 Whaley St. Free and open to the public.
  • 7:15 p.m. - South Carolina Arts Gala, presented by the South Carolina Arts Foundation as a fundraiser to support S.C. Arts Commission programs, including arts education and artist development. The gala features an art sale and dance party with The Root Doctors, 701 Whaley St., Tickets $75; purchase online at or call (803) 734-8696.
Meet two of this year's Verner Award recipients (and check back each day for additional spotlights): Mary Edna Fraser, Artist
Mary Edna FraserThe pioneering work of Charleston artist Mary Edna Fraser has been collected and exhibited worldwide. Captivated by the complex patterns of land and water when viewed from high above, she has been exploring aerial landscapes for more than a quarter century. Using her own aerial photography along with satellite photography, maps, and charts, Fraser composes pieces in the ancient textile medium of batik using modern dye technology. Her stunning works on silk have incredible visual impact by virtue of their scale and compelling designs. Fraser's interest in the environment enables her to bridge two areas often seen as opposites: art and science. Her art not only offers a creative depiction of watersheds and landscapes but communicates a broader message of conservation and stewardship. Her working relationship with Dr. Orrin H. Pilkey of Duke University resulted in two widely acclaimed publications illustrated with Fraser's batiks: A Celebration of the World's Barrier Islands, and Global Climate Change: A Primer. Fraser is a widely recognized master artist with numerous awards and a growing international reputation, having lectured abroad in countries including Australia, Indonesia and Taiwan. She has had more than 100 one-woman exhibitions of batiks and monotypes, including venues such as the National Academy of Sciences and Duke University Museum of Art. She was the first woman to have a solo exhibition at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Her work is in a number of important private and public collections, most notably the Elliot School of International Affairs  and  George  Washington  University,  the  Heinz  Center  for  Science,  Economics  and  the Environment in Washington, D.C., the New England Aquarium in Boston, the American Embassy in Thailand, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Through her work, Fraser has presented the natural beauty of South Carolina's coastline to the world.
Betty Plumb, Individual
Betty PlumbFor the past 27 years, Betty Plumb has been the principal voice for public support for the arts in South Carolina. As the executive director of the South Carolina Arts Alliance, she transformed the grass-roots advocacy organization into the most influential and effective champion of the arts in the public arena in South Carolina. In S.C. and across the country, her name is synonymous with exemplary arts leadership and effective arts advocacy. While much of her effort has been directed to maintaining sustainable funding for national and state arts agencies, she has been remarkably successful in advocating for funding and public policies that support quality arts education, strong local arts organizations, issues important to artists’ careers, and developing networks of arts advocates. These networks are continually strengthened by Plumb’s willingness to share resources, conduct workshops and serve on panels to educate nonprofit leaders on best advocacy practices. She is also active in recruiting younger advocates and has lectured in arts management programs at the College of Charleston, USC, and Winthrop University. Plumb has twice been listed among the 50 Most Powerful and Influential Leaders in the Nonprofit Arts in America by Barry’s Blog, a website published by the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF). She received the Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award from Americans for the Arts and the Medal of Honor in the Arts from Winthrop University. Thanks to Betty Plumb’s dedication and hard work, the arts are thriving in South Carolina.
The 2016 Verner Awards are sponsored by Colonial Life.  

Grantee Spotlight

Project seeks to document Orangeburg County musicians

From the Orangeburg Times and Democrat

Throughout this academic year, the South Carolina Arts Commission 2015-16 Folklife and Traditional Arts Grant has supported a project to document histories and living traditions of music in Orangeburg County. Project Director Dr. Peter Hoesing calls the effort the Orangeburg Musicians’ Integrative Community (MUSIC) Project. Hoesing serves as an assistant professor of music history and ethnomusicology in the Department of Music at Claflin University. Two research assistants on the project from Claflin’s Alice Carson Tisdale Honors College will continue to work with Hoesing throughout the Orangeburg Festival of Roses this weekend. Esther Jones of Orangeburg and Melonie Bryant of Lake City will join Hoesing in continuing to collect surveys from musicians of all stripes, whether amateur, semiprofessional or professional.
Beyond the questions on their survey of musicians, they are out to answer persistent, challenging inquiries about this vast county: Who are the musicians here, and how might they like to enhance their interactions with each other? Orangeburg has excellent proximity to artistic and other cultural amenities of larger nearby cities. It has something even better and more accessible than all of that, however: This enormous county boasts a tremendously diverse and talented cadre of musicians and other artists. Their credentials range from stints with James Brown and the Count Basie Orchestra to New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the Apollo Theater to Nashville stages and studios. This weekend’s annual Festival of Roses features many of those artists. The festival entertainment began Thursday evening with Showcase Orangeburg and continues with DORA’s street dance on Friday and on the festival stage throughout the weekend. Hoesing claims the community frequently has erroneous ideas about the number of musicians who live and make music here because people know so little about them and they often know little about each other. “What we often notice outside of public performances is that musicians here tend to be quite insular,” Hoesing said. “We stick to our own stylistic and social cliques, rarely understanding that a unified arts community makes us all stronger.” Hoesing said the exceptions to this observation are not limited to Claflin’s annual “Messiah” performance. Local gospel “shed” events and other jam sessions, for example, bring diverse influences into common spaces. Freddie Ford, Louis “Big Lou” Thomas and Men of Distinction frontman David Kitchings have been among the major proponents of such gatherings. Since his arrival at Claflin in 2012, Hoesing has been making music and speaking with musicians in the community. In 2014, he launched the Orangeburg MUSIC Project with two main motivations. First, he wants to generate and energize artistic and cultural links between the Claflin family and the surrounding community. He creates those links by training Claflin undergraduate students in cultural survey and interviewing techniques. A summer research grant from Claflin in 2014 supported Hoesing’s effort to build a cultural survey instrument focused on the musicians here. After building and launching the survey with music and sociology double major Akilah Morgan of Los Angeles, Hoesing integrated the survey instrument into his world music course. Using the initial survey data that Hoesing and Morgan collected, Morgan got her first few opportunities to present research at local, regional, and national gatherings of music scholars. For Morgan, “working on this project meant having the opportunity to meet interesting people and to hear and see them making music in diverse places.” She said, “The project opens up the perspectives of students to learn new things about our adopted city.” As the first university-based research infrastructure in the state to open field research opportunities on this scale to undergraduate students, the Orangeburg MUSIC Project seeks to provide such opportunities to many more Claflin students. However, its aims go well beyond the university. The purpose of collecting this data is to create new platforms for collaboration, foster community interaction and measurably enhance the unique artistic fabric of Orangeburg County.
Image: Gospel group Appointed


Auditorium a ‘genesis’ for cultural maturation in Greer

From The Greenville News Article and photo by Michael Burns

The city of Greer is embarking to create an arts district with up to $100,000 in renovations to the old Greer City Auditorium, a building deeded to the city in 1983 and rented for years by a since-closed church. Within a month four to seven small studios are set to be rented, cheaply, to artists approved by city officials, and the theater seating up to 299 will eventually stage plays and performances, if City Council approves later phases of work as expected. Greer Auditorium Greer City Auditorium (Photo: CITY OF GREER) A small park on the property of about four acres at the intersection of Snow Street and Davis Avenue, just south of downtown Greer Station, will be connected with walking and biking paths to the central business district and neighborhoods throughout the area, as officials envision. It’s all about the maturation of a community that’s revitalizing, already, and planning for a bright future, according to Mayor Rick Danner. City officials hope the auditorium will serve as the first stroke of a cultural masterpiece. “Arts bring you alive,” said Greer Cultural Arts Supervisor Robin Byouk. “Anyone can just go through their day-to-day life. Art is the layer on top that makes life worth living.”
he property was first developed nearly 100 years ago as a Wesleyan Camp. Before and after it was loaned to two churches, it served as the first home of the South Carolina Children’s Theatre from 1987 to 1990, and the city assumed control of it again in 2015, when the International Cathedral of Prayer was in two years’ default of insurance payments. Others lobbied the city for use of the building since that time, but as officials weighed possibilities for implementing residents’ desires in the community master plan adopted last year, they saw opportunity. It’s exactly the kind of use the Trade Street Neighborhood Association sought when group president and local resident Allison Ringer and others met with city officials a few months ago. “That’s why most of us moved to this area in the first place, just for the downtown and how accessible it is,” said Ringer, who lives just down the road with her husband and three children. “It’s very exciting. It’s exciting that’s so short-term, too, because so much of the city planning looks to the next 15 to 20 years.” Security enhancement and restroom expansion are part of the work already approved by City Council. Parks and Recreation Director Ann Cunningham said more renovation will be proposed for the city’s next budget cycle. “Baseball, basketball and football are stronger than ever in Greer based on the demand for city programming and the supply of local athletes,” said City Councilman Lee Dumas. “Fortunately, as the city has grown, our ability to offer more services to our citizens has increased. I have a 5-year-old with zero interest in sports. She enjoys drawing, singing and acting. Many like her need an outlet for their interests and support developing their skills and talents in the arts, just like I enjoyed in sports. I'm excited about the new facility on Snow Street and the wealth of opportunities it will provide for expansion of the arts in Greer.” The building will serve as the home of the Greer Cultural Arts Council, which provides an array of events, activities and programs. “I foresee things happening here like First Fridays in downtown Greenville, where we can open up the facility and the parking lot and have other artists come in,” said Byouk. “We want to invite the community in to see what’s going on here. I think we’re going to be very transparent. Artists don’t live in a bubble. If they do, they’re not successful. We want people to come in, see what’s going on and become part of it. That’s the only way we’re going to grow.” Renovations are being paid for with funds raised by the city’s 2-percent hospitality tax on prepared food, a fund that’s afforded projects such as Country Club Road Park, Suber Road Park, renovations to Stevens Field and Victor Park and events such as Freedom Blast in the years since it was implemented by referendum. Danner hopes the auditorium will help lure private investment of a similar nature to the area while improving quality of life for local residents and visitors. The development of an arts district reaching southward from downtown was a priority identified by residents during the formation of the city’s master plan. “I’ve mentioned to a couple of people that creating an arts district is more than just designating it,” Danner said. “Those kinds of things typically happen organically, but they need a genesis somewhere. I think this could be the genesis.” Artists offered studios with large windows overlooking the park space will apply through a process being hammered out by the city, Byouk said. Two-dimensional artists seem a natural fit for the spaces, through sculptors, potters or such may find welcome homes. Plans call for an open gallery space near the building’s main entrance. Wiring and insulation to come in a later phase of work would enable the theater and its large stage to join the Cannon Centre and the Harley Bonds Center as venues for performances. “I grew up in the Augusta Road area, so I kind of saw that whole transformation all around me growing up in downtown Greenville,” Ringer said. “I went to Charlotte for college, and I wasn’t going to come back to Greenville, but there were so many awesome changes going on that we decided to stay. "We weren’t planning on staying in Greer very long, either. My husband was working in Spartanburg at that time and my family lived in Greenville, so we were like, ‘OK, we’ll just meet in the middle in Greer,’ and then Greer started making so many great changes that we said, ‘OK, we’ll just stay.’ “Here we are 10 years later. We’re so excited.” Image above: Greer Cultural Arts Supervisor Robin Byouk surveys City Auditorium with Parks and Recreation Director Ann Cunningham


Pat Conroy to be celebrated at public memorial event

From The Beaufort Gazette Article by Stephen Fastenau; photo by Todd Bennett - KRT

Pat Conroy and Cassandra King The late Pat Conroy is shown with his wife Cassandra King Fans and friends of late Beaufort author Pat Conroy will have another chance to say goodbye next month. Conroy will be celebrated with a public memorial at 5 p.m. May 14 in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. Conroy’s wife, Cassandra King, as well as friends and fellow writers Bernie Schein, Ellen Malphrus, Patti Callahan Henry, John Warley and historian Walter Edgar are expected to attend and participate. Singer Marlena Smalls will perform some of Conroy’s favorite songs. Conroy died March 4 at age 70 following a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Planning for the public memorial began about the time of his funeral. People who weren’t able to make the funeral or stayed away fearing the large crowd will now have another setting to remember Conroy, said University of South Carolina Press director Jonathan Haupt, who worked closely with Conroy through his Story River Books imprint and helped organize the memorial. “Certainly the need has not gone away,” Haupt said. “The loss still seems raw and new for a lot of people.” The best-selling novelist will also be recognized with the annual Pat Conroy Literary Festival, held Oct. 20-23 this year in Beaufort. The schedule for the festival should be complete in the next few days, Haupt said. After a successful days-long celebration for Conroy’s 70th birthday this past fall, organizers decided to continue the event. The lineup looks to be as much a celebration of Conroy as it is a nod to the Southern writing and novelists he worked to foster. “He was a very generous person,” USC Beaufort Center for the Arts director Bonnie Hargrove said. As opposed to the weekend-long celebration in the fall that will feature a full slate of fellow writers and family members, the list of presenters for the May memorial needed to be short. Haupt wanted people who could speak directly of what Conroy meant to his friends and fans and keep the program within about an hour. All the participants were willing, he said. Warley is Conroy’s friend, author and former classmate at The Citadel. Conroy met Malphrus during a trip to Maine, pushed her to finish her book “Untying the Moon” and was there as Malphrus co-chaired his birthday festival last year. Callahan Henry was also a participant in the birthday festival and is a fellow best-selling author. “He crossed that wide river and with him he took so much light, so much brightness, a brokenness that he turned to beauty,” she wrote on her Facebook page after Conroy’s death. “The world is better for having him and dimmer without him.” Any fear of the outdoor memorial becoming too somber should be erased when Conroy’s longtime friend and noted jokester Schein begins to speak. Schein was fond of telling people he actually wrote Conroy’s books, once told Conroy the president wanted the author to visit the White House and caused Conroy to dodge calls from Barbara Streisand — fearing a Schein prank — when she wanted to turn his “Prince of Tides” into a movie. “I think we’re all still mourning in our own way, but there is a need to laugh and celebrate and remember,” Haupt said.

Grantee Spotlight

Engaging Creative Minds’ Summer STEAM Institute receives national recognition, donations

Engaging Creative Minds (ECM) of Charleston recently received two exciting phone calls. The first was from Microsoft announcing a donation of $15,000 in cash and $4,128 in Microsoft software in support of ECM’s Summer STEAM Institute. The second phone call was from the National Summer Learning Association, notifying ECM that the organization is a semi-finalist for the New York Life Excellence in Summer Learning Award. “I am so proud of our team, because we are one of only 17 sites selected from all across the country to be a semi-finalist for this prestigious award,” said Robin Berlinsky, executive director of Engaging Creative Minds. “Then to be given this incredible opportunity from Microsoft to expand and improve our computer science and coding curriculum at all our camp locations is just amazing.” Microsoft is also excited about the partnership. “In order to fulfill our company mission of empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, the Microsoft Philanthropies YouthSpark initiative is partnering with organizations that are empowering young people—particularly underserved communities, women and ethnic and racially diverse populations—providing them access to critical computer science education,” said Jeff Tozzi, Microsoft general manager, State & Local Government, East Region. “Together with Engaging Creative Minds, we can help more young people develop computer science skills that will prepare them for tomorrow’s global economy, regardless of their career path." The New York Life Excellence in Summer Learning Award recognizes outstanding summer programs or models that demonstrate excellence in accelerating academic achievement and promoting healthy development for young people between pre-kindergarten and 12th grade. The awards are given annually based on an application process that reviews the program’s history, mission, goals, operations, management, staff development, partnerships, results, and sustainability. Interviews are conducted with a small group of semi-finalists followed by site visits to a select group of finalists to observe program activities before announcing the awards. Winners will be honored at the National Summer Learning Association conference in Seattle in October. “With Microsoft’s support, I believe we have a really good shot at bringing this award home to South Carolina,” said Berlinsky. Engaging Creative Minds provides six weeks of arts integration summer camps for rising 3rd – 8th graders at St. Paul Elementary School in Clarendon School District One, thanks to a grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission. ECM also has camps at the College of Charleston and The Citadel. Each of the six-week summer camps engages students in activities that support STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) curriculum. Campers work alongside professional artists, educators, cultural organizations and athletic providers to explore weekly themes like robotics and forensic science. Groups are small for more 1:1 interaction between adults and campers. “The goal is making sure every child is engaged, happy, and having so much fun they don’t even know they are learning!” said Berlinsky. In addition to the funding it receives from the South Carolina Arts Commission, Summer STEAM Institute receives support from Youth Endowment for the Arts (The Charleston Marathon) and Boeing SC. The mission of Engaging Creative Minds is to inspire the creative and innovative potential of all students to achieve academically and become imaginative, adaptable, and productive adults resulting in stronger communities and an increasingly competitive South Carolina workforce. Engaging Creative Minds is a 501-c-3 organization. Via: Engaging Creative Minds, National Summer Learning Association


GP McLeer named new executive director of SC Arts Alliance

George Patrick McLeerGeorge Patrick (GP) McLeer, Jr., administrator of the City of Mauldin's Office of Cultural Affairs, has been named to succeed Betty Plumb as executive director of the South Carolina Arts Alliance, SCAA President Rose Sheheen of Camden announced today. McLeer officially will take the reins of the statewide nonprofit arts advocacy and service organization on July 1, with Plumb assisting in the transition until September 1, including the relocation of the SCAA office from Rock Hill, Sheheen said. "The Arts Alliance Board completed a five-month search for its new executive director, and we were quite pleased to attract a number of highly qualified candidates, which made the selection process exceedingly difficult. However, GP was the board's unanimous choice," Sheheen said. "Not only has he been a board member since 2011, most recently as first vice president, but he also brings knowledge, enthusiasm, vigor, youth and passion to a most important position in the art world of South Carolina. It is with excitement and confidence that the Art Alliance welcomes GP as its next leader!" Sheheen continues, "He has extensive experience working with government officials and a broad spectrum of artists and arts agencies. As the sole employee of a nonprofit arts center and local government office, he has been responsible for everything from booking acts to grantwriting and even operating the lights during performances." Plumb, who has headed the SCAA for 27 years, achieved state and national prominence as a leader in advocacy for public funding of the arts and arts education. In recent weeks, she was announced as winner of the 2016 Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Award, in the individual category; the "Together for Good Advocacy Award," from the S.C. Association of Non Profit Organizations (SCANPO); and the S.C. Theatre Association's advocacy award. McLeer thanked Plumb "for her years of service in building the organization to the level it is today. The next chapter for the SCAA would not be possible without her having written the one before it. I am excited and honored to be selected as the next executive director for the SCAA. I have lived in South Carolina my whole life and have seen how the arts have positively impacted the lives of my family, friends and community. My passion has always been to help ensure that the arts can thrive in my community, so to be able to expand that passion to all communities in South Carolina is something I am ecstatic about. I look forward to working with the board of directors to continue advancing the arts for all South Carolinians, and to partnering with artists, arts administrators, advocates and community leaders all over the state to help the arts grow in South Carolina." McLeer's current responsibilities include managing the Mauldin Cultural Center, a repurposed 1937 school that hosts 30,000 people and more than 1,500 events annually, and handling all city-wide marketing efforts. He was responsible for starting the Railroad Concert Series, an annual free series featuring locally and nationally known performers; managing the Mauldin BBQ Cook-Off, a signature community event; and creating the Maudlin Public Art Trail, a 10-year continuous cycle of public art installations. Before working for the City of Mauldin, he was executive director of the Mauldin Cultural Center, a nonprofit organization. McLeer, 27, is a 2010 graduate of the College of Charleston's Arts Management Program. He lives in Fountain Inn.


Jewelry created for History Channel’s ‘Vikings’ to be featured at S.C. Arts Gala

Fans of the History Channel's Vikings take note: you can go home from the South Carolina Arts Gala wearing Lagertha's barrettes or Ragnar's bracelet. Viking actress Katheryn Winnick as Lagertha looking fierce in her Danny Hansen-designed hair pieces. Batesburg-Leesville craftsman Danny Hansen, who has designed and created much of the distinctive jewelry worn by the popular drama's actors, will take part in the South Carolina Arts Gala art sale on May 11. In addition to bronze hair adornments and a silver dragon bracelet, Hansen will offer a silver Triskele (an ancient Celtic symbol) pendant and a bronze dragon belt buckle set -- pieces similar to items Hansen created for Vikings.

Hansen shipped off his bronze dragon-head bracelets to Vikings creators on a whim. The bracelets quickly became a featured object worn by main characters Ragnar and Aethelstan. The show's fans took notice and bracelet sales soared on Hansen's Crafty Celts website.

According to Hansen, the handmade barrettes "came out of a collaboration with the costuming department for Vikings. They needed hair pieces for a costume concept they had using our Hound and Doe cloak clasps. We developed these designs, as well as our Stag cloak clasp, into hair barrettes." Hansen has first-hand knowledge of how those costume concepts are realized -- he and his son, Kelley, traveled to Ireland to work as extras on the show. Presented by the South Carolina Arts Foundation, the art sale will also offer paintings, glass, pottery, sculpture, fiber arts and other original works of art, plus arts "experiences" created to showcase cultural and culinary arts.The sale is the perfect time to meet and mingle with artists as you ponder which piece to add to your art collection. All proceeds benefit the arts in schools and communities around the state through the South Carolina Arts Commission’s arts education and arts development programs. Last year, the S.C. Arts Foundation contributed more than $55,000 to bolster programs such as artist fellowships, arts education and artist training. The South Carolina Arts Gala, the celebration of the South Carolina Arts Awards, takes place May 11 at 7:15 p.m. at 701 Whaley St. in Columbia. Prior to the gala, enjoy a concert featuring bluegrass and gospel, plus recognition of Verner and Folk Heritage Award recipients. The concert and awards recognition take place at 6:15 p.m. at Southside Baptist Church, 702 Whaley St. Tickets are $75 per person and may be purchased online with a credit card or check, or by calling (803) 734.8696. Reserve your tickets today!