Musicians: NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest is back!

Tiny Desk ContestNational Public Radio's Tiny Desk Contest has had a major impact on unknown artists. What began as a small idea turned into thousands of videos from musicians in every state in the country, a national tour, two winning artists and two years of pure music-discovery joy. Entries for the 2017 Tiny Desk Contest are due January 29. How to enter:

  • Create a new video that shows you playing one song you've written.
  • Do it the way you'd perform a Tiny Desk concert: at a desk. (Any desk!)
  • Upload your video to YouTube.
  • Fill out the entry form before 11:59 p.m. ET on January 29, 2017.
The winner will play a Tiny Desk concert at NPR in Washington, D.C., appear at a taping of NPR’s Ask Me Another, and tour the United States with NPR and Lagunitas. The contest is open to undiscovered talent; you can't have a current recording contract. You must be at least 21 years old and live in the U.S. to enter. Check out the website for complete rules and requirements. Via: NPR

Photographer Cecil Williams tells students about growing up in the segregated South

Note: The S.C. African American Heritage Foundation received an Arts in Education Project grant to help fund an artist residency featuring photographer Cecil Williams. Images above: The South Carolina Arts Commission's State Art Collection includes three works by Williams. (click on an image for larger view.) From Article and photo by Joe Perry

Cecil Williams Cecil Williams LAMAR, S.C. – Life under segregation in South Carolina was not easy, but Cecil Williams was there with his camera, capturing history as it was made. The 79-year-old Orangeburg native spoke on Jan. 9 to students at Lamar High School as part of a two-day residency that included a presentation that night at Black Creek Arts Council and an appearance at Mayo High School in Darlington. The residency is funded through the South Carolina African American Heritage Foundation and S.C. Arts Commission. Williams got his first camera when he was 9 years old as his brother’s interests turned to music and playing the saxophone. Williams was instantly enthralled with the Kodak “Baby Brownie,” he said, and he figured out “a little hustle” early on. With 12 exposures, he’d go to Edisto Gardens to photograph couples. Developing the film cost a dollar. “That means I would make 11 dollars,” he said, laughing. His career and subject matter, though, soon turned to how he saw the disadvantages African-Americans faced. As part of his slideshow, Williams shared photos that reached millions of people through publications such as Life and Newsweek magazines and The New York Times, while his primary employer was JET magazine. “How was it back then for African-Americans at the time?” he said. “When people, just because of the color of their skin, don’t have the same rights as other people?” Williams was chased out of the courthouse in Orangeburg for taking a photo of a restroom marked "Colored." Not one to shy away from controversy, he photographed a family victimized by the Ku Klux Klan. He told the students a cross was burned on their lawn because the grandson was deemed “sassy” for looking at a white person. His family’s heritage is Native American, Caucasian and African-American, he said, but they were considered people of color, and when a family trip to North Carolina came to a halt because their car broke down, they couldn’t find a place to stay. “This was probably what would be I-95 today,” he said, showing a photo of the broken-down car and his family. One of his most requested photos, he told the students, was from a march in downtown Orangeburg with students holding signs that said "FREEDOM" and "DOWN WITH SEGREGATION." Another of his well-published photos depicted teachers in Elloree fired for refusing to disavow the NAACP. He recalled he was probably paid $50 for a photo, which was a significant amount at the time “and encouraged me to go forward.” One of his most exciting times was personally meeting John F. Kennedy, then a Massachusetts senator who was aspiring to become president. “I became a good acquaintance of him and shared my pictures with him,” he said, and Williams even wrangled a seat on Kennedy's campaign plane as the lone member of the press. The most pivotal time of his life and career came in 1968, several years after the landmark Civil Rights Act had been passed under President Lyndon B. Johnson. “Everything had been opened up,” he said. “But not in Orangeburg, South Carolina.” A bowling alley that was still segregated prompted a demonstration by students that resulted in a melee ending with the shooting deaths of three African-American men. “Total disregard for human life,” he said. “They injured 27 and killed three young men, who were my friends, just because they wanted to bowl in a bowling alley, and they wanted the right to demonstrate.” Whether it was the Orangeburg Massacre or demonstrations in Columbia and Charleston, Williams said, he wasn’t there solely to capture history. “At the time it was unavoidable and, you might say, the thing to do,” he said. “Had I not been there with a camera, I would have been there as a student or participant myself. So I was an eyewitness and participant.” At one point in his life, Williams said, he wanted to study architecture at Clemson University but wasn’t able to because of his skin color. He nonetheless designed several homes and has spent time with inventions as well; one of those, the Film Toaster, is something he spent years tinkering with. Used to digitize decaying negatives, the Film Toaster – patent pending – has allowed him to preserve his legacy and ensure his archives remain in good shape. With grant funding, there are five Claflin University students working with two Film Toasters to keep his historical record intact. “I’m trying to show what it was like growing up in the middle of a revolution, one of the most significant revolutions of mankind,” Williams said. “It made America and the world a better place.”

ABC Project website gets a makeover

ABC-Logo-r2The Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Project website ( has been transformed with a new design and streamlined content and will now serve as a digital hub for arts education in South Carolina. The new site includes an arts education calendar, a news portal, and resources for current and future ABC sites – schools and districts that receive ABC Advancement grants from the South Carolina Arts Commission. The website also features a directory of all ABC sites that can be sorted by county, district, or grade level. “Schools and districts become ABC sites by going through a rigorous arts strategic planning process to implement standards-based arts curriculum and integrate the arts into daily classroom instruction,” said ABC Project Director Christine Fisher. “The new website will support the work of arts educators and make it easier for parents, business leaders and community members to learn about arts education and ABC sites in their communities.” S.C. Arts Commission Arts Education Director Ashley Brown says the new website will also enhance the ABC Project’s national profile. “South Carolina moved to the frontlines of the national arts education movement by launching the ABC Project in 1987,” says Brown. “We’ve made great strides in 30 years, and now we are focused on the next level of arts education reform. Our goal is to activate the arts to ensure all students gain the vital skills needed for the 21st century, including critical thinking, creativity, and communication. This website will support that goal with quality arts lesson plans, a blog featuring national arts education experts, grants and resources, and professional development videos for educators. The site will serve as a national model for the intersection of arts and technology.” The Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Project provides leadership to achieve quality, comprehensive arts education (which includes creative writing, dance, design, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts) for all students in South Carolina. The ABC Project is cooperatively directed by the South Carolina Arts Commission, the South Carolina Department of Education and the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Winthrop University. For more information about the ABC Project, visit For more information about S.C. Arts Commission programs and services, visit or call (803) 734-8696.  

The Citadel invites artists of all ages to submit designs for 175th celebration

Citadel design contestThe Citadel invites artists of all ages to submit designs to be considered as the image commemorating the military college’s upcoming 175th anniversary. The milestone anniversary will be celebrated during the 2017-18 academic year. The winning design, which will be announced at the first home football game on Sept. 2, will grace t-shirts, banners, posters, and The Citadel magazine. The winning artist will receive $1,000. Entries are being accepted through May 1, 2017. Submission requirements:

  • All designs must be vertical in orientation.
  • All media is acceptable.
  • Entries must be submitted in one of three ways: as a high-resolution digital image, a stretched canvas, or bound foam core. Digital submissions should be emailed to
  • A signed consent waiver must be submitted via postal mail.
The winning artist will be notified by Aug. 1 and will be invited to the Sept. 2 football game against Newberry College in Johnson Hagood Stadium, where the unveiling will take place. Find complete contest details online. Via: The Citadel

Public invited to Poetry Out Loud competitions

Nicole Sadek Nicole Sadek, 2016 S.C. Poetry Out Loud champion Since school began in the fall, high school students around the state have been memorizing poetry, practicing recitation skills and polishing performances to compete in Poetry Out Loud school-level competitions. School-based winners are competing in three regional competitions taking place January 21 and 22 in Spartanburg, Columbia and Charleston. Winners from each regional competition will advance to the state finals taking place March 11 in Columbia. The competitions are free and open to the public. Regional competition schedule:

  • Region 1 (Upstate) Jan. 21, from 2 - 4:30 p.m. Spartanburg Community College Downtown Campus, 220 E. Kennedy St., Spartanburg, SC 29302 (Please use entrance at back of building.) Counties: Oconee, Pickens, Greenville, Spartanburg, Cherokee, York, Lancaster, Chesterfield, Anderson, Laurens, Union, Chester, Abbeville, McCormick and Greenwood Partner: Hub City Writers Project
  • Region 2 (Midlands) Jan. 21 from 2 - 4:30 p.m. Richland Library Main (second floor), 1431 Assembly St., Columbia, S.C. 29201 Counties: Edgefield, Saluda, Newberry, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lee, Darlington, Marlboro, Aiken, Lexington, Richland, Sumter, Florence, Marion, Dillon and Calhoun Partners: One Columbia, South Carolina Center for Oral Narrative-USC Sumter and Richland Library Main
For 11 years, the South Carolina Arts Commission has partnered with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to bring the Poetry Out Loud National Poetry Recitation Contest to South Carolina. The Arts Commission engages regional partners to promote participation and to manage regional competitions. Nearly 4,000 South Carolina students participated this year. The state champion will compete in the national finals April 24-26 in Washington, D.C. About Poetry Out Loud Poetry Out Loud, a program created in 2005 by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement. Students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage while gaining an appreciation of poetry. Last year more than 365,000 students nationwide competed. The national winner received a $20,000 scholarship.  

ABC Project selected for national music pilot to benefit rural and urban classrooms

South Carolina's Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Project has been selected to partner with the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) to pilot music curricula materials in classrooms. NAfME was named one of 21 organizations to receive a Library of Congress grant on Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS). Seventy-six organizations applied for the grant—including higher education and cultural institutions, school districts, and other educational organizations. The Library of Congress awarded NAfME a $112,527 grant. NAfME will create curricular materials for the Responding area of the 2014 Music Standards using the Library of Congress’s digitized archive of music (audio, video and notational). NAfME will work with experts in general music and choral music to create online curricular materials based on primary sources from the Library of Congress’s digital archive. The materials will be piloted in rural and urban classroom settings in partnership with the South Carolina Arts in Basic Curriculum project, led by Christine Fisher, and Baltimore City Public Schools, led by Dr. Brian Schneckenburger. The final curricular materials will be placed on NAfME’s “My Music Class®” and NAfME’s new learning management system. The new learning management system will allow NAfME to build professional development modules and instructional guides around the curricular materials for an online learning environment. “The mission of the National Association for Music Education is to advance music education by promoting the understanding and making of music by all,” said Mike Blakeslee, NAfME executive director and chief executive officer. “This generous grant from the Library of Congress will go a long way toward supporting that mission by helping provide quality music education resources for music educators.” Via: National Association for Music Education

In Search of the Hunter Family Furniture Tradition

Hunter Family Child's Rocker Hunter Family child's rocker Hand-hewn wooden chairs with woven corn shuck seats are hallmarks of the Hunter family tradition, with examples found in museums and private collections throughout South Carolina. If you are one of those lucky private collectors, McKissick Museum wants to document and photograph your treasure for your reference and for inclusion in the McKissick Folklife Resource Center archive. Bring your chair to In Search of the Hunter Family Furniture Tradition February 11 from 1 – 4 p.m. at the museum, 816 Bull St. in Columbia. Free parking is available at McKissick Museum and in the Pendleton Street Garage, where metered spaces are free on Saturdays. This free event (open to everyone, not just chair owners) features a round table discussion with Hunter family members, woodworkers, seat weavers, scholars, collectors and conservators, including Hunter family historian Brenda Hunter Hanley, chair maker Harold Hunter, restoration and woodworks specialist Charles Boykin, and Southern furniture historian George Williams. Jeremy and Rebecca Wooten of Wooten & Wooten will provide documentation photography. In Search of the Hunter Family Furniture Tradition is held in conjunction with African American History Month and with the yearlong exhibition, A Compass to Guide: South Carolina Cabinet Makers Today. In addition to the pieces in the exhibit, McKissick Museum will present a pop-up display of Hunter family chairs to compare and contrast. Co-presented by the Columbia Woodworkers and the Greenville Woodworkers Guild, A Compass to Guide explores the inspiration behind diverse woodworking traditions of contemporary South Carolina furniture makers. This exhibition represents year four of McKissick’s Diverse Voices series, which celebrates the traditional arts and folkways of the Southeastern United States. In Search of the Hunter Family Furniture Tradition is made possible through support from the South Carolina Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, James A. Brannock Personal Property Appraisals LLC, Mann Tool & Supply, Inc., Greenville Woodworkers Guild, and Carolina Refinishing Supplies. For more information, visit McKissick Museum's website or call (803) 777-7251.

Six SC students participating in National YoungArts Week in Miami

This week 166 of the nation's most promising young artists in the literary, visual, design and performing arts will converge in Miami, Fla., for the 36th Annual National YoungArts Week. These students were chosen as finalists in the YoungArts Competition held in the fall. South Carolina had six finalists from four high schools. Julia Dotson, from the Charleston County School of the Arts, is a finalist in the Design Arts category. Amber Magnuson, from the Fine Arts Center in Greenville, is a finalist in the Poetry category. Jessica McCallum, from D.W. Daniel High School, is a finalist in the Cinematic Arts category. Samuel Gee and Jamiya Leach are finalists in the Creative Non-Fiction category and are students at the S.C. Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities (SCGSAH), and Cam'Ron Stewart, also from the Governor's School, is a finalist in the Spoken Theater category. During National YoungArts Week, students take master classes and workshops from internationally recognized professionals and compete for higher honors, while enhancing their artistic development. In total, South Carolina had 13 winners, including the six finalists. While only the finalists participate in YoungArts Week, all competition winners become part of a professional network of over 20,000 alumni artists and are eligible to participate in YoungArts' regional programs as well as nominations as a U.S. Presidential Scholar of the Arts. Additional South Carolina winners are Governor's School students Joshua Simpson (Spoken Theater), James Stevens (Baritone), Helen Coats (Creative Non-Fiction), Alyssa Mazzoli (Short Story), and Aidan Forster (Short Story); Richland Two Charter High School student Kierra Gray (Singer/Songwriter); and Clover High School student Derrick Ostolaza (Cinematic Arts). "The YoungArts Competition is one of the most competitive opportunities in the nation for students exhibiting artistic excellence, with over 8,000 submissions from 42 states," said Dr. Cedric Adderley, SCGSAH president. "We're very proud that eight of the winners came from the Governor's School, as this is an esteemed accomplishment for our students, our schools and our state." Image: The Upstate's five YoungArts Competition finalists at the Atlanta airport on their way to Miami. Pictured left to right: Samuel Gee, Jessica  McCallum, Amber Magnusum, Jamiya Leach, and Cam'Ron Stewart. Via: Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities

Call for entries: 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art

Application deadline: May 31 The Gibbes Museum of Art is accepting applications for the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. Sponsored by the young patrons auxiliary group Society 1858, the prize is awarded annually to an artist whose work demonstrates the highest level of artistic achievement in any media, while contributing to a new understanding of art in the South. Entries for the annual award and $10,000 cash prize can be made exclusively online at through May 31. Artists from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia are eligible to apply. The 1858 Prize is designed to create an online archive of information about Southern artists that is available to curators, collectors, academicians, and the public. The 2016 Prize was awarded to mixed media artist Alicia Henry of Nashville, Tennessee. Past winners include photographers Deborah Luster and Stephen Marc and mixed-media artist Sonya Clark, all of whom were featured in the Gibbes 2016 spring exhibition The Things We Carry: Contemporary Art in the South. 2011 winner Patrick Dougherty will debut a site-specific installation at the Gibbes in March 2017. For more information, visit Via: Gibbes Museum of Art

City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs seeks interns

The City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs is seeking internship applicants for spring, summer and fall semesters and for the Piccolo Spoleto Festival. The Cultural Affairs Office recruits and trains more than 50 college and master’s degree candidates to serve as interns leading up to and working during the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, MOJA Arts Festival and other special events. These students go on to careers in the nonprofit sector, business, law, medicine and other areas after learning skills in marketing, logistics, communications, production and management. Students work 120 hours and are generally eligible for three hours of college credit. All internships are unpaid unless a stipend is available. Internship start and end dates are flexible. Application deadlines for internships are ongoing. Find out more and apply online. Via: City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs