Nominate your local arts hero for a Verner Award!

Recognize South Carolina innovators, supporters and advocates of the arts with a nomination for the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts — the state’s highest arts award! The nomination process is simple — just email, mail or hand deliver a letter of nomination by Nov. 1. Verner Award StatueThe nomination letter should describe the nominee’s exemplary contributions to the arts in South Carolina and address any characteristics included in the category descriptions (see below). It should include specific examples and relevant data wherever possible. The letter should be structured to answer the following questions:

  • What makes the nominee superior or extraordinary?
  • How has the nominee demonstrated leadership in the arts?
  • What exceptional achievements or contributions has the nominee made, and what has been their impact on the community, state or beyond?
  • What other information about the nominee is important to know as they are considered for the state’s highest award in the arts?
Note: a nomination letter is different from a support letter. Letters of support are not required as part of the nomination process. Nominations are accepted in these categories:
  • ARTS IN EDUCATION – open to S.C. individuals and institutions whose primary function is arts education. May include arts educators (teachers, consultants, principals, administrators), schools, school districts, college/university arts departments, etc.
  • ORGANIZATION – open to S.C. organizations that contribute to the advancement and/or support of the arts. May include arts discipline organizations, arts councils, arts advocacy groups, guilds, arts departments of organizations, educational institutions, etc.
  • GOVERNMENT – open to S.C. agencies and institutions generally described as units of state, county or municipal governments that have served their communities in outstanding ways through the arts, OR elected or appointed officials who, in their official capacities, have demonstrated notable support for the arts through leadership and public policy.
  • BUSINESS/FOUNDATION – open to SC individuals, or companies and foundations whose participation, support, and/or contributions have benefited the maintenance and growth of the arts.
  • INDIVIDUAL – open to S.C. individuals who have demonstrated exceptional achievement and statewide impact through their leadership, support, and advancement of the arts. May include arts professionals such as managers, administrators; or arts supporters such as patrons, promoters, donors, etc.
  • INDIVIDUAL ARTIST – open to S.C. artists of exceptional talent and creativity, in any discipline, whose contribution to the arts has helped guide and influence directions, trends and aesthetic practices across the state or to national or international levels
Find complete nomination guidelines online. Image: Gov. Nikki Haley with 2016 Verner Award recipients Hootie and the Blowfish


TD Bank helps SmartARTS expand in Greenville schools

From the Greenville News Article by Paul Hyde, photo by Heidi Heilbrunn

Alan Ethridge Alan Ethridge, executive director, Metropolitan Arts Council The Metropolitan Arts Council’s arts-integration program in local schools got a hefty boost with a $200,000 pledge from TD Bank on Tuesday. The program, SmartARTS, uses the visual and performing arts to engage students and improve achievement in the core academic subjects in dozens of Greenville County schools. Cal Hurst, regional vice president of TD Bank, announced the grant at a Tuesday press conference in downtown Greenville. “SmartARTS has a proven track record of success in improving academic achievement through integration of the arts into the standard curricular of our public schools,” Hurst said. The pledge will establish the TD Center for Arts Integration at MAC’s office at 16 Augusta Street. “TD Bank believes in investing in the communities in which we serve by carefully selecting projects and programs of cultural and education value,” Hurst said. The money, to be paid over several years, will be used “to continue and expand the SmartARTS program,” said Alan Ethridge, executive director of MAC, the Greenville arts umbrella organization. SmartARTS currently has a budget of $225,000 annually. That money is used to train teachers and artists to partner in the classroom. Arts integration “is a natural way to engage students and to keep their interest,” said Mary Leslie Anderson, principal at League Academy of Communication Arts. SmartARTS helps students “to be analytical, critical, reflective thinkers,” Anderson said. In a classroom with an arts-integration component, an English teacher might use landscape or abstract paintings to inspire student essays. He or she might use self-portraits throughout history to encourage students to write reflections about themselves. Science teachers might use creative movement to help younger students understand cloud formation. The arts build student confidence and teach broad “21st century skills,” said Elaine Donnan, magnet coordinator at League Academy “Students will take these creative and problem-solving skills and the confidence they get through these programs and apply them to everything they do in the future,” Donnan said. League Academy, a magnet middle school with students in grades six through eight, has a particularly strong commitment to the SmartARTS program. “We try to get as many teachers as we can to do the SmartARTS training in the summer,” Anderson said. “It really helps the newer teachers especially to understand what arts integration looks like.” SmartARTS began in 2002 with three federal grants from the U.S. Department of Education totaling $2.1 million, said Charles Ratterree, MAC board chairman and assistant director of the Fine Arts Center. Beginning in two high-poverty schools, SmartARTS subsequently expanded to meet the demand from other schools, including the Charles Townes Center, Greenville’s public school for the highly gifted. After federal funding expired in 2007, the MAC board decided to continue the program with local funding. “Since then, over $2.1 million has been raised to expand SmartARTS,” Ratterree said. “It has trained over 200 artists and more than 250 teachers during its training institutes.” More than 60 Greenville schools have participated in a SmartARTS project since 2002, Ethridge said. SmartARTS helps to bridge the gaps teachers often find between students’ different learning styles, Ethridge said. Ratterree drew attention Tuesday to TD Bank’s strong commitment to Greenville. “For MAC to be able to share in the phenomenal philanthropy of TD Bank is a real privilege,” Ratterree said. “This collaboration between the two organizations is further evidence of TD Bank’s commitment to making Greenville the best city it can possibly be. Since its founding locally in 1986, TD Bank has provided million of dollars in charitable support for Greenville-area initiatives. This is a staggering accomplishment, and one of which the entire community can be very proud.” TD Bank’s Hurst said the arts contribute substantially to a city’s economic vitality. “We recognize the value of the arts to a community’s growth and prosperity,” Hurst said. “It’s something we’ve seen vividly in Greenville.” For more information about the SmartARTS program, call MAC at 864-467-3132.


Join the SC Arts Foundation for Once Upon a Time in Aiken!

Magnolia Mare by Nanette Langer Magnolia Mare by Nanette Langer Once upon a time, Aiken, South Carolina, was the winter playground of famous folks from the Northeast, who brought their stable of horses down South and enjoyed the mild climate.  On Sunday, October 16, the South Carolina Arts Foundation is hosting an art experience highlighting the city’s illustrious history of famous residents and visitors, equestrian life, world-class historic inns, and private residences and cottages that are part of the Winter Colony. Once Upon a Time begins with a driving tour of Horseplay – Aiken’s 2003 public art project of life-size fiberglass horses painted and embellished by artists from North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. A tour of Joye Cottage (pictured above), one of Aiken’s oldest and largest winter retreats, will be led by Steven Naifeh, the owner of Joye Cottage, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and co-author of the acclaimed book Van Gogh: The Life. After viewing this magnificent home, guests will be driven to The Willcox for champagne and musings about the hotel’s history and famous guests. The evening ends with a three-course meal with wine pairings, prepared by The Willcox’s Executive Chef Regan Browell.  The setting for the dinner is a secret location -- an elegant private residence built circa 1815 and exclusively available through The Willcox. Southern Valet will transport guests to Aiken from Columbia, departing at 1 p.m. and returning by 9 p.m. Tickets are $175 per person. To reserve a ticket, contact Gwen Boykin, (803) 734-8766. Proceeds from this event benefit the South Carolina Arts Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting the education and arts development programs of the South Carolina Arts Commission. For more information about the event, contact Harriett Green, (803) 734-8762.


Every child is a dancer – skills and habits for teaching dancers along the autism spectrum

parsonsdanceIn collaboration with the South Carolina Autism Society and Columbia College, Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College is offering a one-day workshop designed to better help dance educators serve their dancers with autism spectrum disorder. The workshop takes place Sept. 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m at Harbison Theatre. Registration fee is $25 and includes lunch. The workshop will cover:

  • Sensory sensitivity in the dance studio
  • Fine and gross motor challenges
  • Behavioral expectations in the dance studio
  • Relaxed performance procedures
All participants receive a ticket to the Parsons Dance relaxed performance on November 19. Find out more and register. This seminar for teachers is part of a larger collaboration aimed at increasing and deepening the opportunities for dancers and dance fans with autism and their families to enjoy professional dance instruction and performance. These additional opportunities are available:
  • October 1 and 22 - Beginning dance workshop for dancers with autism spectrum disorder
  • November 16 - Masterclass for dancers with autism spectrum disorder taught by Parsons Dance
  • November 19 - Relaxed performance by Parsons Dance


SC Arts Commission seeks deputy director

South Carolina Arts CommissionThe South Carolina Arts Commission seeks a passionate, imaginative, and resourceful deputy director with a successful record of arts management, leadership, collaboration, cultural competency, a love of the arts, and a commitment to public service for the citizens of South Carolina. Our ideal candidate will share our mission and values, and be excited to help grow, refine, secure resources, and advocate on behalf of the programs and services that have made the Arts Commission a valuable contributor to the state's economic and educational development. This position will begin just as the agency is preparing to set ambitious new goals for the coming decade, including expanding K-12 arts education, arts entrepreneurship, and community arts services.

The deputy director:
  • Assists the executive director in long-range and strategic planning and implementation of agency goals and objectives.
  • Analyzes, develops and implements policies to accomplish established goals and objectives.
  • Assists in preparing the agency's annual budget request to the governor and the legislature.
  • Monitors, analyzes and addresses the impact of agency programs.
  • Conceives and manages innovative new projects, writes business plans and develops specific plans of action.
  • Serves as partner, liaison and agency representative to a broad constituency at a variety of state, regional, and national convenings.
  • Assists executive director with special grants and total agency budgets.
  • Manages special projects, activities and events assigned by the executive director that are typically complex and highly visible efforts with potential for statewide and national impact. Planning requires a high level of creativity, in-depth research on issues, and working effectively with entities outside the agency, legislators and funders.
The position will remain open until filled. Please read the complete job description, qualifications and application instructions thoroughly prior to calling with questions.  


Remembering Sidney Palmer

Sidney PalmerWe are saddened to note the passing of Sidney Palmer: musician, composer, conductor, photographer, director of stage and screen, trailblazer in the arts and public broadcasting. He lived an incredible life in the arts right here in South Carolina, and the Palmetto State awarded him its highest honor in the arts, the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Award, in 1981. Read the obituary.


National Endowment for the Arts nominated for a 2016 primetime Emmy Award

We were proud to partner with our colleagues at the National Endowment for the Arts to produce United States of Arts: South Carolina. Congratulations to the NEA for this Emmy nomination! From the National Endowment for the Arts

Washington, DC – The National Endowment for the Arts’ digital story series United States of Arts has been nominated for a 2016 Primetime Emmy Award in the Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series category. As part of its 50th anniversary celebration launched in 2015, the NEA embarked on a storytelling project to showcase the variety and vitality of the arts in our nation.  The effort started with a crowd-sourcing call to “Tell Us Your Story” of how the arts impact people’s lives and includes video testimonials from the general public, artists, Members of Congress, and First Lady Michele Obama. But, the key feature of United States of Arts is the collection of more than 60 three-minute episodes highlighting the stories of arts and culture; one from each U.S. state and territory, reflecting a diverse array of cultures, people, places, and ideas. From New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Chamorro culture of Guam, the Boston Ballet to blacksmithing in North Dakota, Wyoming cliff dancing to Handel’s Messiah on Skid Row, and Arizona’s All Souls Procession to Louisiana Zydeco, United States of Arts shares moving stories that highlight the extraordinary richness of the arts across the nation. “We appreciate this nomination from the Television Academy,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “These stories and this recognition by the Academy are a tribute to the power the arts have to make a positive difference in the lives of so many people and in our communities.” Solaris Media Group executive producers Rachel Klein and Kimberly Austin, and producer Bradley Glenn were recognized in the nomination. “It is a career high and an honor to work with the National Endowment for the Arts on this expansive project,” said Ms. Klein.  The series was conceived of and supervised by NEA Director of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs Jessamyn Sarmiento. Other nominees in the Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series Emmy category this year are:Inside Look: The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story from FX Networks; Jay Leno’s Garage from; A Year in Space; and Roots: A New Vision from HISTORY. The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 18.

Grantee Spotlight

Florence teacher learns the art of glassblowing with grant support

Michele Allen, a Lester Elementary School art teacher, took a glassblowing course this summer at Pilchuck Glass School, an international center for glass art education in Washington. The course was made possible through funding from the Florence Regional Arts Alliance Quarterly Grants Program, which is funded in part by the South Carolina Arts Commission, Honda of South Carolina and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of S.C. From Article and photo above by Deborah Swearingen
Michele Allen Michele Allen works with an instructor FLORENCE, S.C. – With the help of a quarterly grant from the Florence Regional Arts Alliance, a Lester Elementary School art teacher took a glassblowing course this summer at Pilchuck Glass School, an international center for glass art education in Washington.
In the 17-day July course, taught by Japanese artist Rui Sasaki, Michele Allen learned basic glassblowing as well as creative applications and finishing processes.
Of particular interest to Allen were the optical properties of glass in installations using video and sound. She said she enjoyed experimenting with shadows and light projections.
“I started doing some video series and blowing different forms and sandblasting them, having some of them mirrored or clear finish to see how video projections would appear on the actual surface of the glass and on the wall behind,” she said.
Pilchuck Glass School was founded in 1971 by renowned artist Dale Chihuly.
Allen, who entered into her fourth year today at Lester , can remember being fascinated by glassblowing as early as elementary school.
“When I was a child, every year we’d go to Arts Alive (now Arts International), and I can remember one year they had a guy outside of the (Francis Marion University) Hyman Fine Arts Center blowing glass,” she said. “I remember my mom had to come pull me away. … It’s so interesting to watch.”
But she took her interest to the next level last year after attending the South Carolina Art Educators Conference in Beaufort. From there, she applied to a craft school in North Carolina called Penland, where she took a glassblowing course in the summer of 2015.
“I really enjoyed it, but it just whet my appetite,” Allen said. “It wasn’t enough. So I started investigating other places where I could try to go and further my education as far as the glass goes.”
Glassblowing is a technical process. It involves inflating molten glass into a bubble with the aid of a blowpipe.
When the glass is heated up, it reaches temperatures of more than 2,000 degrees. Allen said it’s important to remain calm and aware while glassblowing.
“You have to be very, very careful,” Allen said, showing off a small burn on her arm from her time at Pilchuck. “… It’s almost like a dance, because you have a partner with you to help. There are other people working at different benches at the studio, so you constantly have to be aware of everybody around you and what they’re doing as you’re working with the hot material, as well.”
Allen hopes to continue her studies in the Pee Dee but first has to find a studio where she can work. Some day she would love to take after her first glassblowing instructor Jason Minami, who leads a nonprofit organization called GlassRoots that aims to teach young people the art of glassblowing.
“I would like to possibly do something like that one day where I could actually transfer this knowledge and teach other people," Allen said. "But I’ve got to get good enough first.”


Fellowships for visual arts, craft, media production and screenwriting

Application deadline is November 1. The South Carolina Arts Commission is accepting applications for the next round of Individual Artist Fellowships. South Carolina artists working in visual arts, craft, media: production or media: screenwriting are invited to apply for the 2018 awards. Each Fellow receives $5,000. Fellowships recognize and reward the artistic achievements of South Carolina’s exceptional individual artists. Fellowship awards are made through a highly competitive, anonymous process by out-of-state panelists and are based on artistic excellence only. The awards bring recognition that may open doors to other resources and employment opportunities. Fellowships are awarded in four disciplines each year. The application is now an online process. Find complete guidelines and application instructions online. The deadline to apply is Nov. 1, 2016. Related: Who won the most recent round of fellowships?


Fiber arts program launched to train Upstate designers

From The Greenville News Article by Nathaniel Cary, photo by Bart Boatwright

Textile executives from multiple Upstate companies banded together to fund a new program they hope will train a new generation of homegrown textile designers to carry on the textile heritage of the Carolinas. Many of those designers may come right from Greenville, trained at a new first-in-the-nation program run by the Greenville Fine Arts Center. Greenville County Schools officially launched the program Wednesday. The inaugural group of 24 students, who each auditioned for entrance into the program, will take a course-load built around design and use of fibers in the textile industry. Roy Fluhrer, Fine Arts Center director, conceived of the program years ago and approached business leaders three years ago with a plan for a program similar to an architectural design program that the center had started. Fluhrer called it a way to give the county’s bright artistic students creative futures built in South Carolina. The program drew interest from local companies who wanted to train and retain talented designers in the Upstate. Five companies each contributed $25,000 while Greenville County Schools agreed to fund the salary for a teacher and paid for renovations for two portable buildings that now sit adjacent to the Fine Arts Center on Pine Knoll Drive in Greenville. Sage Automotive Interiors in Greenville, Glen Raven Custom Fabrics in Anderson, Springs Creative in Rock Hill, Alice Manufacturing in Easley and Inman Mills helped purchase equipment for the program, Fluhrer said. A fiber arts program in Greenville made sense for local businesses to support, Randy Blackston, vice president of operations at Glen Raven, said. “There are billions of dollars of capital investment in the textile industry within 30 minutes of this school,” Blackston said. "More importantly, there are thousands and thousands of workers who work in the textile industry within 30 minutes of this school." The textile industry is beset by the preconceived notion that it’s a “dirty industry” whose reputation has been tainted by the number of jobs that have disappeared overseas, Dirk Pieper, president and CEO of Sage Automotive Interiors, said. “The arts and design are a very important part of our business so the opportunity to connect with students of the high school age and get them involved early in our industry of textiles and automotive textiles is a fantastic opportunity to develop homegrown talent here to support our business,” Pieper said. They’re working to change the perception of textiles, which is now high-tech, use new fabrics and design methods and are going to be a $56 billion industry employing more than 500,000 people in the United States, Pieper said. “It’s thriving and of course it’s significant in South Carolina and in particular, the Upstate,” he said. The industry in the Upstate is facing what leaders are calling a “silver tsunami” of retiring baby boomers and will need a new generation of skilled employees to fill their jobs. “Workforce development is the single most important issue in terms of supporting the manufacturing industry,” he said. As the manufacturing industry rebounded post-recession and the state’s leadership attracted new jobs, “It’s our role now to create the associates that are going to be able to work in these operations,” Pieper said. Fiber arts students will learn to weave, knit and construct cloth. They will dye fabric, shape fabric, cut fabric into conceptual art forms or works of art, April Dauscha, fiber arts instructor, said. Inside the remodeled portables, an open concept design splits the rooms into learning zones. A small classroom space with mannequins sits near the entrance with four computers connected to a photo printer. Tables with scraps of fabric, yarn and other materials and a large design table as well as a small kitchenette and laundry area complete the space. Students will spend two hours each day in the studio learning from a curriculum designed with help from professors at N.C. State University, one of the nation’s leading textile programs. The curriculum was built so students who complete the fiber arts program will have college credit that will either offset the amount of time it will take to complete the N.C. State bachelor of science degree or will allow students to study abroad or accept internships to gain added experience during their college years, Nancy Powell, professor in the College of Textiles, said. The fiber arts program moves the school district closer to its goal of graduating students who are college or career ready, Superintendent Burke Royster said. Companies involved in the program will interact with the students regularly, will facilitate visits to textile manufacturers and will offer internships, Pieper said. Image: Greenville Fine Arts Center fiber art student Eileen Selby, left, talks with Greenville School Board member Kenneth Baxter Sr. during a tour of the school's new one-of-a-kind industry-sponsored fiber arts program.


Thomas Hudgins

Lights, cameras, commercials: Clemson performing arts staff and students find opportunities on television

Clemson students on outdoor set Clemson students work on an outdoor set. Images courtesy of Lingo Films and Skyline Post (click image for a larger view.) by Thomas Hudgins Technical Director Matthew Leckenbusch and his students work all season long to bring sets to the Brooks Center stage for Clemson Players productions. But Leckenbusch also finds time for a different kind of production: commercials. Leckenbusch and some of his students have worked on a number of locally produced television advertisements. Many are for companies such as RIDGID tools and Jackson and Perkins, but he also worked on a project in support of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. He got his start through connections at the Warehouse Theatre and has been involved in the field since 2013. He frequently works with Lingo Films and Skyline Post, Greenville-based production companies that are contracted to produce content and hire personnel for these projects. For each job, Leckenbusch will receive a call three weeks in advance of the film shoot. The sponsoring company will send him storyboards and other images, and, in return, he will send a quote and drafts of his ideas for the set. After the company approves both, Leckenbusch begins to build, incorporating any changes along the way. The shoots generally consist of one or two ten-hour days, though the parks department project was an exception. Leckenbusch spent two weeks traveling to more than 15 state parks as props master. Two teams of personnel covered ground to put together the advertisement for the department’s “Come Out and Play” campaign. For this shoot and for others, Leckenbusch serves as props master, overseeing tools and other props used during filming. He also keeps track of continuity, making sure the placement of materials and action on camera is consistent from shot to shot. “It’s a lot like theatre, only faster,” Leckenbusch said of the process, though there are some key departures from stagecraft. Unlike his work with the Clemson Players, Leckenbusch steps in at the end of the creative process rather than the beginning. He is also not responsible for building an entire theatrical world, but only what is within the “box” of the camera lens. “In theatre, I’m worried about masking parts of the set and the audience seeing something that’s not consistent,” Leckenbusch said. “In film, I’m only worried about what’s on screen. It doesn’t matter if the edge of the set isn’t finished, because it’s not in the shot.” The proximity of the viewer is also a factor. A theatrical set is meant to be seen from several to sometimes dozens of feet away. On film sets, cameras have to zoom in as close as a few inches. “I’m buying a little upper-scale molding for a film set, whereas, in theatre, I’m buying less expensive molding because the budget is different,” he said. “But I think the attention to detail is the same.” The commercials have ranged from exterior to interior shots, and from rooftop to crawlspace shots. Leckenbusch says the most challenging shoots, in regard to props, are those with sets that blend interior with exterior, such as window shots. These require plants and bushes to give the illusion of being truly outdoors. Regardless of the medium, both film and theatre set out to tell a story, even if that story is only 30 seconds long. “A set is a set,” Leckenbusch said. “It doesn’t matter who the audience is. The main idea is the same. My work is not the main focus, but it is part of the world. If the set doesn’t match everything else, it doesn’t work.” Leckenbusch said he enjoys the variety of these projects, and looks for ways to involve students. Jonathan Bull and Liz Haynes are two performing arts students who have participated in several of these commercials. Haynes has assisted Leckenbusch in tasks ranging from mixing five-gallon buckets of fake snow to repairing molding. She said it has been eye opening to be on the other side of a commercial. “We work hard on the set for days, make last minute changes, and the shot may only be a total of a few seconds of screen time,” she said. “We have even sprinkled dust in just the right pattern around a tool. It’s a different thought process than theatre, but it uses the same skillset.” And getting to see her handiwork onscreen is an added bonus: “It is so cool to not only get to see how it all happens, but to be a part of it. It’s fun to see a commercial I worked on and tell my mom, ‘I built part of that room,’ or ‘I’m sitting right off camera with a spray can of haze.’” As film production continues to expand throughout Georgia and the Carolinas, Leckenbusch and his students will keep pursuing new and exciting film opportunities. So the next time you turn on your television, stick around for the commercials. You never know when you will catch a glimpse of their work. View a RIDGID Tool commercial that includes set work by Clemson staff and students: Image above: Clemson student Liz Haynes works on a commercial set. Thomas Hudgins is director of marketing and communications for the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts in Clemson.