2017 Folk Heritage Award recipients announced

The South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina announce the 2017 Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award recipients:

The awards will be presented May 2 during a ceremony at the Statehouse. The 11:30 a.m. ceremony is free and open to the public. Peggie Hartwell’s quilts are a means of engaging with her community and in contemporary issues. Her quilts are inspired by diverse sources, from her childhood memories of rural South Carolina, to current issues, like the plight of children walking from Central America to the U.S., or hunger and gang violence. Her fabric artwork is in the collections of major museums across the U.S. and has been exhibited throughout the country. She has been featured on PBS’s Reading Rainbow and several documentaries about quilting. Hartwell is founder and instructor for Voices on Cloth, which promotes the art of quilt making with a focus on working with K-12 students via classroom programs. The Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival Association engages and educates the public about Gullah Geechee history, culture, traditions, and sweetgrass basketry, as well as Gullah Geechee contributions to the social, economic, political and domestic development of America. Begun in 2005, the annual Sweetgrass Festival provides basket makers the opportunity to promote and market their work and share their stories. In conjunction with the Festival, The “Real” Taste of Gullah Banquet offers a more intimate and personal cultural experience, featuring a Passing on the Tradition ceremony, gospel music, and Gullah folklore and cuisine. The Festival’s Gullah Geechee Seminar presents scholars who facilitate, interpret and provide information about Gullah Geechee history and heritage, as well as contemporary issues in the community. SCAFA’s multi-pronged approach ensures that the sweetgrass basketry tradition will continue as a cultural, economic and educational resource for generations to come. Traditional music is a way of life for Dan and Norma Hendricks, connecting them to their roots, their community, and to generations of young people they have mentored. Their traditional music advocacy shines bright in their mentoring and support of other musicians, especially young people. The Hendricks have been instrumental in the creation and success of such programs as Young Appalachian Musicians (YAM), Preserving Our Southern Appalachian Music (POSAM), the Sweet Potato Pie Kids, and more recently, the Am Jam, a weekly gathering for amateurs at Pickens’ Hagood Mill. Many of their protégés have gone on to form their own bands, record CDs, win competitions, attend college as music majors or minors, and become instructors themselves. Dan and Norma Hendricks have brought bluegrass and traditional music to the forefront of their mountain community through their enthusiastic participation and advocacy. Also on May 2, the award recipients will be honored by the S.C. Arts Foundation during the South Carolina Arts Award Luncheon, a fundraiser supporting the programs of the S.C. Arts Commission. Tickets are $50 per person. For more information about the S.C. Arts Awards and the luncheon, visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com. The Folk Heritage Award is named for the late Jean Laney Harris, an ardent supporter of the state's cultural heritage. The award was created by the legislature in 1987 to recognize lifetime achievement in the folk arts. The artistic traditions represented by the award are significant because they have endured, often for hundreds of years. For more information about the Folk Heritage Awards and the ceremony, contact Laura Marcus Green, at (803) 734-8764. Also visit the McKissick website at http://artsandsciences.sc.edu/mckissickmuseum, or the S.C. Arts Commission website at SouthCarolinaArts.com. About the Folklife and Traditional Arts Program The Folklife and Traditional Arts Program is designed to encourage, promote, conserve and honor the diverse community-based art forms that make South Carolina distinct. The major initiatives of the program serve both established and emerging cultural groups that call South Carolina home. About the South Carolina Arts Commission The South Carolina Arts Commission is celebrating 50 years of public support for the arts. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. The Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts through staff assistance, programs, grants and partnerships in three areas: arts education, community arts development and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696. About McKissick Museum The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum fosters awareness and appreciation of the diversity of the American South's culture and geography, attending particularly to the importance of enduring folkways and traditions. It accomplishes these aims through original research about Southern life, material culture, natural science, and decorative and fine arts by holding exhibitions, issuing publications and by public programming. For more information, visit http://artsandsciences.sc.edu/mckissickmuseum.

Joe Riley to receive McNair Award at SC Arts Awards Luncheon

Joe Riley The Honorable Joseph P. Riley, Jr. The South Carolina Arts Foundation will honor Joe Riley, former mayor of Charleston, with the 2017 McNair Award for his dedication in ensuring that the arts continue to play a vital role in our communities. The McNair Award will be presented at a luncheon showcasing the South Carolina Arts Awards, which also honor recipients of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts and the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards. The luncheon takes place in Columbia May 2, beginning with an art sale at 11 a.m. at the USC Alumni Center, 900 Senate St.. The luncheon follows at 12:30 p.m. Established in 2007, the McNair Award is named for the late Governor Robert E. McNair, who signed legislation to create the Arts Commission in 1967 to “ensure that the arts continue to grow and play an ever more significant part in the welfare and educational experiences of our citizens." Originally presented posthumously to Governor McNair, the award continues to honor outstanding leaders who have built on the legacy of the award's namesake: working diligently to make South Carolina a place where the arts thrive for the benefit of all South Carolinians. Luncheon tickets are $50. Reserve tickets online or by calling (803) 734-8696. (Verner Awards and Folk Heritage Awards will be presented May 2 at 11:30 at the Statehouse. The awards ceremony is open to the public.)  

Two artists with South Carolina ties receive Guggenheim Fellowships

Two artists with South Carolina ties have been awarded Fellowships by The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Clemson resident Ron Rash has received a Fellowship for Fiction; Columbia native Paul Rucker has received a Fellowship for Fine Arts. Both are previous South Carolina Arts Commission Fellows: Rash in 1990-91 for Poetry and Rucker in 1996-1997 for Music Performance. A total of 173 Fellowships were awarded to a diverse group of scholars, artists, and scientists. Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, the successful candidates were chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants in the Foundation’s 93rd competition. The great variety of backgrounds, fields of study, and accomplishments of Guggenheim Fellows is one of the unique characteristics of the Fellowship program. In all, 49 scholarly disciplines and artistic fields, 64 different academic institutions, 27 states and the District of Columbia, and three Canadian provinces are represented in this year’s class of Fellows, who range in age from 27 to 79. The amounts of grants vary. Ron-Rash_RisenHC_authorphotocreditAshleyJones-Clemson-World-magazine-2 Photo by Ashley Jones Ron Rash grew up in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, and received a B.A. in English at Gardner-Webb College and an M.A. in English from Clemson University. He is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Finalist and New York Times bestselling novel Serena, in addition to five other novels, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, The World Made Straight, Above the Waterfall, and The Risen; five collections of poems; and six collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award, and most recently, Something Rich and Strange. He has twice been a recipient of the O. Henry Prize. He has taught two years of high school, 17 years at a two-year community college and the last 13 years at Western Carolina University. Paul-Rucker-Fine-Arts-2017-photograph-Wendy-Johnson Photo by Wendy Johnson Paul Rucker (Baltimore, MD and Seattle, WA) is a visual artist, composer, and musician who often combines media, integrating live performance, sound, original compositions, and visual art. His work is the product of a rich interactive process, through which he investigates community impacts, human rights issues, historical research, and basic human emotions surrounding particular subject matter. Much of his current work focuses on the Prison Industrial Complex and the many issues accompanying incarceration in its relationship to slavery. He has presented performances and visual art exhibitions across the country and has collaborated with educational institutions to address the issue of mass incarceration. Presentations have taken place in schools, active prisons and also inactive prisons such as Alcatraz. His largest installation to date, REWIND, garnered praise from Baltimore Magazine awarding Paul “Best Artist 2015.” Additionally, REWIND received “Best Solo Show 2015” and “#1 Art Show of 2015” from Baltimore City Paper, reviews by The Huffington Post, Artnet News, Washington Post, The Root, and The Real News Network. Rucker has received numerous grants, awards, and residencies for visual art and music. He is a 2012 Creative Capital Grantee in visual art as well as a 2014 MAP (Multi-Arts Production) Fund Grantee for performance. In 2015 he received a prestigious Joan Mitchell Painters & Sculptors Grant as well as the Mary Sawyer Baker Award. In 2016 Paul received the Rauschenberg Artist as Activist fellowship and the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, for which he is the first artist in residence at the new National Museum of African American Culture. This fall, Rucker's work will be featured at the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in its inaugural exhibition, Declaration. Since its establishment in 1925, the Foundation has granted more than $350 million in Fellowships to over 18,000 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates, Fields Medalists, Turing Award winners, poets laureate, members of the various national academies, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, and other internationally recognized honors. The Guggenheim Fellowship program remains a significant source of support for artists, scholars in the humanities and social sciences, and scientific researchers. For more information on the Fellows and their projects, visit the Foundation’s website.

Florence is the newest South Carolina Cultural District

The South Carolina Arts Commission has named downtown Florence as the newest state-recognized cultural district. A cultural district is an easily identifiable geographic area with a concentration of arts facilities and assets that support cultural, artistic and economic activity. The cultural district designation was created by the S.C. General Assembly and Gov. Nikki Haley in 2014. The City of Florence and the Florence Regional Arts Alliance worked with local leaders and Arts Commission staff to develop a map of cultural assets and a strategic plan for the district. City officials will use the cultural district designation to attract visitors and residents to downtown and promote the area as a hub of arts and culture. "This cultural district designation from the South Carolina Arts Commission is a tremendous honor," said Florence City Council member George Jebailey. "This designation recognizes the hard work done over the last 17 years by a community committed to a unified vision to create a detailed master plan establishing a purposeful clustering of multiple arts venues in downtown Florence. Through the collaboration of the many public-private partners working together on this unified vision, we have seen the master plan become a reality leading to this important designation. We anticipate that many new opportunities will now be available for us to promote both the City of Florence and the entire Pee Dee Region as an important destination for arts, culture and entertainment." “Receiving the S.C. state recognition of a designated cultural district will assist in our ongoing marketing of downtown Florence as a tourist destination,” said Florence Downtown Development Manager Ray Reich. “The Vision 2010 Initiative that was created in 2000, as well as the 2010 Downtown Master Plan, envisioned downtown as a place featuring a string of cultural pearls. The first pearl in the string was the library, followed by the Florence Little Theatre, and then the FMU Performing Arts Center, followed by the new museum, as well as many other cultural amenities that have been developed in recent years in our beautiful and historic downtown. This designation affirms that we are well in our way to achieving the vision of a string of cultural pearls. However, this is just the beginning, and while we have created an outstanding foundation, the work will not stop as we continue to work together as a community to live up to our new community brand of being a community full of life and moving full forward with more amenities.” Florence Regional Arts Alliance Executive Director Sandy Cook added, “We are very excited for this award, which shows Florence’s continued commitment to preserve and support the arts.  We thank all of our stakeholders for their collaborative efforts in making this happen.” The participation of those stakeholders is key, according to S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May. “Non-arts businesses and organizations are important pieces of a cultural district. A successful cultural district attracts creative enterprises, such as galleries and theatres, whose patrons want to dine out and shop, so nearby retail and other businesses benefit from that increased economic activity.” The cultural district program was developed after reviewing successful programs in other states and gathering input from leaders representing several sectors, including economic development, tourism, local government and the arts. Florence joins Beaufort, Bluffton, Columbia’s Congaree Vista, Lancaster, Rock Hill and Spartanburg as S.C. cities and areas that have earned cultural district status. Other states with similar cultural district programs include Colorado, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Texas. S.C. cities, towns and rural communities interested in exploring a cultural district designation are invited to contact their Arts Commission county coordinator or call (803) 734-8696. Complete guidelines are available at www.SouthCarolinaArts.com. About the S.C. Arts Commission The South Carolina Arts Commission is celebrating 50 years of public support for the arts. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. The Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts through staff assistance, programs, grants and partnerships in three areas: arts education, community arts development and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.

Charleston artist Herb Parker wins South Arts Fellowship for South Carolina

OLYMPIA DIALOGUE interior by Herb Parker OLYMPIA DIALOGUE interior by Herb Parker As part of the inaugural Southern Prize and State Fellowships, South Arts has selected nine visual artists from the region to each receive a State Fellowship award of $5,000. The nine artists – Pete Schulte of Alabama, Noelle Mason of Florida, Masud Olufani of Georgia, Becky Alley of Kentucky, Joey Slaughter of Louisiana, Coulter Fussell of Mississippi, Stephanie J. Woods of North Carolina, Herb Parker of South Carolina, and Georgann DeMille of Tennessee – are now in consideration for the Southern Prize awards: the $25,000 Southern Prize and a two-week residency at the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences, or the $10,000 Finalist Prize. The State Fellowship awards will be recognized and the winners of the Southern Prize will be announced at a ceremony on April 24 in Atlanta. The South Arts Southern Prize and State Fellowships acknowledge, support and celebrate the highest quality artistic work being created in the American South. From January through March 2017, over 850 visual artists submitted work for consideration, and a panel of jurors reviewed each application with the sole criterion of artistic excellence to determine the nine State Fellows. A second panel of jurors is currently reviewing the State Fellows to determine the two Southern Prize awardees. “There is a deep well of artistic talent throughout our region,” said Susie Surkamer, executive director of South Arts. “From traditional basket weaving through experimental 3D printing, the creative minds around us are producing brilliant work. The Southern Prize and State Fellowships are our way of celebrating the richness and diversity here in our backyards and shining a light on them for the region and the nation to see.” The State Fellowship juror panel included Erin Gilbert, independent curator from Chicago; Mark Scala, Curator with the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville; Lauren Haynes, Curator of Contemporary Art with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AK; Jan Davidson, retired director of the John C. Campbell School of Folk Arts in Brasstown, NC; and Gia Hamilton, director of the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans. The Southern Prize panel of jurors includes Miranda Lash, curator of contemporary art at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville; Dominique Nahas, independent curator and critic in Brooklyn; and Monica Moses, editor in chief of American Craft in Minneapolis. Visual artists living in South Arts’ nine-state region and producing crafts, drawing, experimental, painting, photography, sculpture, and mixed media work were eligible to apply. The awards will be presented to the artists as unrestricted funds. “The Southern Prize and State Fellowships will impact the careers of artists in our region,” continued Surkamer. “These fellowships and awards are part of the support system allowing artists in the South to make a living in our region.” The Southern Prize and State Fellowships are supported by Alabama State Council on the Arts, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Joanne Calhoun, Citizens for Florida Arts, Inc., Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, Cyberwoven, Evans General Contractors, Arnold and Fran Gellman, Georgia Council for the Arts, Kentucky Arts Council, J. Martin Lett, Louisiana Division of the Arts, CJ Lyons’ Buy a Book, Make a Difference, MailChimp, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, Mississippi Arts Commission, North Carolina Arts Council, Scott and Terry Peterson, South Carolina Arts Commission, Tennessee Arts Commission, Pat and Susie VanHuss, and powered by The Hambidge Center.

About South Arts

South Arts, a nonprofit regional arts organization, was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to address the role of the arts in impacting the issues important to our region, and to link the South with the nation and the world through the arts. For more information, visit www.southarts.org

S.C. Arts Commission names Milly Hough deputy director

Milly Hough Photo by Emily Brown

After serving as communications director for nearly 11 years, Milly Hough has been named deputy director of the South Carolina Arts Commission.

Hough will work with Executive Director Ken May to develop and implement long-range and strategic plans, agency programs, events, and special projects. She will evaluate the impact of programs and oversee reporting requirements for national, regional and state stakeholders. Hough will also provide administrative and programmatic support to the Board of Commissioners, as well as to partnership organizations. “After a lengthy and thorough search process that attracted a large pool of well-qualified candidates, we chose Milly because of the outstanding combination of skills, knowledge, and experience that she brings to this assignment,” said May. “Her understanding of the agency’s work and her communications background will serve us well as we celebrate 50 years of public support for the arts and set ambitious new goals for the next decade. I very much look forward to working with Milly in her new role.” Before joining the Arts Commission in July 2006, Hough spent 20 years working in communications and fundraising positions for nonprofit organizations and state agencies, including as communications coordinator for the S. C. School Boards Association, director of external affairs for the S.C. Department of Archives and History, director of development for Baptist Medical Center Foundation and director of marketing and communications for the State Museum Foundation. She received her BA in Journalism from the University of South Carolina. “I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to expanding my range of responsibilities,” Hough said. “I’ve enjoyed my work at the Arts Commission, and I’m eager to take on this new leadership role.” For more information about the Arts Commission’s programs and services, visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.

Free grants writing workshop in Allendale April 20

South Carolina Humanities, in partnership with USC Salkehatchie, the South Carolina State Library, and the South Carolina Arts Commission, is hosting a free grants writing workshop and invites staff and volunteers of S.C. cultural organizations and nonprofit agencies to attend. Admission to the workshop is free, but pre-registration is REQUIRED. This workshop is especially targeted to the six-county Promise Zone region (Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper). The workshop will be held April 20, from 10 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. at the Conference Room in the Education Building of USC Salkehatchie’s West Campus in Allendale (address: USC Building #849, 266 Spruce Street, Allendale, SC). Staff, officers, and board members of SC Humanities, South Carolina State Library, and the South Carolina Arts Commission will lead participants in a general grants writing overview, will highlight funding opportunities for cultural projects and other cultural resources, and can offer feedback on project ideas and application drafts, time permitting. This workshop offers a unique learning opportunity for cultural organizations of all sizes and provides the opportunity for partnership building between local organizations with similar missions. REGISTRATION for the Grants Writing Workshop for Community Cultural Projects is REQUIRED. Please REGISTER HERE. Schedule: 10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. – Welcome and Introductions 10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. – Overview of General Grants Writing Techniques 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – Overview of Resources and Grants for Community Cultural Projects South Carolina Arts Commission – Susan DuPlessis, Program Director South Carolina State Library – Dawn Mullin; Reference Librarian SC Humanities – T.J. Wallace, Assistant Director 12:15 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. – Questions, Networking, and Partnership Building 12:45 p.m. – Adjourn For more information, please contact T.J. Wallace at 803-771-2477 or tjwallace@schumanities.org. Special thanks to USC Salkehatchie for hosting the workshop!

The Nick has become a cultural powerhouse in state capital

The Nickelodeon's 2017 Indie Grits festival will kick off with a keynote address by Favianna Rodriguez, a transnational interdisciplinary artist and cultural organizer, who will share a message about the power of art to inspire social change. Rodriguez will speak April 19 at the Nickelodeon Theatre, 1607 Main St., Columbia. A reception will take place at 6 p.m., followed by Rodriguez’s talk and the premier of an Indie Grits film block, “El Sur.” Find the complete Indie Grits schedule online. From The Post and Courier Article and photos by Adam Parker

Nickelodeon2AdamParkerWhen the theater opened in 1936, it was one of five on Main Street in downtown Columbia between Blanding and Gervais streets. Now the old Fox Theater is all that’s left, a reminder of the days when Hollywood made escapist entertainments for those enduring the Great Depression and, soon after, World War II. It lay dormant beginning in 1987. Then in 2012, the Nickelodeon moved in after a big renovation project was partially completed. It was a momentous occasion. In April 2015, the renovation was finished, resulting in a second theater for screenings and other events, such as music and variety shows. The team had succeeded in raising $5 million to fund the makeover. The Nickelodeon, or The Nick as locals call it, had been located in a bank building just south of the Statehouse, but now it was in the heart of things. It harks to a time in the city mostly forgotten, and it symbolizes the new Columbia. In an unlikely turn of events it has become a cultural cornerstone of the city, one that has contributed to the revitalization of Main Street as a primary commercial and civic corridor and site of cultural activities. "It's the most adventurous venture in Columbia now," said Ken May, director of the South Carolina Arts Commission. The Nick was founded in 1979 by Carl Davis and Linda O’Connor. It started out as an art house for film lovers, a bohemian space for the alternative and academic crowd. Over the course of 30 years a lot changed: The movie business went digital, its commercial aspirations grew, distributors changed their practices. It was no longer sufficient just to screen indie and foreign films, not if The Nick was to become a vital force in the community. So, in 2007 Andy Smith was hired to start a festival. The Indie Grits Festival was an experiment in multidiscipline programming, an event that combined cinema, visual art exhibitions, live music and creative technology. The experiment has been working. It has drawn increasingly large crowds and expanded its offerings. In the past couple of years, organizers have assigned a theme to the festival. In 2015, the festival explored how technology influenced art-making and culture, naming the event “Future Perfect.” Last year, the theme was water, apropos after the historic 2015 Midlands flooding. The title was “Waterlines.” This year, the theme is Latin American culture, and the title is “Visiones.” The idea first was broached in the fall of 2015, with the intention of organizing a weekend event. But some grant money, input from artists, the powerful “Waterlines” experience and, finally, the myriad ways the theme resonates politically and culturally today convinced The Nick team to go big with “Visiones.” The festival runs April 20-23.

Expanding ideas

The thematic approach was adopted when Seth Gadsden joined The Nick team four years ago. Gadsden, who was an art major at the College of Charleston and co-founded Redux Contemporary Art Center in downtown Charleston in 2003, brought a new dimension to the Columbia enterprise. He helped further integrate the visual arts, and he took the lead in educational outreach. Late last year, The Nick announced that it was expanding its media education programming. Already it was providing resources to media artists, running a filmmaker-in-residence program and working with students in Richland School District One on an art project called “Come Around My Way” that delved into social justice issues. Now it would launch Indie Grits Labs, introduce the new initiative “TakeBreakMake” that provides a safe space for up to 15 young LGBT artists, and contribute to the festival. Indie Grits Labs is no small venture. It signifies a moment of exponential growth, one that acknowledges formally that The Nick is about much more than movies. It is part of a larger reorganization. Smith was promoted to chief executive officer of the Columbia Film Society, the umbrella organization under which The Nick and Indie Grits Labs operate. A new Nick director will oversee the cinema side of things. As a result of the change, Smith, Gadsden and their colleagues, all of whom have many interests, are better able to spread their wings. “Everyone is connected to more than film,” Gadsden said. Smith said the emergence of The Nick as an arts generator and incubator coincided with market and technology forces. “At the same time as our move (to Main Street), Netflix is exploding,” he said. “We saw more interest in media education, we saw it as a way to deepen our involvement with the community. It was our chance to get into the creation of work, to help develop critical viewing skills.” Gadsden pointed out that the school-age kids enrolled in “TakeBreakMake” or “Come Around My Way” might not have normally stepped foot inside an independent theater. Now some of them are volunteers. “Kids would just show up,” he said. So the staff found them something to do. “It’s a safe place for people in a fairly conservative part of the country, where people could come together and explore ideas.”

Having 'Visiones'

If the “Future Perfect” Indie Grits theme demonstrated the great promise of the festival, it was “Waterlines” that brought The Nick to a new level. Before the terrible flooding of October 2015, the team was thinking about adopting a “river” theme. It troubled them and others in Columbia that the Congaree River was so underutilized and underappreciated. Other cities such as San Antonio, Pittsburgh and Brooklyn had redeveloped their waterfronts for public use. But not much was happening along the banks of the Congaree. After the flood, water became the inevitable theme, but now with a large dose of urgency. “How do we respond to what just happened?” the Indie Grits team asked itself. A $50,000 grant from the Central Carolina Community Foundation helped them decide. A cohort of local artists was invited to a brainstorming session. “It became a group-think, collaborative project,” Gadsden said. “I learned a lot about what you can do with a group of artists if you support them and put them in a situation where (they can thrive).” “Waterlines” became a model that Amada Torruella, curator of “Visiones,” happily adopted. She identified artists in South Carolina to form the 2017 cohort, seeking not just artists, but artists who are teachers and innovators and community organizers, 11 Latinos of various backgrounds who met monthly to formulate the festival. The process began with optimism in the air: How was the Latino community changing the Southeast? After the presidential election, though, the tone darkened, for now Latinos were perceived by many as a threat, Torruella said. “We had to channel the negative energy,” she said. The cohort of artists includes a few Mexicans, two Colombians, two Ecuadorians, a Chilean and a Puerto Rican. Disciplines include photojournalism, music, filmmaking and more. “Since the project is pretty heavy on identity, one filmmaker is making an 'Identity Map' for people to follow,” Torruella said. The map will lead patrons through the outdoor showcase from one video installation to another. Screen printing workshops will be open to all in the Latino community, because “art should be as accessible as possible,” Torruella said. A puppet troupe from Mexico will perform. Food trucks will be strategically positioned downtown. And the musical headliners Lambchop and Curtis Harding will perform. For the film component of the festival, 80 movies are scheduled (from 400 entries received). About one-third of them are by Latino filmmakers or have Latino themes. The goal is to create a public space where people can share stories that humanize them.

'Very communitarian'

The Nick’s staff constantly is thinking strategically about artistic and community purpose and direction. They team up with nonprofits such as the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, which serves the Latino population, schools and government. “They’ve just become this real groundbreaking organization, not just in the city, but in the state,” said May, of the Arts Commission. “It’s quirky, interesting.” Ambitious, too, able to secure significant funding from groups like the Ford Foundation, he said. “Andy’s a very thoughtful, smart young guy who makes an impression on people like that,” he said “They’re very communitarian, but also committed to adventurous art. When you see something like that coming out of a place like South Carolina, I think it gets extra points. ... They just keep doing new things. And they’re restless.” This probably accounts for the growing popularity of The Nick and its eclectic programming. Smith said he and his colleagues always are asking questions, challenging themselves: “How can we strategically use the arts to make our community stronger, to make Columbia, to make South Carolina, a better place to live?” It’s an important consideration, especially in light of current trends. “The support structures (for the arts) in our state have really eroded,” Smith noted. Funding is always uncertain. The Richland-Lexington Cultural Council shut down a couple years ago. So the Columbia Film Society is positioning itself as a granting organization. And The Nick provides an opportunity to bring festival artists back into the fold after Indie Grits events are finished. Today, The Nick has an annual budget of $1.3 million, half of which is derived from earned income. Its membership, now at more than 3,000 individuals, keeps setting records. “We’re still scratching the surface of who we serve in the community,” Smith said. Image above: Amada Torrulla (left) is curator of "Visiones," this year's Indie Grits Festival. Seth Gadsden (center), is co-organizer of the festival and in charge of The Nickelodeon's education program. Andy Smith (right) is executive director and CEO of the Columbia Film Society, which oversees the Nick.

From dancer to silversmith, it’s all about creativity

Jo Ann Graham is one of the artists whose work can be purchased at the April Showers Art Party April 5. Tickets are $75. From The Island News Article by Aileen Goldstein; photos by Bob Sofaly

Her gracefulness is obvious. Her slender build is a reminder of her past career.  Her moves are free-flowing and smooth. She is understated, yet hard to ignore. joanngrahambraceletJo Ann Graham has the movements of a dancer. Naturally brilliant in chemistry, her parents sent her to college to major in that field. After two years, Graham left college, married and became a potter, creating and shaping clay and developing her own glazes and finishes. She eventually realized, though, that she was not meant to be a potter. A self-proclaimed closet dancer, Graham came to the understanding she was a dancer. “It was something that was meant to be and I had a natural propensity towards it. I loved choreographing. I loved creating,” the Dataw Island resident said. Graham went on to teach dance. She became the first dance consultant in the South Carolina Department of Education and helped to build the dance programs in all the schools in South Carolina and developed a dance curriculum. “I think there is a connection. It is all about centering and being centered for me.  You have to center your clay and in dancing, you are centering yourself.  You have to turn around and spin,” she said as she waved her arm gracefully through the air. When she was physically unable to demonstrate moves for her students, Graham was forced to realize she needed to end her dancing career. After a series of health-related setbacks, Graham needed a new focus. While taking a class at a local scrapbook store, she created a necklace from the wire provided while other people in the class documented memories with paper and stamps. She realized she liked working with metal, especially the shaping and texturing of the material. Ironically, she was unaccustomed to wearing jewelry, as dancers refrain from wearing it. “I spent my whole life living in the world of dance and everything was ephemeral and I didn’t have anything to hold on to. Now I have this to hold on to.” Interestingly enough, she now has people come up to her booth at art shows and comment on her work, remarking how fluid a piece may be. Graham takes these moments as an opportunity to connect to the customer and share her past. “I am thoroughly convinced that my dance career is influencing whatever I make, whatever comes out of me,” she said. She also continues to seek new information and add to her vast array of skills.  Upon learning that welding school is free to those over the age of 65, she signed up for classes and developed a technique to solder sterling silver to steel. Most recently, she learned how to put gold onto steel to create eye-catching cuffs. “I am so fascinated by what I can do with metal,” she said with a twinkle in her eye. All of her work starts out as flat sheets of sterling silver or steel and all is hand-forged to create one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry. Her favorite part of working with metals and creating is the surprises that come up during the process. She never knows where the gold will fuse with the steel and what the unique outcome will be on each piece. Graham has come full circle and realizes the value of her chemistry background in regard to her current career. “If you look deep enough, everything is connected,” she said. Graham flourishes in the solitude of her home studio and is equally energized at art shows when meeting customers. She has received many awards and accolades from the art shows she has participated in. Graham came up with the name of her business, Silver Lining Dezigns, after awaking from a dream. She has recently decided to shorten the name to the initials, SLD. She admits, though, she never in her wildest dreams ever though she would be creating jewelry for a living. “Things are often put in my hands and I have to learn to follow and pay attention,” she said. “I love my new career, I now choreograph in sterling silver and these (the work) are my dances.” Contact Graham at 843-838-7170 or 843-812-3190 or on Facebook.

Making Money III: Audience Surveying with Purpose

Early Bird registration extended to April 24. The South Carolina Arts Commission is again partnering with USC's Department of Sport and Entertainment Management to offer Making Money III.  This workshop will help arts organizations of any size to design and execute solid survey projects. Participants will learn simple ways to approach this often challenging work in order to design surveys that result in useful information. A working lunch will give participants a chance to practice what they learn. The session will conclude with report outs and group Q&A about the lunchtime exercise. Featured speaker and national arts consultant Surale Phillips will present a session geared toward South Carolina arts leaders. Who should attend? Making Money III is designed for non-profit and for-profit arts and entertainment executive directors, board members, and marketing and development staff. Making Money III: Audience Surveying with Purpose May 19 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Russell House University Union University of South Carolina—Columbia Campus Early Bird registration: $79 - ends April 24. Two or more from same organization: $69. Space is limited - find out more and register today! Session Descriptions This three-part seminar will include the following topics, featuring guest experts and hands-on learning. Part 1: The key to organizational success and financial stability. Part 2: Make your social media work for you!  Learn about strategies and tips to better engage your patrons and followers. Part 3: This 3.5-hour session with working lunch will help organizations to design and execute solid survey projects. Participants will learn simple ways to approach this often challenging work in order to design surveys that result in useful information. Who should attend? Making Money III is designed for non-profit and for-profit arts and entertainment executive directors, board members, and marketing and development staff. Speakers: Surale Phillips, President and Lead Consultant at Decision Support Partners, Inc. surale_phillipsSurale Phillips has provided research and consulting services to the arts for 25 years. Her work has been the foundation of projects supported by the NEA, Wallace Foundation, Irvine Foundation, Knight Foundation, and other national and local grant makers. Her more than 150 clients have included arts service organizations, municipalities, and nonprofit arts organizations of every discipline in nearly every state. She is a regular coach and presenter at the Americans for the Arts national convention and the National Arts Marketing Project conference. Her most recent workshops were hosted by Convening Culture for the State of Florida, Raleigh Office of Arts, and ArtsMemphis. Jennifer Clark Evins, President/CEO, Chapman Cultural Center, Inc., and 2007 Verner Award Winner evins_jenniferAs President/CEO, Evins heads the 4th largest and oldest local arts agency in South Carolina, leading a conglomerate of seven nonprofit collaborative partners that “co-locate” at the Chapman Cultural Center. Evins joined CCC in August 2010 as Senior Development Director and assumed the duties of the President/CEO in June 2011. Evins’ experience in the nonprofit sector was as a volunteer leader in Spartanburg for nearly 24 years. Most notably, she spearheaded the capital campaign that built the Chapman Cultural Center, raising more than $42 million, and later raising $10 million for a new Spartanburg YMCA. Evins has lead numerous creative placemaking projects including winning the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. Prior to joining the nonprofit field in 2010, Evins had an extensive professional career in marketing and public relations. Armen Shaomian, DMA, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Sport and Entertainment Management armenDr. Shaomian is the producer and creator of the highly acclaimed Making Money series. He has an extensive background in performing arts, education and project management consulting. He is the founder and CEO of Armenize, Inc., an arts consulting agency specializing in non-profit arts management and foundational strategies. Prior work includes programs manager / associate producer for the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (NFAA) and its signature YoungArts program. In his role as their associate producer, Dr. Shaomian oversaw live performance logistics as well as strategic relations with the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., as well as the United States Department of Education and the United States Presidential Scholars program. His work with the NFAA included cost analysis and contract negotiations, allowing the Foundation to save fiscally while raising the quality of its programming. In 2016, he was nominated for the University of South Carolina’s Michael J. Mungo Undergraduate Teaching Award. Dr. Shaomian currently serves on the board of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association (MEIEA).