Ken May to retire from S.C. Arts Commission

33-year tenure comes to an end this June

May at S.C. Arts Awards Day in May 2018. Photo by Zan Maddox/Social Design House Ken May will retire from leading the South Carolina Arts Commission in 2019 after 33 years working to improve equity in and access to the state’s arts, culture, and traditions. May, executive director for the past nine years, carved out his niche by leading the arts commission’s efforts to provide equal access to publicly funded grants and programs. Under his leadership, the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) earned bipartisan support, and it is widely considered a driver of the state’s $9.7 billion creative economy. With a new legislative session just beginning, May is to remain in place to shepherd the SCAC’s legislative agenda before stepping away at the end of June. “Early in my working life, after a few years in for-profit business, I became sure of two things: that I wanted to work in the arts, which have always been my passion, and that I wanted to be of service—to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Working at the South Carolina Arts Commission has given me an extraordinary opportunity to do both of those things, and I am deeply grateful for that,” May said.
When May became director of the Commission in 2010, the agency faced significant challenges from a severe economic downturn and a hostile political climate. Under his leadership, the agency rallied its supporters, weathered the political storm, and emerged leaner and better-funded to meet its mandate of service to all South Carolinians. In the most recent fiscal year, the SCAC distributed more than $4 million in grants to 44 of 46 counties. Through staff assistance, partnerships, programs, and grants, the agency served all 46 counties in the areas of community arts development, artist career development, and arts education initiatives. “Ken has served our state admirably during a distinguished career, and he cares deeply and works tirelessly to advance the arts in South Carolina,” SCAC Board of Directors Chairman Henry Horowitz of Greenville said. “This is a loss for the statewide arts community, but it has advanced to lofty places and serves more citizens and visitors because of Ken’s hard, diligent work. He’s leaving the agency in a great position with a terrific reputation on state and national levels.”
Throughout his long tenure at the Arts Commission, May played a key role in shaping the agency’s signature programs and initiatives. He was one of the principal architects of the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project, which has driven statewide improvement in arts education for all students for more than 30 years, and he continues as the longest-serving member of that project’s coordinating committee. As primary grant writer for the commission, May designed and secured funding for major initiatives to use the arts for rural community development, enhance community design, build public participation in the arts, and help artists build sustainable working lives in South Carolina. He also led long range planning and directed agency efforts to bring grantmaking into the digital age and to make grant processes more transparent and equitable. Presently, May is expanding the SCAC’s national profile by serving on nationwide boards for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and Grantmakers in the Arts. He also serves on the board for South Arts, a consortium of nine southern state arts agencies based in Atlanta. His recent focus on those boards has been to help funders work toward equity in the distributions of grant funds and other resources.
Incoming SCAC Board Chairwoman Delores "Dee" Crawford of Aiken will assume leadership on July 1. She praised May’s work. “Ken guided the Arts Commission to make significant progress in several rural South Carolina communities. The ‘Art of Community: Rural S.C.’ program is a national model for others to find success using the arts to revitalize places where other solutions failed. Our artists are turning into entrepreneurs, helping themselves make sustainable careers and changing the outlook in their communities,” Crawford said. “We, the commissioners, appreciate Ken’s dedication and leadership.” A nationwide search is underway to fill the executive director position, which has been posted with a full job description. Crawford hopes a new executive director is in place by the time May leaves. She is hopeful the next executive director expands on the work in rural communities and makes it a goal to develop more leaders in the arts statewide.

Full Statements

KEN MAY

Executive Director | South Carolina Arts Commission

“Early in my working life, after a few years in for-profit business, I became sure of two things: that I wanted to work in the arts, which have always been my passion, and that I wanted to be of service—to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Working at the South Carolina Arts Commission has given me an extraordinary opportunity to do both of those things, and I am deeply grateful for that.”  

Henry HorowitzHENRY HOROWITZ

Chairman | South Carolina Arts Commission

“On behalf of SCAC board of directors, we greatly appreciate Ken’s service to our agency and outstanding job in managing the agency over the course of 33 years. Ken has served our state admirably during a distinguished career and he cares deeply and works tirelessly to advance the arts in South Carolina. This is a loss for the statewide arts community, but it has advanced to lofty places and serves more citizens and visitors because of Ken’s hard, diligent work. He’s leaving the agency in a great position with a terrific reputation on a state and national level. We wish him the best of success in his retirement and new endeavors.”  

DELORES "DEE" CRAWFORD

Incoming Chairwoman | South Carolina Arts Commission

“Ken guided the Arts Commission to make significant progress in several rural South Carolina communities. The ‘Art of Community: Rural S.C.’ program is a national model for others to find success using the arts to revitalize places where other solutions failed. Our artists are turning into entrepreneurs, helping themselves make sustainable careers and changing the outlook in their communities. We, the commissioners, appreciate Ken’s dedication and leadership.”

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

With a commitment to excellence across the spectrum of our state’s cultures and forms of expression, the South Carolina Arts Commission pursues its public charge to develop a thriving arts environment, which is essential to quality of life, education, and economic vitality for all South Carolinians. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants, and leadership initiatives 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 SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696.

Wrapping up 2018

'Tis the season, after all.

The South Carolina Arts Commission had a notable 2018:
  • Through staff consultation, grants, and direct programs, our work impacted all 46 South Carolina counties.
  • Our grantees were able to provide more than EIGHT MILLION arts experiences for residents and visitors as a direct result of SCAC grants.
  • "Art of Community: Rural S.C." furthered its reputation as a national model for rural creative placemaking – addressing ongoing challenges in those unique communities with arts and culture-based solutions.
And there's plenty more. Today, we're making public a brief annual report that sheds light on FY18's accomplishments and outlines what and where grants and programs were put to use, from the three “corner” counties of Oconee, Horry, and Beaufort to the 43 arranged inside. You're invited to have a look.

Holiday Schedule at the SCAC

Many of the SCAC staff have already exited stage left for well-deserved annual leave, but others remain and constituents can still expect service with some exceptions: the office will close with other state agencies on weekends, from Dec. 24 to 26, and on Jan. 1. You can expect content on The Hub and Facebook to continue, though it will be less frequent. Whatever you celebrate this season (and even if you don't), the board and staff of the Arts Commission wish you the happiest, merriest, most festive time and peace and prosperity in the New Year!

Liked what you saw in the annual report? 

The South Carolina Arts Foundation would like to hear from you.  

Hub City Press, Charles Frazier partner on new book series

'Extraordinary' Southern writers to be put in spotlight

National Book Award winner Charles Frazier and Hub City Press are teaming up on a new series of books spotlighting extraordinary writers from the American South. Beginning in spring 2019, the Cold Mountain Fund Series will publish literary fiction in hardback. Frazier, best-selling author of “Cold Mountain,” “Thirteen Moons," “Nightwoods," and “Varina,” will provide financial support through the Frazier family’s Cold Mountain Fund at the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. Frazier also will assist in book promotion and make occasional appearances with the Cold Mountain Fund Series authors. “I have long considered Hub City Press to be one of the very finest independent publishers in the country and am excited to help foster their already excellent offerings of literary fiction,” Frazier said. Hub City Hub City Press, now in its 24th year, is the South’s premier independent literary press. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, Hub City is focused on finding and publishing new and extraordinary voices from the South. Among its recent successes are an NPR Book of the Year, a Kirkus Book of the Year, a book longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and coverage in “The Los Angeles Times” and “The New York Times.” “I couldn't be more thrilled at this new partnership,” said Meg Reid, director of Hub City Press. “Charles Frazier has long been one of the South’s greatest writers, as well as one of Hub City’s most ardent supporters. This series will be vital in helping us continue our mission to find and champion the finest fiction the South has to offer.” The first three books in the series will be:
  • “The Magnetic Girl” by Jessica Handler of Atlanta (April 2019),
  • “Watershed” by Mark Barr of Little Rock, Ark. (October 2019),
  • and “The Prettiest Star” by Carter Sickels of Lexington, Ky. (April 2020).
“Finding an audience has never been easy for writers of literary fiction,” Frazier said, “so in working with Hub City, my hope is to help amplify distinctive Southern voices and connect them with curious readers.” Cold Mountain funds primarily will be targeted for more substantial book advances and for book marketing. Hub City Press titles are distributed by Publishers Group West. Among its published authors are Leesa Cross-Smith, Ron Rash, Michel Stone, Julia Franks, Ashley Jones and others. Hub City annually sponsors the $10,000 C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize (judged this year by Lauren Groff), the biennial New Southern Voices Poetry Prize, and the biennial South Carolina Novel Prize.

Grants Roundup: Deadlines for the Week of Jan. 14

Though far from the only thing, grants are certainly among the main things we do here. And because of their importance in our work, and what they mean to so many of you, The Hub wants to help keep Arts Commission grants top-of-mind and reduce the instances of people telling us, "If only we'd known about X grant!" We can't reach everybody, but we can try. On Mondays with deadlines on the horizon, "Grants Roundup" highlights first what grants are due that week and then includes what's coming later in increments.


GrantsThis week

These are to serve mainly as final reminders to finish in-progress applications. Most grant applications simply cannot be undertaken well in this short a time frame. Consult your county or discipline coordinator with questions.
  • Jan. 15: ABC Advancement Grants (for schools and school districts seeking to implement standards-based arts curricula)
  • Jan. 15: AVI Grants letter of intent (encourage and enable the creation of new artist-driven, arts-based business ventures – a letter indicating intent to apply for the grant begins the process)

Next week

  • n/a

Next 30(ish)

Important Notes

  • You are encouraged to also consult the SCAC deadline page for up-to-date information on all grant deadlines (subject to change) and deadlines for non-grant programs.
  • For next steps, grant guidance, and more information, consult:
    • your county coordinator if you represent local organizations, businesses, or educational institutions, or
    • your discipline coordinator if you're an individual artist or serve the statewide population.

Want to work for GCCA? Of course you do. They’re hiring.

Application deadline: Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019


Greenville Center for Creative Arts is looking for a friendly and outgoing individual who has the passion and experience to work in Greenville's only community-focused visual art center.  They have an immediate opening for a part-time (20 hours per week) communications & marketing project manager, reporting to the programs director. The project manager will lead the art center’s efforts to promote GCCA programs, activities, exhibitions, and facilities to local and national media; oversee all marketing initiatives to favorably position and brand the art center and its programs, and facilitate audience and visitor growth in support of the organization’s mission and goals. Go here to see the job description and to apply.  

Tuning Up: New AiR for Richland Library

Good morning!  "Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers curated, quick-hit arts stories of interest to readers. Sometimes there will be one story, sometimes there will be several. Get in tune now, and have a masterpiece of a day. And now, in no particular order...


Richland Library names AiR: Jeweler and fine artist Allison Cicero Moore begins a five-month stint as the Richland Library artist-in-residence tomorrow. Moore lives, teaches, and creates art here in Columbia, and will have regular office hours at the library's main location at 1431 Assembly St. (Source: Midlands Biz)

S.C. State Parks to offer arts programs in 2019

Photography, painting to be offered throughout year

In 2019, state parks in South Carolina will offer programming that combines art, culture, heritage and ranger-guided recreational excursions to some of the state's most beautiful and significant settings. Many of the events in the series are hours-long or overnight premium experiences and can be found at www.SCParkStore.com as their registration deadlines approach. A Winter Nature Photography Workshop with renowned photographer Robert Rommel, for example, will be held Jan. 11-14 at Santee State Park. Participants will spend an entire weekend studying the art, creativity and technical aspects of nature photography, concentrating on landscape, wildlife and up-close shots. Other programs involve yoga, painting, paddling and 5K running. People who are interested in these exceptional experiences should check www.SCParkStore.com often throughout the year for registration details. You can also mark your calendars for arts programs on these dates:
  • Indigo painting at Santee State Park on March 3. The event also will be held:
    • March 19 and Sept. 17 at Devils Fork
    • Oct. 8 back at Santee
  • Watercolor journaling at Santee State Park on March 10-12
  • Watercolor painting with Amelia at Santee State Park on April 14-16
Non-arts programs include:
  • 5K runs at Sadlers Creek (Feb. 23), Hickory Knob (March 16), Huntington Beach (April 6) and Sesquicentennial (May 11).
  • Yoga in the Park with Cheryl Mason at Santee State Park on April 7-9. This weekend event also will be held Oct. 27-29 at Table Rock State Park.
  • Kayak with a Ranger at Colleton State Park on the fourth Fridays of every month beginning March 22 and ending Oct. 25.
  • Kayak with a Ranger at Givhans Ferry State Park on the first Fridays of every month beginning April 5 and ending Nov. 1.
  • Stand-Up Paddleboarding with a Ranger at Table Rock State Park on the third Friday of every month beginning May 17 and ending Oct. 18.
Fees for these premium programs range from $35 for a single-day event to $225 for an event that covers an entire weekend. Details, including when and how to register, any available discounts and how to book lodging, can be found at www.SCParkStore.com.

Make it happen: act now for artist business training

Registration deadline: This Friday, Jan. 11


New Year’s resolutions come. Weigh less, read more, get organized,etc. Then, often, they go. But what about a real change? What about making a positive change to your career or livelihood? For Midlands artists resolving to take a bold leap in 2019, there’s a new opportunity that can help. But you need to act fast. The City of Columbia Office of Business Opportunity is collaborating with the S.C. Arts Commission’s ArtsGrow SC Program to help artists who reside in the Midlands attend NxLevel Micro Entrepreneur Training – a $200 value – for only $50.
What is the NxLevel Micro Entrepreneur Training? The NxLeveL Micro Entrepreneurs module focuses on teaching “self-sufficiency through self-employment.” Participants will learn how to choose a business idea, develop a marketing plan, explore financing options, develop a customer service philosophy, as well as other relevant entrepreneurial skills.   When will it take place? NxLevel Micro entrepreneur candidates will commitment to attend all sessions (approximately 45 classroom hours) and complete prep work beginning Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 through March 28, 2019. Class will meet on Thursdays for three hours, from 6-9 p.m.   Where will classes be held? 1509 Lady Street Columbia, SC 29201   What do I do to register if I am an artist? Artists have a three-step process.
  1. Complete this Arts Commission artist application. This is how you will identify yourself as an artist to be considered for the discounted rate. Artists will be asked to use their email address as the username and to create a password. The application includes contact information and space to 5 upload samples of work, bio/resume, and an artist statement. You will be contacted by e-mail if you are accepted to receive the discounted rate.
  2. Complete the NxLeveL Micro Entrepreneur Application
  3. Complete the NxLeveL Micro Entrepreneur Registration
Contact Program Director Joy Young (jyoung@arts.sc.gov or 803.734.8696) with questions.
Main image by Kaique Rocha from Pexels

Grants Roundup: Deadlines for the Week of Jan. 7

Though far from the only thing, grants are certainly among the main things we do here. And because of their importance in our work, and what they mean to so many of you, The Hub wants to help keep Arts Commission grants top-of-mind and reduce the instances of people telling us, "If only we'd known about X grant!" We can't reach everybody, but we can try. On Mondays with deadlines on the horizon, "Grants Roundup" highlights first what grants are due that week and then includes what's coming later in increments.


GrantsThis week

These are to serve mainly as final reminders. Most grant applications simply cannot be undertaken well in this short a time frame. Consult your county or discipline coordinator with questions.
  • n/a

Next week

  • Jan. 15: ABC Advancement Grants (for schools and school districts seeking to implement standards-based arts curricula)
  • Jan. 15: AVI Grants letter of intent (encourage and enable the creation of new artist-driven, arts-based business ventures – a letter indicating intent to apply for the grant begins the process)

Next 30(ish)

Important Notes

  • You are encouraged to also consult the SCAC deadline page for up-to-date information on all grant deadlines (subject to change) and deadlines for non-grant programs.
  • For next steps, grant guidance, and more information, consult:
    • your county coordinator if you represent local organizations, businesses, or educational institutions, or
    • your discipline coordinator if you're an individual artist or serve the statewide population.

Tuning Up: Where arts and infrastructure intersect

Good morning!  "Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers curated, quick-hit arts stories of interest to readers. Sometimes there will be one story, sometimes there will be several. Get in tune now, and have a masterpiece of a day. And now, in no particular order...


She thought she had it all figured out. Columbia high school student Hanah Watts thought she was captivated by some new modern art. Oops. You'll enjoy her take on infrastructure through an arts lens in the Columbia Star – it's a nice, light-hearted read for the first Friday of the New Year. (And let's not pile on Columbia. Does anybody like the roads where they live?)

Spoleto Festival USA’s 2019 lineup announced

It's happening.

South Carolina's largest and most famous celebration of the arts is May 24-June 9, and today they announced this year's lineup. String bands, jazz, opera, dance, theatre, and classical music all feature varying degrees of star power, and the event will culminate at Riverfront Park in North Charleston. General public ticket sales begin Wednesday, Jan. 16. Donor pre-sales begin Monday, Jan. 7, if you want to support beyond ticket purchases. We'll see you there. (Full schedule)
Spoleto Festival USA receives operating support funding from the S.C. Arts Commission.
Main page image: Shakespeare's Globe, courtesy of Spoleto Festival USA.