SCAC Fellow’s new book out Sept. 25

Charleston writer F. Rutledge Hammes, the S.C. Arts Commission's current fellowship recipient for prose, is set to release his debut novel, A Curious Matter of Men with Wings, on Sept. 25. The book has received glowing praise from writers like New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank who writes, “F. Rutledge Hammes is that rare new voice you run across once or maybe twice in a lifetime. His spectacular debut novel, A Curious Matter of Men with Wings, soars! It is a coming of age cautionary tale about power. It’s a mystery and a love story wrapped up in humidity and pluff mud and it is as fascinating as it is addicting.” Set for release by Atlanta-based SFK Press, Hammes’ debut novel tells the story of the Walpole family who fled their sordid past and escaped to one of the nearly 2,000 uninhabited sea islands off the South Carolina coast. The novel opens with the two Walpole boys taking their little sister out on their john boat for the first time to pirate the waterways for beer and loose change. In the process, their little sister goes overboard and appears to have drowned, until two men with gigantic wings swoop down and carry her body away into the sky. The news of her disappearance hits the family particularly hard, and the mother goes so far as to fashion herself wings and tries to fly. The Walpole boys set off in search of their little sister and, in the process, discover the truth behind the centuries-old Gullah tale of the Flying Men as well as numerous other mysteries native to the South Carolina sea islands. A book release party will be held at Blue Bicycle Books (420 King St., Charleston) on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018 from 5-7 p.m. It is free and open to the public. Sue Monk Kidd, bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees, writes, “A Curious Matter of Men with Wings is where magic comes to life in a bold story that celebrates the Gullah world of the South Carolina sea islands. With lyrical prose, the novel takes us into a hidden realm where life is still enchanted and storytelling abounds. In these pages, the transfixing Walpole family grapples with loss, the madness of grief, and ultimately healing, while surrounded by a community whose only salvation lies in the ties that bind them.”


"...It’s a mystery and a love story wrapped up in humidity and pluff mud, and it is as fascinating as it is addicting.” - Dorothea Benton Frank, bestselling author


Hammes was born in South Carolina's Lowcountry, where he fell in love with the waterways, the people, and the folklore that inhabit the sea islands. His whole life, he has been writing about the Charleston area and sea island culture and, for the past decade, he has been teaching the young writers who will keep our lush storytelling tradition alive. Having grown up the oldest in a family of ten, stories of family come naturally to him. His grandparents moved out to the sea islands early in their marriage and made friends in the Gullah community, and he grew up enamored by all the stories and folklore his grandmother told him as a child. Hammes says, “I have long believed that magic is at the heart of Charleston, and so magic must be at the heart of the Charleston novel.” Through A Curious Matter of Men with Wings, Hammes hopes readers will see the redemption that comes to people who keep their promises to one another and stand together regardless of ethnicity, culture and class. Hammes earned his MFA in fiction from Old Dominion University, has had numerous short stories, essays and poems published in various journals and magazines around the country, and is a contributing writer in several books. He is also the 2019 South Carolina Arts Commission Prose Fellow and is presently Director of the Creative Writing program at Charleston County School of the Arts, the most awarded middle- and high-school writing program in the nation. For more information on A Curious Matter of Men with Wings, visit frutledgehammes.com.

New NEA report shows increasing arts attendance

The performing arts cultural season is upon us, and a new report from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) might encourage you to head to the box office sooner than later.

Between 2012 and 2017, the share of adults who attended visual or performing arts activities grew by 3.6 percentage points to 132.3 million people, representing nearly 54 percent of the U.S. adult population. Performing arts events range from dance to theater performances while visual arts events include going to art museums, galleries, and craft festivals.

Most of the increase in this survey came from visiting art museums or galleries and the “informal” arts sector that includes outdoor performing arts festivals and touring places for their design or historic value. Also scoring high is attending “other” performing arts events—those not tracked individually in the SPPA—such as rap and hip hop, country music, rock, or folk music events.

Other highlights from the report:
  • Between 2012 and 2017, the rate of poetry-reading among adults grew by 76 percent, to 28 million people in 2017, and the share of 18-24-year-olds who read poetry more than doubled.
  • Greater participation by African Americans, Asian Americans, and 25-54-year-olds helped the performing arts numbers increase.
  • Art museum or gallery visits grew by 13% in the period studied.
Get the full report and read the study announcement on NEA.gov.

Tuning Up: 1858 Prize and forum tomorrow + SEPF 2019 lineup

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...


Collaborative first steps. Tomorrow is a big night at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston. Dr. Leo Twiggs is set to receive the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. The pride of Orangeburg is the first S.C. artist (ahem, #SCartists) to receive the $10,000 prize. But you knew all that. What you might not know is that afterward is the Amy P. Coy Forum and 1858 Prize Party (6-8 p.m., 135 Meeting St., Charleston) at which representatives from ArtFields, South Arts, and the Gibbes will use the forum to discuss collaboration among the Southeast's three biggest arts prizes, which happen to be awarded by those entities. Where will it lead? We don't know, but that's why we're going. See you there? $35. SEPF announces 2019 guest artists. (And there are some, ahem, key names here.) Summertime is music festival time, and every year Columbia is a piano hotspot. The Southeastern Piano Festival is set to return June 16-23, 2019 and last week announced their guest artists. Artistic Director Joseph Rackers promises and incredible week of music. (Take it from The Hub – don't miss Alessio Bax). In addition to performances, accomplished pianists will give masterclasses and it all comes to a head with the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition on June 21. (The teenage winner performs a concerto with the South Carolina Philharmonic.)

Are you ArtsReady?

Hurricane Florence is approaching the East Coast and will likely have landfall Thursday or Friday. Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency. Coastal S.C. counties are to begin evacuating at noon Tuesday, and schools as far inland as Lexington County are closing to provide shelters and buses to assist in evacuation procedures. Read more here. While Florence's path remains difficult to predict, artists and arts organizations in South Carolina should anticipate impact and prepare accordingly.

Bonus content: South Carolina Emergency Management Division

If you have an ArtsReady/readiness plan, we hope that triggering it into action provides you with the ability to prepare for the storm. If not, we encourage you to take a few basic steps to prepare your office/venue/studio for the potential impact before departing for your personal preparation - unless you are under an evacuation order, in which case you should follow the instructions of local/state officials immediately. If you aren’t in the hurricane’s path, please use this time to take a look at your own readiness planning in the event of a future emergency. Visit ArtsReady to start or build upon your readiness plan; sign up for free webinars on a variety of readiness and disaster planning offered through the Performing Arts Readiness project; and sign up to get regular information on grants, trainings and programs to improve your organization’s readiness and resiliency (much of this project’s content is relevant to arts organizations and artists of all disciplines).

Be prepared!

Please use and share the following resources to ensure you are ready: HENFT Hurricane Preparedness Tips for Cultural Institutions Cerf+'s Resources for Artists: A few additional tips for arts organizations:
  • Assign a readiness/emergency leader for your organization through whom all communications and information should be relayed. Decide who makes the decision about suspending operations/events, and how those decisions are communicated.
  • Ensure you can carry out banking activity remotely, and that staff can work remotely if your offices/facility are inaccessible.
  • If practical, de-install exhibits that may be threatened by weather or water and remove to a safer location.
  • Secure outdoor sculptures, furniture, bike racks, signage, etc. – anything that can become a projectile in strong winds.
  • Move costumes, scenery, instruments, valuable equipment and collections that are in areas vulnerable to flooding (i.e., the floor, the basement) or susceptible to rain (near windows or under roofs) out of harm’s way.
Weather event resources: If your facility is impacted, there are a number of resources to assist you: https://www.artsready.org/home/public_article/887 And more resources are listed at https://www.lyrasis.org/LYRASIS%20Digital/Pages/Preservation%20Services/Disaster%20Resources/Response-and-Recovery.aspx
Thanks to our colleagues at South Arts for much of the content above.

Greyson Smith joins SCAC as accountant

There's a new face wandering the halls at the S.C. Arts Commission. Greyson Smith (coincidentally a Columbia artist) joined our team Tuesday and is completing his first "full" week as our new accountant. For an agency that is set to distribute some $4 million in grant funding statewide (second time today we've successfully worked that link in...), filling a full-time accountant void is pretty important. The Columbia native graduated from Winthrop University with a bachelor's in business administration with a concentration in accounting, as well as a bachelor's in fine arts. In addition to his years of work experience as an accountant at Companion Life Insurance Company and Enterprise Holdings, Inc., he is also known as an actively exhibiting mixed-media artist and for his past service on the board of directors at 701 Center for Contemporary Art. Welcome, Greyson – we're glad you're here!

Tuning Up: Literally (spoiler: it’s about orchestras)

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...


This morning we offer some news and notes from South Carolina orchestras. ICYMI: Three Mor-ihiko Years. The South Carolina Philharmonic announced a three-year contract extension for Music Director Morihiko Nakahara this week, keeping him in Columbia into (at least) 2022 for a total of (at least) 14 seasons. The Free Times caught up with the well-traveled maestro, who begins his 11th season, and the orchestra's 55th, Saturday, Sept. 29. Rock Hill Symphony debuts tomorrow night. Literally. As in, first-ever concert, not just new season. Pianist Marina Lomazov (an SCAC music performance fellowship recipient) is the featured soloist for the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto on Music Director David Rudge's premiere program, which also offers works by Berlioz, Rimsky-Korsakov, Smetana, and more. It is sold out (and has been), but check out the first season's offerings here. Season's greetings! Rock Hill joins 10 other professional orchestras in South Carolina. September and October are typically when orchestra season gets going. Here are start dates for others from around the Palmetto State: Did you have any idea South Carolina has so many orchestras? This doesn't even count the college and community orchestras. All 10 listed above will receive operating support (or more) from the S.C. Arts Commission in FY19.

New SCAC grants make $4 million impact in state’s communities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 6 September 2018 COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Commission is announcing $3,982,012 in grants for South Carolina communities, artists, arts organizations, and schools for the 2019 fiscal year as of Sept. 1, 2018.

“Funds appropriated by the legislature help local arts providers offer more than six million arts experiences to citizens and visitors every year,” S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May said. Serwah Armah-Koranteng “These grants affect wide-ranging organizations and diverse audiences statewide, from Town Theatre in Columbia, starting its centennial season next week, to Wits End Poetry, holding a poetry slam event in Greenville later in the month. They enable our four fellowship recipients from Charleston, Columbia, Little River, and Spartanburg to develop their talents, and provide support for artisans like Serwah Armah-Koranteng to strengthen Africstyle mobile boutique, her arts-based business. And perhaps most importantly, they help the next generation hone creativity and problem-solving skills with funding for arts-based education programs in schools.” Six new Arts in Basic Curriculum Project sites are being awarded grants to strategically plan and implement arts education as part of the school day, bringing the total to 84 and giving almost 171,000 South Carolina students access to the educational benefits of the arts. Other grants range from operating grants and project support for organizations to seed money and fellowships for individual artists, ensuring an assortment of relevant arts experiences across South Carolina. Additional grants will be awarded throughout the year with potential for impact in all counties: three rounds of Quarterly Project Support grants to benefit projects by artists and arts organizations, and additional Teacher Standards Initiative grants will be awarded to help teachers acquire supplies, materials, and expertise to meet the 2017 College and Career Ready Standards for Visual and Performing Arts Proficiency. “Ongoing work to create opportunities in rural counties as well as more populated areas is attracting additional grant applications for our operating support funds,” May said. Operating support grants make up 49 percent of the FY19 total, and arts education grants make up 46 percent. In FY18, which finished June 30, the S.C. Arts Commission awarded $4,060,290 and expects to exceed that total by the close of FY19 on June 30, 2019, May said.

Amounts Awarded to Programs in Primary Grant Categories

Arts in Education: $1,822,446 Grants help fund curriculum planning and implementation, artist residencies, performances, professional development for teachers and summer and afterschool arts programs.
  • Arts in the Basic Curriculum (ABC) Advancement: $881,023  Awarded to 84 schools and school districts that are participating in the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project, which works to ensure every child in South Carolina has access to a quality, comprehensive education in the arts. The ABC Project is cooperatively directed by the Arts Commission, the S.C. Department of Education, and the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Winthrop University.
  • Arts Education Projects: $336,193 Thirty-four grants funding projects and programs that support quality arts education programs in both traditional arts education settings (schools, arts organizations) and other organizations that utilize the arts to advance learning in children (social service, health, community, education or other organizations).
  • Education Pilot Projects: $292,000
  • Teacher Standards Implementation: $750 (1st quarter only) One grant (to date) to help arts teachers acquire the supplies, materials, and expertise necessary for meeting the 2017 College and Career Ready Standards for Visual and Performing Arts Proficiency.
  • Arts in the Basic (ABC) Curriculum: $312,480 Two grants to support management of the ABC Project Partnership.
Operating Support: $1,942,580 Grants help strengthen arts organizations that bring ongoing arts experiences and services to individuals, other organizations and communities throughout the state.
  • General Operating Support: $1,753,406 One hundred twenty-five grants for arts organizations.
  • Operating Support for Small Organizations: $83,016 Thirty-four grants for arts organizations with annual expense budgets of less than $75,000.
  • Statewide Organizations: $106,158 Seven grants for arts organizations operating statewide.
Folklife and Traditional Arts: $101,033 Grants support programs that promote a greater understanding and visibility of South Carolina’s many cultures through documentation and presentation of traditional art forms, their practitioners and their communities.
  • Organization grants: $22,500 Five grants to support nonprofit organizations that seek to promote and preserve the traditional arts practiced across the state.
  • Apprenticeships: $7,500 Four grants that support a partnership between a master artist, who will share artistic and cultural knowledge, and a qualified apprentice, who will then continue to pursue the art form.
  • Partnerships: $71,033 One grant to support management of the Folklife and Traditional Arts Partnership.
Subgranting: $66,437 Seven awards to local arts councils that distribute quarterly grants to organizations and artists in their regions. This program is funded in part by an award from the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of The Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina. Artists Ventures Initiative: $15,000 Three grants to individual artists for projects designed to help them develop the knowledge and skills to build satisfying, sustainable careers. Individual Artist Fellowships: $20,000 Four grants to individual artists to recognize and reward their artistic achievements. These were announced in July 2018 after approval by the SCAC Board of Directors. Quarterly Project Support: $5,200 (1st quarter only) Six grants to support a variety of quality arts projects and programs and/or for professional development opportunities to assist artistic and managerial staff. This category also supports specific arts activities that promote an individual artist's professional development or career advancement. This program is funded in part by an award from the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of The Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. 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.

Blind Columbia artist develops “paint Braille system”

Today's feel-good story comes courtesy of ColaDaily.com's Karamie Sullivan, and we couldn't wait to share it. Ron Ferguson, the "Grit Man" A Columbia area visual artist who taught art in Hampton after serving in the Navy has complete vision loss in one eye and sees only "glimmers of light" in his other. But it's not stopping Ron Ferguson's creative pursuits in painting, drawing, and 3D art.

“One day I said, I’m going to be determined to not let this stop me from doing the thing I’m so passionately in love with. Art is my life,” he said.

Ferguson developed a "paint Braille system" that allows him to identify primary paint colors. Knowing those, he can mix them to create other colors. Read more about the "Grit Man" on ColaDaily.com.

Tuning Up: Fellowship opportunities + S.C. Arts Awards

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...


Forgive us if this is a little self-indulgent, but we have some reminders for you today.

We're looking for some jolly good fellows.

Individual Artist Fellowships recognize and reward the artistic achievements of South Carolina’s exceptional individual artists. Fellowship awards of $5,000 are made through a highly competitive, anonymous process and are based on artistic excellence only. The fellowship awards bring recognition that may open doors to other resources and employment opportunities. (There is a long list of accomplished fellowship recipients here.) Applications are now open for FY2020. The disciplines in the rotation are:
  • Visual Arts
  • Craft
  • Music: Composition
  • Music: Performance
Each category will have one recipient if enough applications are received.

Recognize outstanding achievement in the arts

Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts These annual awards honor South Carolina arts organizations, patrons, artists, members of the business community, and government entities who maximize their roles as innovators, supporters and advocates of the arts. Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards Also presented annually, these awards honor practitioners and advocates of traditional arts significant to communities throughout the state. Up to four artists and one advocate may receive awards each year. These awards are in partnership with the University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum.

Jason Rapp

New mixed media feature at CMA combines art and poetry

The Write Around Series with Ed Madden and Ray McManus, the latest initiative in the Columbia Museum of Art's new Writer-in-Residence program, launches Sunday, Sept. 16, at 3 p.m. Award-winning poets Madden (left) and McManus (right) open the series with work they have written inspired by the dynamic themes of the newly redesigned collection galleries. “By grouping the art thematically rather than chronologically, the new collection galleries create conversations, not just among the works of art, but also among patrons,” says McManus. “Writing that responds to the artwork—some of it displayed now for the first time—is another kind of conversation across forms of art, and one that can only amplify and extend the conversation created by the new gallery designs.” As writer-in-residence, McManus is charged with creating programs that promote literary art as a way to contemplate and connect with visual art. The Write Around Series is year-long program that invites writers to create and share original poetry and prose inspired by the art in the CMA. An associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina in Sumter, McManus teaches creative writing, Irish literature, and Southern literature. He is the director of the Center for Oral Narrative housed in the Division of Arts and Letters. In 2014, he joined the editorial board for the Palmetto Poetry Series, and he maintains partnerships with the S.C. Arts Commission and local arts agencies. McManus is the founder of Split P Soup, a creative writing outreach program that places writers in schools and communities in South Carolina, and the director of the creative writing program at the Tri-District Arts Consortium. His current project is Re:Verse, a teaching initiative that works with educators and administrators to develop effective strategies to bring more emphasis to creative writing in standard education. Madden is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Ark, a memoir in poetry about helping with his dying father’s hospice care. He is a professor of English and director of the Women’s & Gender Studies Program at the University of South Carolina. He has been the inaugural poet laureate for the City of Columbia since 2015. He received the Arts Commission's 2011 prose fellowship. “I’m excited to launch The Write Around Series, and I’m especially excited to launch this program with the poet laureate of Columbia, Ed Madden,” says McManus. “I can’t wait to see what we come up with together!” The event is free with CMA membership or separate admission. The program is supported by South Carolina Humanities. For more information, visit ColumbiaMuseum.org.