Join us for a shower of celebrations!

April Showers Art Party kicks off 50th Anniversary celebration Since 1967, the South Carolina Arts Commission has served as an umbrella for the arts, working collaboratively in all regions of the state to help establish and support arts organizations, arts education programs and artist development endeavors. With the umbrella as a prominent feature, the South Carolina Arts Foundation is presenting the April Showers Art Party April 5 to kick off the celebration of the Arts Commission's 50th Anniversary. The fun begins at 701 Whaley at 7 p.m. with Singin' in the Rain -- a performance by Ann Brodie's Carolina Ballet -- and continues with a sale of themed art work. The evening finale is a dance party featuring the Finesse Band. Tickets are $75 and are available online. April Showers will also celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project, launched in 1987 by the Arts Commission in partnership with the S.C. Department of Education and Winthrop University. Sixty-seven ABC sites have transformed umbrellas into works of art that will be suspended from the ceiling during the party. After the party, the umbrellas will travel in an exhibition to ABC sites and a few other locations around the state. umbrellacompositehorizontal Left to right: McDonald Green Elementary, Lancaster; S.C. School for the Deaf and the Blind, Spartanburg; Inman Intermediate, Inman; Kelly Miller Elementary, Winnsboro Find more information about April Showers and the Arts Commission's 50th Anniversary online. Artists taking part in the invitational art sale (as of March 21): Angel Allen, Kent Ambler, Kristy Bishop, Connie Brennan, Patti Brady, Louis Bruce, Lou Chandler, Jocelyn Chateauvert, Jeff Donovan, Linda Fantuzzo, Diana Farfan, Jo Ann Graham, Mana Hewitt, Ellen Kochansky, Flavia Lovatelli, Kathy Moore, Marcelo Novo, Tabitha Ott, Rob Shaw, Virginia Watson, and Lynette Youson. Images: First row, left to right: works by Linda Fantuzzo, Rob Shaw, Linda Fantuzzo. Second row, l to r: Kent Ambler, Jeff Donovan, Marcelo Novo. April Showers collage  

Anderson School District 2 builds strings program

The program structure is a combination of what the district learned by looking at other successful programs, such as Southwood Academy of the Arts (an Arts in Basic Curriculum site), in Anderson School District 5. From the Anderson Independent Mail Article by Frances Parrish; photos by Ken Ruinard

Southwood Academy of the Arts Emily Harris plays her violin during seventh-grade orchestra class at Southwood Academy of the Arts in Anderson. (Photo: Ken Ruinard/Independent Mail) Anderson School District 2 hopes to hit all the right notes with a new strings program it will introduced next school year. Rachael Brown of Honea Path is glad her fourth-grade daughter will be part of the strings program next year. "She was so excited. She approached me when she heard about it and said I had to sign her up," Brown said. "I love the music program. It gives them a good foundation." With a strong focus on the arts, an orchestra program has been a goal of Superintendent Richard Rosenberger's since the beginning of the school year. It will come to fruition in August, when the fifth-grade students get to walk into their strings classes for the first time. "It provides an incredible outlet for students, and strings is one more area, that may reach the kids, that hadn't been tapped into yet," Rosenberger said. The program structure is a combination of what the district learned by looking at other successful programs, such as Southwood Academy of the Arts in city of Anderson-based Anderson School District 5, and a districtwide parent survey. "We looked at the success at other districts and looked to see if we can model that," Rosenberger said. "We weren't sure if there was enough interest. So we did an exploratory search. If the interest was there, it was something we needed to pursue." He established a committee of district staff and teachers to research the feasibility of this program and if the district was large enough to sustain a strings program. The committee saw a strong response, with 42 students signing up, said Lana Major, director of instructional support services in District 2 and head of the committee. Next school year, the program will only include fifth-graders who will take classes twice a week. In the near future, Major said the program is expected to expand to fourth-graders as well as sixth-grade and then up through the higher grades. To answer questions about  scheduling, recruitment, instruments and pitfalls, district officials met with Jamie Smith,  principal of Southwood Academy. "Anytime you add something new, you worry about it taking away from another program," Smith said. "The big thing is to get the kids involved who aren't already." Being a part of a group such as an orchestra not only gives them skill sets, but helps keep students involved in school so they are less likely to drop out, educators said. "It allows them the chance to be in something bigger than themselves," Smith said. When fourth-grader Addie Grace Sanders came home from Wright Elementary School in District 2 one day, she put a piece of paper with detailed information about a new strings program on the refrigerator, excited to pick her own instrument. Though her mother, Laurie Townsend-Sanders, long ago quit playing the piano, she treasures the skills learned from those childhood lessons and wants the same for her daughter. "I am thankful I can read music," Townsend-Sanders said. "I want her to have that skill set." The District 2 program is similar to District 5's in that the classes will start in elementary school, which some parents like. "It makes our children more well-rounded," said Townsend-Sanders. "And if they learn it at a younger age, they are more likely to embrace it at a younger age." And parents are looking forward to what their children will learn. Townsend-Sanders said she's excited for her daughter to learn first hand that practice makes perfect, for her to learn to work as part of a team and to love music. "I hope she gets the appreciation of classical music and instruments," Townsend-Sanders said. Image above: (Photo: Ken Ruinard/Independent Mail)

Keeper of the Gullah culture Joseph ‘Crip’ Legree dies

Remembering Joseph Legree, recipient of the 2009 Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award. From The Island Packet Column by David Lauderdale

Beaufort County — and, in fact, America — lost a piece of its fabric Friday when one of the last Gullah cast net makers died on St. Helena Island. Joseph Legree Jr., 92, died March 17 at his daughter’s house next to his blue cinderblock home on Seaside Road, where he would sit barefooted on a screened porch, his long fingers “building” cotton nets that would last a lifetime. The tall, thin man was known as “Crip” because he broke a leg as a child on remote St. Helena and walked with a slight limp. He was known as “Cap’n Crip” because he was a waterman most of his days — fishing, crabbing, shrimping and picking oysters. Some called him “Mr. Crip” out of respect. In 2009, he received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award from the S.C. Arts Commission, the McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina, and the General Assembly — recognizing lifetime achievement in the folk arts. He was feted at the museum on the USC Horseshoe, and was recognized on the floor of the House of Representatives for preserving the cultural values and traditions of his Gullah ancestors. “My heart was full,” he said. He is to be inducted into the Penn Center’s 1862 Circle in April. Legree learned to make nets in a bateau at high tide, while waiting for another crack at the oyster beds. He learned from another St. Helena resident, Harry Owens, in a bateau made by Eddie Holmes. And so it went, generation after generation, all the way back to Western Africa. Even as fewer people went into the river, and those who did were armed with filament cast nets made in China, Legree labored the old way to produce practical works of art that could sell for $150 at the Penn Center gift shop on St. Helena. He also contributed to oral histories by demonstrating his craft and explaining it in his fast, Gullah tongue. Legree hung his handiwork from a nail on the porch, and with two small pieces of equipment in his long fingers — one like a large plastic needle and the other like an oversized emery board — he turned a spool of cotton string into a net 4- to 6-feet tall, with diameters of 8 to 12 feet. The nets were seen as a delicate link to an era when Sea Island craftsmen made their own tools, clothes, cuisine, bateaux, music, baskets, stories, songs, churches, homes, medicine and, sometimes, whiskey. It was a day of steady midwives, powerful deacons, roaming livestock, marsh tacky horses, rocking praise houses, sultry juke joints and bateaux pulled across entire sounds by oars. In Legree’s era, the Gullah were in the river for subsistence — for their families, and elderly neighbors. It also could turn a little profit. He sold the crab, clams and oysters. The fish and shrimp were for the families that still live in compounds across the rural St. Helena Island. Legree was born April 4, 1924, the second of Joseph Legree Sr. and Geneva Brown Legree’s 14 children. He left the Frogmore School after third grade to work in the fields to help his family survive. By age 17, he was a waterman, but he also planted crops and worked on the construction of Beaufort Memorial Hospital. His daughter, former Beaufort County tax assessor Bernice Wright, said Legree and his siblings were known for singing. He sang as he built his nets. She said that after being treated for the broken leg at age 9, her father never had to see a doctor again until he was in his 70s. He outlived two wives, and was then known for taking in people who had nowhere else to live, and driving the elderly to Beaufort to run errands in his 1987 Cadillac Brougham. He had a sharp memory and helped the family with reunions and recording family history. He was known as a quiet, gentle, no-nonsense man. Ervena Faulkner of Port Royal nominated Legree for the statewide award. She said at the time he was “a graduate of the school of common sense, hard work and high standards.” She said he was true Gullah: “Very wise, very observant.” The funeral service is to be held at noon Wednesday, March 22, at Bethesda Christian Fellowship on St. Helena Island. Visitation is 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, at Allen Funeral Home Chapel, 1508 Duke St. in Beaufort.

Artists U is coming to the Pee Dee!

Attention Pee Dee artists! The Artists U Intensive: Building a Sustainable Life as an Artist is coming to the Soulé Art Space in Florence May 26 and 27. Artists are talented, hard-working people, so why are so many exhausted, broke, and overwhelmed? Artists U will present tools and approaches for building a balanced, sustainable artist life. Based on 10 years of work with artists locally and nationally, artist leaders Andrew Simonet (Philadelphia), Michaela Pilar Brown (Columbia) and Rodney Lee Rogers (Charleston) will offer artists tools for reconnecting with deep values, building community, and managing time and money. Dates and location:

  • Friday, May 26, 7 – 8:30 pm
  • Saturday, May 27, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Location: Soulé Art Space, 130 S. Irby St., Florence, SC 29501
  • How much does it cost? It’s free (but the class size is limited).
  • Who is it for? South Carolina artists.
  • Do you have to attend both sessions? Yes.
  • Will there be beverages? Of course. And lunch on Saturday.
  • How do I apply to participate? Find out more about Artists U and register here.
Any professional South Carolina artist may apply to attend (you do not have to live in Florence.) You will be notified once you are enrolled.  

White House proposes to eliminate National Endowment for the Arts

This morning, the White House released its executive budget proposal, which calls for the elimination of all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This is the very beginning of the budget process. It’s important to note that the President does not set the federal budget, Congress does. An executive budget proposal is exactly just that, a proposal. But at the same time, the Administration’s proposal can be influential to members of Congress. The South Carolina Arts Alliance has published several talking points and action steps for arts advocates.

USC Beaufort’s student literary journal wins first place

The PenThe Pen, the journal of student creative writing and art at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, has been recognized by the American Scholastic Press Association with a first-place award for literary excellence in the organization's annual magazine competition. The Pen scored 915 of a possible 1,000 points in the ASPA's most recent competition conducted last fall. "The Pen is an excellent publication which deserves a first-place award in the annual American Scholastic Press Association's magazine competition," the ASPA noted in a message to The Pen staff and its faculty advisor, P. Ellen Malphrus, Ph.D. Dr. Malphrus is a Professor of English in the Department of English, Theater and Liberal Studies at the university. USCB submitted the fall 2015 and spring 2016 issues of The Pen for consideration in the 2016 competition. The magazine issues were judged on the basis of content coverage, organization, design, presentation and creativity. Now in its 10th year, The Pen grew out of the Society of Creative Writers, the USCB student writing club that Dr. Malphrus organized a decade ago. Over the years, the society has become increasingly professional and the quality of its work has improved proportionally. The Pen is a biannual publication of the society produced under the supervision of the Department of English, Theater and Liberal Studies. It features original work in the form of fiction and poetry, and other creative arts. The Pen staff generally numbers around six people, all of whom are members of The Pen Practicum, a one-hour course for credit that students may take up to six times over the last three years of their studies at USCB. Students in the practicum meet once a week to discuss story selection, layout and design, photography and related subjects. Members of The Pen's student editorial board for the fall 2015 issue were: Katie Hart, Alexis Henderson, Brenda Hill, Ciera Love, Taylor Piscitello and Bill Lisbon, a recent graduate who handles graphic design and photography. The editorial staff for the spring 2016 issue consisted of: Ms. Hart, Ms. Henderson, Ms. Hill, Ms. Love, Elizabeth Higginbotham, Kat Trent and Bill Lisbon. "I couldn't be more pleased that The Pen is getting the recognition it deserves and that creative writing is flourishing at USCB," Dr. Malphrus says. "When I first began teaching creative writing workshops, we didn't have an actual creative writing program. Now we have a writing minor within the English major. That's essentially a creative writing minor. "Every semester, I teach an upper-level creative writing workshop along with a sophomore-level course I designed called 'Creative Writing across the Curriculum' that draws students from all across campus. Every semester we get students from biology, communication studies, psychology, English and history and on and on. This interdisciplinary creative effort has buoyed up the creative writing program at USCB." Several English majors at USCB, all graduates of the creative writing program, have gone on to graduate school to earn a master of fine arts degree in creative writing. Others have secured editorial and teaching positions. Via: USC Beaufort

Governor’s School faculty member receives national award for emerging writers

Alan RossiThe New England Review (NERand the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference have selected Alan Rossi as the recipient of the third annual NER Award for Emerging Writers. Rossi will receive a full scholarship to attend the 2017 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference as the New England Review Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Scholar. The NER Award is given to a writer with an unusual and compelling new voice who has been published by NER within the previous year. Rossi’s story “Did You Really Just Say That to Me?” appears in NER 37.4. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in the AtlanticGrantaMissouri ReviewFlorida ReviewNew Ohio ReviewNinth Letter, and other journals. He is also the recipient of a Pushcart Prize in fiction. Rossi is a creative writing faculty member at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities and lives in Spartanburg with his wife, daughter and various woodland creatures. Via: S.C. Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities

Laurens County Visual Arts Coordinator finalist for Teacher of the Year

Marcia WombleState Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman surprised Gray Court-Owings teacher, Marcia Womble, in her classroom with news that she has been selected as one of five finalists for the South Carolina Teacher of the Year award.
"Marcia is the proud product of Laurens County public schools and is truly devoted to ensuring that her students receive a well-rounded arts infused education," said Superintendent Spearman. "I am so proud of her devotion to arts education and look forward to her continued leadership." Marcia Womble is a Visual Arts teacher at Gray Court-Owings Elementary and Middle School in Laurens County School District 55. She also serves as the District Visual Arts Coordinator. Drawn to teaching at a young age, Womble has opened doors for her students by obtaining several grants to purchase new art media, tools, and sponsorship for her annual Arts Day. During Arts Day, each class visits with different artists, musicians, dancers, authors, and actors. She believes in the power of positivity and starts each class by getting her students to “tell her something good.” ”Marcia Womble is a great example of what today's students need; a great teacher who understands the importance of how to capture, inspire, and teach all of her students in ways that they receive the greatest benefit. She exemplifies the qualities parents desire, principals expect and colleagues emulate. As superintendent of schools in Laurens County 55, I am grateful to be her leader and enjoy working with her to advance the important work assigned to us. Mrs. Womble is one of the best teachers I've had the opportunity to work with in my 37 years in public education,” said Laurens County School District 55 superintendent Dr. Stephen Peters. As one of five finalists, Womble will receive $10,000 and go on to the next stage of competition which involves an in-person interview with a team of expert judges. The South Carolina Teacher of the Year Gala will be held May 3 in Columbia.  The overall winner receives a total of $25,000 and gets to drive a new BMW for one year while advocating for the teaching profession across the state. View photos from Spearman's visit.

Charleston student wins Poetry Out Loud State Championship

Janae Claxton (pictured above with her teacher, Robin Gramling), a junior at First Baptist School in Charleston, has been named the 2017 South Carolina Poetry Out Loud state champion. Claxton now advances to the national finals April 24-26 in Washington, D.C., where she competes for a $20,000 scholarship. As the state champion, Claxton receives $200 and an all-expense paid trip to compete in the national finals. The First Baptist School library also receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. Claxton was one of nine regional finalists who competed at the Columbia Museum of Art during the state finals on March 11. Each recited two poems they had memorized and perfected during school-wide and regional competitions that took place throughout the state from October to January, when more than 4,000 students began the competition. Three students were named state finalists and recited a third poem to determine the winner. Competition judges were author and Poet Laureate for the city of Columbia Ed Madden, professor of English at USC; Darion McCloud, founder and creative director of the NiA Theatre Company and Story Squad; Theresa (T.J.) Wallace, assistant director at South Carolina Humanities; and Qiana Whitted, author and associate professor of English and African-American Studies at USC. The South Carolina Arts Commission works with several partners to produce Poetry Out Loud. Statewide partners are the Columbia Museum of Art and South Carolina ETV Radio's “Speaking of Schools” radio program, hosted by Doug Keel. Regional partners are Hub City Writers Project (Region 1); One Columbia, Richland Library and the South Carolina Center for Oral Narrative at the University of South Carolina Sumter (Region 2); and the College of Charleston School of Humanities and Social Sciences (Region 3). Poetry Out Loud, a program created in 2005 by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through exploration, memorization and recitation. Students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage while gaining an appreciation of poetry. Last year more than 365,000 students nationwide competed. polcompositestatefinals

April Showers Art Party – it’s raining umbrellas!

The April Showers Art Party is the kick-off event for the South Carolina Arts Commission's 50th Anniversary. Join the South Carolina Arts Foundation and the South Carolina Arts Commission April 5 to kick off the Arts Commission's 50th Anniversary! For half a century, the Arts Commission has served as an umbrella for arts development in the Palmetto State. The April Showers Art Party will carry out the umbrella theme via works of art by professionals and umbrellas embellished by students and installed in the ceiling. These decorative umbrellas will represent the 67 sites of the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. April Showers will include a "Singin' in the Rain" performance by Ann Brodie's Carolina Ballet, an invitational art sale and a dance party featuring the Finesse Band. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased online. April Showers Art Party Wednesday, April 5 Grand Hall at 701 Whaley, Columbia, S.C. 7 p.m. - Singin'in the Rain Opening Performance, Ann Brodie's Carolina Ballet 7:30 - 9 p.m. - Invitational Art Sale 8:30 - 10:30 p.m. - Dance Party featuring the Finesse Band Find a list of participating artists and sponsors online. About the 50th Anniversary On June 7, 1967, Governor Robert E. McNair signed legislation creating the South Carolina Arts Commission, beginning a new era of public support for the arts in the Palmetto State. The legislation declared that the State of South Carolina would ensure that the arts “continue to grow and play an ever more significant part in the welfare and educational experiences of our citizens.” For 50 years, the Arts Commission has joined with individuals, institutions and professional organizations to advance the state’s commitment to create a thriving arts environment that benefits all citizens. From April 2017 through June 2018, the Arts Commission is celebrating 50 years of public support for the arts with kick-off events in Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville and exhibitions and performances showcasing the arts around the state. Check out the calendar of events and stay tuned for updates! SCAC-Logo_Icon-Stacked-FullColor