State to honor five with 2018 Folk Heritage Awards


  • Four artists and one advocate selected
  • Program managed jointly by McKissick Museum at USC and South Carolina Arts Commission
  • Awards to be presented May 2 at South Carolina Arts Awards Day
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Five South Carolina recipients are to be honored by the General Assembly with the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, presented annually to recognize work that keeps the state’s traditional art forms alive. The following five recipients – four artists and one advocate – are being recognized as practitioners and advocates of traditional arts significant to communities throughout the state. Their traditions embody folklife’s dynamic, multigenerational nature, and its fusion of artistic and utilitarian ideals. The 2018 recipients are:
  • The Blackville Community Choir (Blackville): A Capella Spiritual and Gospel Singing
  • Michael King (Greenville): Piedmont blues
  • Henrietta Snype (Mount Pleasant): Sweetgrass basketry
  • Deacon James Garfield Smalls (St. Helena Island): Traditional spirituals
  • Dr. Stephen Criswell (Lancaster): Folklife & Traditional Arts Advocacy
“The work of proliferating our state’s unique cultural heritage is an important one in an age of constant change,” South Carolina Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May said. “The intrinsic value of these treasured art forms is the story each tells of where and who we’ve been, and are, as a culture. We should all be grateful for the work these award recipients do on our behalf.” Jean Laney Harris Jean Laney Harris The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award is named for the late State Rep. Jean Laney Harris of Cheraw, respected as an outspoken advocate and ardent supporter of the arts and cultural resources of the state. Up to four artists or organizations and one advocate may receive awards each year. The program is managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at USC. Community members make nominations to recognize exemplary artistic achievement/advocacy. An independent advisory panel appointed by the lieutenant governor and house speaker selects the recipients, who must be living and practicing in the state. The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage and Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s awards, sponsored by Colonial Life, are presented at South Carolina Arts Awards Day on Wednesday, May 2 in a morning ceremony at the State House. The S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients afterward during a fundraising luncheon at the USC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). South Carolina artists’ work will be on sale to support the programs of the S.C. Arts Commission. Luncheon tickets are $50 per person and available for purchase through or by calling 803.734.8696. For more information about the Folk Heritage Awards, visit the McKissick Museum website at or the S.C. Arts Commission website,
  • Blackville Community Choir (Artist Category) was formed in 1965 as the Macedonia Tabernacle Choir. In 1976, the choir changed its name to The Blackville Community Choir. The group expanded to include members from different congregations and continued to sing at churches, festivals, funerals, weddings, banquets, public schools, and college graduations. Choir members have been advocates for the arts, organizing an annual program featuring visual and performing artists, collectors, crafters, entrepreneurs, culinary artists, and storytellers.
  • J. Michael King (Artist Category) is a composer, writer, teacher, and accomplished Piedmont blues musician with an insatiable love of traditional South Carolina music. The Piedmont blues, a unique regional distillation of the blues, blossomed in Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia near the beginning of the 20th century. Influenced by ragtime music and early banjo techniques, Piedmont blues involves a light, finger-picking style and steady rhythms. A popular instructor, King teaches the Piedmont blues throughout the region. For over 30 years, he has mentored musicians of all ages in and around upstate South Carolina.
  • Even at 98, Deacon James Garfield Smalls (Artist Category) sings songs dating back to the mid-19th century and stands as one the most important active Gullah singers and cultural ambassadors. Smalls received musical training from B.H. Washington, a member of the St. Helena Quartet and music director at St. Joseph Baptist Church. Smalls sang in Washington’s renowned community choir The Hundred Voices, and later led the ensemble. He also served for many years as director of the senior choir at St. Joseph Baptist Church. Beyond his early musical career, Smalls served in the Pacific with the U.S. Navy’s Seabees during World War II. Over the past three decades, Deacon Smalls has led the singing at Penn Center Community Sings, various island churches, and music festivals.
  • Henrietta Snype (Artist Category) is a Mount Pleasant native and third generation sweetgrass basket maker. Snype’s work has been featured at venues in the Lowcountry and in museums throughout the U.S., including the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Art. Schools, museum shops, business owners, and private art collectors have commissioned works from her. She conducts workshops for public and private schools throughout Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties and does countless demonstrations for all ages.
  • Dr. Stephen Criswell (Advocacy Category) has worked in folklore and anthropology for more than 20 years. His most prominent contribution is his advocacy work for Native American culture, focusing on Catawba potters and contemporary expressive traditions. In 2005, the University of South Carolina Lancaster hired Criswell and challenged him to build and direct its Native American Studies program. After 13 years, the Native American Studies Center (NASC) houses the largest fully intact collection of Catawba pottery in existence and an extensive archival collection. Its new facility has welcomed 30,000 visitors from all over the world since 2012, raising awareness of the history, culture and traditions of Native people of the South.

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 MCKISSICK MUSEUM The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum tells the story of southern life: community, culture, and the environment. The Museum is located on the University of South Carolina’s historic Horseshoe with available parking in the garage at the corner of Pendleton and Bull streets. All exhibitions are free and open to the public. The Museum is open from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturdays. The Museum is closed Sundays and university holidays. For more information, please call at 803.777.7251 or visit 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 or call 803.734.8696.

Another win at Poetry Out Loud; repeat champ makes Charleston proud

It's a South Carolina first. State Poetry Out Loud winner Janae Claxton (center) receives her trophy from South Carolina Arts Commission representatives Zuri Wilson-Seymore, program coordinator (left), and Ashley Kerns Brown, arts education director (right). This past weekend, Janae Claxton of Charleston became the first back-to-back champion of the statewide Poetry Out Loud competition, which is organized by the South Carolina Arts Commission. A senior at First Baptist Church School in Charleston, Claxton was judged the winner after three rounds against five other South Carolina finalists Saturday afternoon at Richland Library Main Branch in Columbia. She won an all-expenses-paid trip for herself and a chaperone as she represents the state in the Poetry Out Loud national finals April 23-25, 2018 in Washington. She also won $200. The national winner receives a $20,000 cash prize.

  • Taylor Elisse Wade of Andrew Jackson High School in Lancaster was first runner up, winning a $100 prize for herself and a $200 stipend for her school to spend on poetry books.
  • Alyssa Stone of Wando High School in Mt. Pleasant was second runner up.
Four first-time judges were part of the Poetry Out Loud state finals: Al Black, Dr. Ray McManus, Dr. Charlene Spearen, and Dr. Ernest Williamson III. SCETV's Beryl Dakers served as event host. Claxton recited three poems from memory on her way to the victory: “The Gaffe” by C.K. Williams in the first round and “A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late, Famous General” by Jonathan Swift in the second. Her judges’ score advanced her to the third and final round, where she recited Sharon Olds' “I Go Back to May 1937

Mark Rapp designated Columbia and state jazz ambassador

He's sold out Jazz at Lincoln Center four times and played the Blue Note in Greenwich Village. He's performed solo gigs in Vienna, Geneva, Boston, Washington, and – of course – New Orleans. He's taken the stage with Branford Marsalis, fellow South Carolinians Hootie and the Blowfish, Darius Rucker, and Edwin McCain, Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson, and Delfeayo Marsalis. And according to a resolution by the S.C. House of Representatives, Mark Rapp is now also "Jazz Ambassador of Columbia and the State of South Carolina."  The resolution was presented to the accomplished jazz trumpeter in February by Reps. Beth Bernstein and Kirman Finlay and recognizes him as "master jazz musician, composer/arranger, and teacher" and lauds his many accomplishments. "I am humbled and excited by this recognition," Rapp said. "It not only reaffirms the foundations which Skipp Pearson built, but acknowledges my genuine dedication to the work of growing and serving our jazz community. "My mission is to grow, elevate, and expand the jazz community in and around Columbia through recordings, events, and education, creating a thriving scene for both the artists and our audiences.  I’m determined to enrich and advance the lives of our citizens and the culture of our communities through the wonderful art form of jazz." The designation was held by the late Skipp Pearson, also of Columbia, from 2002 until his passing in summer 2017.

Arts Commission announces five 2018 recipients of Verner Awards for the Arts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 27 February 2018 COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Commission is announcing the five South Carolinians to receive the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts – the highest arts honor in the state – in 2018. The following five recipients from their respective categories are being recognized for outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina:

  • ARTIST: Tom Stanley, Rock Hill
  • INDIVIDUAL: Alan Ethridge, Greenville
  • ARTS IN EDUCATION: Dr. Anne S. Richardson, Columbia
  • BUSINESS: Bank of America, Columbia
  • ORGANIZATION: Ballet Spartanburg, Spartanburg
“Each recipient of these Verner Awards is an outstanding ambassador for our state and contributes greatly not just to the arts community, but the overall quality of life," S.C. Arts Commission Chairman Henry Horowitz said. "Such dedication to the arts benefits South Carolina’s people and, as we’ve just learned, adds to the arts’ $9.7 billion impact on our state’s economic vitality. As the Arts Commission nears completion of its 50th anniversary celebration, we are honored to recognize organizations and individuals who live out the service, commitment and passion that helped the arts here thrive throughout the last half century.” A diverse committee, appointed by the S.C. Arts Commission Board and drawn from members of the South Carolina community at large, reviews all nominations and, after a rigorous process, makes recommendations to the Board for final approval after a series of panel meetings produces a recommendation from each category. The 2018 Verner Awards are sponsored by Colonial Life. Awards will be presented Wednesday, May 2 in a morning ceremony at the State House. The S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients afterward during a fundraising luncheon at the USC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). South Carolina artists’ work will be on sale to support the programs of the S.C. Arts Commission. Luncheon tickets are $50 per person and are to be available for purchase by mid-March. For more about the Verner Awards or the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon, call 803.734.8696 or visit
  • Tom Stanley (Artist Category) is the recently retired chair of the Winthrop University Department of Fine Arts. He was the first director of the university galleries and became department chair in 2007. The native Texan earned two graduate degrees from USC and taught on college faculties in Arkansas and Florida before returning to South Carolina. He increased student artist and department visibility while at Winthrop through partnerships in both Carolinas. His work has been exhibited throughout the southeast and in four European countries, and he has completed commissions for public art in several states. He resides in Rock Hill.
  • Alan Ethridge (Individual Category) became executive director of the Metropolitan Arts Council in Greenville in 2005 and maintains the position after previously serving as its director of marketing and development. A tireless and selfless advocate of the arts, he has universal recognition in the Upstate for playing a critical, leading role in fostering a growing arts environment. Ethridge is a summa cum laude graduate of Vanderbilt University and previously worked in fundraising at Clemson University. He resides in Greenville.
  • Dr. Anne S. Richardson (Arts in Education Category) entered the teaching profession in the late 1980s while continuing to dance professionally until 1995. She started a jazz dance company in Columbia in 1987 and taught ballet in various public schools while earning her graduate degrees. In 2001 she began the dance program at Palmetto Center for the Arts. She aspires to create original thinking through arts integration in her students at Westwood High School in Blythewood, where she is a drama teacher and former chair of the fine arts department. She resides in Columbia.
  • Bank of America (Business Category) has a rich history of commitment to the arts, which translates into global programs as well as local support for what is most relevant in each community it serves. In South Carolina, the bank has given more than $2 million to support the arts across the state and arts disciplines in recent years, its associates have contributed 81,000 volunteer hours in the last five years, and associates will serve on four boards in 2018. Its South Carolina headquarters are in Columbia.
  • The mission of Ballet Spartanburg (Organization Category) is to promote dance and dance appreciation in Spartanburg County and surrounding areas by providing the highest quality dance training, education, performance, and outreach. Ballet Spartanburg is recognized as a regional dance company with an exceptional commitment to education and outreach activities in the Upstate. It is headquartered in Spartanburg.

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 or call (803) 734-8696.

Submitted material

North Charleston Arts Fest Reveals 2018 Design Competition Winner

The City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department is pleased to announce Hamed Mahmoodi of Greenville, S.C. as the winner of the 2018 North Charleston Arts Fest Design Competition. As the winner of the statewide contest, Mahmoodi’s acrylic painting, titled Atlantic Sun (right), will be used to promote the 2018 North Charleston Arts Fest, taking place May 2-6. In addition, the artist received a $500 purchase award and the piece will become part of the City’s Public Art Collection. Hamed’s design was selected from a total of 85 entries by artists from 11 cities across the state. The selection was made by a review panel appointed by the Cultural Arts Department who judged the entries based on quality, originality, appeal to festival patrons from a broad range of backgrounds, and ability to convey the spirit of the festival as a public celebration of arts and culture. Mahmoodi, who has submitted work into the competition in years past, created a series of abstract paintings in the Art Nouveau manner for his entries in this year’s competition. “I focused on concentrated circles and curves and loaded the pieces with colors in a rainbow fashion that would be pleasing to the viewer’s eye,” he explains. “I believe the vibrancy created by the enticing color scheme and the energy generated by the movement in Atlantic Sun are very representative of the North Charleston Arts Fest. The diverse performances and artwork featured during the event, and the approach to connecting the arts and community members, bring vibrancy and energy to the City that I think is very special.” Hamed Mahmoodi was born in Iran and moved to South Carolina in 1978. He attended Clemson University and received a B.S. in Design Architecture in 1986. After graduation, he worked as an associate architect at Fluor International, then as art director for Naegele Outdoor Advertising. He has been a freelance designer for various architectural firms throughout the Southeast and a full-time artist working in a variety of media since the late 80’s. Hamed has had several one-man shows in museums, universities, galleries, and restaurants, and his design works and paintings can be found from Ground Zero Memorial Park in NYC to the South Carolina Governor's Mansion. He has also earned numerous juried awards, best in show honors, merit awards, fellowships, and art grants and has been chosen as the poster/art design winner of other notable festivals, including Piccolo Spoleto (Charleston, SC) and the Coca-Cola RiverPlace Festival (Greenville, SC). Oil, watercolor, acrylic, metals, wax, paper, furniture, and photography are just some of the media that Mahmoodi has used to create his diverse works of art. His philosophy for creating art is much like Robert Rauschenberg and Christo, whereas he believes that each idea and work deserves its own individual style and medium. Therefore, his approach varies from representational to abstract, with his most recent paintings primarily executed in an abstract style with an emphasis on color and movement. A new series of Mahmoodi’s paintings will be on display at the North Charleston City Gallery throughout May 2018. The exhibit will also feature the winning piece, Atlantic Sun. The gallery is located within the Charleston Area Convention Center at 5001 Coliseum Drive in North Charleston. Admission and parking are free. The public is invited to meet the artist at the gallery during the Arts Fest Expo from 11:00am-5:00pm on May 5 & 6, 2018. T-shirts and posters featuring the winning design will be available for purchase. For more information about the North Charleston Arts Fest, other competition and exhibition opportunities, or festival sponsorship and program booklet ad placement, contact the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at (843)740-5854, email, or visit

Charleston painter receives 2018 South Arts State Fellowship

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 14 February 2018   ATLANTA, Ga. – Kate Hooray Osmond of Charleston is the South Carolina recipient of one of nine South Arts State Fellowships for 2018, the consortium of southern state arts agencies announced yesterday. South Arts, the organization advancing Southern vitality through the arts, has named nine visual artists from the South to receive State Fellowship awards of $5,000 each. These nine artists are now in consideration for the Southern Prize, which includes an additional $25,000 cash award and a two-week residency at the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences. The winner of the Southern Prize and a $10,000 Finalist award will be announced at a ceremony celebrating the State Fellows on April 16 in New Orleans. The 2018 State Fellowship award recipients are:

  • Amy Pleasant, Birmingham, Alabama, Painting.
  • Anastasia Samoylova, Miami Beach, Florida, Photography.
  • Paul Stephen Benjamin, Scottdale, Georgia, Multidisciplinary.
  • Garrett Hansen, Lexington, Kentucky, Multidisciplinary.
  • Jeremiah Ariaz, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Photography.
  • Dominic Lippillo, Starkville, Mississippi, Photography.
  • Meg Stein, Durham, North Carolina, Sculpture.
  • Kate Hooray Osmond, Charleston, South Carolina, Painting (above)
  • Vesna Pavlović, Nashville, Tennessee, Photography.
South Arts Now in their second year, the South Arts Southern Prize and State Fellowships celebrate and support the highest quality artistic work being created in the American South. Nearly 700 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 Southern Prize awardee and the Finalist. “We are very proud to support Southern artists,” said Susie Surkamer, executive director of South Arts. “These State Fellows reflect the richly diverse arts and culture of our region, and each offers a distinct viewpoint with their work and background. The Southern Prize and State Fellowships are an important vehicle for artistic and professional growth of artists in the South.” The State Fellowship juror panel included Ade Omotosho with the Pérez Art Museum Miami; Jan Davidson, former director of the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina; Mark Scala, chief curator at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville; and Scott Stulen, director and president of Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Visual artists living in South Arts’ nine-state region and producing crafts, drawing, experimental, painting, photography, sculpture, mixed media, and multidisciplinary work were eligible to apply. The awards will be presented to the artists as unrestricted funds. To view the 2018 State Fellows’ submissions and learn more about the competition, visit
ABOUT SOUTH ARTS South Arts advance Southern vitality through the arts. The 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 support the success of artists and arts providers in the South, address the needs of Southern communities through impactful arts-based programs, and celebrate the excellence, innovation, value and power of the arts of the South. For more information, visit
ABOUT KATE HOORAY OSMOND Kate Hooray Osmond is a painter and installation artist whose work expresses bold architectural lines and bright, shiny colors. She rides in a helicopter to capture much of her subject matter: highways, agricultural structures, industrial plats, container ships, etc. to offer a new perspective of our familiar everyday existence. Energy, optimism, and the use of gold leaf are the hallmarks of Kate’s work. She believes in the unlimited curiosity and creativity of the human race and is fascinated by our relationship with the land. Kate resides in Charleston, South Carolina and was recently awarded the Lowcountry Artist of the Year by the Coastal Community Foundation. Her work has shown in galleries and museums from the U.S. to South Korea. She is an MFA candidate at Maryland Institute College of Art and is probably chasing her kids around the front yard right now. Learn more at Image credit Kate Hooray Osmond on Instagram.
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 or call (803) 734-8696.

Tuning Up: Youth poetry contest, SCAC Fellow exhibition

Good morning! "Tuning Up" is a new, morning series of posts where The Hub delivers 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...

  • Young Minds Dreaming: The South Carolina State Library is encouraging young writers from grades 3-12 to capture the power of their words and experience the freedom of original literary expressions. (Maybe the snow could be an inspiration for Upstate students.) Check out more info on the Young Minds Dreaming Poetry Contest.
  • SCAC Fellow exhibition opening: Arts Commission Fellow Robert Lyon has  an exhibition opening at the Arts & Heritage Center in North Augusta. More details via The Augusta Chronicle here.
  • Person of the Year: The Orangeburg Times & Democrat named Dr. Leo Twiggs, 2017 Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Lifetime Achievement Award winner and recipient of the Order of the Palmetto, its Person of the Year.
  • Caldera Arts seeks AiR applications: Now through March 15, apply for a 3.5-week residency in the foothills of Oregon's Cascade Mountains. (You don't have to tell us twice...) Open to all U.S. artists in any discipline.
  • AVI Grants Deadline tonight: Letters of Intent to pursue an AVI (Artists' Ventures Initiative) grant from SCAC are due by 11:59 p.m. ET tonight!
(Image credit: South Carolina Philharmonic/Michael Dantzler)

Charleston Rhizome Collective first SC recipient of national ArtPlace America grant

Charleston Rhizome Collective leaders with City of Charleston Cultural Affairs Director Scott Watson and Mayor John Tecklenburg A Charleston grassroots organization is the first South Carolina recipient of a highly competitive national grant from ArtPlace America. The Charleston Rhizome Collective will receive $300,000 for the conNECKtedTOO project to help address the needs of small and tiny businesses using installations, visuals, forums, a tour, an app-based interactive map and a youth entrepreneurship program. conNECKtedTOO will create a solidarity hub and network linking tiny neighborhood businesses to consolidate buying and selling power and engage residents in decisions over business ownership, loans, job training, hiring practices, wholesale prices, schooling and housing. ArtPlace’s National Creative Placemaking Fund invests money in community development projects where artists, arts organizations, and arts and culture activity work to strengthen communities across 10 sectors of community planning and development. ArtPlace received 987 applications this year, and after narrowing the field to 70 finalists, selected conNECKtedTOO as one of only 23 projects that will receive a total of $8.7 million in funding. The 23 projects represent communities of all sizes across 18 states and one U.S. territory, with almost 52 percent of this year’s funded projects taking place in rural communities. The South Carolina Arts Commission has been actively promoting this opportunity for the past five years and working with organizations interested in applying, according to Executive Director Ken May. “The ArtPlace application is a rigorous and competitive process; many South Carolina organizations have applied and only a few have made it to the finalist level. Clearly, conNECKtedTOO had the right ingredients—authenticity, local engagement, artistic sensibility and a compelling need—to bring home this prestigious award. Congratulations to the Collective for being the first South Carolina organization to join the cadre of creative place making efforts funded by ArtPlace America.” ArtPlace Director of National Grantmaking F. Javier Torres visited South Carolina to present workshops about the grant opportunity and conduct site visits. “This year’s investments highlight critical dimensions of creative placemaking strategy that can provide great inspiration to communities across the country," said Torres. "We are deeply excited to announce these 23 new investments as our seventh cohort of funded projects through the National Creative Placemaking Fund.” For conNECKtedTOO, the Charleston Rhizome Collective will work with partners such as Jason Gourdine of the Black Collective, the South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development, the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs and several tiny businesses. “All of Charleston commends the conNECKted team on their ArtPlace America award,” said Charleston Mayor John J. Tecklenburg. “Their past projects and recent efforts build confidence that the arts can be effectively put to work in new and creative ways to sustain and strengthen our local communities.” Find out more about the 2017 funded projects here. About The Charleston Rhizome Collective Based in Charleston, South Carolina, the Charleston Rhizome Collective is an art-in/with community group, where education, art and activism intersect. By design, it is grassroots, inter-racial and inter-generational. Through the arts, the Collective aims to amplify the voices of neighborhoods absent from public and private plans: social, cultural and economic. About ArtPlace America ArtPlace America (ArtPlace) is a ten-year collaboration among 16 partner foundations, along with 8 federal agencies and 6 financial institutions, that works to position arts and culture as a core sector of comprehensive community planning and development in order to help strengthen the social, physical, and economic fabric of communities. ArtPlace focuses its work on creative placemaking, projects in which art plays an intentional and integrated role in place-based community planning and development. This brings artists, arts organizations, and artistic activity into the suite of placemaking strategies pioneered by Jane Jacobs and her colleagues, who believed that community development must be locally informed, human-centric, and holistic. For more information visit

Art of Community: Rural SC recognized with Power of Rural award

The South Carolina Arts Commission's initiative, The Art of Community: Rural S.C., received the first Power of Rural award October 11 from the South Carolina Office of Rural Health at the 21st annual Rural Health Conference, which was attended by health and medical professionals dedicated to providing access to quality healthcare in rural communities. Program Director Susan DuPlessis also led a conversation of Art of Community team members around using the arts as a different approach to building healthy communities. The Art of Community: Rural S.C. advances the Arts Commission’s commitment to rural development through the arts, culture and creative placemaking and is supported by funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. The initiative has led to national attention and new connections for the Arts Commission — from the White House to national thought leaders to significant organizations inside and outside of the state. In addition, the agency has been invited to take part in regional and national conferences and webinars to present the program as a model for building community, economic opportunity and local infrastructure for growth and development in rural and high-poverty communities. “Through this initiative, we have created a new framework for building local connections, community engagement and capacity,” DuPlessis said. “It was born out of our participation in the Promise Zone’s strategic planning process in the fall of 2015. In all of the sessions, I heard how arts and culture were important, whether we were talking about healthcare or workforce development. The arts were clearly identified as key to community pride, attachment and new possibilities.” Over the past year, The Art of Community: Rural SC resulted in six creative peacemaking projects being designed and implemented by local teams in the six counties in South Carolina’s federally designated Promise Zone . The Arts Commission provided small grants to assist with these projects. Six mavens are working closely with the Arts Commission to drive and sustain the work of each local team. Mavens and the communities they represent are Lottie Lewis, Allendale; Dr. Yvette McDaniel, Denmark (Bamberg County); Evelyn Coker, Blackville (Barnwell County); Gary Brightwell, Walterboro (Colleton County); Audrey Hopkins-Williams, Estill (Hampton County); and Johnny Davis, Jasper County Twenty-three national and state leaders representing expansive thinking in the world of arts, culture and community development serve on the Art of Community Advisory Council, which is co-chaired by two native South Carolinians, Union native Dr. Ann Carmichael, dean of USC Salkehatchie, and Bob Reeder, program director for Rural LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) and a Rock Hill native. For more information about The Art of Community, contact Susan DuPlessis, 803.734.8693. Image: First row, left to right: team member LaShandra Morgan, maven Dr. Yvette McDaniel, Susan DuPlessis, maven Evelyn Coker. Back row, left to right: team members Ashley Jordan and Myron Brooker, Dr. Graham Adams, executive director, S.C. Office of Rural Health, and team member Brenda Hughes. Missing from photo: mavens Gary Brightwell, Johnny Davis, Audrey Hopkins-Williams, and Lottie Lewis.  

Nominate your arts hero for a Verner Award!

Deadline extended to Nov. 8. Recognize South Carolina innovators, supporters and advocates of the arts with a nomination for the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts — the state’s highest arts award! The nomination process is now a simple online process  — just upload a letter of nomination by Nov. 8. Verner Award StatueThe nomination letter should describe the nominee’s exemplary contributions to the arts in South Carolina and address any characteristics included in the category descriptions (see below). It should include specific examples and relevant data wherever possible. The letter should be structured to answer the following questions:

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