Farewell reflections by Ken May
A 33-year tenure ends today
: Ken May's last day at the S.C. Arts Commission is today. While his last day as executive director was June 30, for the past two weeks he's served as a consultant to provide that coveted on-the-job training to his successor, David Platts. The Hub welcomes him today for a guest post.)
Almost exactly 10 years ago, in a year catastrophic state budget cuts prevented the presentation of the Verner Awards for just the second time since 1976, I was lucky enough to become acting executive director of the South Carolina Arts Commission.
I say “lucky” with only a little irony, because getting to do this job has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Not that “great” always equates with “fun.” I’ll admit that this job has not always been a pleasure, but it has been a privilege.
In that period as acting director, which lasted a little more than a year, I had two important tasks. I had to get control of an agency budget that was in free-fall, and I had to produce a new long-range plan for the arts in South Carolina.
Since 1980, the Arts Commission led major, public planning processes to set long term goals for the arts in the state, and it was time to start the process again. Since 1990, this process, known as “A Canvas of the People,” produced 10-year plans. The goals of these plans were deliberately broad. They were intended to remain relevant over time and to be open to multiple approaches to implementation.
In 2009 we decided that, in a time of such uncertainty, it was all the more important to think beyond the present moment, to take the long view, and to set ambitious goals for a better future. So, we embarked on a process to create a new 10-year plan.
The plan we produced attempted to weave together larger public aspirations and more specific arts outcomes and to find productive intersections between them that would create public value in the arts during the decade 2011 through 2020. The plan envisioned five major outcomes for the arts in South Carolina, and we have focused our efforts toward these goals since 2011:
- South Carolina citizens and visitors benefit from diverse opportunities for relevant, rewarding arts experiences in communities throughout the state.
- South Carolina’s professional artists are able to produce exceptional art and build satisfying, sustainable careers in our state.
- Students receive a comprehensive education in the arts that develops their creativity, problem solving and collaborative skills, and prepares them for a lifetime of engagement with the arts and productive citizenship.
- South Carolina art organization and other arts providers have the capacity and necessary resources to deliver relevant, high quality arts experiences to citizens and visitors.
- There is broad recognition within the state and beyond its borders of the value of and unique contribution made by the arts in South Carolina.
So how did it go? How have we done?
Well, we made this plan in the midst of a terrible recession, in the belief that times would change. And they did.
They got worse.
State revenues continued to decline, and by FY12 the Arts Commission’s budget fell to its lowest level since the 1990’s. And the political climate became more hostile to public funding for the arts, with some key elected leaders attempting, repeatedly, to eliminate that funding altogether.
But I am proud to say that, even as we fought for our existence and pursued our work with very limited resources, we kept our sights and our efforts focused on the goals of the plan. And so did our partners and our constituents.
We worked together to make our case for the public value of the arts and to increase that value in our communities. And a broad, bipartisan majority of our elected leaders listened, and continued to invest in the arts, and increased that investment over time.
There is a lot of evidence that we have made real progress toward each of the plan’s targeted outcomes, and I’ll just share a few indicators of that progress. Most of these are drawn from data on the Arts Commission’s grants and programs, but I think they reflect the trends in the larger arts community as well.
- In FY10, the year before the plan started, we awarded 367 grants totaling $2.2 million. These grants were matched by $92 million at the local level. In FY18, the last year for which we have complete data, we awarded 452 grants, totaling more than $4.2 million, matched by $187 million. In that period the number of arts experiences supported by those grants rose from about 7,000,000 to more than 8,000,000. Preliminary totals for FY19 suggest another rise.
- Since 2014, we’ve reduced the number counties that have consistently not received Arts Commission funding from 8 to 3 and—for the first time—in FY19 every county in South Carolina received an Arts Commission grant. This is largely due to new ways of working in communities, developed through programs like The Art of Community: Rural SC. These approaches rely on building relationships and trust, rather than following the conventions of traditional grantmaking.
- Since 2011, 36 artists in a broad range of art forms have received Individual Artist Fellowships, and 32 artist/entrepreneurs have won Artists Ventures investments. More than 400 artists have participated in Artists U, a program that provides guidance on how to make a sustainable life as an artist.
- The number of schools and school districts receiving Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Advancement grants grew for 48 in FY10 to 78 in FY18, and the number of students served increased from 37,000 to more than 167,000. These schools and districts are leaders in providing comprehensive arts education to all students, and they are models that are emulated by others.
- In FY16 we secured $1,000,000 in new, recurring Education Improvement Act funds to support arts education expansion and new initiatives to increase access. New funds enabled us to restore the commission’s arts education staff position, which had been vacant since 2010. We were also able to develop new summer arts learning programs in high-poverty, rural school districts.
- Despite numerous vetoes that had to be overridden, the Arts Commission’s state funding rebounded from its low point of $1.9 million in FY12 to $4.9 million in FY19 to around $5.5 million in the just-begun year.
- And finally, the arts in South Carolina have drawn positive national attention for our state. Last year our Poetry Out Loud state champion, Janae Claxton of Charleston, won the national competition. The Art of Community initiative has been featured in several national publications, conference sessions, and a documentary. It was also showcased in a briefing and webcast at the National Press Club. And this fall, Oxford American magazine will feature South Carolina in its popular annual music issue.
So, we’ve made progress, and we have momentum. But with only one year remaining in the current plan, it’s time to start work on the new plan. That will be one of the first big jobs for my successor, and I wish him well in that effort. I would ask all of you to join in the process of making the plan, and then to become active partners in realizing it.
Whatever ups and downs may come in the next few years, I think there is an exciting future ahead for the arts in our state, and I look forward to sharing that future with you. I’m deeply grateful for all the opportunities and support you’ve given me, and for all the wonderful experiences we’ve had together. It has been an honor and a joy to serve you.
Now, as I step aside, we move forward. As my good friend and mentor Jo Ann Anderson would say, Godspeed!
Rural creatives: network on July 25
Network, celebrate, and catch the creative spirit
After a year of creating new connections and networks, CREATE: Rural SC wants you to join us and continue its creative exploration.
Creatives, artists, entrepreneurs, makers, tradition-bearers, mavens, advisors, friends and partners: you are especially invited to be part of this conversation and celebration.
On Thursday, July 25,
we’ll ask what matters to artists working deeply in communities to make positive change and what matters to communities that host visiting artists. As we share and network, we’ll learn more about the community-based work of visiting artist Markus Tracy
of Nevada who will lead a conversation about his South Carolina experiences in Estill and Blackville this spring and summer.
Join us to learn more about staying connected with the S.C. Arts Commission and this program
and come meet the agency's new director, David Platts
Light refreshments will be served and a mic provided for artists and others to share brief creative updates and insights. Artists are invited to bring a sample of their artwork for sharing and informal discussion. And perhaps a few of you will bring instruments—these meetings have a history of turning into jam sessions.
We are excited to join with the Estill/Hampton County Team for The Art of Community: Rural SC
to support this important meeting and give special thanks to the Town of Estill for its support. In addition, financial support from USDA-Rural Development, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and the South Carolina Arts Commission (which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts) is fostering new ideas, new programs and new projects for community arts development in South Carolina.
Special thanks as well to associates affiliated with the Promise Zone region, which includes Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper counties.
Check out this e-vite link and rsvp today: http://evite.me/jBdWNpf5gm
conNECKtedTOO is on the move
Sculpture heads to North Charleston for the summer
“You Bet ‘N Me ‘N Me ‘N You,” a sculptural tiny business village of the future, has moved from the Cannon Street Arts Center in downtown Charleston to the lobby of North Charleston’s City Hall (2500 City Hall Lane) where it will remain installed through early August 2019.
The sculpture was created by artists, apprentices and business owners working with conNECKtedTOO
, a project of art and culture in/with community for economic development. The project supports and promotes tiny business in Charleston and beyond as a vital part of neighborhood and commerce by building a collaborative, sustainable network of business owners, artists and neighborhood youth. This network is inter-generational, interracial and grassroots by design; it reflects the importance of diversity in the building of equitable societies.
"Everybody's dream is not to become Bill Gates. Some folks want to support their families or live out something that's a passion of theirs. There's one guy that has always wanted to have a place to sell pizza. As simple as that. He doesn't want to be Pizza Hut," said conNECKtedTOO tiny business coordinator and Charleston native Theron Snype.
In addition to the tiny business village installation, conNECKtedTOO has developed an Active Memory Map as one way of seeking out local narratives that are often left out of economic conversations—the stories, voices and memories of generations of Charlestonians, especially those who represent marginalized populations like minorities, women, and immigrants. The participatory map will be at the Charleston County Library Main Branch (68 Calhoun St., Charleston) through July 31.
coNECKtedTOO, as a multi-faceted experiment, is being constantly imagined, forged and promoted.
Our present plan, timeline and budget are supported in large part by an ArtPlace America award. Additional support is provided by Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the South Carolina Arts Commission.
For more information please visit conNECKtedTOO.org
or email conNECKtedTOO@gmail.com
Temporary sculpture installed in Charleston
'Under Glass' conjoins natural sciences, spirituality
The Charleston Parks Conservancy is bringing public sculpture to the West Ashley Greenway with a temporary art installation by Georgia artist Mike Wsol. The piece was installed May 8 near the St. Andrew's School of Math and Science between Campbell Drive and the West Ashley Greenway.
The Conservancy awarded Wsol with an exhibition prize at ArtFields in May 2018. ArtFields is an annual art exhibit and competition in Lake City showcasing the work of artists around the Southeast. Over the last year, Wsol has been planning and designing his sculpture for the West Ashley Greenway.
Titled “Under Glass,” Wsol said the sculpture was “designed with the natural sciences and spirituality in mind. Its form divided in two chambers separates the viewer below from the natural light entering and reflecting within the upper chamber. Experiencing ‘Under Glass’ highlights the separation of the viewer’s physical body from the passing light nature provides.”
The sculpture is made from two 325-gallon scrap propane tanks bolted to an X-shaped foundation that will be buried underground and covered with sod and soil. After the installation is complete, the sculpture will appear to balance atop the earth. It will be on display until October.
In the coming months, the Conservancy will host educational events and opportunities for the public and schoolchildren to view the sculpture and interact with the artist.
Wsol's recent creative work has taken the form of large experiential, interactive public sculpture, prints, and drawings. His work has been exhibited in New York, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami, among other cities. Wsol has also been the recipient of grants and awards from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management, Indiana University, and the Georgia State University Center for Collaborative and International Arts to name a few. He earned a master of architecture from the University of Virginia, a master of fine art in sculpture from the University of Georgia, a master of arts in sculpture and a bachelor of arts in sculpture from Eastern Illinois University.
The Charleston Parks Conservancy launched its Art in the Parks program in 2017, an effort to encourage temporary public art displays in Charleston city parks through collaborations with artists and arts organizations, including Redux Contemporary Art Center
, City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs
. The first art installation was in Hampton Park last year.
In 2017, the Conservancy received a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for a planning and public engagement process to encourage creative placemaking along the West Ashley Greenway and Bikeway. The site of Wsol’s installation was identified in the plan as location for public art that engages the community and encourages social interaction.
“This installation is the first of many public art projects we’ll bring to West Ashley,” said Harry Lesesne, executive director of the Charleston Parks Conservancy. “As we work on the overall master plan for revitalizing the West Ashley Greenway and Bikeway, pubic art and arts programming will play an important role in how we reshape this public space and encourage resident use and engagement.”
The ArtFields exhibition prize is part of the Art in the Parks program created by the Charleston Parks Conservancy in collaboration with Redux Contemporary Art Center and the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs.
About the Charleston Parks Conservancy
The Charleston Parks Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring the people of Charleston to connect with their parks and together create stunning public places and a strong community. The Conservancy opens doors to individuals and organizations in Charleston wanting to engage with their parks and green spaces in a kaleidoscope of positive ways. With the help of its Park Angels, the Conservancy improves, enhances, and invigorates these spaces, making Charleston even better, stronger, and more successful. For more information about or to support the Charleston Parks Conservancy, please visit www.charlestonparksconservancy.org
Four S.C. musicians selected for the National Youth Orchestra (NYO2)
Students among 80 selected,
will perform in Miami & NYC
Image by Jason Rapp/SCAC
Carnegie Hall this week announced the names of the 80 young musicians selected from across the country for NYO2, a three-week, intensive summer orchestral training program for outstanding American instrumentalists ages 14–17.
The members of NYO2 2019—coming from 30 U.S. states plus Puerto Rico—have been recognized by Carnegie Hall as exceptionally talented musicians who not only embody a very high level of artistry, but who also come from a wide range of backgrounds, representing a future for American orchestral music that includes communities which have often been underserved by and underrepresented in the field. 20 musicians are returning to NYO2 from previous seasons.
The four South Carolina students are:
- Violinist Payton Jin-Hyun Lee, 10th grade, Duncan (S.C. Governors School for the Arts and Humanities)
- Violist Ansley Moe, 11th grade, Spartanburg (S.C. Governors School for the Arts and Humanities)
- Violist Jeremiah Moultrie, 12th grade, Charleston (S.C. Governors School for the Arts and Humanities)
- Violist Hailey Xu, 12th grade, Greer (Riverside High School)
For the second consecutive year, the musicians of NYO2 will travel to Miami Beach for a week-long residency, made possible through a continued partnership with the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy (NWS). As part of their training, NYO2 players have the opportunity to work with NWS Fellows leading up to a performance at the New World Center on Saturday, July 27 at 8:30 p.m. led by conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto. The program includes
- Stravinsky’s Pétrouchka,
- selections from Falla’s The Three-Cornered Hat,
- and Gabriela Montero’s Piano Concerto No. 1, “Latin,” featuring the composer as soloist.
The New World Center concert will be made available to the community for free via WALLCAST®, with the full performance viewable outdoors in SoundScape Park on the 7,000-square-foot projection wall of the building. During their time in Miami, the NYO2 members will also have opportunities to interact with local young musicians in the South Florida area through NWS community partner organizations, playing and learning side-by-side with one another.
Following their Miami residency, NYO2 returns to New York for a culminating performance at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday, July 30 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the Carnegie Hall concert, priced at $25 for adults and $10 for students, are on sale now in person and over the phone through the Carnegie Hall Box Office by calling 212.247.7800 and at CarnegieHall.org
. Discounted student tickets are available online for verified Student Insiders only – all other youth tickets must be purchased at the box office or over the phone.
The NYO2 program begins with an intensive training residency at Purchase College, State University of New York in mid-July. The young musicians work with NWS Fellows as well as other professional players from top orchestras, and also have opportunities to make music side-by-side with members of NYO-USA and NYO Jazz. Joseph Young, artistic director of Ensembles at the Peabody Institute, returns as NYO2’s resident conductor, and the students also have the opportunity to work with James Ross, music director of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra in Virginia. The faculty leads private lessons, master classes, chamber music readings, and other seminars on essential music skills in preparation for the culminating concerts in Miami Beach and New York.
Dorothy Allison to address Deckle Edge festival this weekend
Author will also receive festival's Southern Truth Award
In its 4th year as the grassroots answer to the S.C. Book Festival, Deckle Edge Literary Festival announces South Carolina author Dorothy Allison as the keynote speaker for the 2019 festival and the recipient of the second annual Deckle Edge Literary Festival Southern Truth Award.
Author Dorothy Alliison
Allison will speak at the Booker T. Washington auditorium at the University of South Carolina on Friday, March 22 at 7 p.m.
in an engagement sponsored by the USC Women’s and Gender Studies Program. On Saturday, March 23rd at 10 a.m.
, Allison will address the Deckle Edge Literary Festival in a conversation with Bren McClain
, author of One Good Momma Bone
(2017, USC Press) at the Richland Library on Assembly Street in downtown Columbia. (McClain is also a 2005 prose fellowship recipient from the S.C. Arts Commission).
Allison is the author of Trash
(1988), a collection of semi-autobiographical short stories, the multi-award winning Bastard Out of Carolina
(1998), which became a New York Times bestseller, and more. She has written for the Village Voice, Conditions, and New York Native and won several Lambda Awards. Bastard Out of Carolina
was a finalist for the National Book Award, the winner of the Ferro Grumley Prize, was translated into more than a dozen languages and became a bestseller and award winning film directed by Anjelica Huston. Allison is a recent inductee into the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Read more about her here
A native of Greenville, Allison’s writings frequently reference the class struggles and social alienation she experienced as a child growing up gay, impoverished, and the first child of a 15-year-old unwed mother in the conservative South Carolina upstate. Bastard Out of Carolina
also details the sexual abuse she endured throughout childhood at the hands of her step-father. The New York Times Book Review calls the book, “As close to flawless as a reader could ask for.”
Allison will be awarded the Deckle Edge Literary Festival Southern Truth Award on Friday evening, March 22nd. The Southern Truth award, whose first recipient in 2018 was Nikky Finney
, is awarded to a Southern author whose body of work exemplifies the complexity of the South’s history, celebrates the gifts of the South’s diverse peoples, and enhances the narrative of the South by focusing on the progress we make and the continued work before us.
The 2019 Deckle Edge Literary Festival includes an exciting roster of authors, panels, and interviews including, among others, printmaker Boyd Saunders
(2002 recipient of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Award for the Arts); Chieftess Queen Quet
who is an elder of the Gullah/Geechee Nation; Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Kathleen Parker
For more information please visit www.DeckleEdgeSC.org
Deckle Edge Literary Festival receives funding support from the S.C. Arts Commission.
Arts-rich S.C. schools score above national mean in hope, engagement
Gallup research in 2018 shows arts’ impact on key indicators
This morning at the South Carolina Arts Advocacy Day breakfast, S.C. Arts Commission Education Director Ashley Brown released exciting new findings from a 2018 study that found high levels of engagement and hope in arts-rich South Carolina schools.
The S.C. Arts Commission
(SCAC) and Palmetto State Arts Education
(PSAE) partnered with internationally recognized analytics firm Gallup
to participate in the annual Gallup Student Poll. It measures student engagement
, entrepreneurial aspirations
, and career and financial literacy
and, in the past 10 years, surveyed more than 6 million students. According to Gallup data from 2016, engaged and hopeful students are more than twice as likely to report they get excellent grades and are twice less likely to report they missed a lot of school than their actively disengaged peers.
In each of the four indicators on the poll, the students in South Carolina’s arts-rich schools outperformed the national mean.
The research also showed a direct correlation between a school’s length of time as a arts-rich and an increase in student engagement and hope. And most importantly, students surveyed in arts-rich schools with free/reduced lunch program participation of 75% or greater scored higher than the state and national mean.
Brown said schools are considered arts-rich when they are “committed to the arts at the cellular level.” She said both Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Project and Distinguished Arts Program (DAP) sites are required to have an arts strategic plan and, in both, the arts “are simply part of the fabric of the school.” SCAC and PSAE conducted the Gallup Student poll in arts-rich schools throughout South Carolina at a mixture of ABC Project and DAP sites.
“This is the first time in its history the Gallup student poll has been used to look specifically at arts-rich environments
, and it is an exciting opportunity to learn more about the connection between the arts and engagement,” Brown said.
The items on the Gallup Student Poll where students from S.C. arts-rich schools scored the highest above the national mean
- The adults at my school care about me
- I have at least one teacher who makes me feel excited about the future
- I have a great future ahead of me
- I know I will find a good job in the future
- I will invent something that changes the world
- I plan to start my own business
The arts are integral to a well-rounded education that allows students to achieve the knowledge, skills, and life and career characteristics outlined in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate
. From creativity to problem solving, perseverance to critical thinking, learning in and through the arts is proven to equip students with the skills necessary to be engaged citizens.
ABC Project and SC Arts Alliance submitted amendments and adjustments to H.3759, proposed by House Speaker Jay Lucas
(R-Darlington) and currently working its way through the S.C. House committee on education and public works, to ensure the arts are embraced and advanced to help every student achieve the standards set in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate.
The findings from the Gallup Student Poll reinforce what those in the arts already know:
From creativity to problem solving, critical thinking to perseverance, learning in and through the arts supports students as engaged and hopeful citizens of the world. This information will inform requests for additional funding in the arts, arts advocacy, and the role of the arts in education reform. This PDF of the findings from the Gallup Student Poll
can be shared with community and education leaders, legislators, and educators.
To learn more about this important research, visit https://www.palmettoartsed.org/gallup.html
Catching up with Arts Access South Carolina
Spring residencies, conferences, and more
2019 marks 33 years of ARTS ACCESS South Carolina (AASC) providing vibrant cultural access for artists statewide! 2018 was a year full of wonder and satisfying collaborations between educators, teaching artists and students across the state! We want to start the year as strong as we finished it, providing opportunities for empowerment and enrichment through the arts.
AASC December 2018 Residency with Master Teaching Artist
Arianne King-Comer at Stall High School in North Charleston.
For more information about opportunities to support or participate with AASC, visit ArtsAccessSC.org.
- AASC is currently accepting requests for spring 2019 residencies. Please contact AASC Executive Director Julia Brown-DuBose by email at email@example.com for more information.
- Are you invested in equitable access to arts learning for students with disabilities? If so, VSA Intersections: Regional Arts & Special Education Conference is for you! VSA Intersections convenes everyone involved in this venture: general and special educators, arts specialists, teaching artists, principals, nonprofit administrators, education program managers, university professors, policy makers, researchers, school administrators, and more. You will find this conference invaluable to your work supporting students with disabilities! There's a national conference this October in California, and a regional conference in New Orleans this March.
- We are proud to announce that Arts Access South Carolina received a grant from the S.C. Department of Education to serve as fiscal agent for Curriculum Leadership Institute for the Arts (CLIA) in 2019! This is our second year partnering with CLIA and this grant will allow AASC to administer a summer arts institutes to provide professional development in arts content to South Carolina arts teachers, classroom teachers, and arts administrators. We are excited about our continued partnership with CLIA and the opportunities it will provide for teachers and students alike!
Atlantic Stage premieres SCAC playwriting fellow’s production
Maggie has a big decision to make
World Premiere Jan. 31 through Feb. 17 in Myrtle Beach
Last June, the S.C. Arts Commission awarded Kevin D. Ferguson an individual artist fellowship for theatre (playwriting).
Fellowships are unrestricted awards that reward artistic merit and provide a financial boost that helps free up creators to create.
Ferguson did just that.
Early next week, Atlantic Stage in Horry County is giving the world premiere of his The Other Side of The Sky
. It features Maggie, a protagonist with some decisions to make, and we're not talking about the yogurt or oatmeal debate at breakfast:
Maggie struggles to deal with love and loss while she searches for her purpose in life. She’s graduating from college and figuring out what comes next. Will she stick with her boyfriend Troy? Will she go to grad school? Will she join the Peace Corps? Or does she hear a higher call? With boyfriend Troy, best friend Adam, and perhaps a heavenly advisor all weighing in, Maggie has a big decision to make.
How do you know what you’re supposed to do?
"The Other Side of the Sky
explores faith, friendship, and relationships in the modern world with four young people asking themselves 'what comes next?'" Ferguson said. That's certainly a relatable theme to many.
‘Stories connect us all’
Orangeburg writer participates in 'Communal Pen' series
Writer Connie Johnson
from the Orangeburg Times & Democrat participated in the second "Communal Pen" workshop, which was Dec. 1 at Voorhees College in Denmark. Appropriately for her profession, she wrote about the experience for the paper. If you're considering making it to the next workshop, in Newberry
, you'll want to check out her story.
The Communal Pen workshop reminded Aiken resident Chris Hall that “stories connect us all. Our stories remind us that we have more in common than we differ."
“Although I’m not a native of this area, I have grown to love this place. I want to use my art to help bring it up out of the ashes,” said Ashley Jordan, a 2012 graduate and current employee of Denmark Technical College.
Read the full story here.
is presented by the S.C. Arts Commission/Art of Community: Rural S.C. and South Carolina Humanities and is held in conjunction with the traveling Smithsonian exhibit "Crossroads: Change in Rural America."