‘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. "Communal Pen" 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."  

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Professional storyteller visits McCormick Learning Center

McCormick County children in the First Steps, Even Start child care center and the Head Start classrooms last Friday had a special visitor last week.

Click on images for larger view. Submitted photos.

(Ed. note: The Hub welcomes stories from grantees about how you're using your SCAC grants. Today we offer just such a story from McCormick County. Thanks to Ruth Detrick, executive director of the county's First Steps program.) With help from S.C. Arts Commission grants to both, professional storyteller Tim Lowry was able to captivate the children, telling animal stories that got them involved by making animal sounds and making movements like the animals. The children and teachers all laughed at the story of the "Wide Mouth Frog" and the funny ending when he met up with a crocodile! They were horrified when the elephant ate the children in the story of "Unanana And The Elephant," an African Folk Tale. but were relieved when miraculously there was a happy ending. Lowry kept the children interested and engaged (which isn't always easy with pre-school children).  After several more stories, the event was over but won't be forgotten, as the children learned several new vocabulary words and experienced a professional storyteller for the first time. First Steps partnered with the McCormick Library to share the costs of bringing Tim Lowry to McCormick. He entertained the children in the morning and did a wonderful presentation of Dickens' "Christmas Carol" in the evening at the library. Both organizations received generous grants from the S.C. Arts Commission to cover all costs, which made the events possible. The S.C. Arts Commission receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Greenville (S.C.) aims to be the next Portland (Ore.)

Thriving cultural scene rejuvenates Greenville

Everybody who's been there in the last 10 years knows that, but the rest of the U.S. is catching on. None other than the Wall Street Journal checked in last week with a glowing report on Greenville. The city that shares a name with so many others across the nation is aiming to become the East Coast's Portland ... a city that shares its name with so many others across the nation. The WSJ's conclusion is that artists, arts, and culture are the driving factors of the Greenville boom. (Again, you knew that.) From the story:

All of these artists—and hundreds of others—have chosen to live in Greenville, S.C., a Southern city of about 68,000 people that once called itself the Textile Capital of the World. Today, the vibrant arts scene is revitalizing the city itself, attracting other artists, young professionals and families wanting a fun, affordable place to live.

“We came looking for artists,” says Mr. Ambler, who is 47. He and his wife wanted to live somewhere warm, but California was too expensive and they didn’t think Florida was a good fit for his artwork. When a teaching job opened, they moved in 2000 to Seneca, S.C., about 30 miles west of Greenville, and bought a 1,800-square-foot studio for $88,000, selling it seven years later for $210,000.

Go here to read the full story. (Subscription not required.)

Tuning Up: Grantee’s dream becomes reality + writing workshop

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


Today we have a couple updates from the land of Facebook:
  • Yesterday our page updated followers that 18/19 Artists' Ventures Initiatives grantee Serwah Armah-Koranteng took delivery of a dream. During the Thanksgiving holiday, her mobile boutique arrived. AfricStyle Initiative will take to the road with a sewing training center and pop-up mobile boutique just in time for the holidays.
  • ICYMI, the second "Communal Pen" writing workshop takes place this Saturday at Voorhees College in Denmark (South Carolina). Go here now for details and a link to register.

Tuning Up: Trustus puts grant to use + indigenous performers grant

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


Collaboration looks to be a main theme of the 34th season of Columbia's Trustus Theatre. Read more in this story from Broadway World. Something else caught The Hub's attention, though: Trustus used a Presenting and Performing Arts (PPA) Initiative grant from the SCAC to allow Scott Pattinson to make his Trustus debut in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The "play focuses on the story of an autistic teenager, and this production is also a partnership with Autism Speaks and S.C. Autism Academy." South Carolina dance, music, and theatre organizations are encouraged to learn more about, and apply for, PPA grants.
Western Arts Alliance (WAA), the Portland-based performing arts service organization, has announced the launch of a new grant opportunity for Native artists – the Advancing Indigenous Performance (AIP) Artists Travel Assistance Fund – and is accepting applications beginning Monday, November 18, 2018 through December 7, 2018. Advancing Indigenous Performance (AIP) is a national program to create new touring and presentation opportunities for Indigenous performing artists, made possible by lead funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation. AIP invests in building the professional capacities of Indigenous artists as it works to break down barriers in the performing arts.

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Helping South Carolinians with disabilities have arts access

Arts Access South Carolina (AASC), formerly VSA South Carolina, is the only 501(c) 3, multi-service statewide organization in South Carolina guided by the mission to create an inclusive society in which people with disabilities learn, participate, and enjoy the arts. Click on images to enlarge.


For over 32 years as VSA South Carolina, AASC has actively engaged with community partners in Education, Health, non-profits and other organizations to inspire and empower people with disabilities through rich experiences in the arts. Although AASC changed its name in 2013, we continue to envision a world where people are no longer defined by their limits. We simply see people with incredible artistic abilities! Julia Brown-DuBose Executive Director Julia Brown-DuBose, long-time advocate for inclusive arts in South Carolina, also serves as the ADA/504 Program Director/Consultant for the S.C. Arts Commission. “Borrowing the words of my colleague, Betty Siegel, director of the Office of VSA and Accessibility at the Kennedy Center, ‘we share a deep passion for this work that we do. It’s likely that we share the desire to make a larger difference in the lives we touch. For many of us, we contribute to the stories with our words, with our actions and become agents of change…’ “Recently, someone asked me what am I most known for in life? Had to ask – are you really ready for my story? It’s something we all share, the commitment to invest in others. I give my time, talent and treasures to people with disabilities and for me it has always been through the arts. If you work in education and want to bring the arts to special education students, call me and tell me your story!” AASC provides classes, workshops, internships, apprenticeships, and support to professional and emerging artists in the cultural industry and to many businesses that support the creative arts industry in South Carolina. One example of our impact of is their C.O.T.T.A.G.E. Industries℠ concept, a highly important way for individuals with disabilities to turn the various skills they acquire through our projects into sustainable career opportunities. Throughout the state, those involved in AASC programs learn: In the arts, anything is possible!
For more information about opportunities to support or participate with AASC, visit their website: artsaccesssc.org.

‘Toning down’ stereotypes in ballet

A story appeared yesterday in The New York Times about New York City Ballet modifying its production of Balanchine's The Nutcracker to do away with "yellowface" – stereotypical portrayals of Asian people. Columbia Classical Ballet's presentation of "The Nutcracker" in 2015. (Provided photo)

Last year, New York City Ballet modified the choreography, costumes and makeup. And, just last month, the Balanchine Trust, which owns the rights to Balanchine’s work, notified other ballet companies that the changes were an approved option, though not required.

With Nutcracker season upon us (several open on Thanksgiving weekend and the rate accelerates into December), The Hub thought it was an interesting topic to share with our readers, especially in light of the controversial comments made by Megyn Kelly before her departure from NBC last month.

These adjustments are part of a broader effort to re-examine how people of color are portrayed in the performing arts and how classics with potentially troubling aspects can be made acceptable to modern audiences. In 2015, the Metropolitan Opera eliminated blackface from its “Otello.” The Bolshoi has toned down a segment of its “La Bayadère” featuring white children in blackface, but it has been criticized for not going far enough. And more recent fare has also been revised: The musical “Cats” dropped a song in which characters sang in Asian accents.

You can read the full story here. These are hot-button topics everywhere, but it is certainly relevant to the S.C. Arts Commission, where our legislative charge is "to create a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their place or circumstance. Diversity, inclusion, and access are critical components of that charge.

Tuning Up: History and art at Florence park + Wando band update

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


We hope you paused to reflect during the weekend and/or yesterday's holiday. While Veterans Day comes but once a year, a park in Florence combines history with art to honor them year-round. Yesterday it added a monument to the Korean War to its six-and-a-half-acre expanse. The park features sculptures and, for history buffs, artifacts such as a 280-pound chunk of limestone taken from the rubble of the Pentagon's eastern facade and the bell from the USS South Carolina, which served during WWI. Last week we brought you the story of the Wando High school marching band's quest for glory at a national competition in Indianapolis. Writer Karen McDonough followed up with The Hub and reported that the band advanced to the 2018 Grand National finals on Saturday and finished sixth in the nation, a first for a South Carolina band. Congratulations!

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Wando band marches in national competition today

Sculpture and music combine for an award-winning marching band show

By Karen McDonough While most high school students probably have never heard of Alexander Calder, a group of South Carolina teen musicians have become quite familiar with the 20th century American sculptor’s work. Calder’s art work is the central theme of this year’s show by the nationally-ranked Wando High School marching band in Mt. Pleasant. The band performance – which features Calder-inspired sculptures as set props and other nods to his creative force – is a moving collaboration and celebration of sound, movement, and art. And it has catapulted the school to winning back-to-back, first-place wins this fall in regional Bands of America (BOA) competitions for the first time ever. The band performs in the BOA Grand National competition Nov. 8-10 in Indianapolis.

UPDATE, 13 Nov. 2018, 12:25: Go here for an update on how they did!

In the Calder-inspired show, some 260 students –playing everything from the piccolo to the sousaphone with a highly impressive drumline – move, dance and march across a football field, along with 38 color guard wearing bold-hued costumes during the 12-minute theatrical presentation. The Wando High School color guard performs on the swing prop. (Stacey Mercorelli) “Our show is an attempt to use the abstract use of form, color, balance and motion seen in Calder’s sculptures, to create an environment on the football field that is not unlike a modern sculpture garden,” Wando Band’s program coordinator Michael Gray told MoultrieNews.com. “Each of the Calder inspired props in our show contain elements that move throughout the show, all dependent upon the environment in which they are placed.” The students play musical selections from the classic film "To Kill A Mockingbird” by Elmer Bernstein, an original score by South Carolina composer Jay Bocook and “The Big Apple” by Johan de Meij – against a backdrop of colorful, movable props – all handmade by band parents – reminiscent of the shapes in Calder’s work. The show features recorded narration which tells Calder’s story from the words of art historians, collectors and others who best knew his work. One of the props is inspired by Calder’s famous red outdoor “Flamingo” steel and glass sculpture in downtown Chicago, which the band affectionately refers to as just “Chicago.” Other bright colored props carry the childlike and innocent feel of Calder’s work. Band parents adjust the "Chicago" prop. (Mike Terry) The show was titled “By a Thread” because Calder’s art seemingly hangs by a thread, Gray said, as viewers must look up to see his mobiles and large-scale sculptures. Michael Gray (Margie Jackson) Gray is a Charleston-based impressionist painter whose artwork is in several galleries around the country. He’s been a part of the Wando band creative team for 18 years and came up with the idea for a Calder-inspired show eight years ago. While it took that many years for the school to get permission to use the likeness of Calder images as set props and on the color guard flags, something else had to be present. The students had to be advanced musically enough as well to tackle a show like this, Gray said. And this season everything came together. Gray designed the color guard costumes, which were inspired by circus costumes Calder had designed for the dance company of Josephine Baker, who dominated the Parisian entertainment scene of that era. Gray also designed the band’s new uniforms this year, an upgrade from the same uniform they wore for 13 previous years. Gray’s artistic vision for the program, along with the hard work and long hours of a sizable team of pros lead by Wando Band Director Bobby Lambert and Assistant Directors Lanie Radecke and Jeff Handel, has helped raise the school’s national profile. “I love focusing our attention on a specific person because it allows us to bring that person and his art to life in a way that can only be done through music,” Lambert said. “In no other activity is a young person asked to be brilliant, athletic, sensitive, and artistic all at the same time. Bringing all of those mediums together alone is a triumph but to do it at a level commensurate with some of the best in the country is extraordinary.” Wando won two first-place titles in regional BOA competitions in October, earning Outstanding Music Performance, Outstanding Visual Performance and Outstanding General Effect in each. The marching band has been a Grand National Finalist four times and the South Carolina 5-A state champions 11 times since 2005. It’s Gray’s hope to educate and entertain audiences watching this year’s show. “If one person gets on their phone and Googles ‘Alexander Calder,’ I’m at peace,” he said.
Karen McDonough is a freelance writer based in Mt. Pleasant.

Deadline extended to apply for Arts Directory, Teaching Artist Certification

Do you remember this post on The Hub in August?

The SCAC is completely overhauling what's long been known as the Roster of Approved Artists and turning it into two new, juried lists: the Arts Directory and Teaching Artist Certification (which is much like the Arts Directory but includes a background check so you can collaborate on the classroom level). To get said certification, you must first apply for the Arts Directory.

Current roster artists will be granted courtesy extensions into the new Arts Directory for one cycle, but still must apply. These artists will not be required to submit resumes, work samples, or letters of support for this year’s application. After the one-cycle courtesy extension, ALL current roster artists will be expected to submit a full application.

We strongly recommend you get the full information by clicking the Hub link above or by going here.

All that to lead to this news: the deadline to apply for the Arts Directory or for Teaching Artist Certification is being extended to Monday, Dec. 3, 2018.