Aiken, Spartanburg SCAC grantees receive new NEA awards

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced today that a total of $30,000 is heading to two South Carolina grantees among the FY18 award recipients – both of whom the S.C. Arts Commission is happy to assist with operating support grants of its own. Each year, more than 4,500 communities large and small throughout the U.S. benefit from NEA grants to nonprofits. For the NEA’s first of two major grant announcements of fiscal year 2018, more than $25 million in grants across all artistic disciplines will be awarded to nonprofit organizations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. These grants are for specific projects and range from performances and exhibitions, to healing arts and arts education programs, to festivals and artist residencies.

“It is energizing to see the impact that the arts are making throughout the United States. These NEA-supported projects are good examples of how the arts build stronger and more vibrant communities, improve well-being, prepare our children to succeed, and increase the quality of our lives,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu (right). “At the National Endowment for the Arts, we believe that all people should have access to the joy, opportunities, and connections the arts bring.”

Grant Awards in S.C.

Aiken The Aiken Music Festival (Joye in Aiken) is the recipient of a $10,000 Challenge America grant to support the "Joye in Aiken" music festival and its related educational activities. Founded in 2008 under the name Juilliard in Aiken, Joye in Aiken is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making the best in the performing arts available to our citizens, and especially our students. In 2016, Joye was recipient of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award for its educational outreach program, now being recognized by the new NEA grant. Spartanburg Hub City Writers Project is to receive a $20,000 Art Works grant for literature in support of the publication and promotion of books of fiction and poetry. Since 1995, the Hub City Writers Project has published 80 titles and 700 writers, established an independent bookstore, and provided creative writing education to thousands. Hub City Writers Project was awarded the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Award in the arts organization category in 2002.

Tuning Up: Creative Placemaking, Gullah Geechee in Philadelphia, more

Good morning!  "Tuning Up" is a morning post series 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...

  • You'll be hearing more from us about this, but we have to start somewhere. South Arts is presenting the "Beyond Big Cities" Southern Creative Placemaking Conference in Chattanooga, Tenn. next month. This is the place to be for civic/arts leaders interesting in leveraging the creative assets in rural communities and small towns to attract and retain residents, creatives and businesses, and bring visitors to experience the unique nature of your place.
  • The Gullah Geechee remain in the spotlight, this time as Aunt Pearlie Sue and the Gullah Kinfolk take the story of Gullah Geechees to the City of Brotherly Love for a free performance at Villanova University. The performance will recognize the important link between Philadelphia and the Sea Islands of S.C. during slavery and Reconstruction. Group leader Anita Singleton-Prather is a Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award winner and an acclaimed musician, storyteller, and actress.
  • Verner Award recipients Jonathan Green (2010) and William Starrett (2002) rekindle a collaboration that took Green's paintings (right) Off the Wall and Onto the Stage with Columbia City Ballet when they reprise the critically acclaimed ballet at Township Auditorium in Columbia this Friday and in Charleston Saturday, March 3.
  • And finally, a hearty congratulations to Arts Commission Chairman Henry Horowitz for receiving the Buck Mikel Leadership Award from the Greenville Chamber of Commerce.

Tuning Up: Black History event in Anderson, call for short films, etc.

Good morning! "Tuning Up" is a morning post series 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...

  • Tonight at 6 p.m., the Anderson County Library begins the county's Black History Month celebration with an event highlighting our state's role in the civil rights movement. To wit: did you know Rosa Parks received training in Columbia? More information here. (The event is sponsored by the Arts Commission.)
  • Are you more Halloween than Valentine's Day? An Arts Commission AVI grantee has a "ghoul" project in the works that you'll be "goblin" up. (Okay, we'll stop.) Filmmakers and screenplay writers are invited to help Deathcat Entertainment with "Grave Intentions" – their pun, not ours. Go here for more information.
  • More on films: Indie Grits Festival Director Seth Gadsden chatted Indie Grits Labs on the National Endowment for the Arts' "Art Works" podcast!
  • Call for art! Visual Arts Exchange in Raleigh is calling for art from installation artists. Check out The Cube and The Lab for more. Deadline for both spaces appears to be Feb. 15.
  • And finally... why we advocate: because through public support of the arts, the S.C. Arts Commission was able to award 342 grants totaling $3.3 million in 42 counties in FY 2017. That's 73% of our state funding – more than the legislative mandate of 70%.

Young Voices Build Pride in Place

Next week, the S.C. Arts Alliance presents the annual S.C. Arts Advocacy Day – with a twist: in 2018, it becomes Arts Advocacy Week. The main events are Tuesday with a State House rally and luncheon to follow. (We hope to see you there.) Here on The Hub, we're taking this week to connect the dots between public support of the arts and the net effect on society. This week's focus is on why we advocate, why support matters, and what arts support looks like on the ground, in communities around the state.

Sometimes, those communities have deep, historic problems. Oftentimes, those problems persist when one-size-fits-all solutions ... just aren't. Enter the Art of Community: Rural S.C. to foster creative, grassroots efforts to address problems through arts, culture, and creative placemaking. This program addresses the unique needs of rural South Carolina by taking what makes a community unique and building pride around that through creative partnerships with people previously not engaged to address those issues. An eclectic mix of young minds are rethinking the ways their rural communities are perceived to create a new framework for action. Please take a few moments to hear them tell their stories in the video below, which shows how arts and culture merge to face challenges where other attempts have fallen short. This is what arts support looks like on the ground. This is why we advocate: YOUNG VOICES VIDEO 5 MINUTES from Cook Productions on Vimeo.
The Art of Community: Rural S.C. advances the S.C. Arts Commission’s commitment to rural development through arts, culture and creative placemaking, creating a way to support new leadership, generate energy, and motivate action in a rural region of South Carolina. It is supported by the S.C. Arts Commission and U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development. Read more about it here.

Tuning Up: The arts and rural health, SC flag call for art?

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...

(Image credit: South Carolina Philharmonic/Michael Dantzler)

  • Rural health: The Art of Community: Rural S.C. was in the national spotlight yesterday for work in Walterboro, but the program extends well beyond that. In Hampton County, the focus is on merging the arts with public health to address those needs with creative initiatives. (Courtesy of the Times & Democrat.)
  • Call for art? The South Carolina State Flag does not have an official design. Nobody's looking for a redesign; some want it standardized. (Courtesy of The State.)

National Press Club briefing to feature SCAC program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Art of Community: Rural S.C., an S.C. Arts Commission program, and one of its community representatives from Walterboro, S.C. are to receive prominent recognition at the National Press Club Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 9:30 a.m. The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) arranged the National Press Club briefing, “The Arts and America’s Bottom Line,” to affirm the value of public investment in the arts. WATCH LIVE Tuesday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. via NASAA’s Facebook feed: Update: the complete briefing is available here. Matt Mardell of Walterboro will join Susan DuPlessis, project director and county coordinator with the S.C. Arts Commission (SCAC), to participate in a national press briefing, talking about how the Colleton Museum, Farmers Market and Commercial Kitchen is an award-winning example of community building, and creating jobs and connection to place using arts and culture. Mardell is the facility’s executive director. The Art of Community: Rural S.C. is a community arts development program at the SCAC and has received national recognition for its innovative and down-to-earth approach in a rural region of South Carolina. The ongoing initiative receives funding assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development. Speakers will include Chairman Jane Chu of the National Endowment for the Arts; veteran and Purple Heart recipient Sebastian Munevar; Dr. Sara Kass (Capt.,retired) Senior Military Medical Advisor for ‘Creative Forces,’ an NEA program, and formerly with Walter Reed Medical Center; and NASAA’s chair, Ben Brown, and executive director, Pam Breaux. DuPlessis and Mardell will discuss using the arts to build key partnerships that help revitalize rural communities. They will be joined by Bob Reeder, national co-chair of The Art of Community: Rural S.C. and program director of Rural LISC (Local Initiative Support Corporation). All four will attend the briefing and be available as additional resources and for questions. ABOUT THE ART OF COMMUNITY, RURAL S.C. The Art of Community: Rural S.C. initiative was created in 2015-16 as a new framework for engagement in small communities with the consideration of how arts and culture can be used strategically in community building, leadership development and engagement. Gary Brightwell, retired executive director, was tapped to serve as the ‘maven,’ or community connector, for this six-county initiative, built a local team to consider the assets of Colleton County and design a project to meet a local challenge. Over the first two years of this initiative, six local projects have been designed and implemented in each of the following counties: Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper. Mardell will use the example of the Colleton Museum, Farmers Market and Kitchen to demonstrate the power of arts and culture to the town of Walterboro and Colleton County. Additional information on The Art of Community: Rural S.C. is available on the SCAC website: 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. ABOUT THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF STATE ARTS AGENCIES NASAA is the membership organization that serves the nation’s 56 state and jurisdictional arts agencies. We are a national, not-for-profit, nonpartisan association that champions public support for the arts in America. NASAA provides advocacy, research, training and networking services to state arts agencies and their constituents. Our work is driven by a strong belief that the arts are essential to a thriving democracy and that the public, private and nonprofit sectors each have a vital role to play in achieving that vision. Learn more at

Arts Funding at Work: Five awarded sub-grants in Spartanburg

How Chapman Cultural Center puts SCAC funding to work Recently, Spartanburg's Chapman Cultural Center announced that five non-profits in their service area are recipients of community grants that are funded in part by grant funding from SCAC to the center:

  • Spartanburg Community College
  • Spartanburg Earth Day Festival (shown at right)
  • Spartanburg Repertory Opera
  • Speaking Down Barriers
  • Treefalls
The grants can be up to $5,000. With their grant, Spartanburg Earth Day Festival is incorporating music, poetry reading, and art contests into an "interactive, multi-generational festival." Read more from the Chapman Cultural Center here.

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)

Art Gilliard optimistic about his theater company, MOJA, and Baldwin play

From The Post and Courier Article by Adam Parker

Arthur Gilliard, 67, began performing while in high school, and he spent the 1970s as a fledgling actor in New York City. When he returned to his hometown of Charleston, he helped run the MOJA Arts Festival and he produced plays in the basement of Emanuel AME Church. Before long, city officials asked him to form a theater company that would emphasize African-American playwrights and works that shed light on the black experience in America. It was to fill a void, he said. Twenty-one years later, Art Forms & Theatre Concepts is still going. It has survived ups and downs, fundraising struggles, space challenges and more, but Gilliard seems unstoppable. Q: Tell me a little about yourself. How did you first get interested in the theater? When did you start directing plays?  A: I’m a native Charlestonian who started life “back da green” on the Charleston peninsula, and attended A.B. Rhett Elementary School and Simonton Junior High School before graduating in 1967 as senior class president from Burke High School. A scholarship to Bishop College in Dallas, Texas, allowed me to build on what I had learned growing up in Charleston, and joining the college choir allowed me to tour the East Coast and the West Coast every other year. After graduating from Bishop College in 1971 and after a brief stay in the U.S. Navy where I served as a yeoman, I accepted a (public relations) position ... on Wall Street. During this time, I decided that theater was going to be my profession; I did not like being in management on Wall Street. Q: You have run Art Forms & Theatre Concepts for many years, mounting productions in every Piccolo Spoleto Festival and MOJA Festival. Do you think the local market could support a year-round regular season in which Art Forms presents several plays highlighting aspects of the African-American experience? A: In short, yes. There is an abundance of talent here in the Lowcountry, and many are readily available once they realize you value them and their contributions to the world of art. I have found many diamonds in the rough locally that didn’t know how talented they were — and are. Art Forms simply offers a slice of the African-American experience, using whatever talents are available on our stages. We have an abundance of stories to tell, and I believe with the community’s support we’ll continue to tell those stories. That’s our mission. We are also preparing 30-minute vignettes that can tour the schools and other community (venues). Like many other nonprofits, a major challenge we face is our need for additional supporters and donors. We have not found that “theatre angel” yet, but I keep hoping. Q: Expanding the work of Art Forms would require that the company find a stable venue and enlarge its annual budget. What's the status of the organization? A: Short-term, we are again looking for a space to call home, or at least a space where we can conduct workshops, classes and rehearsals while handling day-to-day operations with the assistance of volunteers and interns. The board of directors is actively seeking a space right now. Long-term, the new budget has increased to reflect the need for an executive director and securing and operating that new space. Fortunately, we do receive great support from Mayor John Tecklenburg, city council and numerous supporters, including the South Carolina Arts Commission and the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and others throughout the Lowcountry. ... Finding an affordable space to mount additional productions and keep the tickets affordable is the challenge. ... In the meantime, we have added a production in December at Christmas for visitors and residents, and in February as a salute to Black History Month. Q: For years, you have been heavily involved in organizing (and participating in) the MOJA Festival, even serving as chairman for a while. If you could wave a magic wand and change something about MOJA, what would it be? A: I think, conceptually, MOJA is an absolutely wonderful festival. I would like to see it focus more on its core mission of celebrating more African-American and Caribbean Arts, and making it more national and international in scope, working more closely with embassies and ambassadors from African and Caribbean countries and showing their connections to the Lowcountry. It would also be a great opportunity to highlight some of the talent that at one time resided in the Lowcountry, since there are many out there making it. It would also be great to move the festival dates to a part of the year when more tourists are in town on vacations, family reunions are planned and schools are out. Q: For Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Art Forms is presenting James Baldwin's play "The Amen Corner," which considers the role of religion and racial prejudice in the life of a black family. Tell me about your approach to the play, about the particulars of this production and about the message you hope the show will deliver to Piccolo audiences. A: For me, the play shows that true love never really dies. It’s just that sometimes we don’t know how to handle it so we find ways to escape, without considering others' feelings, even the ones we claim to love. Though Baldwin was treated harshly in America, and criticized terribly, he never gave up on himself or his beliefs. And in “The Amen Corner,” Margaret, I believe, really loves Luke, and Luke really loves Margaret, but they didn’t become one as they thought they would. The story is so unencumbered, so simple and straightforward. All of the characters are so clear, and I’m sure we all know some of them. But, like Maya Angelou says, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." That is all I ask of the actors in the play. Stay in the moment. Be believable and let us experience your emotions.

The art of literacy: New park hopes to promotes education through expression

The South Carolina Arts Commission launched The Art of Community: Rural SC in May 2016 to help advance rural development through the arts, culture and creative placemaking. From the Jasper County Sun Article and photos by Liz Bloom

Jasper County ranked 45th in the state in education in 2014, with 49 percent of third-graders testing below state standards in reading. The county’s high school dropout rate of 6.8 percent from 2013-14 ranked 46th. When Jasper County Parks and Recreation Director Johnny Davis saw those stats from 2016 Kids Count South Carolina data, he felt compelled to try to raise awareness in a positive message. On Saturday, thanks to a Promise Zone grant, he – and members of the community – built a new art park for kids in downtown Ridgeland. “We were given a grant by the South Carolina Arts Commission. It was given to each county in the Promise Zone and part of the idea was that we were to try to determine an issue … to address and pick a project that would bring awareness and address that issue. We chose education, and in particular literacy, to address in our county,” said Davis. “We could use the money in the private or public sector, but they wanted us not to create something new, but go with what had been working already in the area. We chose the Morris Center downtown because it was centrally located and had some good momentum with its opening and drawing in lots of folks from the outside. We decided to do an art park. It’s in the back of the center in an area that’s not being utilized, and we thought it would be the perfect place.” Davis and his small Jasper County Arts Council embraced a simple theme – art of literacy. The idea is that literacy along with visual arts provide students invaluable ways to express themselves through words, pictures, paintings. At the grand reveal on Saturday, kids and adults cycled in and out of the green lot next to the Morris Center on Jacob Smart Boulevard in Ridgeland to paint stepping stones, help build the giant scrabble board, and create paintings and drawings to display. Davis wanted the community to be proud of something and claim ownership. The green space is just a small park, but Davis has a bigger vision to add murals to walls and even make the area a place to host outdoor movies for families. He wants the area to evolve into a regular epicenter of community and fellowship. He doesn’t see a big need for playgrounds, or fancy installations, just an area where people can feel safe and express themselves. From there he hopes to spread the pressing issue of literacy. “The best thing to do is bring awareness that there’s an issue. We do have an issue in Jasper County with illiteracy and drop-outs. With education being our focus …, we want to help provide places to go after school for kids, for them to not only express themselves through homework, but through art,” he said. “Let them be creative and grow in that way, give them a chance to work their brains and learn to express themselves in a creative way, and we’ve got to give them opportunities to do that. We’ve got to provide places for them to go and do that. “This project is not meant to solve the county’s issue, but just to bring awareness to it. Hopefully this jump-starts something bigger and better and we can start doing these things around all of the county.” The art park project intends to highlight the poor literacy rates, but also promote local art. For the murals Davis wants to paint, he’s hoping to hold a contest at RHHS for students to come up with designs and get an entire group to paint two or more of them on a building by the Morris Center. He wants kids to come to the park to paint, draw, and perform – the Scrabble board is also a stage for kids, speakers, and artists, to utilize. “There’s a bigger mission, bigger vision with this project,” said Davis. “This is kind of the jump-start.” There’s more to highlight in Jasper’s schools besides test scores, and Davis hopes to do just that.