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Susan DuPlessis

Rural arts and culture initiative expands to 15 counties

Addressing local issues with S.C. Arts Commission program

[caption id="attachment_45057" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Mavens join heads and hands to celebrate their local communities and discuss shared challenges in a January meeting in Eastover, South Carolina, hosted by Michael Dantzler. Shown l to r, mavens and their corresponding counties: Brooke Bauer, Catawba Indian Nation/York; Marquerite Palmer, Newberry; Lottie Lewis, Allendale; Betty McDaniel, Pickens; Victoria Smalls, Beaufort; Evelyn Coker, Barnwell; Audrey Hopkins-Williams, Hampton; Libby Sweatt-Lambert, Chester; Luis Rodriguez (seated), Marion; Johnny Davis, Jasper; Michael Dantzler, Richland; and Matt Mardell, Colleton. Photo credit: Sherard Duvall, OTR Media.[/caption]
For Immediate Release

Across South Carolina, an initiative called The Art of Community: Rural SC has taken root, creating new networks, community engagement, partnerships and energy to change minds and build communities together.

The initiative, a program of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC), poses a central question: “How can we use arts and culture as strategic tools to address local challenges we face?” “It’s growing, and it’s always a learning opportunity,” said Matt Mardell, executive director of the Colleton Museum, Farmers Market and Commercial Kitchen in Walterboro, South Carolina. Mardell is one of the ‘mavens’ for The Art of Community; Rural SC. He said that, as part of this network of rural leaders and their teams, he is “hearing others’ creative solutions to issues we all face.” He and his predecessor, Gary Brightwell, have participated in the initiative with five other mavens from throughout a six-county Lowcountry region since it was conceived in 2015 and launched in 2016. Mavens in other counties include: Lottie Lewis of Allendale; Dr. Yvette McDaniel representing Bamberg; Evelyn Coker of Barnwell; Audrey Hopkins-Williams of Hampton; and Johnny Davis representing Jasper County. The growth Mardell references is an expansion of the initiative in 2019 that includes a broader swath of rural South Carolina. Nine additional mavens represent their communities from the mountains to the sea and myriad cultures in between. They include the following community leaders and their corresponding counties: Kayla Hyatt-Hostetler of Aiken; Victoria Smalls of Beaufort; Lydia Cotton of Berkeley; Libby Sweatt-Lambert representing Chester; Luis Rodriguez representing Marion; Marquerite Palmer of Newberry; Betty McDaniel of Pickens; Michael Dantzler of Richland; and Dr. Brooke Bauer with co-maven Laney Buckley of The Catawba Indian Nation in York County. How does the initiative work? “It’s a framework built with four critical components:  mavens, local teams, partners and advisors coupled with a state arts agency willing to invest in rural and tribal communities in a new way,” said Community Arts Development Director Susan DuPlessis of the arts commission. All 15 teams, created and led by the mavens, gather locally and as a statewide network to get to know each other better, to listen, and to consider their local assets and challenges—ultimately, to learn together. "Mavens are 'the bridges' who make this initiative work," DuPlessis said. "Knowing that I have a community beyond my community has bolstered me in my local work," said maven Lottie Lewis of Allendale. As part of this initiative, Lewis led members of her local team on a fact-finding field trip to Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, in 2019. They went to explore how another small, rural town had spurred connection and growth using arts and culture. They then planned to integrate some of that learning into their local project. “We learned so much from our new friends in Tamaqua,” Lewis said. “We were inspired by how they engaged their local community to share their ideas about where they live.” Allendale’s local project plan, though, along with the plans of the other 14 sites in this initiative, took an unexpected turn beginning in the spring of 2020. “We all had to shift in how we were engaging with one another and ask what our roles are in this moment of quarantine and separation,” according to DuPlessis who said many of the participating teams shifted their focuses to react to the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic and mounting social justice issues. Since March 20, the arts commission has convened mavens in weekly meetings to continue the practice of sharing, listening and learning together. "That's what's been so important to me and other mavens who I now count as dear friends," Lewis said. She also notes the spirit of the initiative which, built on trust and relationships, has allowed for flexibility with grant-funded local projects in this “uncertain time.” Each of The Art of Community: Rural SC teams received a $7,500 grant award in FY20 to engage and build community in ways that use arts and culture strategically. “Project plans in January 2020 didn’t look the same three months later in March,” DuPlessis said. Some communities planning festivals and other gatherings have had to postpone those for now. In a number of cases, mavens and their teams retrofitted their projects to respond to the current context and include the following examples:
  • In Aiken, in addition to getting helpful information out about the pandemic, the local project also incorporated the NextGen fight for equality, justice and respect for all people through the creation of a ‘peaceful protest’ linking them with other students around the country;
  • In Allendale, the local project’s focus became community engagement through a celebration of frontline pandemic workers as ‘hometown heroes;’
  • In Bamberg County, the local team developed a 'Little People's Learning Page' to accompany the local newspaper and address learning in a fun, creative way for students who are isolated from one another;
  • In Barnwell County, the Town of Blackville team developed a new dance called ‘The Wagon Wheel’ to engage its residents on social media in a healthy activity during a time of isolation;
  • In Beaufort County, a collective of Gullah Geechee artists used their voices and talents for public service announcements that address safety protocols for the pandemic;
  • In Berkeley County, a Spanish-language video was created to remind its community of best practices for reducing infection rates; and
  • In Chester County, the town of Fort Lawn team partnered with local businesses and state parks to showcase artists' and entrepreneurs' work to help generate income during this time of economic distress.
[caption id="attachment_45056" align="aligncenter" width="600"] The Allendale Rural Arts Team, led by maven Lottie Lewis,  celebrated its Hometown Heroes June 19 with recognition of front line workers in the face of COVID 19; and the unveiling of a community mural by Hampton County artist Sophie Docalavich. Photo credit: Xavier Blake.[/caption] Other participating communities in the initiative bolstered their local project planning by addressing infrastructure and equipment needs as they anticipate future community gatherings, festivals and local engagement as part of their community building strategies. For instance, in Walterboro where the WHAM Festival, originally set for March 27-29, was cancelled, Matt Mardell re-examined the needs for this inaugural event by purchasing displays for exhibits and creating a website for the festival--WHAMfestival.org. The festival is now tentatively set for Oct. 23-25, 2020. Set within the framework of “arts plus economic development,” Mardell said, “I know when the festival does happen, we will be ready and even better prepared for it.” In addition to implementing local projects, all participants are invited to join additional activities and programs to build their own toolkits for considering the importance of ‘place’ in South Carolina and in their personal lives. They include a community writing workshop series; a field school offering instruction in documentary skills; and asset mapping workshops. These offerings are all coordinated by the arts commission’s Folklife & Traditional Arts Program. In addition to these activities, a rural networking program called CREATE: Rural SC engages rural creative professionals who serve as conduits between the mavens, the local creative economies and the arts commission. "These new networks and learning opportunities are bridging gaps and connecting us in ways we need to be connected in rural communities and across the state," Hampton County Maven Audrey Hopkins-Williams of Estill said. All 15 communities, along with the arts commission, partners and advisors constitute a ‘learning community’ that spans the state and the nation. Its story has been shared in national and state conferences from South Carolina to Iowa and Colorado; and from Detroit to Washington, D.C. using the voices and stories of mavens, advisors and emerging creative leaders. Also, with more than 25 partners in its national Advisory Council, this learning community has access to a wide range of sectors, insights, geographies and resources for community building using arts and culture. Co-chairs for the advisory council are Pam Breaux, president and CEO for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), headquartered in Washington; and Bob Reeder, program director for Rural LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation), headquartered in New York City. Looking at the value of community engagement in rural America, Co-Chair Pam Breaux cites The Art of Community: Rural SC as an exemplar for state arts agencies across the country. "This work has become a leading example of ingenuity in funding, partnership and framework creation for state arts agencies across the country," she said. Art of Community: Rural SC Director Susan DuPlessis was invited to share the initiative at a National Press Club briefing in Washington in January 2018; Mardell of Colleton County joined her as the local voice and example of growth and development through arts and culture as demonstrated through the Colleton Museum, Farmers Market and Commercial Kitchen. More than 25,000 'views' resulted on social media from that presentation. The South Carolina initiative was also included within a rural action guide on developing prosperity, produced by the National Governors Association, the National Endowment for the Arts and NASAA. “This initiative is about re-imagining 'place' in terms of assets, not deficits,” said Co-Chair Bob Reeder whose professional work in the field of community development crosses the nation. “We're building on the strengths of local communities and the power of a network that connects to state and national resources,” he said. “Ultimately, this work is about changing minds.” Concurring with Reeder, Advisor Dixie Goswami of Clemson, South Carolina noted that the initiative makes visible local people, including young people, as "assets with wisdom and knowledge, not as deficient and needing outside help." Goswami is director of the Write to Change Foundation and director emerita of Middlebury Bread Loaf NextGen Network. "We're a state rich in creativity and ingenuity—and this initiative showcases some of that in our smallest communities" said SCAC Executive Director David Platts. "We are grateful to USDA-Rural Development for first believing in and funding this initiative in 2015. We've built a case for creative placemaking—the strategic use of arts and culture to address community issues—and this platform is being showcased nationally. The arts commission has also garnered more support for this approach from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation as well as funding from the South Carolina General Assembly. The Art of Community: Rural SC initiative is part of the Community Arts Development program of the arts commission and is one of three program areas that also include artist services and arts education. “Through this program, we continue to strive to meet our mission-‘to develop a thriving arts environment’ for the people and places in our South Carolina,” said Board of Commissioners Chair Dee Crawford of Aiken, South Carolina. “The arts are invaluable to our communities, both big and small. They are tools for growth, development and social cohesion in each and every county in our state.” Crawford also serves on the Advisory Council for Art of Community: Rural SC. The South Carolina Arts Commission is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and collaborates in its work with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and South Arts. It received funding from USDA-Rural Development to launch this program in 2015; and additional USDA-RD funding from 2017 to 2019. It also has received support from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation for this initiative since 2018. More information about The Art of Community: Rural SC can be found at https://www.southcarolinaarts.com/community-development/programs/art-of-community-rural-sc/, including a recently produced film called Meet the Mavens and a brochure featuring all mavens representing 14 South Carolina counties and the Catawba Indian Nation in York County.
ABOUT THE SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS COMMISSION With a commitment to excellence across the spectrum of our state’s cultures and forms of expression, the South Carolina Arts Commission pursues its public charge to develop a thriving arts environment, which is essential to quality of life, education, and economic vitality for all South Carolinians. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas:
  • arts education,
  • community arts development,
  • and artist development.
Headquartered in Columbia, 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 SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696.

Eight NEA grants designated for South Carolina

Federal government to provide $155,000 in funding


Chairman Mary Anne Carter announced today that organizations in every state in the nation, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, will receive federal funding for arts projects from the National Endowment for the Arts in this round of fiscal year 2020 funding. Overall, 1,187 grants totaling $27.3 million will provide Americans opportunities for arts participation, and this year include projects that celebrate the Women's Suffrage Centennial. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support grants throughout the entire country that connect people through shared experiences and artistic expression,” said Arts Endowment Chairman Mary Anne Carter. “These projects provide access to the arts for people of all abilities and backgrounds in both urban centers and rural communities.” This funding announcement includes the Art Works and Challenge America grant programs.
  • Click here for a list of recommended grantees sorted by city and state.
  • Click here for a list of recommended grantees separated by category: Art Works (sorted by artistic discipline/field) and Challenge America.
  • Click here to use the Arts Endowment’s grant search tool to find additional project details for these and other agency-supported grants.
  • Click here for the lists of the panelists that reviewed the applications for this round of funding.
Eight arts organizations in South Carolina from Abbeville, Aiken, Charleston, Richland, and Spartanburg counties are getting a combined $155,000 to present varied arts programming. Examples include high-profile events like Spoleto Festival USA and smaller public performances at Joye in Aiken and the Abbeville Opera House, among others. The former Tapp's Arts Center, now known as Tapp's Outpost, in Columbia (in the news recently for losing its Main Street space) received $40,000—the largest South Carolina grant—for its Cultural Entrepreneurship Incubator Program. "The South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is delighted to hear that federal support is coming to these organizations and programming, all of whom are supported this fiscal year by state funding through Arts Commission grants. The combined support will ensure South Carolina citizens have access to and benefit from the highest quality arts experiences," SCAC Executive Director David Platts said.

Art Works

Art Works grants support artistically excellent projects that celebrate our creativity and cultural heritage, invite mutual respect for differing beliefs and values, and enrich humanity. Cost share/matching grants range from $10,000 to $100,000. Art Works projects this round include:
  • A $30,000 award to Shreveport Regional Arts Council to support the new arts partnership with historically black universities Southern University at Shreveport and Grambling State University, documenting and celebrating the schools' artist alumni, who will be commissioned for artist talks, workshops, and residencies.
  • A $10,000 award to support the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust’s Yup'ik Dance Festival, where singers and dancers from villages in southwest Alaska will gather to exchange songs and dances, celebrating traditional dance in the region. The event will be the subject of a documentary film that will serve as an educational tool for future dancers.
  • A $45,000 award to support the 2020 Open Style Lab Summer Program in Great Neck, New York, which will bring together emerging fashion designers, product designers, engineers, and rehabilitation therapists to co-design adaptive clothing for people with disabilities.
For fiscal year 2020, the Arts Endowment encouraged Art Works applications for artistically excellent projects that honor the Women’s Suffrage Centennial, celebrating women’s voting rights in the United States. Among the many upcoming projects in this area are:
  • A $20,000 award to the Appalachian Artisan Center of Kentucky to support Metalworks for the Modern Muse. Master artists will offer metalworking and blacksmithing instruction, highlighting its relevance to Appalachian culture. Intended to serve girls ages 12-14, the project will recognize the contributions of women artists to the suffrage movement and the reforms that laid the groundwork for settlement schools in Kentucky.
  • A $15,000 award to the Chautauqua Institution to support Women’s Suffrage Centennial: Claiming a Voice, Claiming a Vote, a week-long summer opera festival that will highlight new works by a female composer-in-residence. The festival will be preceded by school performances addressing the centennial of women’s suffrage. Selected works will illustrate the challenges women have faced and the victories claimed throughout the past 100 years.

Challenge America

Challenge America grants offer support primarily to small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to populations that have limited access to the arts due to geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. Each grant is for a fixed amount of $10,000 and requires a minimum $10,000 cost share/match. Challenge America projects approved for funding include:
  • A series of multidisciplinary Latinx cultural heritage arts events at Rio Hondo College in Whittier, California, a first-time applicant for Arts Endowment funding. Artists will engage with the college’s largely Hispanic district population through workshops, school activities, dance, and music performances. Among the featured guest artists is National Heritage Fellow Ofelia Esparza and a culminating event will include a Dia de los Muertos panel discussion with guest artists.
  • NOMADstudio’s visual art program for incarcerated youth at Florida’s Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center. Guest artists will work with youth to create a mural and provide instruction on how to produce art independently during studio time. Artworks will be displayed during culminating events at the center and a local art gallery.
  • Theatre for Young America’s production of the play Fair Ball: Negro Leagues in America, about the history of Negro League baseball, and corresponding educational activities that include in-school workshops for K-12 students in rural Kansas.
The next funding deadline for applications to the Grants for Arts Projects category is February 13, 2020. Note: Grant applications previously submitted to the Art Works category will now be submitted to the Grants for Arts Projects category. The next funding deadline for applications to Challenge America is April 9, 2020.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more.

Juilliard students help high school singers give voice to their art

[caption id="attachment_39376" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Students practices singing in vocal masterclass. Aiken Standard photo.[/caption] From reporting by the Aiken Standard:

High school students gave youthful voices Wednesday to an early art form that dates back to Italy in the late 1500s.

As part of Joye in Aiken's educational outreach program, students from the S.C. Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville sang works from early Baroque opera during a master class conducted by students from The Juilliard School's Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute of Vocal Arts.

Joye in Aiken receives grant support from the S.C. Arts Commission. Read the full story from the Aiken Standard here.

Six students advance to state ‘Poetry Out Loud’ finals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 24 January 2018

  • Regional competitions yield six finalists
  • State finals to be held March 10 in Columbia
  • Winner advances to national competition in Washington, D.C.
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Six South Carolina high school students reached the state finals for Poetry Out Loud – an annual, nationwide recitation contest – after regional competitions in Charleston and Spartanburg this past weekend. The S.C. Arts Commission (SCAC) coordinates Poetry Out Loud in South Carolina, partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts to bring the competition to state high schools for 12 years running. In 2017, around 7,500 students from 35 schools in 14 counties participated. School competition winners compete against students in their district to move on to compete in the state finals.  
(l-r: Keegan Dustin, Janae Claxton, Sha'Kaila Stewart, Taylor Elisse Wade, Alexia Story, and Grant Butler)
  The following six state regional winners, three from each of two regions, will compete Saturday, March 10, 2018 at the Richland Library Main Branch in Columbia for the opportunity to be the South Carolina representative in the national finals April 23-25, 2018 in Washington, D.C.:
  • Grant Butler (Aiken High School in Aiken)
  • Janae Claxton (First Baptist Church High School in Charleston)
  • Keegan Dustin (Charleston County School of the Arts in Charleston)
  • Sha’Kaila Stewart (Whale Branch Early College High School in Seabrook)
  • Alexia Story (Buford High School in Lancaster)
  • Taylor Elisse Wade (Andrew Jackson High School in Lancaster)
State winners receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to compete in the national finals, and the state winner's school will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry materials. Each state’s first runner-up, and that student’s school, receives a cash prize as well. The national winner receives a $20,000 cash prize.
ABOUT POETRY OUT LOUD Poetry Out Loud helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation in 2005, Poetry Out Loud is administered in partnership with the State arts agencies of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Poetry Out Loud offers more than $100,000 is prizes and school stipends each year. It provides free teacher resources and a comprehensive website with a large anthology of classic and contemporary poems, audio and video clips, as well as complete contest information. Since its establishment, Poetry Out Loud has grown to reach nearly 3.5 million students and 50,000 teachers from 10,000 schools across the country. For more information, visit PoetryOutLoud.org.
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 SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.

Juilliard in Aiken Festival to feature Saint Matthew Passion

A Grammy-nominated conductor and choir. Some of the world’s most accomplished musicians. The greatest music ever written, telling the greatest story ever told. It’s the kind of powerhouse combination that few people outside of the world’s major cities expect to experience. And yet all of those superlatives come together in Aiken on March 14, 2014, when the centerpiece of Juilliard in Aiken’s sixth annual Performing Arts Festival and Outreach Program – Johann Sebastian Bach’s monumental Saint Matthew Passion – is performed. “It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all of us in this area,” said Betty Ryberg, president of Juilliard in Aiken. “This will be the debut performance of a joint production by the famed Juilliard School and Trinity Wall Street Choir, which is one of the most acclaimed choral groups anywhere. And the performance will take place in the weeks leading up to Easter, so the timing could not be more perfect.” The Passion, as it is known, will be the final concert of the Juilliard in Aiken Festival, which will run March 9 - 14. Composed in 1727 for solo voices, double choir and double orchestras, the piece recounts the story of Christ’s final days. It is widely considered to be the most important single work in Western music. The Passion will be performed at First Baptist Church in Aiken at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 14. The Trinity Wall Street Choir, based at Trinity Church in Manhattan, is one of the country’s most acclaimed professional vocal ensembles. It is especially known for its world-class performances and recordings of Bach’s music. In 2013, the choir was nominated for a Grammy, as was its conductor, Julian Wachner. In 2012, the Trinity Choir was selected by the Rolling Stones to perform at the final concert of their 50th anniversary tour and sang “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” with the legendary rock band. Joining the Trinity Choir in this new production of the Passion will be instrumentalists from Juilliard 415, Juilliard’s renowned historical performance ensemble, and soloists from Juilliard’s vocal program. Ryberg noted that it was a significant honor for Juilliard to select Aiken as the site of the production’s premiere. She attributed the honor to “the existence of Juilliard in Aiken, the success of past festivals, and the warm welcome that Juilliard has found here, as well as the Juilliard students’ fondness for Aiken.” Thanks to private funding, the production will travel to Atlanta following its Aiken debut. The final performance will take place in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York. Juilliard in Aiken is inviting local choral groups to participate in a citywide celebration of the Passion in the months leading up to the performance. Groups from area churches, schools and other organizations will take part in a variety of ways. A Choral Celebration in February will showcase the talents of area choir directors and singers, and in March, Wachner will work with participating choirs in a special Juilliard-in-Aiken Choral Workshop. In addition to the Passion, the 2014 Festival schedule will include other public performances and an extensive program of outreach to area schools. Last year, the Festival reached more than 5,000 students. During the summer of 2013, Juilliard in Aiken also sponsored a Jazz Camp at USC Aiken. About Juilliard in Aiken Juilliard in Aiken was founded in 2009 after Aiken authors Greg Smith and Steven Naifeh bequeathed their home, Joye Cottage, to The Juilliard School as an out-of-town residence for Juilliard artists. The nonprofit organization receives no funds from The Juilliard School and depends on local fundraising and grants to present its Festival performances and educational outreach programs. For more information, visit www.juilliardinaiken.com. Via: Juilliard in Aiken

Groundhog kilns: firing pottery the traditional way

This Aiken Standard article spotlights the groundhog kiln - a wood-burning furnace used by some potters in Aiken and Edgefield counties that are similar to the ones that were around in the 1800s. (Story and photos by DeDe Biles. View additional photos.) Images: Left - master potter Justin Guy of Old Edgefield Pottery adds wood to the fire in the groundhog kiln owned by the Edgefield County Historical Society. Right - These face jugs and other pieces made by potter Gary Dexter were fired in the groundhog kiln at Gaston Livery Stable.

In an era when high-tech gadgets are all the rage, groundhog kilns remind us of the way things used to be. The wood-burning furnaces used by some potters in Aiken and Edgefield counties today are similar to the ones that were around in the 1800s. “It's the traditional way of making pottery down here in the South,” said Gary Dexter, who built the groundhog kiln at Gaston Livery Stable, a historic barn on Richland Avenue, in 2012. Dexter, who has been a potter for approximately 17 years, focuses on creating old-style, alkaline-glazed stoneware. He fashions pots, face jugs and other pieces from a mixture of two types of clay that he digs himself. Then he fires them in the Livery Stable's groundhog kiln. “It's like a giant chimney that has been laid down on the ground,” Dexter said. “It's about 7 feet wide by 14 feet long. There is a fire box on one end and a short chimney around 5 feet tall on the other.” The kiln is made of refractory bricks that can withstand high temperatures. Dexter placed dirt and rocks along the sides of the kiln to hold it together. “It's kind of partially buried in the ground, and it looks like a groundhog's burrow,” he said. The kiln can hold 150 pieces of pottery. The clay they are made of hardens during the firing process, when the temperature inside the furnace rises to more than 2,000 degrees. Meanwhile, the glazes on the pottery melt and become shiny. “I use pine wood, and the firing usually takes about 30 hours,” Dexter said. “Then it takes about four days for the kiln to cool down.” Gaston Livery Stable is in the process of being restored, and the kiln “will be one of the anchors we are going to have here,” Dexter said. “As the restoration moves forward, we will have living history days when people will be making crafts and other things from back in the time when this barn was built, which was 1893.” Dexter has a pottery studio at Gaston Livery Stable, and his apprentice, Siva Aiken, works there with him. The Edgefield County Historical Society owns a groundhog kiln located near the intersection of U.S. 25 and S.C. 430. It is bigger than Gaston Livery Stable's furnace. “Ours is 22 feet long and about 8 feet wide in the middle,” said Master Potter Justin Guy of Old Edgefield Pottery. “We have 90 cubic feet to fill up, and we can put between 250 and 300 pots inside. But we've found that the kiln fires better if we put in fewer and strategically place the pots.” The kiln has been operating since 2011. “We built it in six to eight weeks,” Guy said. “It's made of High-Fired Super Duty bricks (which have a temperature rating between 3,000 and 3,150 degrees).”

Wildlife artists invited to submit works to Aiken Center for the Arts

Deadline: June 14 Aiken Wildlife ExhibitionAiken Center for the Arts will be all about the wildlife in October and invites wildlife artists to come along! The North American Blue Bird Society will hold their 36th annual conference in Aiken, S.C., in early October, hosted by the Aiken Center for the Arts.  Approximately six artists will be selected to exhibit their wildlife works at the Center from October 2 to November 8, 2013. Please submit up to five digital images that are representative of your wildlife works for review.  Any medium is acceptable. Key dates • Submit up to five digital images by Friday, June 14. Submit to acaexecdir@bellsouth.net • Selected artists will be notified by July 1. • Exhibit dates: October 2-November 8, 2013 • Reception October 3, 6-8 pm • Deliver artwork Saturday, September 28 between 10 a. m. and noon. • Pickup Saturday, November 9 between 10 a. m. and noon Via: Aiken Center for the Arts

Application deadline extended for Juilliard Summer Jazz Camp

Application deadline extended to May 15! There's still time to apply for the Juilliard Summer Jazz Camp in Aiken, a one-week program for students ages 13-18 who are dedicated, disciplined and passionate about jazz. The camp is scheduled for June 10-14, 2013, at the University of South Carolina-Aiken and is open to students from across the United States who meet the requirements. The program is designed to give young jazz musicians a taste of a Juilliard Jazz student’s life and to help them refine their technique, improvisation and performance skills. Teachers include members of the Juilliard Jazz faculty, current senior students and alumni. The daily camp schedule is from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and includes musicianship classes, individual practices, ensemble classes and rehearsals,  listening sessions and jam sessions. The camp concludes with a concert featuring all students. Instruments for this year's camp are the trumpet, saxophone, trombone, guitar, piano, double bass and drums. There is no vocal program. The camp is a collaboration between the Juilliard School, Juilliard in Aiken, and the University of South Carolina-Aiken. Tuition is $400 with additional optional fees for housing and meals. Limited financial assistance is available for those who qualify. Application and non-refundable $150 deposit are due May 15. To find out more or to apply, visit the Juilliard in Aiken website and read the camp application. Via: Juilliard in Aiken

East Aiken students transform bare wall into a musical mural

Artist Lynn Miller, a member of the South Carolina Arts Commission's Artist Roster, recently worked with fifth graders at East Aiken School of the Arts to create a mural for the music room. East Aiken is an Arts in Basic Curriculum Project site. Lynn Miller

“I like them to relate to the people who are on the mural,” Miller said. “Their participation is a wonderful experience for them. They become part of the school’s history, and later they can show what part of the work they did. There’s a lot of energy here.”
Read an article about the mural project in the Aiken Standard. The Artist Roster is an extensive list of artists in many disciplines who are available to presenters and to serve in arts education programs in South Carolina.  Any presenter -- from arts organizations to parks to recreation centers -- may search the roster to find artists. Many artists have work samples posted on the roster,  and many artists offer programs for a range of age groups, including adults. Find out more about the Artist Roster or search for artists. East Aiken School of the Arts article and photos: Rob Novit, The Aiken Standard

Aiken Center for the Arts seeks executive director

Application deadline: April 5 The organization: The mission of Aiken Center for the Arts is to foster partnerships for the growth of an arts community and to provide arts education, cultural activities, and art opportunities that enrich the quality of life in Aiken. The Aiken Center for the Arts hosts 23,000 visitors annually offering a multitude of outreach and awareness programs including opportunities for children and adults; juried shows and competitions, lectures and instruction, and a variety of concert events; music, dance, film and other performing arts; as well as a gallery store where local artisans offer their original works for sale. Year-round exhibits in our five exhibition galleries feature artists from around the world, with an emphasis on local and regional talent of the South. The Center has a flexible floor plan to maximize its learning programs, and provides 82 free scholarships for children and seniors annually. Its Brown Pavilion is a state-of- the-art visual facility. All of this is accomplished with a staff consisting of two full-time and six part-time employees and many dedicated volunteers. A 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit corporation, the Center follows sound financial practices. The building is debt free, and we follow a pay as you go philosophy which has resulted in a balanced budget for the past nine years. Its $500,000 per-year budget is 98 percent earned through memberships, fund-raisers, facility rentals, classes, grants and art sales commissions. A $400,000 endowment fund helps ensure the long-term financial viability of the Center. The position: The executive director is responsible for the management and oversight of all aspects of the organization, reports directly to the board of directors, and represents the Arts Center in the community and in the state. Job responsibilities:

  1. Increase the Center’s visibility, image and role in the community, and strengthen community support by developing strong relationships with key individuals and organizations.
  2. Active involvement in income-producing activities: finding ways to increase membership income, taking an active role in fundraising activities, and overseeing the grant application process.
  3. Ensure the Center has a balanced operating budget by working with the operations manager and finance committee to maximize revenues and control expenses so the Center breaks even.
  4. All aspects of personnel management, including maintaining job descriptions, hiring, coaching, conducting annual performance reviews and staff scheduling to ensure the Center’s needs are met, and disciplinary action in consultation with the human resources committee of the board.
  5. Lead the strategic planning process with participation from the board of directors.
  6. Ensure a successful gallery exhibition program by leading an exhibit selection team.
  7. Oversight of a robust learning program, working with the programming manager and program committee to determine community needs and provide the resources to meet those needs each year.
  8. Oversight of the gallery store, working closely with the store manager to establish sales goals, a marketing plan and store policies.
  9. Oversee the maintenance of the Center’s 22,000 sq. ft. facility by working with the operations manager, building committee, and contractors to ensure the facility is properly maintained.
  10. Effectively work with the board of directors to ensure that key goals are met.
Visit the website for the full list of qualifications, other requirements, salary offered and application instructions. All applications must be received by 5 p. m. April 5, 2013. Via: Aiken Center for the Arts