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Governor honors Artisphere founder, SCAC board chair

Henry Horowitz receives the Order of the Palmetto

Thursday night at the gala to open the 15th Artisphere, Gov. Henry McMaster honored its founder with the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina's highest civilian honor. Horowitz received the award for his contributions to the state of South Carolina through Artisphere and other statewide arts organizations, according to the Greenville Journal. He is currently chairman of the S.C. Arts Commission (SCAC) board of directors. "The South Carolina Arts Commission has known for a long time how much the arts in our state benefit from Henry’s dedicated leadership. He has had significant impact, both in Greenville and throughout the state. His award is well deserved, and we’re very happy for him," SCAC Executive Director Ken May said. Artisphere ran from Friday-Sunday in downtown Greenville. It is a significant point of pride for the Upstate region. The celebration of visual, performing, and culinary arts attracted visitors and artists from around the country as it does every year, making it one of the nation's top 10 arts festivals. (Small South Carolina also boasts Spoleto Festival USA and Piccolo Spoleto in Charleston and ArtFields in Lake City, all nationally-known festivals occurring each April/May). Click here to read the rest of the story.  

Artisphere continues arts festival season in S.C.

Artisphere Arts festival season has hit full-stride in South Carolina. This weekend, it's Greenville and Artisphere in the spotlight with the return of the signature Upstate event, which draws artists, art lovers, and tourists from all over the Southeast. The fun began about an hour ago and runs through Sunday:

  • ArtisphereFriday, May 11: 12-8 p.m.*
  • Saturday, May 12: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.*
  • Sunday, May 13: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
*ARTISPHERE AFTER HOURS CONCERTS: the WYFF-4 Main Stage features musical performances from 8-9:45 p.m. There are a host of exhibits, performances (dance and music), and vendors (craft, food, etc.) to take in as you wind your way through downtown Greenville. Artisphere is presented by TD Bank, and receives support from the South Carolina Arts Commission.

What would Greenville be without arts grants?

From The Greenville News

Article by Donna Isbell Walker, photos by Lauren Petracca

Image: Alyson Amato, co-founder of Carolina Dance Collaborative, leads an after-school dance class last week at Chandler Creek Elementary in Greer.

This weekend, Greenville will proudly display its commitment to the arts.

The 13th annual Artisphere festival opens Friday, and for three days, the streets of downtown will overflow with rich color and the sounds of music and the aroma of lamb burgers and caramel popcorn.

Last year, Artisphere had an economic impact of $6.4 million, as 100,000 visitors packed the streets, purchasing original art, checking out the local merchants, sampling the cuisine.

But, what would the festival look like if it didn’t receive funding from the South Carolina Arts Commission?

Kerry Murphy, the festival’s executive director, said putting on the festival would be a lot tougher without a $21,000 general operating support grant from SCAC, which in turn receives a large portion of its funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The NEA has been under fire this year, as President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would have eliminated the NEA, as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Those agencies were spared by the House Appropriation Committee’s appropriations bill for the 2017 fiscal year, which actually increased NEA and NEH funding.

Across the Upstate, arts grants make a difference. At Chandler Creek Elementary School in Greer one recent afternoon, students showed off the jazz and African dance moves they spent the previous six weeks mastering in an after-school program operated by Communities in Schools through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

At the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, teachers have the chance to attend workshops and other professional development opportunities, and they share that knowledge with other teachers, as well as the students The Greenville Symphony Orchestra targets elementary and middle school students with its educational outreach programs, and Warehouse Theatre takes Shakespeare to middle and high schools around the Carolinas, in a program that offers a mini-course in the Bard, complete with a live production of one of his plays.

It may be easy to take for granted that Greenville’s local theaters will continue to stage productions each year, that festivals will brighten the streets of downtown, that students can learn painting and music and creative writing in school.

But all of those programs require funding, in most cases more money than an arts entity can generate on its own, said Mike Sablone, producing artistic director for Warehouse Theatre.

“All of that funding is incredibly important to every aspect of the theater,” Sablone said. “We’re a non-profit. We rely on ticket sales, we rely on donations, we rely on grants. And all those allow us to do the work that we do. And without that money, we’d have to take a harder look at how we produce, what we produce, and the quality that we’ve come to expect with a Warehouse Theatre production.”

Greenville is blessed to have a vibrant arts scene, one that contributes to the city’s overall popularity as a place to visit and as a place where people are moving, said Dr. Braxton Ballew, education director for Greenville Symphony Orchestra.

“We’ve got a tremendous arts community here, and I think it’s no accident that you see Greenville on these top 10 best places to live, top 10 places to retire (lists), all the accolades that we get, and we just happen to have this great arts community here, that’s not a coincidence,” Ballew said. “It cannot be understated what a big part the Arts Commission is to that success.”

Learning new things

The Chandler Creek dance program offers third- through fifth-graders at the Title I school a chance to learn dances that they might not otherwise have an opportunity to practice, said Alyson Amato, co-founder and director of education for Carolina Dance Collaborative.

For six weeks, Amato and Kelsey Crum, Carolina Dance Collaborative’s other co-founder, taught the students the moves for three dances, and on the seventh week, they demonstrated their new skills for parents and friends.

They rolled their arms, snapped their fingers, did the “smush the bug” step, showed off their best jazz hands, and performed a celebratory African dance called yankadi, to songs like the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and “Blackbird” from the Broadway show “Fosse.”

The program isn’t just a chance to have fun, Amato said.

“The process of learning something, practicing it and then performing it is a massive self-esteem booster,” Amato said. “Seeing how they work hard at something, they can achieve in just six weeks. And also, having fun doing it at the same time. It’s also a way to really enhance what they get in their physical education during school time. Because you will see, we sweat. … But I really do want them to get their heart rate up, also their minds to be challenged.”

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding includes enrichment opportunities such as the dance program. Without that funding, the program might be merely homework-based, or it might be cut entirely, Amato said.

More than entertainment

A community’s support of the arts means more in the long run than an evening of entertainment at the theater or the ballet, said Julie Allen, vice president of arts and academics at South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities.

“Many people see arts-based funding as something which is nice,” Allen said. “It’s something that a community does when it’s nice, when there’s extra money. But I think when you delve a little bit deeper into that, you recognize that the arts, while there certainly is an aesthetic value, and there’s an intrinsic human value, there’s also a real economic value. The arts are a significant part of South Carolina’s economy; they’re an incredible part of Greenville’s economy. And so I do think anything we can do to help people see the arts as an intrinsic part of a vibrant economy is really important.”

But even beyond that, a talent and affinity for the arts can go a long way toward helping a teenager find his or her voice, a purpose in life, a profession.

“Particularly for arts students, who often see themselves as perhaps a little bit different than their typical peer, this is a place that they feel is home,” Allen said. “It’s a place they feel safe, it’s a place they’re willing to take risks. And a lot of students do come back talk about (how) ‘I found my voice here because it gave me the confidence to continue to grow and figure out who I was.’”

Dozens of grants

For the 2017 fiscal year, the South Carolina Arts Commission awarded 28 grants totaling more than $400,000 to Greenville County organizations and individuals. Those grants ranged from $625 to Foothills Philharmonic Orchestra for general operating support, to $2,057 for Sweet Adelines International Greenville in Harmony for operating support for small organizations, to general operating support grants of more than $25,000 each to the Peace Center Foundation, Greenville Symphony Association, and South Carolina Arts Alliance.

Warehouse Theatre receives funding from South Carolina Arts Commission, as well as a direct NEA grant for the Shakespeare program, now in its third year.

Shakespeare in American Communities, a national program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, offers a $25,000 matching grant, and Warehouse must raise an equal amount of money through corporate sponsorships and other donations.

The aim of the program is “to increase Shakespeare performance in different communities across the nation,” said Mallory Pellegrino, director of education for Warehouse Theatre. “We are one of the very few companies in the Southeast.”

Through the grant, Warehouse is able to present Shakespeare to middle- and high-school students in the Carolinas, using a company of six or seven actors who travel to schools and offer an introductory workshop on the play to be presented, as well as a follow-up class after students have seen the play.

If the grant money disappeared, Pellegrino said, the program wouldn’t necessarily disappear. It would, however, require substantial changes to the way it operates, perhaps by soliciting more local sponsorships and donors.

But the biggest change would to be make the program “revenue-driven,” Pellegrino said. “We would have to make sure that we had enough venues to be able to go out, that there were enough people interested in it. And you would begin to limit your reach and your impact.”

Making an impact

The Greenville Symphony Orchestra seeks to make much of its educational impact on elementary and middle school students.

This year, GSO received a $10,000 grant from the NEA to fund its free concert for middle-school band and strings students, said Linda Grandy, Greenville Symphony Orchestra development director.

In addition, the GSO received a general operating support grant of $25,391 from SCAC this year, which helps to fund other educational programs, including the concerts available to all of Greenville County’s elementary schools.

One important aspect of the GSO’s educational programs is the opportunity for students to see the symphony in concert at no charge, which is especiallyimportant for students at less-affluent schools, said the GSO’s Ballew.

Losing that funding would have an impact on several programs, including GSO partnerships with SC Children’s Theatre and Greenville County Library.

“Maybe we wouldn’t offer as many, or maybe we would start charging $5 at the door,” Ballew said.

Sharing the wealth

Education is, of course, the mission of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, whose operational budget comes from the state. But continuing education is important to the teachers who share their knowledge and skills in visual arts, drama, creative writing and music.

And an SCAC grant for Arts in Basic Curriculum Advancement allows Governor’s School teachers to participate in continuing education programs that help both students and other teachers, Allen said.

When SCAC’s funding was increased two years ago, the commission passed on the increase, which allowed the Governor’s School to add a couple of components to its continuing education focus. One way was to share the knowledge, to offer professional development opportunities to teachers in other areas.

“We identified drama as an area where there seemed to be a real need for drama teachers in the state to have professional development experiences,” Allen said. “Typically, there’s one drama teacher in a school, maybe there’s two or three in a district. But to get content-level, really high-level training, those opportunities are often few and far between for them. So what we’ve been able to do is essentially share that wealth.

“For the last two years, we’ve brought a group of drama teachers here, we’ve let that group identify what their particular needs are, and the nice pairing there is the person that’s led those workshops for the last two years is someone who had elevated her own training by virtue of having taken advantage of the professional development funding earlier from the Arts Commission. So it was kind of a way of paying back what she had gained.”

Important source of funding

Artisphere depends on the SCAC funding for a large part of its budget; other revenue sources include vendor fees, corporate sponsorships, merchandise sales and other grants, Murphy said.

“That’s a very healthy mix, and is a huge part of why we’ve been able to grow the festival and its impact over the years,” Murphy said.

If the government grants were no longer available, Artisphere would survive, but other organizations might not be able to weather the loss, she said.

“We have spent a lot of time diversifying our funding model so that if we lose any single funder we can mitigate the loss of that funding, either through a focused effort to replace the money, or by trimming expenses here and there,” Murphy said. “That isn’t the case for smaller organizations, where SCAC funding could represent an entire marketing budget, or fees for artists for a performance.

“We think it is important to have public arts funding because it makes a statement about what we care about as a community.”

Alyson Amato, co-founder of Carolina Dance Collaborative, teaches an after-school dance class at Chandler Creek Elementary in Greer last week.

Greenville’s Artisphere seeks logistics coordinator

Note: Applications for this position are no longer being accepted. Artisphere seeks a logistics coordinator to work in partnership with the executive director (ED), the event management team and a volunteer board of directors to oversee the coordination and administration of all logistical planning, organizing, and executing of the organization’s events both internally and externally. Reporting to the ED, the logistics coordinator is responsible for carrying out the festival plan designed by management and will oversee internal office operations. Qualifications include a successful project management track record in either a cultural, not-for-profit or event management organization. Send resume, cover letter with salary requirements and references by September 16, 2016, to info@artisphere.org Artisphere is a three-day celebration of the arts, visual and performing, that takes place in downtown Greenville every May. 2017 will mark the 13th anniversary of the Artisphere festival that has become a signature event on Greenville’s cultural calendar. Artisphere is consistently ranked a TOP 10 Fine Arts Festival in the Country by notable industry indices.

SC jeweler takes risks and reaps national acclaim

From The Huffington Post Article by Ashley Mason Brown
[caption id="attachment_27847" align="alignright" width="200"]Kate Furman A model wears a conceptual wood piece by Kate Furman, made for “The Lines Within," a collaboration with Greenville, SC photographer Eli Warren.[/caption] Greenville, South Carolina native Kate Furman remembers the day she first was introduced to metalsmithing. “I was interviewing for the Fine Arts Center program and was in their metals studio. There were really cool tools everywhere. When they asked me what class I wanted to take, I said this one.” Spoiler alert-she was accepted into the program. Her skill blossomed there under the tutelage of renowned metalsmith Susan Willis who encouraged Kate to continue her education after highschool and pursue a BA in metalsmithing. Furman attended UGA’s metalsmithing program for four years and moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming afterward teaching at the local arts center and raft guiding on the side. “I fell in love with Jackson and never thought I would leave but got into RISD which was a lifelong dream. Winston (her dog) and I moved to Providence, Rhode Island and I earned a Masters Degree from RISD. My favorite part of that was that I was taught by the people that I had been studying for the past 5 or so years.” At RISD Kate was encouraged to think outside the box and mix the natural influences from Jackson Hole with metal elements to create wearable works of art. Furman’s original wood centric conceptual art style emerged from her time at Jackson Hole as a raft guide. “Some people are still very confused by them, but it’s funny. People either love them or aren’t quite sure what to think.  I apply to art exhibitions all over the country with those pieces.” These large, strong pieces of jewelry are laden with chain work and can be worn draped around the neck. They, much like Furman herself are unusual, thought provoking and enigmatic. Furman’s smaller pieces of jewelry have found home in the southern trendy-chic boutiques such as Augusta 20. The smaller wearable pieces carry a visually apparent nature flashback as well including twig like bracelets, blue crab pendants and wood bark textured wedding bands made from golds, silvers and bronzes. Her wearable jewelry line is a perfect representation of South Carolina’s married landscape as it meshes influence from the Upstate’s signature oak branches to Pawleys Island tide forgotten castaway sea shells. Furman’s casting process takes the original items from their home in nature and perfectly recreates each sea shell, pine cone, and broken twig into a everyday piece of metal art. This two-tiered jewelry concept of producing both one of a kind conceptual jewelry as well as the wearable jewelry has allowed for her to grow her brand at a slow and steady pace. Some of her large conceptual pieces are in museums and shows world-wide. They’ve been in Australia, Netherlands and just recently shown in Boston. She shipped a few pieces overseas to the UK for a high end conceptual fashion shoot. She’s even ventured into using 3-D printing technology to mass produce jewelry for her more budget conscious clients. By partnering with a local 3-D printer, Furman not only supports another local business, but also is able to communicate for freely with her supplier about the process and the quantity of work she needs in order to satisfy her demand. [caption id="attachment_27849" align="alignright" width="300"]Kate Furman 3D jewelry Kate Furman’s 3-D printed jewelry has been a fun and popular choice. Photo by Eli Warren of The Needed Image[/caption]
Furman’s eyes are set to the horizon as she plans her next stage as an artist. “I just bought a space on Pendleton Street that’s going to be a studio. Part of it will be retail with open hours and allow people to come visit me while I’m working and learn about the process and just hang out. Over time I’ll become more and more involved with the Greenville Center for Creative Arts as that program grows,” says Furman. Her recognition in Greenville is growing after she was selected as a 2016 Emerging Artist Award Winner for Artisphere. Artisphere is a nationally renowned art festival held in Greenville, South Carolina’s welcoming and chic downtown.  Furman competed with thousands of artist nation-wide for a spot in the line-up and received a tent where she could sell her work during the festival along with the honor of her award. “It was one of the coolest weekends ever. I had so much support from family and friends and was able to meet many new artists and clients. I couldn’t even walk across my booth most of the time- it was so packed. It was a rewarding experience that I hope to be able to repeat again.” Her business grows every year. “I have always known what I wanted and have done it, “ she says as she fidgets. “Look I can’t sit still! I like being back at home because I have support of everyone I grew up with. I try to bring a version of art that wasn’t here before. Beyond fashion jewelry is kind of new to Greenville. It’s fun to be a bit of a pioneer. “ Check out Kate’s jewelry here at www.katefurman.com 

Greenville’s Artisphere seeks visual arts programs coordinator

Note: Artisphere is no longer accepting applications for this job.  Artisphere is hiring a visual arts programs coordinator, who must have strong project management and communication skills. A working knowledge of the local arts community is beneficial. This role is a full-time position requiring availability during some evenings and the weekend of Artisphere. The visual arts programs coordinator oversees the coordination and administration of all aspects of ongoing visual arts programming including planning, organizing, staffing, leading, and controlling program activities. The coordinator is expected to attend all board meetings, some committee meetings, and any festival meetings deemed necessary by the executive director or the board. The coordinator is required to be on the festival site for the duration of the event weekend. Artisphere is a three-day celebration of the arts, visual and performing, that takes place in downtown Greenville every May. 2017 will mark the 13th anniversary of the Artisphere festival that has become a signature event on Greenville’s cultural calendar. Artisphere is consistently ranked a TOP 10 Fine Arts Festival in the Country by notable industry indices. Complete job description and skill requirements are available online. Qualified candidates may send a resume, references and salary requirements to Kerry Murphy at info@artisphere.org.

Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council marks new fundraising record

From The Greenville News Article by Paul Hyde

[caption id="attachment_25924" align="alignright" width="300"]greenvilleMACawards Lorraine Goldstein and Hal Weiss accept the 2015 MAC Lifelong Support of the Arts Award at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Metropolitan Arts Council in Gunter Theatre on Tuesday, March 29, 2016.[/caption] Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council raised a record of more than $2 million in 2015, MAC board chairman Charles Ratterree announced Tuesday. Most of the money generated helps to support dozens of Greenville arts groups and artists. “This allows us to provide record high grants to individuals, arts organizations and arts education programs,” said MAC executive director Alan Ethridge. Among MAC's grants recipients, eight local arts groups received $25,000 each in operating support. Those organizations are Artisphere, Centre Stage, Greenville Chorale, Greenville Little Theatre, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, the Peace Center, the South Carolina Children’s Theatre and the Warehouse Theatre. MAC also committed $10,000 to the Greenville County Museum of Art to purchase works by Greenville-area artists for its permanent collection. To support its grants, MAC receives donations from a variety of sources: individuals, corporations, foundations, the city of Greenville’s accommodations tax, the South Carolina Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Greenville’s arts scene has never been more vibrant and prosperous, Ratterree said, speaking at MAC’s annual meeting at the Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre. “We are in the midst of an arts renaissance in Greenville, with over 60 arts nonprofits that display not only the incredible talent in our community but an enthusiasm for sharing with others,” Ratterree said. “One of the great things about Greenville is the idea that the arts are for everybody. Many arts events are free and open to the public.” Now in its 43rd year, MAC also provided $111,336 for specific programs or projects to 60 schools, individual artists and local arts organizations, Ratterree said. Ratterree announced that last year’s Open Studios, a weekend MAC event that spotlights Greenville’s visual arts community, involved 132 artists, generated a record $277,548 in sales and was attended by 41,284 people. Before announcing MAC’s annual awards, Ethridge remembered Sherwood Mobley, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra’s executive director who passed away Feb. 26. MAC honored several Greenville arts leaders. The MAC Visionary Award went to Sally Potosky and Caroline McIntyre, sisters who lead the Greenville Chautauqua Society. The MAC Lifelong Support of the Arts Award was presented to local arts philanthropists Lorraine Goldstein and Hal Weiss. The Carl R. Blair Award for Commitment to Arts Education went to Dr. Gary Robinson, a faculty member of the Fine Arts Center and longtime director of the Young Artist Orchestra, one of the ensembles of the Greenville County Youth Orchestras. The Young Supporter of the Arts Award was presented to Elizabeth and Michael Fletcher. Elizabeth Fletcher is the vice president for strategy and business development for Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. Michael Fletcher is a real estate broker and attorney. The TD Bank Business and the Arts Partnership awards went to: McKinney Dodge Ram Chrysler Jeep & Mazda (businesses under 100 employees) and BMW Manufacturing Company, LLC (businesses with 100 or more employees). The Put Your Heart in the Arts Volunteer of the Year Award went to Carl Sykes.

Artisphere receives more than 1,000 applications for 2016 show

The 12th annual Artisphere presented by TD Bank received an unprecedented 1,091 artist applications for the 2016 event -- a 10 percent increase over last year’s applications. Show organizers attribute the rise in applications to an increased awareness of Greenville’s art-loving community as well as the festival’s track record for garnering meaningful sales for participating artists; 2015 exhibiting artists reported average sales of $7,300. This year’s jury review required an additional day to review all applicants. “Artists apply to be considered in one of 17 different medium categories such as painting, sculpture, jewelry and glass,” stated Tod Tappert, Artisphere juror and vice president of the board of directors.  “Each artist submits four images of their work and one image of their display booth. The jury panel scores all applicants, and the top scoring artists in each medium category are invited to exhibit at the show.” The list of participating artists will be announced in early 2016. This year’s panel included Greg Colleton, director of operations, Redux Contemporary Art Center, (Charleston, S.C.); P. A. Kessler, watercolor painter and Artisphere 2015 third place award winner (Hilton Head Island, S.C.); Jaydan Moore, artist in residence, Penland School of Craft (Penland, N.C.); Tod Tappert, painter and vice president for the Artisphere board of directors; and Valerie Zimany, assistant professor of art, Clemson University (Clemson, S.C). Reported average artist sales earned the festival a spot on Art Fair Sourcebook’s Top 10 Fine Art Shows list three years in a row, and Artisphere organizers hope the 2016 sales will push the show higher in the rankings.  “It is our goal to break into the Top 5,” stated board of directors president Marion Crawford.  “With Greenville’s growing appreciation for original artwork and support from partners like TD Bank, we feel confident we can reach our goal.” “TD Bank strives to support organizations that create a better place to live and work, and we believe that the arts play a vital role in sustaining Greenville’s vibrant quality of life,” said Cal Hurst, regional vice president, TD Bank. “TD is pleased to support Artisphere as its presenting sponsor for the 12th consecutive year and looks forward to seeing the positive results the festival continues to have on our community’s economic development.“ Artisphere is scheduled for May 13-15, 2016, in Greenville, S.C. For more information, visit www.artisphere.org. Image: work by Megan Clark, 2015 Artisphere artist Via: Artisphere

Clemson University to launch STEAM Network at Artisphere in Greenville

From GSA Business:

Clemson University’s exhibit at Artisphere in downtown Greenville will include an announcement about a new partnership that could change how students learn at the university and beyond. The three-day celebration of visual and performing arts starts Friday, May 8 and runs through Sunday, May 10. Two university deans will announce the launch of the Clemson University STEAM Network. The exhibit is part of an effort to ensure that the arts don’t get left behind as students gravitate to science, technology, engineering and math.As part of the network, 32 faculty and staff members are coming together to find new ways of adding an “A” for the arts into the STEM mix. The public will be invited to see what they can build with common items, such as paper clips and cardboard tubes. Participants will then add their inventions to one continuously changing sculpture. Clemson’s exhibit will be at Main and Broad streets. All activities are free and open to the public. Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering and Science, said that the arts can help inspire creativity and recruit a more diverse mix of students to engineering and the sciences. “The intersection of art and STEM has a long history,” he said. “The Duomo cathedral in Florence, Italy was so big and so important, it helped start a whole new era of art and construction engineering. “Likewise, Taj Mahal is considered both an artistic splendor and a civil engineering jewel.” Rick Goodstein, dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, said that the arts help students develop empathy and creative thought. “The arts not only help individuals lead richer, more well rounded lives but also give them a competitive advantage,” he said. “Good leaders understand empathy, and creativity is crucial to innovation. The exhibit schedule also includes code “Scribbler Robots” to draw in an elevated sandbox and a web-based “morphing tool” that can create designs for keeping.

Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council marks new fundraising record

From The Greenville News Story by Paul Hyde

Greenville's Metropolitan Arts Council raised a record of $2 million in 2014, MAC executive director Alan Ethridge announced this week. Most of that money helps support dozens of Greenville arts groups and artists. "This allows us to provide record high grants to individuals, arts organizations and arts education programs," Ethridge said. "It's groundbreaking." At its annual meeting, MAC recognized several Greenville leaders for their support for the arts. Steve Brandt, who retired last fall after a long career as publisher of The Greenville News, received the Lifelong Support of the Arts Award. Since arriving in Greenville in 1978, Brandt has served on the boards of several Greenville arts organizations — including stints as chairman of Artisphere and the Peace Center. Brandt, as publisher of The Greenville News, supported extensive arts coverage by the newspaper. "Steve is an eloquent, wildly intelligent, thoughtful leader who is tremendously good at building consensus," said Peace Center president Megan Riegel. "He was the perfect executive to chair the Peace Center's board during its $23 million capital campaign." Thanks to increases in fundraising, MAC is providing more financial support to local arts organization than ever before, Ethridge said. Nine local arts organizations will receive $25,000 each in operating support. Those organizations are Artisphere, Carolina Ballet Theatre, Centre Stage, Greenville Chorale, Greenville Little Theatre, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, the Peace Center, the South Carolina Children's Theatre and the Warehouse Theatre. Those grants were $10,000 per organization in 2006. They've steadily increased to the current $25,000 per organization, thanks to MAC's fundraising, Ethridge said. Now in its 42nd year, MAC also provided a record-high of $193,321 in project support grants for specific programs. Those grants went to 19 schools, 20 individual artists and 53 arts organizations. Ethridge announced that last year's Open Studios, a weekend MAC event that spotlights Greenville's visual arts community, involved 121 artists, generated $215,880 in sales and was attended by 44,801 people. "It was a great year," Ethridge said. Ethridge announced also that MAC's endowment had raised $768,117. MAC plans to use income from the endowment to provide additional financial support to Greenville arts organizations. The endowment made its debut last year with an eventual goal of $25 million. Such a hefty endowment could produce an income of $1 million in annual support for Greenville arts organizations. The endowment is a long-term project but MAC plans to embrace ambitious fundraising goals every year — including a goal of $1 million in 2015. Most of that is expected to come from individual and corporate sources. Only a small portion is likely to be raised from government contributions, Ethridge said. "It's going to ensure the sustainability of the artists and arts organizations that make Greenville a truly fabulous city," Ethridge said. For its general budget, MAC receives donations from a variety of sources: individuals, corporations, foundations, the city of Greenville's accommodations tax, the South Carolina Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. MAC recognized several arts leaders at its annual meeting. Kerry Murphy, executive director of Artisphere, received the MAC Visionary Award. Shirely Sarlin, a veteran Greenville stage actress, was recognized with the Put Your Heart in the Arts Volunteer of the Year Award. The TD Bank Business and the Arts Partnership awards went to: Productions Unlimited, Inc. (businesses under 100 employees) and Greenville Heath System (businesses with 100 or more employees). The Carl R. Blair Award for Commitment to Arts Education went to Jon Jeffrey Grier, instructor of advanced placement music theory, advanced topics in music and honors music history at the Fine Arts Center, the magnet school for young students in the arts. Kacee Lominack, development assistant for the Greenville Symphony, received the Young Supporter of the Arts Award.