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State finals of ‘Poetry Out Loud’ competition set

Regional competitions yield eight finalists for March 9 finals

Poetry Out Loud
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Eight South Carolina high school students reached the March 9 state finals for Poetry Out Loud – an annual, nationwide recitation contest – after regional competitions in Charleston and Spartanburg. The S.C. Arts Commission (SCAC) coordinates Poetry Out Loud in South Carolina, partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to bring the competition to state high schools. In the 2018/2019 school year, around 3,100 students from 17 schools in 10 counties participated. School competition winners competed against students in their region to move on to the state finals. The following eight regional finalists will compete on Saturday, March 9, 2019 at the Richland Library Main Branch in Columbia from 3-5 p.m.:
  • Madalin Shaye Baker (Landrum High School in Landrum)
  • Francis Paul Boscia (Spartanburg Day School in Spartanburg)
  • Lyrical Dream Gist (Boiling Springs High School in Boiling Springs)
  • Brynne Hardman (Academy for the Arts, Science, and Technology in Myrtle Beach)
  • Alliyah Jeter (Dorman High School in Roebuck)
  • Sha’Kaila Stewart (Whale Branch Early College High School in Seabrook)
  • Charles Stone Hideshi Urashima (First Baptist School in Charleston)
  • Millie Welbourn (Ashley Hall in Charleston)
This event is free and open to the public. The winner of the state finals will represent South Carolina in the national finals April 29-May 1, 2019 in Washington, D.C. 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. Last year, South Carolina winner Janae Claxton of First Baptist School in Charleston became the first national champion from the Palmetto State.
ABOUT POETRY OUT LOUD Now in its 13th year, 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 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 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.  

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South Arts awards $27,000 among seven S.C. arts groups

South Arts, a nonprofit regional arts organization, has awarded 68 grants totaling $276,949 to arts organization throughout the South. South ArtsThese funds, made possible through partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, support the presentation of touring performing and literary artists in public performances and readings along with educational activities throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

“These funds represent a major step for our organization in pursuit of our newly revised mission statement and strategic plan,” said executive director Susie Surkamer (former executive director of the S.C. Arts Commission. - Ed.) “We have refocused our grantmaking guidelines to primarily support Southern artists on tour throughout our communities. The talent and artistry created within our nine states is immense, and deserves to be shared.”

Organizations applied for consideration, making cases for the artistic merit of the proposed artists and the ability to develop audiences. An external panel of arts professionals reviewed each application for funding consideration. The grants must be matched at least dollar for dollar by the recipient organization. These grants represent multiple initiatives by South Arts. Performing Arts Touring grants support engagements of guest Southern artists (theatre, music, opera, musical theatre, and dance) from outside of the presenter’s state. Literary Arts Touring grants support engagements of guest Southern writers (fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry) from outside the presenter’s state. Launchpad grants are part of a year-long professional development program for presenters new to the field, and include the opportunity to present artists from an adjudicated roster. Dance Touring Initiative funds are part of an ongoing capacity-building program developing audiences for modern dance and contemporary ballet throughout the region. “We are so proud to support tours of diverse, talented artists representing the breadth of our region,” continued Surkamer. “Some of the highlights this year include Ranky Tanky, based in coastal South Carolina, blending their Gullah heritage with influences of jazz and funk. Rosie Herrera Dance Theater of Miami is one of the nation’s leading contemporary ballet companies, effortlessly working across genres including hip hop, dance theater, and cabaret. Poet Jericho Brown, an associate professor Emory University in Atlanta, is a leading voice with verses exploring race, masculinity, and community.” Applications for South Arts touring grants for nonprofit and governmental organizations in the nine-state region open in the fall each year with deadlines in March and May. Additional information and a full listing of grant recipients is available at www.southarts.org.

About South Arts

South Arts advances Southern vitality through the arts. The nonprofit regional arts organization was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to support the success of artists and arts providers in the South, address the needs of Southern communities through impactful arts-based programs, and celebrate the excellence, innovation, value and power of the arts of the South. For more information, visit www.southarts.org.

South Carolina's recipients

  • City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs (Charleston) received a $5,800 grant as part of the Dance Touring Initiative.
  • City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs (Charleston) received a $2,354 Literary Arts Touring grant to present P. Scott Cunningham in October 2018.
  • Midlands Technical College (Columbia) received a $5,800 grant as part of the Dance Touring Initiative.
  • Southern Guitar Festival and Competition (Columbia) received a $878 Performing Arts Touring grant to present Jay Kacherski in June 2019.
  • Coker College (Hartsville) received a $5,800 grant as part of the Dance Touring Initiative.
  • Arts Center of Coastal Carolina (Hilton Head) received a $5,569 Performing Arts Touring grant to present Ballet Memphis in January 2019.
  • Wits End Poetry (Greenville) received a $890 Literary Arts Touring grant to present Asia Samson & Daryl Funn in September 2018.

State to honor five with 2018 Folk Heritage Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 19 March 2018

  • Four artists and one advocate selected
  • Program managed jointly by McKissick Museum at USC and South Carolina Arts Commission
  • Awards to be presented May 2 at South Carolina Arts Awards Day
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Five South Carolina recipients are to be honored by the General Assembly with the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, presented annually to recognize work that keeps the state’s traditional art forms alive. The following five recipients – four artists and one advocate – are being recognized as practitioners and advocates of traditional arts significant to communities throughout the state. Their traditions embody folklife’s dynamic, multigenerational nature, and its fusion of artistic and utilitarian ideals. The 2018 recipients are:
  • The Blackville Community Choir (Blackville): A Capella Spiritual and Gospel Singing
  • Michael King (Greenville): Piedmont blues
  • Henrietta Snype (Mount Pleasant): Sweetgrass basketry
  • Deacon James Garfield Smalls (St. Helena Island): Traditional spirituals
  • Dr. Stephen Criswell (Lancaster): Folklife & Traditional Arts Advocacy
“The work of proliferating our state’s unique cultural heritage is an important one in an age of constant change,” South Carolina Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May said. “The intrinsic value of these treasured art forms is the story each tells of where and who we’ve been, and are, as a culture. We should all be grateful for the work these award recipients do on our behalf.” [caption id="attachment_2612" align="alignright" width="150"]Jean Laney Harris Jean Laney Harris[/caption] The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award is named for the late State Rep. Jean Laney Harris of Cheraw, respected as an outspoken advocate and ardent supporter of the arts and cultural resources of the state. Up to four artists or organizations and one advocate may receive awards each year. The program is managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at USC. Community members make nominations to recognize exemplary artistic achievement/advocacy. An independent advisory panel appointed by the lieutenant governor and house speaker selects the recipients, who must be living and practicing in the state. The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage and Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s awards, sponsored by Colonial Life, are presented at South Carolina Arts Awards Day on Wednesday, May 2 in a morning ceremony at the State House. The S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients afterward during a fundraising luncheon at the USC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). South Carolina artists’ work will be on sale to support the programs of the S.C. Arts Commission. Luncheon tickets are $50 per person and available for purchase through SouthCarolinaArts.com or by calling 803.734.8696. For more information about the Folk Heritage Awards, visit the McKissick Museum website at http://artsandsciences.sc.edu/mckissickmuseum or the S.C. Arts Commission website, SouthCarolinaArts.com.
ABOUT THE FOLK HERITAGE AWARD RECIPIENTS
  • Blackville Community Choir (Artist Category) was formed in 1965 as the Macedonia Tabernacle Choir. In 1976, the choir changed its name to The Blackville Community Choir. The group expanded to include members from different congregations and continued to sing at churches, festivals, funerals, weddings, banquets, public schools, and college graduations. Choir members have been advocates for the arts, organizing an annual program featuring visual and performing artists, collectors, crafters, entrepreneurs, culinary artists, and storytellers.
  • J. Michael King (Artist Category) is a composer, writer, teacher, and accomplished Piedmont blues musician with an insatiable love of traditional South Carolina music. The Piedmont blues, a unique regional distillation of the blues, blossomed in Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia near the beginning of the 20th century. Influenced by ragtime music and early banjo techniques, Piedmont blues involves a light, finger-picking style and steady rhythms. A popular instructor, King teaches the Piedmont blues throughout the region. For over 30 years, he has mentored musicians of all ages in and around upstate South Carolina.
  • Even at 98, Deacon James Garfield Smalls (Artist Category) sings songs dating back to the mid-19th century and stands as one the most important active Gullah singers and cultural ambassadors. Smalls received musical training from B.H. Washington, a member of the St. Helena Quartet and music director at St. Joseph Baptist Church. Smalls sang in Washington’s renowned community choir The Hundred Voices, and later led the ensemble. He also served for many years as director of the senior choir at St. Joseph Baptist Church. Beyond his early musical career, Smalls served in the Pacific with the U.S. Navy’s Seabees during World War II. Over the past three decades, Deacon Smalls has led the singing at Penn Center Community Sings, various island churches, and music festivals.
  • Henrietta Snype (Artist Category) is a Mount Pleasant native and third generation sweetgrass basket maker. Snype’s work has been featured at venues in the Lowcountry and in museums throughout the U.S., including the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Art. Schools, museum shops, business owners, and private art collectors have commissioned works from her. She conducts workshops for public and private schools throughout Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties and does countless demonstrations for all ages.
  • Dr. Stephen Criswell (Advocacy Category) has worked in folklore and anthropology for more than 20 years. His most prominent contribution is his advocacy work for Native American culture, focusing on Catawba potters and contemporary expressive traditions. In 2005, the University of South Carolina Lancaster hired Criswell and challenged him to build and direct its Native American Studies program. After 13 years, the Native American Studies Center (NASC) houses the largest fully intact collection of Catawba pottery in existence and an extensive archival collection. Its new facility has welcomed 30,000 visitors from all over the world since 2012, raising awareness of the history, culture and traditions of Native people of the South.

ABOUT THE FOLKLIFE AND TRADITIONAL ARTS PROGRAM The Folklife and Traditional Arts Program is designed to encourage, promote, conserve and honor the diverse community-based art forms that make South Carolina distinct. The major initiatives of the program serve both established and emerging cultural groups that call South Carolina home. ABOUT MCKISSICK MUSEUM The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum tells the story of southern life: community, culture, and the environment. The Museum is located on the University of South Carolina’s historic Horseshoe with available parking in the garage at the corner of Pendleton and Bull streets. All exhibitions are free and open to the public. The Museum is open from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturdays. The Museum is closed Sundays and university holidays. For more information, please call at 803.777.7251 or visit http://www.sc.edu/study/colleges_schools/artsandsciences/mckissick_museum/. 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.

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.

Hilton Head Island seeks culture and arts network director

Apply by March 22 GreenTownLogo-72R-5inThe Town of Hilton Head Island is seeking a dynamic and creative individual to become its first culture and arts network director. The new director will lead the process to create and implement a civic plan for enhancing the Island’s existing entertainment, arts, culture and heritage (EACH) assets and for identifying new assets for development. Working with other stakeholders, the director will elevate the marketing of these assets in a way that showcases them as successfully as other Island amenities, with a focus on new ways to reach both residents and visitors. This position is the first of its kind in Beaufort County and will offer the successful candidate a challenging and rewarding opportunity to steer the town’s future in these important areas. The successful candidate will be able to interact effectively with multiple audiences, quickly grasp the current situation and determine possibilities for enhancement and development. The ability to communicate with the following constituents is required: leaders of various EACH organizations, Island residents and visitors, Town government and the Island’s marketing entities (Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and its Visitors and Convention Bureau). The successful candidate will also be able to demonstrate knowledge, skills or abilities in the areas of strategic planning, marketing, facilitation, group presentations, use of social media platforms and technology resources, and administrative management. Currently the Island has a world-class symphony, a vibrant theater scene, a rich music community, nationally recognized artistic talent, and a storied but under-told heritage. We are seeking a candidate who can showcase these assets (and others) to expand their reach and broaden our Island’s appeal to both residents and visitors. Application deadline is March 22. Complete details and application instructions are online.  

Beaufort County artists in the spotlight during SC Humanities Festival

[caption id="attachment_23815" align="alignright" width="125"]James McTeer James McTeer[/caption] The annual South Carolina Humanities Festival, taking place in Beaufort County June 9 – 11, will showcase the area’s arts, culture and history. Beaufort native James McTeer, winner of the First Novel Prize, will share the inspiration for his book, Minnow, and Verner Award recipient Marlena Smalls and Folk Heritage Award recipient Anita Singleton Prather (both Beaufort artists) will join forces with Hilton Head's Voices of El Shaddai choir for “The Music and Voices of the Sea Islands.” Arts, cultural and educational organizations from Beaufort to Bluffton and Hilton Head, including the Beaufort Arts Council, the Beaufort Film Society, and USC-Beaufort Center for the Arts will present lectures, films, tours, art shows, exhibits, performances and more around the theme of community collaboration. [caption id="attachment_12334" align="alignright" width="125"]Anita Singleton Prather Anita Singleton Prather[/caption] Find registration information and a complete schedule online. About the South Carolina Humanities Festival Every year, SC Humanities sponsors the Humanities Festival in a community in South Carolina. Started in 1993 in honor of the Council’s 20th Anniversary, the Humanities Festival has been held in 18 different South Carolina cities. Each festival celebrates the local history and culture of the host community, engaging the citizens in lectures, discussions, films, and exhibits and facilitating partnerships between cultural organizations and community groups.

Gullah Geechee artists invited to free workshop in Beaufort County

The South Carolina Arts Commission will present the last in a series of three professional development workshops, Promoting your Gullah Geechee Art Form, from 6 – 9 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Port Royal Sound Maritime Center (formerly the Marina at Lemon Island) at 310 N. Okatie Highway, Okatie, S.C. The workshop is offered free of charge. Space is limited to the first 30 registrants. To register, artists should call (803) 734-8693 or e-mail sduplessis@arts.sc.gov  and provide name, art form, phone number and email address. Artists will learn how to create basic support materials necessary for promotion of their art work. “It is especially designed for Gullah Geechee residents who practice or represent one or more of the cultural expressions outlined in the Gullah Geechee Corridor’s management plan,” said Ken May, South Carolina Arts Commission executive director. Those areas are music, arts, handicrafts, foodways, spirituality, language, education and economic development. “We are pleased to present this workshop in a location between Beaufort and Hilton Head and in partnership with the new maritime center," May said. "They are a new community resource and exhibit venue for artists, and their recent programming has had a strong Gullah Geechee theme. It’s a good fit for our workshop.” The workshops were developed after a series of community arts meetings in 2013, where the South Carolina Arts Commission, in partnership with the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission, heard from more than 80 Corridor artists and residents. The first workshop was held Sept. 30 at the Mt. Pleasant Branch of the Charleston County Library; the second took place Dec. 10 at the Georgetown County Library. All three workshops are being led by Charleston native Kerri Forrest, award-winning journalist and owner of Social Creative Media Consulting. Active in the Charleston region since her return from a distinguished career in Washington, D.C., in 2010, Forrest currently is director of Institutional Advancement for the American College of the Building Arts. She also chairs the speaker selection committee for TEDx Charleston. Other artists and local arts leaders will also participate. For additional information about the program and future meetings, contact Arts Participation Program Director Susan DuPlessis, sduplessis@arts.sc.gov or (803) 734-8693. About the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor was designated a national heritage area by Congress on Oct. 12, 2006. The Corridor was created to recognize contributions made to American culture and history by African Americans known as Gullah Geechee, who settled in the coastal counties of South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida; to assist organizations in the four states in interpreting and preserving Gullah Geechee folklore, arts, crafts, and music; and to assist in identifying and preserving Gullah Geechee sites, historical data and artifacts for the benefit and education of the public. South Carolina’s Gullah Geechee Corridor includes the eight coastal counties of Horry, Georgetown, Berkeley, Charleston , Dorchester, Colleton, Beaufort and Jasper, as well as parts of three inland counties: Marion, Williamsburg, and Hampton. For more information, visit www.gullahgeecheecorridor.org.

Beaufort County visit inspires director of Smithsonian’s African American museum

Beaufort County and Gullah culture will be on display at the Smithsonian's museum on African-American history, which is set to open in 2016 in Washington, D.C. (Museum rendering pictured above.) From The Beaufort Gazette:

Beaufort County tells an important story of the African-American experience, a Smithsonian museum's founding director says. Lonnie Bunch, who has been working for nearly 10 years with the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, spent the weekend in Beaufort County learning about African-American life in the Lowcountry. He saw the authentic slave cabins at the Heyward House in Bluffton, and the grave of Robert Smalls in Beaufort. He dined with commissioners of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, and toured Penn Center during Heritage Days festivities Saturday. Renowned Gullah leader Emory Campbell guided him on a tour of Hilton Head Island's historic African-American communities, including Mitchelville and Spanish Wells. On Sunday, about 75 people attended a reception and question-and-answer session at the University of South Carolina Beaufort's Hilton Head Gateway Campus in Hardeeville. As his three-day visit came to an end, Bunch said he was inspired and motivated by what he saw. "It was exciting to see the possibilities, to see the excitement and passion of this community," Bunch said. "It's not something you see in a lot of places." Beaufort County and Gullah culture will be on display at the Smithsonian's museum on African-American history, which is set to open in 2016 in Washington, D.C. An early edition of the Gullah Bible from St. Helena will be part of the museum, as well as oral histories from Beaufort County residents. One exhibit will look at Gullah/Geechee culture -- the centrality of family, people's connection to Africa, the Gullah/Geechee language, and the importance of the rice culture in America and how it was brought here and carried on by the Gullah/Geechee. Bunch said the museum will become a reality because of people such as Campbell, who introduced Bunch at Sunday's reception. Bunch said he has known Campbell for more than 15 years. "One thing I realized as I build a national museum is how much the work of pioneering people like Emory Campbell shapes what I'm doing," Bunch said. "Emory is representative of people across the country who find it important to preserve a part of history. I want to make sure I honor those pioneers. "One way of honoring them is by making sure the work they do will continue on long after they're involved." And Bunch said he and the Smithsonian are not done with Beaufort County. "The opportunities here are so great. I'd like to be a part of it," Bunch said. "And I don't know what it looks like yet. But when the Smithsonian comes to town, it helps. It helps with visibility, credibility. And we want to partner with you in a way that works for you." "Once this museum opens, as long as there's an America, there's a chance to learn this story, and to be made better by the African-American experience," Bunch said. "The story of the Gullah/Geechee culture is important for this nation to know."

‘A dream come true’: Anita Singleton-Prather to receive Folk Heritage Award

From the Beaufort Gazette/Island Packet:

 by Lisa Annelouise Rentz Anita Singleton-PratherThe first time I saw Anita Singleton-Prather perform was at Grand Army Hall, a historic building in downtown Beaufort not too far from where she lives. She and her Gullah Kinfolk ensemble were portraying the history of the Gullah community. Singleton-Prather was dressed in old-timey clothes and used a tall walking stick to pound the floor with a rhythmic fierceness that gave an edge to her educational, joyous performance. I must've had the big-eyed look of "Oh please, not me!," because she pulled me up out of my seat and got me clapping and singing in front of the audience. It's hard work to perform on stage, no matter how experienced you are. A few years later, she and I were working together in the local schools, integrating literary and performing arts across the curriculum. I watched her students transform the hallways into the Underground Railroad. This year, Singleton-Prather is the recipient of the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award. She's also making another movie, filming it here in Beaufort with producers who have worked internationally, and her Gullah Traveling Theater just received nonprofit status. I am very glad she's had the artistic freedom to achieve all this, and I am not referring to the "constraints" of the antebellum South. I am referring to our state legislators, who are actively denouncing books and plays. "Artistic freedom" is not word for nothing left to lose, as the old song goes, it means, instead, expertise and progress. "This is a dream come true. Showcasing Beaufort is in my heart," Singleton-Prather said about her heritage award. "As you preserve the culture, the culture will preserve you. I'm so excited about the jobs people got because of this movie, and I brought in my former students and gave them something positive to see. Not everyone can sing like ("American Idol") Candice (Glover), but someone has to hold the camera and be the audio engineer. I'm always a teacher." Inez Miller of St. Helena Island nominated Singleton-Prather for the heritage award from the South Carolina Arts Commission. She and Singleton-Prather connected 15 years ago when Miller's daughter Regina was attending St. Helena Island Elementary School. "I enjoyed watching the children interact with what she does," Miller explained. "They learned from that. I found myself singing some of the spirituals she taught them. At the Heritage parade last year, Anita introduced the tennis team and said 'These are the future Venus and Serenas.' We're just watching the show, not thinking about them that way, but she's always on the job working, she's always finding a good moment, always giving us a reason to think." Now Regina is a theater major at Columbia College. "I'm definitely a supporter of the arts," said her proud mother. "I'm a community-service type person, I volunteer a lot with Penn Center and Heritage Days. We need to showcase the talent, run with that, build upon that." Singleton-Prather will receive the heritage award May 8 before the general assembly at the State House in Columbia, and her Gullah Kinfolk are the featured entertainers for the gala. "This is not my award," she said. "It's the Aunt Pearlie Sue, Gullah Kinfolk, Beaufort County award. I could not have not done it without my pastor, my children, the Givens." She continued listing people, including the producers of her latest movie, and Ned Tupper, Suzanne Larson, Tracey Dingle, and her extended family who showed her the beauty of the Gullah language and folkways. "They have been my support, covering me in prayer, keeping me going. My only regret is my mother and grandmother are not here, they were really supportive of every crazy idea I came up with. I was talking like I had a million dollars, but I had a vision, a mission of being a performer, preserving the Gullah culture, sharing with the world, developing pride and integrity for the young people. From now on I keep control of what I do. Thank God for my parents and grandparents who never denied our culture. If I decided to do 200 jumping jacks, my daddy wouldn't let me quit. That was the tenacity they gave me, to not give up on your dreams." Or the freedom to produce the movies and sing the songs you choose. Lisa Annelouise Rentz lives and writes in Beaufort.
Read more here: http://www.islandpacket.com/2014/05/01/3088790/a-dream-come-true-performer-anita.html?sp=/99/543/#storylink=cpy

New director on board at ARTworks in Beaufort

From the Island Packet:

Laura MaxeyLaura Maxey, the new managing director at ARTworks, says art is a locally produced commodity that's often best enjoyed where it is created. "There's a huge movement to buy locally grown food, eat at restaurants that use local ingredients, and I think that art should be looked at like that as well -- as a local consumable," she said. Maxey started her duties Jan. 2 leading the nonprofit community art center, theater and gallery in Beaufort that's run by the Arts Council of Beaufort County. She said she is on a "listening tour" to find out what ARTworks means to people before she starts making plans for her new job. Maxey will be available during an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at ARTworks, 2127 Boundary St., in the Beaufort Town Center. Previous executive director J.W. Rone has been an adviser to Maxey, who has not previously led a nonprofit. The daughter of two visual artists, Maxey turned a high school love for tech theater into college degrees and worked for years on off-Broadway sets. After unsettling events that included the death of a friend and being mugged at gunpoint, she sought the slower pace of the Lowcountry. A front-desk job at a golf course led to facility and construction management positions with the Town of Hilton Head Island and the town of Bluffton. She said that's how she learned to coordinate events and write and manage grants. "It was a little eclectic, and I was worried at some times in my life about being a generalist instead of a specialist, but it all comes together," Maxey said. Maxey, who lives in Bluffton, hopes to bring together area art organizations and galleries to find ways to cooperate and improve programming. "As the Arts Council of Beaufort County, it makes sense that we would be the ones to spearhead such an initiative, versus another arts group who may be affiliated with a particular town, city, university, etc.," she said. Last fall, ARTworks reorganized, splitting the executive director job into multiple positions. Board member Melissa Florence was set to take the position but declined. Then Keith Mahoney was hired as interim director, a position he held only briefly. Local artist Deanna Bowdish was brought on as curator and moved her art gallery to the center. Gail Westerfield and her Misspent Youth Productions have been hired as the resident theater company. Westerfield has been involved with ARTworks for years and was a co-producer two years ago. Along with planning a fall theater season that she hopes will include youth either performing or assisting, she plans to begin teaching a series of acting classes by the end of the month. Westerfield will also be at Thursday's open house.
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