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Ken May to retire from S.C. Arts Commission

33-year tenure comes to an end this June

[caption id="attachment_38568" align="aligncenter" width="600"] May at S.C. Arts Awards Day in May 2018. Photo by Zan Maddox/Social Design House[/caption] Ken May will retire from leading the South Carolina Arts Commission in 2019 after 33 years working to improve equity in and access to the state’s arts, culture, and traditions. May, executive director for the past nine years, carved out his niche by leading the arts commission’s efforts to provide equal access to publicly funded grants and programs. Under his leadership, the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) earned bipartisan support, and it is widely considered a driver of the state’s $9.7 billion creative economy. With a new legislative session just beginning, May is to remain in place to shepherd the SCAC’s legislative agenda before stepping away at the end of June. “Early in my working life, after a few years in for-profit business, I became sure of two things: that I wanted to work in the arts, which have always been my passion, and that I wanted to be of service—to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Working at the South Carolina Arts Commission has given me an extraordinary opportunity to do both of those things, and I am deeply grateful for that,” May said.
When May became director of the Commission in 2010, the agency faced significant challenges from a severe economic downturn and a hostile political climate. Under his leadership, the agency rallied its supporters, weathered the political storm, and emerged leaner and better-funded to meet its mandate of service to all South Carolinians. In the most recent fiscal year, the SCAC distributed more than $4 million in grants to 44 of 46 counties. Through staff assistance, partnerships, programs, and grants, the agency served all 46 counties in the areas of community arts development, artist career development, and arts education initiatives. “Ken has served our state admirably during a distinguished career, and he cares deeply and works tirelessly to advance the arts in South Carolina,” SCAC Board of Directors Chairman Henry Horowitz of Greenville said. “This is a loss for the statewide arts community, but it has advanced to lofty places and serves more citizens and visitors because of Ken’s hard, diligent work. He’s leaving the agency in a great position with a terrific reputation on state and national levels.”
Throughout his long tenure at the Arts Commission, May played a key role in shaping the agency’s signature programs and initiatives. He was one of the principal architects of the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project, which has driven statewide improvement in arts education for all students for more than 30 years, and he continues as the longest-serving member of that project’s coordinating committee. As primary grant writer for the commission, May designed and secured funding for major initiatives to use the arts for rural community development, enhance community design, build public participation in the arts, and help artists build sustainable working lives in South Carolina. He also led long range planning and directed agency efforts to bring grantmaking into the digital age and to make grant processes more transparent and equitable. Presently, May is expanding the SCAC’s national profile by serving on nationwide boards for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and Grantmakers in the Arts. He also serves on the board for South Arts, a consortium of nine southern state arts agencies based in Atlanta. His recent focus on those boards has been to help funders work toward equity in the distributions of grant funds and other resources.
Incoming SCAC Board Chairwoman Delores "Dee" Crawford of Aiken will assume leadership on July 1. She praised May’s work. “Ken guided the Arts Commission to make significant progress in several rural South Carolina communities. The ‘Art of Community: Rural S.C.’ program is a national model for others to find success using the arts to revitalize places where other solutions failed. Our artists are turning into entrepreneurs, helping themselves make sustainable careers and changing the outlook in their communities,” Crawford said. “We, the commissioners, appreciate Ken’s dedication and leadership.” A nationwide search is underway to fill the executive director position, which has been posted with a full job description. Crawford hopes a new executive director is in place by the time May leaves. She is hopeful the next executive director expands on the work in rural communities and makes it a goal to develop more leaders in the arts statewide.

Full Statements

KEN MAY

Executive Director | South Carolina Arts Commission

“Early in my working life, after a few years in for-profit business, I became sure of two things: that I wanted to work in the arts, which have always been my passion, and that I wanted to be of service—to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Working at the South Carolina Arts Commission has given me an extraordinary opportunity to do both of those things, and I am deeply grateful for that.”  

Henry HorowitzHENRY HOROWITZ

Chairman | South Carolina Arts Commission

“On behalf of SCAC board of directors, we greatly appreciate Ken’s service to our agency and outstanding job in managing the agency over the course of 33 years. Ken has served our state admirably during a distinguished career and he cares deeply and works tirelessly to advance the arts in South Carolina. This is a loss for the statewide arts community, but it has advanced to lofty places and serves more citizens and visitors because of Ken’s hard, diligent work. He’s leaving the agency in a great position with a terrific reputation on a state and national level. We wish him the best of success in his retirement and new endeavors.”  

DELORES "DEE" CRAWFORD

Incoming Chairwoman | South Carolina Arts Commission

“Ken guided the Arts Commission to make significant progress in several rural South Carolina communities. The ‘Art of Community: Rural S.C.’ program is a national model for others to find success using the arts to revitalize places where other solutions failed. Our artists are turning into entrepreneurs, helping themselves make sustainable careers and changing the outlook in their communities. We, the commissioners, appreciate Ken’s dedication and leadership.”

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.

Gov. McMaster to present 2018 S.C. Arts Awards on May 2

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 19 April 2018 COLUMBIA, S.C. – The seven individuals and three groups visiting the State House to receive the 2018 South Carolina Arts Awards Wednesday, May 2 at 10:30 a.m. will do so from a high-profile presenter: Gov. Henry McMaster. The governor’s office confirmed his third appearance at the annual awards ceremony, his second as governor. Gov. McMaster first presented the awards in 2016 as lieutenant governor in then-Gov. Nikki Haley’s stead. “Gov. McMaster making time for the arts and folklife communities of South Carolina means a lot to all of us, and we’re excited to welcome him back to the South Carolina Arts Awards ceremony,” South Carolina Arts Commission Board President Henry Horowitz said. The South Carolina Arts Awards are a joint presentation by the South Carolina Arts Commission, South Carolina Arts Foundation, and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina to award the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards. Five recipients from their respective categories are being recognized with Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts for outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina:

  • ARTIST: Tom Stanley, Rock Hill
  • INDIVIDUAL: Alan Ethridge, Greenville
  • ARTS IN EDUCATION: Anne S. Richardson, Columbia
  • BUSINESS: Bank of America, Columbia
  • ORGANIZATION: Ballet Spartanburg, Spartanburg
Four artists and one advocate are being recognized with the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award 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. They 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
  • Stephen Criswell (Lancaster): Folklife & Traditional Arts Advocacy
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 from 11 a.m. to noon, supporting S.C. Arts Commission programs. For $100, guests may also participate in a “basket grab” for surprise gift baskets with items representing a county or region of the state. The luncheon program is expected to run from 12:15 to 2 p.m., with readings by South Carolina Literary Fellows and a special presentation by the Blackville Community Choir. Luncheon tickets are $50 per person and available for purchase here or by calling 803.734.8696.
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. ABOUT THE SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS FOUNDATION The South Carolina Arts Foundation supports and raises awareness of the arts development programs for communities, schools, and artists coordinated by the South Carolina Arts Commission. The Arts Foundation pursues creative ways to help the business community and private citizens contribute to a thriving arts community across the state as a non-profit, 501(c)3 that’s forged a strategic partnership with the Arts Commission to supports its work and goals. Learn more at SouthCarolinaArts.com/Foundation. 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 8:30am – 5:00pm Monday through Friday, 11:00am – 3:00pm 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/.

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

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


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

Milly

South Carolina Arts Commission elects new officers

A new team is charting the course for the South Carolina Arts Commission's new fiscal year.  After four years of leading the Commission, Dr. Sarah Lynn Hayes of Rock Hill is stepping down as chairman. "We owe a big thank you to Sarah Lynn," said S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May. "She has been an active leader in the agency's accomplishments and a tireless ally during tough times. The statewide arts community is stronger because of her support." Greenville businessman Henry Horowitz takes over as chairman after two years of serving as vice chairman.  Entrepreneur Delores "Dee" Crawford of Aiken will serve as vice chairman, and Hayes will continue on the executive committee as immediate past chairman. "The Commission is in good hands," said May. "Our officers' business acumen and advisory experience will be key assets as we continue to work with the state legislature and partner with other organizations to ensure that the arts thrive in our state.” Henry Horowitz Horowitz is the co-founder, principal and managing partner of Oxford Capital Partners LLC, a real estate investment firm in Greenville, S.C. and Dallas, Texas. He is a managing principal of MedProperties Holdings LLC, a private equity firm in Dallas. Previously, he served as president of RealtiCorp and in various executive management roles with Insignia Financial Group. Horowitz is chairman emeritus and founder of Greenville’s Artisphere Festival and serves on the Bon Secours Health System Board of Directors and the Wells Fargo Bank S.C. Regional Advisory Board of Directors. He is the former chair of the Metropolitan Arts Council of Greenville and former president of the Charity Ball Board of Directors. Horowitz previously served as vice chairman for the Arts Commission. Dee CrawfordCrawford is president of a McDonald's organization that includes seven restaurants with more than 400 employees. She serves on the advisory boards of USC Aiken School of Business, the USC Aiken Inclusion Advisory Council and the Center for African American History, Art and Culture of Aiken County. She is an advisor to the Board of Directors of Juilliard in Aiken and a Fellow of the Riley Diversity Leadership Institute at Furman University. Sarah Lynn HayesHayes is director of the Central Child Development Center, which serves 350 at-risk four-year-olds in Rock Hill schools. She also co-owns Events per se, an event planning and management company in Rock Hill. She is past president of the Arts Council of York County. The Arts Commission Board is composed of nine volunteer citizens appointed at large for three-year terms by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate for the purpose of guiding the development of the arts in the state. Commissioners are residents of South Carolina who are selected for their practice of, participation in or support of the creative and interpretive arts. The Commissioners meet regularly to take action on funding and formulating policy for the Arts Commission. For more information about S.C. Arts Commission programs and services, visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696. 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.