← View All Articles

S.C. Arts Commission names new executive director

David Platts to join agency July 1

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) Board of Directors is announcing David Platts of Lancaster is to be the agency’s new executive director, effective July 1, 2019. Platts currently serves as arts and science coordinator for Lancaster County School District, a position he’s held for 15 years. He will be the first new executive director of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) in nine years, stepping in to lead an agency of 15 full-time staff who work to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three areas: arts education, artist development, and community arts development. “While I am extremely grateful to have this opportunity, I am even more excited at the thought of serving with this dynamic team as we strive to advance the arts in South Carolina. Having worked with them as a grant recipient, an arts advocate on many levels, and in arts education, I understand the Arts Commission’s essential role. I am excited to make Columbia my home, where together we will continue working to keep the arts in the heart of each South Carolinian,” Platts said. In his current role, Platts supports the Lancaster County School District’s arts teachers and oversees their instructional programs, six of which are for schools participating in the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project, a joint program of the SCAC, Winthrop University, and the South Carolina Department of Education. He manages the district’s arts state and federal education grants, some of which come from the SCAC. He is formerly a teacher, assistant principal and principal at elementary schools elsewhere in South Carolina and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of South Carolina. In addition to his work as an educator, Platts has served locally on the Lancaster County Council of the Arts as a board member and president. He has statewide experience as a member, president, and current treasurer of the Palmetto State Arts Education board and as a current member of the South Carolina Arts Alliance board, where he has been active as an arts advocate. He is involved in his community, serving on the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce board, and is an artist himself: a pianist, he is an accompanist and is involved in music leadership at his church. “We are pleased to identify David Platts as the new executive director of SCAC. We believe he has the right skills to oversee the agency, develop a new strategic plan and implement it over the course of the next 10 years,” SCAC Board of Directors Chairman Henry Horowitz said. “David is assuming leadership of a great state arts agency and wonderful staff and on behalf of the board of directors, we wish him best of success.” Dee Crawford, who will begin serving as chairwoman of the SCAC Board of Directors July 1, was chair of the executive director search committee. “In thinking about the specific roles someone in this job plays, we knew we needed a proven leader and experienced advocate to be prepared for the rigors of running a state agency. David has a broad blend of board leadership and his arts advocacy locally, statewide, and on the national level made him an ideal candidate,” Crawford said. “Further, David is an educator whose deep ties to the Arts Commission’s arts in education programs give him knowledge of the agency. Adding in his strategic planning experience, this is someone forward-looking who is focused on the future of the arts in South Carolina,” she said. Platts will replace Ken May, who retires at the end of June after serving 33 years at the SCAC, the last nine as its executive director.

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, 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.

Full Statements

HENRY HOROWITZ, CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF DIRECTORS SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS COMMISSION “We are pleased to identify David Platts as the new executive director of SCAC. We believe he has the right skills to oversee the agency, develop a new strategic plan and implement it over the course of the next 10 years. David is assuming leadership of a great state arts agency and wonderful staff and on behalf of the board of directors, we wish him best of success.” DEE CRAWFORD, SEARCH COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN, BOARD OF DIRECTORS SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS COMMISSION “In thinking about the specific roles someone in this job plays, we knew we needed a proven leader and experienced advocate to be prepared for the rigors of running a state agency. David has a broad blend of board leadership and his arts advocacy locally, statewide, and on the national level made him an ideal candidate. Further, David is an educator whose deep ties to the Arts Commission’s arts in education programs give him knowledge of the agency. Adding in his strategic planning experience, this is someone forward-looking who is focused on the future of the arts in South Carolina. His background as a musician will help him relate to our artists as our agency seeks to help them make sustainable careers.” DAVID PLATTS, INCOMING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS COMMISSION “While I am extremely grateful to have this opportunity, I am even more excited at the thought of serving with this dynamic team as we strive to advance the arts in South Carolina. Having worked with them as a grant recipient, an arts advocate on many levels, and in arts education, I understand the Arts Commission’s essential role. I am excited to make Columbia my home, where together we will continue working to keep the arts in the heart of each South Carolinian.”

Media Resources

Print and web formatted images of David Platts are available here. Interview requests for anyone named in this news release and other SCAC board or staff are available. Contact Communications Director Jason Rapp via the information below. The secondary contact is Deputy Director Milly Hough: 803.734.8698 or MHough@arts.sc.gov.

All you need to know about S.C. Arts Awards Day

14 recipients to be honored May 1

  • Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts, Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award presented at ceremony
  • S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon & Art Sale to follow

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Two awards honoring high arts achievement in South Carolina will be presented to 14 recipients Wednesday, May 1, 2019 during South Carolina Arts Awards festivities at the UofSC Alumni Center in Columbia. The South Carolina Arts Awards, sponsored by Colonial Life, are a joint presentation of 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.

Awards Ceremony

Both awards will be presented at the awards ceremony at the UofSC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia), which begins with a reception from 10-10:45 a.m. The official ceremony begins at 11 a.m. S.C. Arts Commission Board Chairman Henry Horowitz and Executive Director Ken May will be joined by South Carolina First Lady Peggy McMaster to present the awards to each recipient. Nine 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: Tyrone Geter, Elgin
  • INDIVIDUAL: Kathleen Bateson, Hilton Head Island
  • ARTS IN EDUCATION (Individual): Simeon A. Warren, Charleston
  • ARTS IN EDUCATION (Organization): South Carolina African American Heritage Commission, Hartsville
  • BUSINESS: Hampton III Gallery, Taylors
  • GOVERNMENT: Florence County Museum, Florence
  • ORGANIZATION: The Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston
  • ORGANIZATION (Special Award): Town Theatre, Columbia
  • LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Cecil Williams, Orangeburg
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:
  • John Andrew “Andy” Brooks (Liberty): Old-Time Music
  • Dorothy Brown Glover (Lincolnville): Quilting
  • Julian A. Prosser (Columbia): Bluegrass Music
  • The Voices of Gullah Singers (St. Helena Island): Gullah Singing
  • Dale Rosengarten, Ph.D. (McClellanville): Advocacy, African-American Lowcountry Basketry & Southern Jewish Heritage
McKissick Museum will celebrate this year’s Folk Heritage Award recipients at a mixer Tuesday, April 30 from 6-8 p.m., at the Blue Moon Ballroom (554 Meeting St, West Columbia). Admission is free for McKissick members or $5 for non-members. RSVP’s can be made, or tickets purchased, by going here. For more information, or to RSVP or purchase a ticket over the phone, call 803.777.2876.

S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon & Art Sale

The S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients afterward during a fundraising luncheon at the UofSC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). Works by South Carolina will be on sale from 11 a.m. to noon, with proceeds supporting S.C. Arts Commission programs. The luncheon program is expected to run from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
  • Unique ikebana flower arrangements, in partnership with Ikebana International Chapter #182 of Columbia, will serve as table centerpieces. Each arrangement, available for sale, will be presented in an included, original vase crafted by a South Carolina artisan.
  • Art experiences will also be sold.
  • The keynote speaker will be S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May, retiring at the end of June 2019 after 33 years at the agency and the past nine as its leader, giving a “State of the Arts” message.
  • Luncheon tickets are $50 per person and available for purchase through SouthCarolinaArts.com or by calling 803.734.8696.

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.

Five artists to receive 2019 Folk Heritage Awards from state

Awards to be presented May 1 at S.C. Arts Awards

Four artists and one advocate selected

S.C. Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at UofSC manage program


COLUMBIA, S.C. – The General Assembly is to honor five recipients with the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, presented annually to recognize work that keeps the state’s traditional art forms alive. Four artists and one advocate are to be 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 2019 recipients are:
  • John Andrew (Andy) Brooks (Liberty): Old-Time Music
  • Dorothy Brown Glover (Lincolnville): Quilting
  • Julian A. Prosser (Columbia): Bluegrass Music
  • Voices of Gullah Singers (St. Helena Island): Gullah Singing
  • Dale Rosengarten, Ph.D. (McClellanville): Advocacy, African-American Lowcountry Basketry & Southern Jewish Heritage
Print and web images of recipients available here. 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 UofSC. Community members make nominations to recognize exemplary artistic achievement/advocacy. An independent advisory panel appointed by the Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House selects the recipients, who must be living and practicing in the state. “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.” The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award and Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards are to be presented at the South Carolina Arts Awards sponsored by Colonial Life on Wednesday, May 1 in a morning ceremony at the UofSC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). The S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients afterward during a fundraising luncheon where South Carolina artists’ work will be on sale, all 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. McKissick Museum will host a mixer to celebrate this year’s Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award recipients on Tuesday, April 30 from 6-8 p.m., at the Blue Moon Ballroom in West Columbia (554 Meeting St, West Columbia). Admission is free with a McKissick membership, or $5 for non-members. Please RSVP or purchase your ticket by going here. For more information, or to RSVP or purchase a ticket over the phone: 803.777.2876. Guests are encouraged to buy/reserve their tickets by Friday, April 26. Only a limited number of tickets will be available at the door on the evening of the event, and admission will be on a first-come, first served basis. 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

John Andrew (Andy) Brooks (Artist Category, Old-Time Music) first plucked the strings of a banjo when he was 4 years old. Since, he’s picked up guitar and fiddle and gone so far as to win the 2016 S.C. Fiddle Championship while placing second in banjo that year. His passion for traditional Southern music has resulted in a collection of hundreds of tunes he knows and plays by heart. An avid educator, Brooks has taught for the Young Appalachian Musicians After School Program and the Oconee Heritage Center, and this summer will teach Appalachian banjo at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. Brooks plays for dances and hosts jams where musicians of different skill levels and repertoires share and learn from one another. In 2016, he co-founded the Old Keowee Contra Dance to benefit the Oconee Heritage Center’s music progra Brooks’ art form, old-time music, blends historic influences from Africa and the British Isles and features sacred and secular songs. Brooks, who calls Liberty, S.C. home, considers old-time music a community-based tradition, in which everyone contributes to the music, through dancing, playing or singing. Dorothy Brown Glover (Artist Category, Quilting) is well-known for her distinctive use of traditional quilt design elements and patterns from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born in 1925, Glover creates exquisite quilt tops incorporating improvisational design methods that were popular among quilters whose social and economic status did not allow for the purchase of store-bought fabric for use in quilt making. Glover gracefully transforms thoughts and visions onto fabric and encourages other quilters, regardless of skill level, to experiment with patterns, colors, and designs. She generously shares her knowledge with all who want to learn and makes herself available to younger artists who seek out her experience and guidance. Glover lives in Lincolnville, S.C. Julian A. Prosser (Artist Category, Bluegrass Music) loved the sound of music played by his grandfather and uncles, growing up on the family farm. When he was 11, Prosser earned the money to buy his first guitar and was soon also playing banjo and guitar. By 1938, Prosser and some friends put together The Carolina Hillbillies, but it never reformed after World War II claimed several of the band. Prosser later took up bluegrass again, and in 1978 he, his son, and some friends formed The Carolina Rebels bluegrass band, and they’ve been playing ever since. Prosser has mentored many younger local musicians, including three fellow Jean Laney Harris Award recipients. Prosser remains a passionate advocate for bluegrass music and is recognized as both a pioneer and master of his craft by many local bluegrass performers. Now 93, he continues to be a driving force to keep local bluegrass alive and well in the Palmetto State. Prosser lives in Columbia, S.C. Voices of Gullah Singers (Artist Category, Gullah Singing) is made up of Gracie “Minnie” Gadson, Rosa Mae Chisholm Murray, and Deacon Joseph Murray. Each singer has a long and distinguished performing career, with deep roots in the praise house tradition. As a trio over the past 5 years, Voices of Gullah have performed at many events including Penn Center’s annual Heritage Days, The Original Gullah Festival, and local praise house services. Recently, the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina presented the trio to seven schools in Beaufort and Jasper counties as part of their program, Reach: A Gullah Musical Journey. The singers truly enjoy singing for students and teaching the next generation their rich legacy of Gullah-Geechee spirituals. The Voices of Gullah Singers are based in St. Helena Island, S.C. Dale Rosengarten, Ph.D. (Advocacy Category, African-American Lowcountry Basketry & Southern Jewish Heritage) has been researching the sweetgrass basketry tradition for over 30 years. Her fieldwork with basket makers and archival research on the tradition’s evolution have culminated in landmark projects like McKissick Museum’s 1986 exhibit, Row upon Row, Sea Grass Baskets of the South Carolina Lowcountry and Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Tradition (2008), both of which toured nationally. Rosengarten coordinated a 1988 conference in Charleston which resulted in agreements between basketmakers and elected officials on land concerns and the importance of the tradition. She has authored numerous publications on Lowcountry baskets and their history. Her knowledge and connections to basketmakers have been essential to numerous cultural institutions, including the Smithsonian, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Underground Railroad History Museum. In 1995, Rosengarten was hired as a historian and curator at the College of Charleston Addlestone Library in recognition of her work on South Carolina and Southern Jewish traditional life. She has dedicated her professional and personal life to advocating for the ways traditional arts link us to a shared human experience greater than our singular activities, thereby enriching contemporary society. Rosengarten lives in Charleston, S.C.

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 8:30am – 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/.

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.

ABC Project names new executive director

Dr. Kim Wilson promoted to lead Arts in Basic Curriculum Project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 27 March 2019
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Project is announcing the promotion of Dr. Kim Wilson to be the program’s new executive director as of April 1, 2019. Wilson will be responsible for helping 84 schools or districts provide 170,000 South Carolina K-12 students with access to arts-rich education. The program, which is a partnership among the South Carolina Arts Commission, Winthrop University, and the S.C. Dept. of Education, provides critical training and networking for arts teachers who learn best practices from each other. Schools or districts join the program after receiving a grant from the S.C. Arts Commission to support their arts education efforts. The program’s field services coordinator for 18 months, Wilson is a Winthrop University alumna. She earned her doctorate in education this year from Walden University. Her experience in arts education began in community education teaching adult and children’s classes through the University of Vermont and Very Special Arts VT. Afterwards, she served as education director at Pewabic Pottery in Detroit and executive director for Sawtooth School for Visual Arts in Winston-Salem, N.C. Over the last 10 years, Kim has focused on public arts education. After only teaching four years, she was recognized as the 2012 Arkansas Teacher of the Year. Since then, she transitioned into empowering all educators with creativity-fostering teaching practices, including arts-integration strategies through her work with Arkansas A+ Schools. She replaces Christine Fisher, who served as executive director for 18 years and announced her retirement earlier this month. “My commitment to and passion for arts education have been influenced by ABC Project’s accomplishments and the people who contributed to its history. And while my personal arts education journey has taken many forms across several states over the last three decades, all have prepared me for this unique role in my home state. I am honored and eager for the opportunity to lead ABC Project in the next chapter of its rich history,” Wilson said. “In Kim Wilson, the ABC Project has someone with demonstrated success fostering and implementing arts education. In a relatively short time, she’s immersed herself in all facets of the program and contributed to its success. But beyond that, she has incredible passion for what she does and is a natural fit to be the ABC Project’s next leader,” S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May said.

About the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project

For 30 years, the Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Project provides leadership to achieve quality, comprehensive arts education (dance, music, media arts, theatre, visual arts and creative writing) for all students in South Carolina. It is cooperatively directed by the South Carolina Arts Commission, the South Carolina Department of Education and the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Winthrop University. For more information, visit ABCProjectSC.com.

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.

Arts education leader Christine Fisher announces retirement

Fisher led Arts in Basic Curriculum Project for 18 years


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 13 March 2019 [caption id="attachment_39351" align="alignright" width="225"]Christine Fisher Christine Fisher[/caption] COLUMBIA, S.C. – Christine Fisher is to retire from the Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Project this month after spending nearly 20 years working to provide comprehensive arts programs in schools across the state. Fisher, who lives in Florence, began her career in arts education in the classroom, teaching chorus, guitar and musical production at Dillon High School and then elementary general music, beginning band and middle school band in Florence School District One through 2001. She left that year to become executive director of the ABC Project, a partnership among the S.C. Arts Commission, Winthrop University, and S.C. Department of Education that works with schools and districts across the state to maintain and expand arts opportunities for all students. It is based at Winthrop in Rock Hill. Under Fisher’s leadership, the program grew to serve 84 schools or districts and 171,000 students this school year and played an important role in making sure the arts were included in the landmark Profile of the South Carolina Graduate in 2015, a rigorous set of standards for college and career readiness adopted by the state General Assembly in 2016. “Christine Fisher has spent her entire career being a tireless advocate and supporter of arts based education in South Carolina. I am so appreciative of Christine’s leadership from being the only music teacher to be named our state teacher of the year to her service as the director of the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project where she has brought access to the arts to students across our state and shared her tremendous wealth of knowledge with countless educators. I along with South Carolina’s arts community will miss her dearly,” S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said. Many highlights dot the timeline of Fisher’s career. She was twice selected as a school and district Teacher of the Year, and twice selected as one of the five South Carolina honor roll teachers. Selected as the South Carolina Teacher of the Year in 1998, she is the only music teacher to hold the honor in the program's history. The S.C. Arts Commission awarded her state’s highest arts award, the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts, in 2006, and she received the Winthrop University Medal of Arts in 2012. “She has changed many thousands of young lives for the better. They, and we, owe her heartfelt thanks and praise for her life of unselfish, tireless devotion to arts education for everyone. We wish her nothing but the best in her retirement—and more time for music-making,” S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May said.

Full Statements on Christine Fisher's retirement

MOLLY SPEARMAN S.C. Superintendent of Education

“Christine Fisher has spent her entire career being a tireless advocate and supporter of arts based education in South Carolina. I am so appreciative of Christine’s leadership from being the only music teacher to be named our state teacher of the year to her service as the director of the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project where she has brought access to the arts to students across our state and shared her tremendous wealth of knowledge with countless educators. I along with South Carolina’s arts community will miss her dearly.”

KEN MAY Executive Director, S.C. Arts Commission

“The first time I ever heard Christine Fisher speak, she told the moving and powerful story of how the arts, specifically music, saved her life. As I reflect now on her retirement, I realize that all of her work, her entire amazing career, has been about paying forward—at increasing orders of magnitude—the wonderful, transformative gift that she was given. From her early days teaching in Dillon and Florence, to her ground-breaking tenure as State Teacher of the Year, to her long, outstanding service as Executive Director of the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project, she has changed many thousands of young lives for the better. They, and we, owe her heartfelt thanks and praise for her life of unselfish, tireless devotion to arts education for everyone. We wish her nothing but the best in her retirement—and more time for music-making!”

JEFF BELLANTONI Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, Winthrop University

“Christine has been an integral part of the arts community at Winthrop University for 18 years. We had the pleasure of recognizing the impact she has made in 2012 when she was awarded our Medal of Honor in the Arts. Her passion and commitment to integrating the arts into education throughout the state is unmatched. Christine’s steadfast support of the arts is evident through her many years of service as an educator and arts advocate, and she will be missed.”


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.

Myrtle Beach student wins S.C. Poetry Out Loud competition

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Brynne Hardman, a senior at the Academy for Arts, Science, and Technology in Myrtle Beach, is the South Carolina winner of Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry recitation contest. Hardman competed in the state finals competition in Columbia on Saturday, March 9 against seven other students from across South Carolina. The competition took place at the Richland Library Main branch. Hardman recited “To Have Without Holding” by Marge Piercy in round one and “Insomnia” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in round two. She and two other students advanced to the final round, where she recited “The Day Lady Died” by Frank O’Hara and received the highest score from the four judges: Marcus Amaker, Al Black, Kimberly Simms, and Michele Reese. Dr. Ray McManus was host of the event. Amaker, poet laureate of Charleston; and Zuri Wilson-Seymore, the S.C. Arts Commission state coordinator for Poetry Out Loud; gave professional recitation performances of their own poetry. Joining state winners from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, Hardman will be South Carolina’s representative in the Poetry Out Loud national finals in Washington April 29-May 1, 2019. 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 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.

2019 Verner Award to honor nine South Carolinians

State's highest arts honor recognizes outstanding achievement and contributions

Awards to be presented May 1 at S.C. Arts Awards


COLUMBIA, S.C. – Nine South Carolinians are to be honored by the South Carolina Arts Commission with the 2019 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts—the state’s highest arts honor. The following recipients from their respective categories are being recognized for outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina:
  • LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT:  Cecil Williams, Orangeburg
  • ARTIST:  Tyrone Geter, Columbia
  • INDIVIDUAL:  Kathleen (Kathi) P. Bateson, Hilton Head Island
  • ARTS IN EDUCATION: Simeon Warren, Charleston (Individual) S.C. African American Heritage Commission, Hartsville (Organization)
  • BUSINESS:  Hampton III Gallery, Taylors
  • GOVERNMENT:  Florence County Museum, Florence
  • ORGANIZATION: Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston Columbia Stage Society (Town Theatre), Columbia (Special Award)
Print and web images of recipients available here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/plf40ffa55oxh5g/AAAksiSWeKNQxxytp5yBM8DQa?dl=0 “It is an honor and privilege to recognize individuals and organizations who live out the service, commitment and passion that help the arts thrive in South Carolina,” S.C. Arts Commission Chairman Henry Horowitz said. “Each of the Verner Award recipients makes a tremendous contribution not just locally, but they are honored for broad impact on the state’s arts community and beyond. These are outstanding ambassadors for our state." A diverse committee, appointed by the S.C. Arts Commission Board of Directors and drawn from members of the South Carolina community at large, reviews all nominations and, after a rigorous process, makes recommendations to the board for final approval after a series of panel meetings produces a recommendation from each category. The 2019 Verner Awards will be presented with the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards at South Carolina Arts Awards sponsored by Colonial Life on Wednesday, May 1 in a morning ceremony at the USC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). The S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients afterward during a fundraising luncheon. 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 are to be available for purchase by mid-March. For more about the Verner Awards or the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon, call 803.734.8696 or visit SouthCarolinaArts.com.

About the Verner Award Recipients

Cecil Williams (Lifetime Achievement), an Orangeburg native, is a professional photographer, videographer, publisher, inventor, author, and architect best known for his photographic documentation of the struggle to achieve freedom, justice, and equality during the Civil Rights struggle. By the age of 9, he had already begun his career in photography and by 15 was working professionally as a freelancer for such publications as JET and the Afro-American, and as an Associated Press stringer. The teenaged Williams documented segregated life in the Jim Crow era and the Clarendon movement that led to Briggs v. Elliott in the 1950s, countless protests and then desegregation at Clemson University and the University of South Carolina and was there for the Orangeburg Massacre in 1968. Williams, who received an art degree from Claflin University, owns Cecil Williams Photography, LLC and was recently appointed by Claflin as its historic preservationist. Williams is also recipient of the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest award to an individual, and Governor’s Award in the Humanities from SC Humanities. In a career that spreads across continents, Tyrone Geter (Artist Category) has built an international reputation as a world-class artist, painter, sculptor, illustrator, and teacher. Recently retired associate professor of art at Benedict College in Columbia, Geter received his Master of Fine Arts from Ohio University in 1978 with an emphasis on painting and drawing. In 1979, he relocated to Africa, living, drawing, and painting among the Fulani and local peoples of Northern Nigeria, “a lesson in the creative process that no art school would ever teach me.” Since, he has illustrated 30 children’s books, exhibited on four continents, and after relocating to South Carolina, until recently taught painting and drawing at Benedict and curated its Ponder Fine Arts Gallery. Kathleen P. Bateson (Individual Category) is president/CEO and executive producer of the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina – a past Verner Award recipient in the organization category. She is past president of the S.C. Arts Alliance board, served as chair and founding co-chair of the Arts & Cultural Council of Hilton Head; and was a founding member and is chair of the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry’s Women in Philanthropy. Bateson is founder and president of Management for the Arts, a national firm specializing in NPO organizational restructure, institutional planning, strategic positioning and new business ventures. She has served as a cultural representative on international delegations to South Africa, China and Japan, and is herself a goldsmith and professional set designer. Simeon A. Warren (Arts in Education Individual Category) is a cathedral-trained stone carver, sculptor, and conservator. He holds a degree from the Glasgow (Scotland) School of the Arts, and his career has led to stone work at or on some of England’s major cathedrals (and even Buckingham Palace). In 2001 he emigrated to Charleston, where he was a founding faculty member at what became the American College of Building Arts in 2004. He developed college-level courses for professors, delivered the college’s licenses to recruit and to teach, hired the college’s faculty, and served as dean from 2006 to 2013. Warren owns a private architectural stone practice and is developing The Stone People Project, among other public art projects. The S.C. African American Heritage Commission (Arts in Education Organization Category) identifies and promotes the preservation of historic sites, structures, buildings, and culture of the African American experience in South Carolina, and assists and enhances the efforts of the S.C. Department of Archives and History. SCAAHC is a leader in integrating the arts into education resources, publishing the “Supplement to the Teacher’s Guide Integrating Art into Classroom Instruction” in 2016 and a subsequent revision last year. Since 1970, Hampton III Gallery (Business Category) has supported professional living artists and the estates of professional artists in or from South Carolina ranging from post WWII to the present. Hampton III Gallery’s vision of supporting artists and educating the public to the rich heritage of South Carolina artists continues into 2019. South Carolina’s oldest gallery has more than 500 paintings, sculptures and original prints in inventory. Changing exhibitions, artists’ talks, and special events provide educational opportunities for all. Consultation is available for private and corporate collections. Exhibitions change every 6-8 weeks. The public is invited to all events. The Florence County Museum (FCM) (Government Category) reflects the region’s rich artistic, cultural and historic heritage. Its permanent collection currently includes eight works by celebrated 20th century African American artist and Florence native, William H. Johnson and it is home to The Wright Collection of Southern Art, a volume of over 140 works representing some of the finest in 20th century Southern art (including some by Elizabeth O’Neill Verner). The FCM provides a platform for contemporary artists as host of the Pee Dee Regional Art Competition, South Carolina’s oldest juried art competition, since 1954. Since 1905, the Gibbes Museum of Art (Organization Category) has been a center for creativity for the visual arts. It provides more than 100 educational programs and events. Nine galleries spanning 300 years of art history are showcased to 60,000 visitors a year who discover, enjoy, and are inspired by the creative process. The museum loans 50 objects a year to the major U.S. art museums. Dynamic year-round programming engages, and the Gibbes continually develops new multi-dimensional education and outreach programs that expand the museum experience while offering exhibitions that stay relevant to current topics. Celebrating its 100th season in 2018/2019, Columbia Stage Society’s Town Theatre (Organization Category Special Award) provides quality, live, family-oriented community theatre and entry-level experience for those who wish to participate on or off stage. Every performance has open auditions, with all community members being encouraged to attend. On stage, Town Theatre’s current and alumni performers have appeared on Broadway, network television and in major feature films. Off stage, ample opportunity exists for community members to get involved as costumers, as set and backstage crew, by helping in the box office, or as ushers and house managers.

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.

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.  

Arts Commission’s Sara June Goldstein to retire

Partnerships, literary arts maven retires March 1

After thirty-plus years of building partnerships and advancing South Carolina’s literary scene, Sara June Goldstein is to retire from the S.C. Arts Commission (SCAC). Goldstein, senior coordinator for statewide partnerships and director of literary arts, joined the agency in 1987 as project coordinator for “Carolina Connections,” a first of its kind three-day national literary festival that celebrated more than 100 writers with connections to South Carolina. She became a full-time member of the Arts Commission staff and program director for literary arts. A passionate public servant, Goldstein’s contributions to the state have all been partnerships. For 32 years, Goldstein has been advocating for the contemporary literature of South Carolina as well as building and supporting diverse partnerships that highlight poets and writers—and other artists and communities—throughout the state. To her credit are notable and innovative partnerships she helped foster or create, including:
  • Art of Community: Rural SC, an SCAC program transforming rural counties with the arts;
  • the S.C. Novel Prize (with Hub City Press, College of Charleston, S.C. State Library, and SC Humanities);
  • the Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Project, a partnership program among SCAC, Winthrop University, and the state department of education;
  • Leo Twiggs Arts Leadership Scholars Program with The Riley Institute at Furman;
  • Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission partnership;
  • the South Carolina Literary Arts Partnership, with SC Humanities and the State Library;
  • and the South Carolina Design Arts partnership, with Clemson University School of Architecture and S.C. Downtown Development Association
Through these programs, Goldstein has developed a national network of writers, artists, scholars, and publishing professionals who are increasingly familiar with the work of South Carolina authors and have a deeper appreciation of the rich diverse culture of the state. In a fitting tribute, SC Humanities presented her with the prestigious 2018 Governor’s Award in the Humanities last October. Goldstein will leave the agency with a legacy as deep as it is broad when she heads into retirement this March 1. “Working over the decades with individuals and organizations that support and champion free and creative expression, my work at the South Carolina Arts Commission has been filled with discoveries of places and people that have enriched my life and educated my imagination,” Goldstein said. “Sara June has done as much for the literary arts in South Carolina as anyone I know, to say nothing of the way she brought so many partners to the table to work together and benefit the citizens of South Carolina,” SCAC Executive Director Ken May said. “We’re sad to see her go and will miss her, but our state will continue to feel the impact of her work.” The S.C. Arts Commission is announcing that it is accepting applications for a community arts coordinator position resulting from the opening on its team. Interested applicants may learn more about the position from the official posting.

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.

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.