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Theatre thriving in South Carolina

Theatre seems to be jumping across The Hub's radar this week, and for good reason: it's thriving in South Carolina. We thought it was due for a spotlight piece, so take your seats as we begin.


Act I: PURE Theatre

Co-founder and Artistic Director Sharon Graci (right) is featured here in a brief video from LowcountryBizSC this morning. PURE, a professional contemporary theatre group, set records for new and returning audiences during its 15th anniversary last season, and this year gets a new venue: the Cannon Street Arts Center, where they will be anchor tenant. Graci was the S.C. Arts Commission's acting fellow in 2010/2011 and Rodney Lee Rogers, PURE's other co-founder, was the playwriting fellow the same year. (Coincidentally, the two are married. - Ed.) PURE receives an operating support grant from SCAC, and Rogers helps the commission administer Artists U in South Carolina – a training resource that facilitates artist development.

Act II: Screenwriting fellow bringing play to Columbia

Leasharn Hopkins, who received the SCAC screenwriting fellowship for 2017/2018, will bring a play she wrote and directs to Columbia. Love Me or Leave Me focuses on the effects of drug addiction, mental abuse, and domestic violence in three couples' romantic relationships. Look for it Saturday, Oct. 27 at the Tapp's Arts Center. Go here for ticket information.

Act III: Drama Lady Theatre Group

Based in the rural Pee Dee region of South Carolina (Marion County, to be exact), the Drama Lady Theatre Group premieres Ntozake Shange’s award winning play: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow is Enuf at the FMU Performing Arts Center in Downtown Florence on Saturday, Nov. 17. The Drama Lady Theatre Group is the brainchild of a collective of artists striving to use live theatrical performances to educate and promote wellness across diverse communities. The group received an FY19 Arts Education Project grant from SCAC.

Tuning Up: Music, money, and more

Good morning!  "Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers curated, 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...


An exhibition for the birds. "If you're gonna do it, do it right," notable bird sculptor and South Carolina artist Grainger McKoy told the Wilmington Star News ahead of his new solo retrospective at the city's Cameron Art Museum. (You won't believe to what he was referring. - Ed.) Recovery in Flight runs through Feb. 17, 2019. Hours and admission vary. Florence Symphony goes platinum. The orchestra's 70th season begins tonight at the FMU Performing Arts Center. Barber, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, and (Johann) Strauss (II) are on the program. 7:30 p.m. $25-$42. Get jazzed for the weekend. Staying with the music in the Pee Dee theme, more than 20 regional musical artists from the Carolinas will perform in an eclectic collection of venues during the South Carolina Jazz Festival in Cheraw this coming weekend. (Yes, we are gazing ahead longingly.) Dizzy Gillespie's hometown invites you to enjoy a multitude of things, including a parade, 5K, golf tournament, and lots and lots of jazz. Oct. 19-21. Weekend passes for $50. A NASAA nod to the SCAC. And staying with the blowing of horns theme (RIP, Dizzy), the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, gave a shoutout to a new partnership program from the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, S.C. Arts Alliance, and the S.C. Arts Commission you might remember us mentioning this summer: A Stronger Bottom Line. If you don't remember, the first cohort of nonprofit arts organizations from around the state is receiving financial management training as a result of the partnership.

Verner Award recipients promote arts education with grants

Hootie and the Blowfish with Gov.Haley If you don't have a "Cracked Rear View," you might recall that South Carolina band Hootie & The Blowfish received the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Award for the Arts for lifetime achievement in 2016. The iconic quartet is still giving back to its home state. The Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation announced its second annual multi-year grant cycle donations, granting a total of $90,000 over three years to three South Carolina charities that benefit child welfare and youth arts programs within the state. The youth arts programs are:

  • Abbeville County School District: Putting Students First, One Beat at a Time. This program will assist the district’s schools with purchasing musical instruments for students who have an interest in band.
  • Dillon School District Four: Stayin’ the Chorus. This program will send choral students to regional performances and competitions and help purchase music classroom materials.
Epworth Children's Home in Columbia received the other grant. These projects join the inaugural projects from the 2017 Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation grant cycle, which are entering their second year of funding: Carolina Youth Development Center, Growing Home Southeast, and Long Bay Symphonic Society. Darius Rucker, Jim Sonefeld, Dean Felber, and Mark Bryan embraced their fortuitous career with the communities that support them. To this end, the band members created an endowment that ensures their foundation will last into perpetuity providing financial support to charitable initiatives throughout South Carolina and beyond. Since the endowment’s creation in 2000, the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation has awarded more than $2.9 million in grants. These grants have impacted thousands of citizens by supporting the ongoing fight for an even playing field in educational funding and lending an encouraging hand to all those in need. Hootie & the Blowfish established their donor-advised fund at Central Carolina Community Foundation, the Midlands’ center for philanthropy, to strengthen the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation’s philanthropic efforts.  The Community Foundation acts as a centralized point of contact for all grant requests and manages its grant administration, evaluation, outreach and distribution.

About Central Carolina Community Foundation

Central Carolina Community Foundation, the Midlands’ center for philanthropy, is a nonprofit organization serving 11 counties in the Midlands by distributing grants and scholarships and linking the resources of donors, nonprofits and area leaders to communities in need. Major initiatives include the Midlands Gives online giving challenge, Connected Communities grants, On the Table, Powered by Central Carolina Community Foundation, the One SC Fund, the Best of Philanthropy Awards, annual scholarships, and more. For more information about the Foundation, visit www.yourfoundation.org or call803.254.5601.
 

Mary Jackson honored by American Craft Council

Mary Jackson is among the foremost of #SCartists, and late last week in Minneapolis the American Craft Council added to her impressive resume by inducting her to its College of Fellows – placing her firmly at the top of her field. [caption id="attachment_16665" align="alignright" width="230"]Mary Jackson, Two Lips Mary Jackson, Two Lips[/caption] Candidates for this prestigious honor are nominated and elected by their peers. To be eligible, individuals must demonstrate extraordinary ability and must have worked for 25 years or more in the discipline or career in which they are recognized. The Charleston-based basketmaker uses sweetgrass in the West African (and later, Gullah) tradition for her art, which had already garnered her exclusive recognition. In 2008 she received a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation "genius grant," and in 2011 the S.C. Arts Commission presented her with the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Award for the Arts for Lifetime Achievement. In 2016, the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston named a gallery for her. Jackson began making baskets under her grandmother’s tutelage at age 4, working alongside other members of her family to uphold a multi-generational tradition that extends back to their ancestral heritage in West Africa. “The results of a basket are the thing that keeps you coming back again,” she said. “You’ve created something so beautiful, then the whole world loves what you’re doing … that’s the inspiration.” Read more here and here from American Craft Council, whose work contributed to this post.

We’re looking for some jolly good fellows

Submitted material

PalmettoPride wants #SCArtists to win $500

Submission deadline: Oct. 31, 2018


PalmettoPride is looking to install five public art projects in a new Public Art for Litter Prevention contest. [caption id="attachment_34666" align="alignright" width="295"] The world-famous Hub "Calls for Art" megaphone.[/caption] Five #SCArtists will be selected to create a spot of pride in their communities and receive $500 for their efforts. The contest is open now and will accept art submissions until the end of October.

“We have seen public art projects go up all over the state, with sculptures and murals and even decorating electric boxes in our business districts,” Sarah Lyles, executive director of PalmettoPride, said. “Beautification is a tactic of litter prevention and art can change a community in a positive way.” (Ed. note: Sarah gets it!)

Submit a sketch of a mural or an art installation concept design for consideration to PalmettoPride by contacting info@palmettopride.org. The potential artwork location must be a public space in each artist's community. The artwork can be completed in any medium, a mural sketch, an art installation concept or rough sculpture design. In addition to the $500 prize, PalmettoPride can assist the artists with the steps for approval if needed for installation and will provide all the supplies necessary for the art. Timeline for completion of the five new art projects will be decided once art work is finalized. For more information on this new contest, please email info@palmettopride.org. You can apply here: https://palmettopride.submittable.com/submit/121909/public-art-for-litter-prevention-application

SCAC Fellow’s new book out Sept. 25

Charleston writer F. Rutledge Hammes, the S.C. Arts Commission's current fellowship recipient for prose, is set to release his debut novel, A Curious Matter of Men with Wings, on Sept. 25. The book has received glowing praise from writers like New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank who writes, “F. Rutledge Hammes is that rare new voice you run across once or maybe twice in a lifetime. His spectacular debut novel, A Curious Matter of Men with Wings, soars! It is a coming of age cautionary tale about power. It’s a mystery and a love story wrapped up in humidity and pluff mud and it is as fascinating as it is addicting.” Set for release by Atlanta-based SFK Press, Hammes’ debut novel tells the story of the Walpole family who fled their sordid past and escaped to one of the nearly 2,000 uninhabited sea islands off the South Carolina coast. The novel opens with the two Walpole boys taking their little sister out on their john boat for the first time to pirate the waterways for beer and loose change. In the process, their little sister goes overboard and appears to have drowned, until two men with gigantic wings swoop down and carry her body away into the sky. The news of her disappearance hits the family particularly hard, and the mother goes so far as to fashion herself wings and tries to fly. The Walpole boys set off in search of their little sister and, in the process, discover the truth behind the centuries-old Gullah tale of the Flying Men as well as numerous other mysteries native to the South Carolina sea islands. A book release party will be held at Blue Bicycle Books (420 King St., Charleston) on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018 from 5-7 p.m. It is free and open to the public. Sue Monk Kidd, bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees, writes, “A Curious Matter of Men with Wings is where magic comes to life in a bold story that celebrates the Gullah world of the South Carolina sea islands. With lyrical prose, the novel takes us into a hidden realm where life is still enchanted and storytelling abounds. In these pages, the transfixing Walpole family grapples with loss, the madness of grief, and ultimately healing, while surrounded by a community whose only salvation lies in the ties that bind them.”


"...It’s a mystery and a love story wrapped up in humidity and pluff mud, and it is as fascinating as it is addicting.” - Dorothea Benton Frank, bestselling author


Hammes was born in South Carolina's Lowcountry, where he fell in love with the waterways, the people, and the folklore that inhabit the sea islands. His whole life, he has been writing about the Charleston area and sea island culture and, for the past decade, he has been teaching the young writers who will keep our lush storytelling tradition alive. Having grown up the oldest in a family of ten, stories of family come naturally to him. His grandparents moved out to the sea islands early in their marriage and made friends in the Gullah community, and he grew up enamored by all the stories and folklore his grandmother told him as a child. Hammes says, “I have long believed that magic is at the heart of Charleston, and so magic must be at the heart of the Charleston novel.” Through A Curious Matter of Men with Wings, Hammes hopes readers will see the redemption that comes to people who keep their promises to one another and stand together regardless of ethnicity, culture and class. Hammes earned his MFA in fiction from Old Dominion University, has had numerous short stories, essays and poems published in various journals and magazines around the country, and is a contributing writer in several books. He is also the 2019 South Carolina Arts Commission Prose Fellow and is presently Director of the Creative Writing program at Charleston County School of the Arts, the most awarded middle- and high-school writing program in the nation. For more information on A Curious Matter of Men with Wings, visit frutledgehammes.com.

Tuning Up: 1858 Prize and forum tomorrow + SEPF 2019 lineup

Good morning!  "Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers curated, 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...


Collaborative first steps. Tomorrow is a big night at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston. Dr. Leo Twiggs is set to receive the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. The pride of Orangeburg is the first S.C. artist (ahem, #SCartists) to receive the $10,000 prize. But you knew all that. What you might not know is that afterward is the Amy P. Coy Forum and 1858 Prize Party (6-8 p.m., 135 Meeting St., Charleston) at which representatives from ArtFields, South Arts, and the Gibbes will use the forum to discuss collaboration among the Southeast's three biggest arts prizes, which happen to be awarded by those entities. Where will it lead? We don't know, but that's why we're going. See you there? $35. SEPF announces 2019 guest artists. (And there are some, ahem, key names here.) Summertime is music festival time, and every year Columbia is a piano hotspot. The Southeastern Piano Festival is set to return June 16-23, 2019 and last week announced their guest artists. Artistic Director Joseph Rackers promises and incredible week of music. (Take it from The Hub – don't miss Alessio Bax). In addition to performances, accomplished pianists will give masterclasses and it all comes to a head with the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition on June 21. (The teenage winner performs a concerto with the South Carolina Philharmonic.)

Greyson Smith joins SCAC as accountant

There's a new face wandering the halls at the S.C. Arts Commission. Greyson Smith (coincidentally a Columbia artist) joined our team Tuesday and is completing his first "full" week as our new accountant. For an agency that is set to distribute some $4 million in grant funding statewide (second time today we've successfully worked that link in...), filling a full-time accountant void is pretty important. The Columbia native graduated from Winthrop University with a bachelor's in business administration with a concentration in accounting, as well as a bachelor's in fine arts. In addition to his years of work experience as an accountant at Companion Life Insurance Company and Enterprise Holdings, Inc., he is also known as an actively exhibiting mixed-media artist and for his past service on the board of directors at 701 Center for Contemporary Art. Welcome, Greyson – we're glad you're here!

Blind Columbia artist develops “paint Braille system”

Today's feel-good story comes courtesy of ColaDaily.com's Karamie Sullivan, and we couldn't wait to share it. [caption id="attachment_36810" align="alignright" width="250"] Ron Ferguson, the "Grit Man"[/caption] A Columbia area visual artist who taught art in Hampton after serving in the Navy has complete vision loss in one eye and sees only "glimmers of light" in his other. But it's not stopping Ron Ferguson's creative pursuits in painting, drawing, and 3D art.

“One day I said, I’m going to be determined to not let this stop me from doing the thing I’m so passionately in love with. Art is my life,” he said.

Ferguson developed a "paint Braille system" that allows him to identify primary paint colors. Knowing those, he can mix them to create other colors. Read more about the "Grit Man" on ColaDaily.com.