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Congratulations to the 2017 Verner Award recipients!

Verner Award StatueCongratulations to the recipients of the 2017 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts! The S.C. Arts Commission annually presents the awards, the highest honor the state gives in the arts, to recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina. Awards will be presented May 2 (time and location to be announced). Established in 1972, the annual awards recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina. This year’s recipients:

“Each of these Verner Award recipients has contributed greatly to the arts community as an outstanding ambassador for our state," said S.C. Arts Commission Chairman Henry Horowitz. "Their dedication to the arts benefits South Carolinians and materially enhances our state’s economic vitality. As the Arts Commission marks its 50th anniversary, we are honored to recognize these organizations and individuals who embody the service, commitment and passion that helped build our state’s half century of leadership in the arts.” Also on May 2, the S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients and the arts community at the South Carolina Arts Award Luncheon, a fundraiser supporting the programs of the S.C. Arts Commission. An art sale begins at 11 a.m. at the USC Alumni Center, 900 Senate St. in Columbia, with the luncheon following at noon. Tickets are $50 per person and may be purchased online. The 2017 Verner Awards are sponsored by Colonial Life. For more about the Verner Awards or the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon, call (803) 734-8696 or visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com. Image: First row, left to right: Laura Spong, Leo Twiggs, Quentin Baxter, Betsy Teter. Second row: Brenda McCutchen, City of Beaufort/USC Beaufort Center for the Arts, S.C. Humanities, Stringer and Rainey Foundations

Folk Heritage Award highlights: Bill Harris and Harold Clayton

Bill Harris, Chief of the Catawba Nation, is committed to keeping alive the Catawba pottery tradition through his work and through educating others. The late Harold Clayton shared his love for bluegrass and gospel with his family and his community and inspired others to learn to play music. Read about this year's recipients of the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award below, and find out more about all of the activities taking place as part of the South Carolina Arts Awards on May 11.

Bill Harris, Catawba Pottery

Bill HarrisLong before becoming Chief of the Catawba Nation, Bill Harris felt drawn to traditional Catawba pottery. His grandmother, Georgia Harris, was a master potter who was instrumental in carrying on the long-standing Catawba pottery tradition. A recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Georgia Harris passed her knowledge of the pottery process down to her grandson.  He was 18 when he started to learn the art form, and she taught him every step of the process – from digging the clay to firing the pot.

Harris digs the clay for his pots today in the same riverbanks he learned as a teenager. Since the 1970s, Harris has actively cultivated his knowledge by learning aspects of the art from other Catawba potters. During the past 15 years, Harris has focused more of his efforts on making pottery. He serves on the Piedmont Craftsman Art Guild, and his work has been featured in exhibitions throughout the region.

Harris is also passionate about sharing his knowledge with others and encouraging the long-term viability of the pottery tradition. He teaches classes for both adults and children at the Catawba Cultural Preservation Project, takes small groups to dig clay, and teaches members of his family at home.

The Catawba Cultural Preservation Project has named him a Master Potter, an honor only given to those who have been recognized by their peers as outstanding practitioners of the tradition. As Chief of the Catawba Nation, Harris has the opportunity to speak to schools and community groups about the tribe. He uses these opportunities to impart the importance of the pottery tradition and other aspects of Catawba culture.

Harold Clayton, Advocacy, Bluegrass and Gospel Music (posthumous)

Harold ClaytonHarold Clayton was a native of the Warrior Creek community near Gray Court, South Carolina. His father, Alvin, was a multi-instrumentalist who instilled in Harold a passion for a variety of instruments and music traditions. Clayton played the upright bass and guitar, but his true passion was in providing a venue for music to be presented, taught, and appreciated.

He first began providing space for local musicians to play in 2003. Every Saturday night, folks knew they could gather for a good time of picking, singing, and fellowship. In 2006, Clayton had the opportunity to move into a different space and, along with the help of friends, he completely remodeled and opened the Owings Music Hall. In order to help pay for the expense of the renovation, Clayton and his friends put on community fish fries. Friends helped with the electrical, carpentry, and plumbing work. The completion of the music hall was truly a community-based project.

Now musicians from across the region show up every Friday and Saturday night to play for crowds of young and old. Musicians offer music lessons on a regular basis, even lending instruments to students, as needed. Many of these young musicians come back to play at the music hall. In 2009, Clayton built an addition on the building to accommodate the growing crowds and the many musicians who played outside.

Clayton made a conscious effort to share his love of music with his family – both his son and grandson learned from him and are accomplished musicians today. Clayton also enjoyed working with the surrounding community as well. He could often be found singing at local retirement homes and was a regular participant at local festivals like Pioneer Day in Gray Court.

Clayton passed away in April 2015, but his family and the music community continue to carry on his legacy.

Verner Award highlights: Nikky Finney and Hootie and the Blowfish

Poet Nikky Finney and Hootie and the Blowfish are ambassadors for South Carolina, using their success and celebrity status to draw attention to the benefits of the arts. Read more about these recipients of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts below, and find out more about all of the activities taking place as part of the South Carolina Arts Awards on May 11. Nikky Finney

newNikky1 Nikky Finney was born in South Carolina, within listening distance of the sea. A child of activists, she came of age during the Civil Rights and Black Arts Movements. At Talladega College, nurtured by Hale Woodruff's Amistad murals, Finney began to understand the powerful synergy between art and history. Finney has authored four books of poetry: On Wings Made of Gauze (1985); Rice (1995); The World Is Round (2003); and Head Off & Split (2011), which received the National Book Award for poetry in 2011. Finney’s electrifying acceptance speech prompted the ceremony's emcee, actor John Lithgow, to proclaim, "That's the best acceptance for anything I've ever heard in my life." Head Off & Split was also selected as the 2015-2016 First Year Book by University of Maryland, College Park, providing an opportunity for students and faculty to delve into complex topics using a common text. Finney writes extensively for journals, magazines and other publications. Her new work includes The Battle of and for the Black Face Boy, commissioned in 2013 by the University of Maryland and published in the fall 2015 issue of Oxford American, the first feature-length poem to be published in the literary magazine. Finney’s other awards and honors include a PEN American Open Book Award for Rice in 1997, the Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council in 1999, induction into the Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent in 2002, and the Benjamin Franklin Award from the Independent Booksellers Association for The World is Round in 2004, In 2013, Finney returned to South Carolina as The John H. Bennett, Jr. Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Letters and Literature at the University of South Carolina after teaching creative writing at the University of Kentucky for 21 years. Watch the video of Finney's National Book Award acceptance speech.
Hootie and the Blowfish
HootieandTheBlowfish250Hootie and the Blowfish members Darius Rucker, Mark Bryan, Dean Felber and Jim “Soni” Sonefeld met when they were freshmen at the University of South Carolina. The band sold over 25 million records worldwide after their debut album Cracked Rear View hit the airwaves in 1994. At the end of the year, Cracked Rear View and the band won two Grammys, an MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist, a Billboard Music Award for Album of the Year, a People's Choice Award for Album of the Year and a People's Choice Award for Best Selling Artist, a feat they duplicated in 1996. Cracked Rear View remains the 12th best-selling album in music business history. The band grew up in an environment where education and music were important. Knowing how fortunate they were, they have a strong desire to improve education in their home state, funding programs that help provide a well-rounded and meaningful education based in practical studies and the arts. The band established the Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation in 2000 through the Central Carolina Community Foundation. The majority of funding comes from the annual Hootie and the Blowfish Monday after the Masters Golf Tournament. The event, created to support education and music programs nationwide, has raised over $2 million to date for multiple causes. Support ranges from building community learning centers to outfitting school marching bands to simply providing educators with the tools they need to nurture children's talents and help them succeed. In 2001, the band was involved in VH1’s Save the Music Foundation’s South Carolina kickoff, performing with students at the Statehouse to draw attention to improving the quality of music education in public schools. In addition to Monday After the Masters, the foundation also puts on various events throughout the year, including Hootie's Homegrown Roundup, a back to school program held in August each year to benefit the children of Charleston County School District. More than 12,000 students have benefited from the Roundup since the program’s inception in 2007. Although band members have had successful solo careers, they still consider themselves a band, performing together to benefit the causes they believe in. They willingly use their celebrity status as successful artists to draw attention to and benefit South Carolina. Their leadership in providing support and funding for education, particularly music education, has had a significant impact on the state and beyond.

Verner Award highlights: City of Greenville and the Columbia Museum of Art

The City of Greenville and the Columbia Museum of Art are front and center in providing quality arts experiences for residents and visitors in their communities.  Read more about these recipients of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts below, and find out more about all of the activities taking place as part of the South Carolina Arts Awards on May 11. The City of Greenville, Government

City of GreenvilleFrom the public art on nearly every corner to the many museums and galleries that call the city home, Greenville is a haven for the arts. However, as recently as the mid-1980s, Greenville was a far cry from its current status as the Upstate region’s cultural epicenter. The city’s Main Street was a four-lane road that bisected a tired downtown district. As business after business along Main Street either closed or fled to the suburbs, demolition crews moved in to raze the vacant buildings left behind. Realizing the future of its urban core was in jeopardy, the city launched an ambitious downtown revitalization project. In addition to narrowing Main Street, planting trees, and establishing commercial anchors, the project emphasized the arts. It was this focused effort to revitalize downtown that fostered the public-private partnership responsible for creating the Peace Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 1999. Since then, the arts have been thoroughly integrated into multiple facets of the community fostering an environment that, today, abounds with public art installations, performing and visual arts venues, festivals celebrating nearly every arts discipline, and strong community-based arts organizations. Though this booming arts scene is exceptional in and of itself, the crux of the achievement is how the City of Greenville used the arts not only to help reverse the city’s downward trajectory but to nurture its unique sense of place.
The Columbia Museum of Art, Organization
columbiamuseumofartcompositeThe Columbia Museum of Art is a centerpiece of cultural life in downtown Columbia and has played a key role in the revitalization of the city’s Main Street corridor. From its beginnings in the historic Taylor House in 1950 to the move to Main Street in 1998, the museum has transformed from a historic house museum to a major regional art institution serving more than 135,000 patrons each year. These visitors come to experience world-class collections of American, European, Asian and contemporary art exhibited in 20,000 square feet of gallery space and anchor the museum’s contributions to downtown tourism and the city’s economy. The museum has placed education at the core of its mission and programs, with initiatives focused on engaging youth audiences, developing free programs for K-12 educators, college students, families and children. Programs for adults and seniors include opportunities for artistic growth and skill development. The museum has also pioneered programs that place the museum at the center of the city’s social scene with events and activities that entertain while they educate, combining visual and performing arts. The museum's outreach efforts include multiple affiliate groups that focus on unique interests and offer their own range of programs. The Columbia Museum of Art embraces the role of the modern museum as a catalyst for both progress and meaningful conversations with the community it serves.

Congratulations to our awards recipients!

[caption id="attachment_26450" align="alignright" width="350"]Hootie and the Blowfish with Gov.Haley Hootie and the Blowfish members Mark Bryan, Darius Rucker, Jim “Soni” Sonefeld and Dean Felber with Governor Nikky Haley[/caption] Congratulations to recipients of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts and the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards, who were recognized May 11 during South Carolina Arts Awards Day. Family members, friends, and colleagues of award recipients joined the arts community and the general public for a day and an evening of celebration. Lt. Governor Henry McMaster and S.C. Arts Commission Chairman Henry Horowitz presented the awards during a State House ceremony. After official photographs with Governor Nikki Haley, recipients were honored at a luncheon sponsored by USC's McKissick Museum. The evening began with additional accolades during a concert featuring bluegrass and gospel music (honoring Folk Heritage Award recipient Harold Clayton) and a poetry reading by Verner Award recipient Nikky Finney.  The festivities were capped by an art sale and gala dance party presented by the South Carolina Arts Foundation. Many thanks to everyone who participated! Image above: Front row, left to right: Verner Award recipients Mayor Knox White, City of Greenville; Janice Jennings, Joye in Aiken; artist Mary Edna Fraser; Betty J. Plumb; Gov. Nikki Haley; Karen Brosius, Columbia Museum of Art; Dotsy Clayton, representing Folk Heritage Award recipient Harold Clayton (posthumous award); Susu Johnson, the Phifer-Johnson Foundation/The Johnson Collection. Second row, left to right: Poet Nikky Finney; Dr. Sandra Field, Joye in Aiken; Claude Walker, Columbia Museum of Art; Folk Heritage Award recipient Bill Harris; Ed Zeigler, City of Greenville, George Johnson, the Phifer-Johnson Foundation/The Johnson Collection.

Verner Award highlights: Joye in Aiken and Phifer-Johnson Foundation/The Johnson Collection

Joye in Aiken and the Phifer-Johnson Foundation/The Johnson Collection of Spartanburg are excellent examples of organizations maximizing their roles as innovators, supporters and advocates of the arts for their local communities and beyond. Read more about these recipients of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts below, and find out more about all of the activities taking place as part of the South Carolina Arts Awards on May 11. Joye in Aiken - Arts in Education

Joye in AikenSince its founding in 2009, Joye in Aiken (originally Juilliard in Aiken) has leveraged its one-of-a-kind partnership with the Juilliard School in New York to bring more than 200 Juilliard students, faculty and alumni to present arts education programs and events for South Carolina children in Aiken and surrounding counties, typically reaching between 3,000 and 4,000 students per year. While serving a cross-section of children from all backgrounds, the outreach program pays particular attention to underserved neighborhoods, selecting schools on the basis of need. All outreach activities are provided free of charge, including transporting groups of students from their schools to centralized events. Although the centerpiece of Joye in Aiken’s education outreach is its annual weeklong music festival that incorporates in-school performances, centralized programs and master classes for area students, its education programs continue throughout the year to include extended artist residencies and summer camps. It has formed a partnership with the Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities in Greenville to provide individual instruction for its students in master classes with Juilliard artists. It has a long-standing partnership with East Aiken School of the Arts, Aiken County’s only Arts in Basic Curriculum School, where Joye in Aiken has contributed to that school’s successful integration of the arts across all areas of instruction, and where arts integration is proving to produce impressive outcomes in student achievement. In all of its activities, Joye in Aiken continues to uphold the standards of excellence established by The Juilliard School, as well as Juilliard’s commitment to public service.
The Phifer-Johnson Foundation/The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg - Business/Foundation
Phifer-Johnson FoundationWhen Susu and George Johnson’s personal art collection outgrew their home and office space, they decided to share it. What began as an interest in paintings by Carolina artists in 2002 has grown to encompass over 1,200 objects that chronicle the cultural evolution of the American South. Three scholarly books have been published around the Johnson Collection’s holdings. Each of the books is accompanied by a touring exhibition that travels to leading museums in South Carolina and across the South for two to four years. In contrast to most touring shows, the Johnsons share these exhibitions with all participating museums at no cost. These efforts to provide broad access to the arts for free have attracted national attention from such prominent publications asAmerican Art Review, The Magazine Antiques and Garden & Gun. A website for the collection features images and notes on hundreds of Southern artists and a searchable catalog of the collection’s library of over 4,000 volumes. The collection’s curator serves as a visiting scholar and lecturer at local colleges, and students are invited to apply for curatorial internships. A gallery in downtown Spartanburg presents regular exhibitions from the collection and loans artwork to a variety of public and educational institutions, making the collection highly accessible to the public. The Johnsons’ philanthropic commitment to community, arts and culture extends beyond the Johnson Collection to support local and statewide arts programs and initiatives. The Phifer-Johnson Foundation is a major benefactor of the South Carolina First Novel Prize, which is establishing a national profile for South Carolina’s most promising writers. They have been important to the success of Spartanburg’s Chapman Cultural Center, a centerpiece in Spartanburg’s active cultural scene. They are key supporters of arts organizations and activities that add vibrancy and attract youth and talent to their community, including the Hub-Bub Artist in Residence Program, Ballet Spartanburg, the Music Foundation of Spartanburg, Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Brookgreen Gardens, and more. Equally dedicated to arts advancement and arts accessibility, the Johnsons generously share their vision, energy, passion and resources to benefit the arts in South Carolina.

Jewelry created for History Channel’s ‘Vikings’ to be featured at S.C. Arts Gala

[gallery columns="4" ids="26244,26243,26242,26245"] Fans of the History Channel's Vikings take note: you can go home from the South Carolina Arts Gala wearing Lagertha's barrettes or Ragnar's bracelet. [caption id="attachment_26241" align="alignright" width="275"]Viking actress Katheryn Winnick as Lagertha looking fierce in her Danny Hansen-designed hair pieces.[/caption] Batesburg-Leesville craftsman Danny Hansen, who has designed and created much of the distinctive jewelry worn by the popular drama's actors, will take part in the South Carolina Arts Gala art sale on May 11. In addition to bronze hair adornments and a silver dragon bracelet, Hansen will offer a silver Triskele (an ancient Celtic symbol) pendant and a bronze dragon belt buckle set -- pieces similar to items Hansen created for Vikings.

Hansen shipped off his bronze dragon-head bracelets to Vikings creators on a whim. The bracelets quickly became a featured object worn by main characters Ragnar and Aethelstan. The show's fans took notice and bracelet sales soared on Hansen's Crafty Celts website.

According to Hansen, the handmade barrettes "came out of a collaboration with the costuming department for Vikings. They needed hair pieces for a costume concept they had using our Hound and Doe cloak clasps. We developed these designs, as well as our Stag cloak clasp, into hair barrettes." Hansen has first-hand knowledge of how those costume concepts are realized -- he and his son, Kelley, traveled to Ireland to work as extras on the show. Presented by the South Carolina Arts Foundation, the art sale will also offer paintings, glass, pottery, sculpture, fiber arts and other original works of art, plus arts "experiences" created to showcase cultural and culinary arts.The sale is the perfect time to meet and mingle with artists as you ponder which piece to add to your art collection. All proceeds benefit the arts in schools and communities around the state through the South Carolina Arts Commission’s arts education and arts development programs. Last year, the S.C. Arts Foundation contributed more than $55,000 to bolster programs such as artist fellowships, arts education and artist training. The South Carolina Arts Gala, the celebration of the South Carolina Arts Awards, takes place May 11 at 7:15 p.m. at 701 Whaley St. in Columbia. Prior to the gala, enjoy a concert featuring bluegrass and gospel, plus recognition of Verner and Folk Heritage Award recipients. The concert and awards recognition take place at 6:15 p.m. in the Granby Room, 701 Whaley Street (in the same building as the gala). Tickets are $75 per person and may be purchased online with a credit card or check, or by calling (803) 734.8696. Reserve your tickets today!

S.C. Arts Gala set for May 11!

[gallery ids="25766,25757,25753,25759,25761,25765,25755,25760,25758,25762,25764,25773"] Time to buy your tickets! Mark May 11 on your calendar and reserve your tickets for the annual  South Carolina Arts Gala! The South Carolina Arts Foundation invites you to celebrate the South Carolina Arts Awards at the pre-gala recognition ceremony, which kicks off the evening at 6:15 p.m. in the Granby Room, 701 Whaley Street (in the same building as the gala) in Columbia. The gala and an art sale — featuring  fabulous art and food — begin at 7:15 p.m. in the Grand Hall of 701 Whaley (701 Whaley St.). The awards ceremony honors the recipients of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts and the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards (2016 recipients to be announced soon). The art sale features original one-of-a-kind artworks by some of South Carolina’s finest contemporary artists, including functional and non-functional craft, paintings and sculpture. Seasoned and beginning collectors alike will find “must have” works and enjoy meeting artists. The South Carolina Arts Foundation designates gala proceeds to help support arts education, artist development and other programs of the South Carolina Arts Commission. Don’t miss the arts party of the year! Tickets are $75 each. Reserve your ticket(s) today!

2016 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award recipients announced

vernerstatuescolorCongratulations to the recipients of the 2016 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts! The S.C. Arts Commission annually presents the awards, the highest honor the state gives in the arts, to recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina. Awards will be presented May 11 at 11 a.m. during a ceremony at the Statehouse. This year’s recipients:

"Each of these Verner Award recipients has attracted positive national attention for the Palmetto State," said S.C. Arts Commission Chairman Henry Horowitz. "Their dedication to the arts greatly benefits South Carolinians and materially enhances our state’s economic vitality. Their contributions regionally and nationally are a source of pride for South Carolinians living anywhere. The Verner Awards recognize service, commitment and passion, and we are honored to have these individuals and organizations working to enhance our state's reputation as a leader in the arts." Also on May 11, the S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients and the arts community at the South Carolina Arts Gala, a fundraiser supporting the programs of the S.C. Arts Commission. The gala begins at 7:15 p.m. in the Grand Hall, 701 Whaley St. in Columbia. Gala tickets are $75 per person and may be purchased online. The 2016 Verner Awards are sponsored by Colonial Life. For more about the Verner Awards or the S.C. Arts Gala, call (803) 734-8696 or visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com. 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 www.SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.

Call to artists: South Carolina Arts Foundation 2016 Art Sale

Submission deadline: December 31, 2015 The South Carolina Arts Foundation seeks South Carolina artists to participate in the 2016 Art Sale. The sale will be held in conjunction with the South Carolina Arts Awards, including the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts and the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards. The 2016 Art Sale is the centerpiece of the South Carolina Arts Gala, an evening celebration of the South Carolina Arts Awards, on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. The gala will be held in the Grand Hall at 701 Whaley in the historic Olympia Mills neighborhood. The project was originally conceived as a sales opportunity for artists and as an opportunity to build and promote arts patronage. Artists included in the 2016 Art Sale will be selected by a panel composed of members of the South Carolina Arts Foundation. Works included in the sale must be original and of high artistic quality; have a broad appeal; be representative of the artist's style and framed with appropriate hanging devices. In general, 2-D work should be in the size range of 24" height and 36" width (inclusive of frame), and 3-D work should be freestanding or should fit on a pedestal that is 24" x 24." The parameters for dimensions are provided as a guide and should not be interpreted as absolute dimensions. The price of works included in the sale is provided by the artist. If sold, the price will be split 75/25 (artist/SCAF). Artists are requested to provide high-quality digital images of the work(s) selected to be included in print and online promotional materials. To be considered for the art sale, please submit the following materials by December 31, 2015 to: 2016 Art Sale, South Carolina Arts Foundation, 1026 Sumter Street, Suite 200, Columbia, SC, 29201:

  • DVD, CD or thumb drive containing up to 10 images in a jpeg format with a maximum resolution at or less than 1024 x 768 pixels of representative or available works. Please indicate if the work is available (A) or representative (R).
  • Checklist including title (to correspond with file title on submitted DVD, CD or thumb drive), date, medium, size (h x w x d), price;
  • Resume or bio;
  • Artist statement (not to exceed 250 words);
  • Self-addressed stamped envelope for return of materials.
For more information, contact Harriett Green, S.C. Arts Commission,1026 Sumter St., Suite 200, Columbia, SC 29201; phone 803.734.8762; fax: 803.734.8526; or e-mail hgreen@arts.sc.gov. Images: Left to right - works by Cindy Saad, Steve Hazard and Alicia Leeke.