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Ken May becomes surprise recipient at S.C. Arts Awards

Receives McNair Award from S.C. Arts Foundation

Ken May making keynote address at 2019 S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon As he’d done at nine previous South Carolina Arts Awards ceremonies, Wednesday morning Ken May read the names and brief details of recipients as their awards were handed out—then it was happening to him. May was called to the stage to deliver the keynote address at the luncheon following the public ceremony when Flavia Harton of Greenville, president of the South Carolina Arts Foundation (SCAF), turned the tables. She began describing the Gov. Robert E. McNair Award, which the foundation presents to honor outstanding leaders who have built on the legacy of the award's namesake by working diligently to make South Carolina a place where the arts thrive for the benefit of all South Carolinians. “That sounds like a description of Ken May, and that’s why it is my privilege on behalf of the South Carolina Arts Foundation to present the seventh Robert E. McNair Award to Ken,” Harton said, after she and S.C. Arts Commission (SCAC) Board Chairman Henry Horowitz alternated extolling May’s leadership on the national and regional levels, advocacy, and "for leading the agency through turbulent times to flourish afterward." May, visibly moved by the presentation, expressed his gratitude and launched into a "state of the arts" keynote address. Gov. McNair was the first recipient of his namesake award when it was created in 2007 and awarded to him posthumously. Subsequent recipients include Gov. Richard Riley (2010), former State Sen. Wes Hayes (2015), and erstwhile Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley (2017) from the political field and Susie Surkamer (2011), previous executive director of the SCAC, and Patrick VanHuss (2013) who served in leadership roles for the SCAC and SCAF boards of directors. In January, May announced that he will retire from the SCAC after nine years as its executive director and 33 years in total. A search committee is currently reviewing applicants to be the next executive director.
Image by Lee Ann Kornegay

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South Arts grants support “Southern Creative Places”

South Arts, a nonprofit regional arts organization serving nine Southern states, has announced $78,189 in grants to 18 communities in the region. South Arts LogoThese grants, made possible through funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Georgia Council for the Arts, support the planning and execution of creative placemaking projects predominantly in small and rural communities in the South. “Creative placemaking uses arts and culture to activate and animate communities,” said Susie Surkamer, executive director of South Arts. “Creative placemaking puts arts, culture and creativity at the center of planning and problem-solving. It brings people and partners together to design creative solutions to community challenges using arts and culture as catalysts. The results can be more connected communities, enhanced quality of life, more economic opportunities, and the showcasing of a community’s most unique characteristics.” The grants, which must be matched by the recipient organization, support organizations in South Arts’ region. Organizations applied this spring and were recently notified of their status. “In our new strategic plan, South Arts has made a commitment to address the evolving needs of Southern communities through impactful arts-based programs,” continued Surkamer. “Supporting these creative placemaking efforts – from a small-business incubator for creative entrepreneurs to public art projects embracing civic pride and even a project using the arts to promote healthy eating and locally-grown produce – is an important step in serving the cross-sector needs of our region through the arts.” The Southern Creative Places grant program represents South Arts’ first programmatic offering in the arena of creative placemaking, following up on its successful co-sponsorship of the Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit in March 2018 in Chattanooga. For more information about opportunities from South Arts, visit www.southarts.org.


About South Arts South Arts advances Southern vitality through the arts. The nonprofit regional arts organization was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to support the success of artists and arts providers in the South, address the needs of Southern communities through impactful arts-based programs, and celebrate the excellence, innovation, value and power of the arts of the South. For more information, visit www.southarts.org.
S.C. Grant Recipients
  • The Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg received a $5,000 grant to establish a cultural center in the majority Hispanic community of Arcadia.
  • The City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs received a $5,000 grant to implement the conNECKted Too project, pairing artists with tiny businesses in an isolated part of Charleston.
  • Fresh Future Farm, Inc. in Charleston received a $3,038 grant for a community mural project celebrating community history and promoting healthy, locally-grown foods.
  • The Holly Springs Center in Pickens received a $4,365 grant to present a festival of Appalachian arts on the grounds of a former school.
  • The Town of Estill received a $3,375 grant to create a mural celebrating diversity.

Susie Surkamer appointed South Arts executive director

Congratulations to Susie Surkamer, former South Carolina Arts Commission executive director, for being named executive director of South Arts in Atlanta, GA. Surkamer spent 35 years dedicating her career to the development of a thriving arts environment in South Carolina. Her work with the S.C. Arts Commission began in 1974 when she joined the Commission as a dancer-in-residence. In 1994 she became executive director of the Commission and served in that role until 2009. Guided by her vision, the agency earned a national reputation as a leader in the arts for its work in arts education reform, rural arts development, design arts and other initiatives. Read the entire news release. About South Arts: South Arts is a nonprofit regional arts organization and was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts examines the arts environment and cultural trends from a regional perspective comprising nine states—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. For more information, visit www.southarts.org. Via: South Arts