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Wrapping up 2018

'Tis the season, after all.

The South Carolina Arts Commission had a notable 2018:
  • Through staff consultation, grants, and direct programs, our work impacted all 46 South Carolina counties.
  • Our grantees were able to provide more than EIGHT MILLION arts experiences for residents and visitors as a direct result of SCAC grants.
  • "Art of Community: Rural S.C." furthered its reputation as a national model for rural creative placemaking – addressing ongoing challenges in those unique communities with arts and culture-based solutions.
And there's plenty more. Today, we're making public a brief annual report that sheds light on FY18's accomplishments and outlines what and where grants and programs were put to use, from the three “corner” counties of Oconee, Horry, and Beaufort to the 43 arranged inside. You're invited to have a look.

Holiday Schedule at the SCAC

Many of the SCAC staff have already exited stage left for well-deserved annual leave, but others remain and constituents can still expect service with some exceptions: the office will close with other state agencies on weekends, from Dec. 24 to 26, and on Jan. 1. You can expect content on The Hub and Facebook to continue, though it will be less frequent. Whatever you celebrate this season (and even if you don't), the board and staff of the Arts Commission wish you the happiest, merriest, most festive time and peace and prosperity in the New Year!

Liked what you saw in the annual report? 

The South Carolina Arts Foundation would like to hear from you.  

Pro bono strategic planning for rural arts organizations

Application deadline: Friday, Dec. 14, 2018


The S.C. Arts Commission received word today of a new resource for rural arts organizations. The timing dovetails nicely as the advisory committee for the S.C. Arts Commission program Art of Community: Rural SC gathers for its annual meeting this week. That program has of course been documented here from time to time. Despite only being a pilot program at this stage, rural revitalization through arts, culture, and cultivation of pride of place is an important part of the S.C. Arts Commission's work. The DeVos Institute of Arts Management is pleased to offer pro bono strategic planning services for up to five arts or cultural organizations based in rural, semi-rural, micropolitan, or similar communities across the U.S. The Institute seeks five partners with whom it will work to develop a long-term strategic plan that celebrates the unique assets of their organization, community, cultural history, and environment. The planning process will be fully underwritten by University of Maryland. Interested organizations are invited to apply through Dec. 14, 2018. A brochure describing the opportunity is available here. Full information and the application can be found here: http://devosinstitute.umd.edu/ruralcommunities Interested organizations are invited to address questions directly to segunning@devosinstitute.net or 301-314-0958.

Denmark, Voorhees to be next ‘Communal Pen’ workshop hosts

The S.C. Arts Commission and S.C. Humanities are excited to continue Communal Pen, a creative writing workshop, in Denmark on Saturday, Dec. 1 to help you write to celebrate and explore connections to place and community. They have two questions:

  1. What are the memories, stories and traditions that make our community home?
  2. What landmarks, customs, sights and sounds connect us with family, friends and neighbors, while highlighting our unique experience and identity?
Sometimes, you’ve just got to write it down! Co-facilitators EBONI RAMM and MICHELLE ROSS will lead the workshop as you write to celebrate and explore connections to place and community. Often, it is in our written words that memory lives. The writing process can itself help us to awaken and preserve thoughts and traditions, offering insight, understanding and respect to present and future generations. This three-hour writing workshop runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Wright-Potts Library at Voorhees College in Denmark (look for it in the first floor student lounge, see map here). It draws inspiration from the Smithsonian exhibit Crossroads: Change in Rural America as a springboard for igniting our own stories, giving voice to our shared and individual experience of place. Space is limited; registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Walk-in registration is welcome as long as space permits. Share it with your friends on Facebook! NOTE: marking yourself as "Going" on Facebook DOES NOT register you for Communal Pen. No previous experience necessary! We invite participants to view the exhibit before the workshop, and to pay special attention to those images and ideas that are most relatable you. On the day of the workshop, please bring a photo and/or object that has special meaning for you. This item will be used during a writing exercise.
The Communal Pen writing workshop is offered in conjunction with the traveling Smithsonian exhibition, Crossroads: Change in Rural America. Crossroads is presented through the Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program as part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. MoMS provides access to the Smithsonian for small-town America through museum exhibitions, research, educational resources, and programming. Communal Pen is developed through the S.C. Arts Commission’s place-based initiative, Art of Community: Rural SC, a new framework for engagement, learning, and action in rural communities. The writing workshops are coordinated through the SCAC’s Folklife & Traditional Arts and Community Arts Development programs, with generous support from the S.C. Humanities Council. Enjoy Crossroads at Voorhees College through Dec. 9, 2018. The image at the top of this page is Old Sheldon by Varnville, S.C. artist Ment Nelson, who's no stranger to The Hub. Nelson celebrates his family, culture, and home community through his artwork. He is a Young Voice of the Art of Community-Rural SC initiative, and coordinator of the Creative Connectors, for the Create Rural SC project. On being an artist he says, “You never know who might be intrigued by your story.”
Deeply rooted in South Carolina, Communal Pen co-facilitator Eboni Ramm fell in love with the arts at a young age and was encouraged throughout her youth to express herself. Today, she is a gifted vocalist known for her special blend of timeless jazz classics with a pinch of poetry. Ramm resides in Columbia, where she conducts jazz poetry workshops in schools, libraries, and various learning centers. She serves her community as Richland Library's literary resident and as a teaching artist with ARTS ACCESS South Carolina and Youth Corps. She is a featured musician on SCETV’s education web portal, knowitall.org. Her publication Within His Star: The Story of Levi Pearson celebrates the ancestor who added strength to the unprecedented Brown vs. The Board of Education case. Learn more at www.EboniRamm.com. Communal Pen co-facilitator Michelle Ross is a folklorist and adjunct faculty in anthropology at the University of South Carolina Sumter. She holds a master's from the Folk Studies and Anthropology Department at Western Kentucky University. Ross embraces stories of all kinds. She helped establish the S.C. Center for Oral Narrative, through which she has co-created several writing workshops. Ross also works with the Mothers of Angels in telling and writing about grief from the death of a child, and has worked with veterans in telling and writing their stories. Her work has been published in The North Carolina Folklore Journal and an anthology of mother-in-law essays titled His Mother!; her poetry has appeared in Sandhill and The Petigru Review. For the past five years, she has been working on telling her Pontian Greek family’s refugee story, her most important project to date. Communal Pen coordinator Laura Marcus Green is Folklife & Traditional Arts Program Director at the South Carolina Arts Commission, where she manages several grant and award programs, and at the University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum, where she develops programming in conjunction with folklife exhibitions. She holds a Ph.D. in Folklore from Indiana University and an M.A. in Folklore/Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. Selected prior positions include Community Engagement Coordinator for the Museum of International Folk Art’s Gallery of Conscience, and work as a folklife fieldworker and researcher, writer, curator and consultant for the Louisiana Division of the Arts Folklife Program, the South Carolina Arts Commission, the Iowa Arts Council, New Mexico Arts, and the Idaho Commission on the Arts, among others.  

‘Communal Pen’ writing workshop coming to Union

The S.C. Arts Commission and S.C. Humanities are excited to debut Communal Pen, a writing workshop in Union on Saturday, Oct. 6 to help you write to celebrate and explore connections to place and community. And they have two questions:

  1. What are the memories, stories and traditions that make our community home?
  2. What landmarks, customs, sights and sounds connect us with family, friends and neighbors, while highlighting our unique experience and identity?
Sometimes, you’ve just got to write it down! Co-facilitators EBONI RAMM and MICHELLE ROSS will lead the workshop as you write to celebrate and explore connections to place and community. Often, it is in our written words that memory lives. The writing process can itself help us to awaken and preserve thoughts and traditions, offering insight, understanding and respect to present and future generations. This three-hour writing workshop (10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Union County Carnegie Library, 300 E. South St.) draws inspiration from the Smithsonian exhibit Crossroads: Change in Rural America as a springboard for igniting our own stories, giving voice to our shared and individual experience of place. Space is limited; registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Walk-in registration is welcome as long as space permits. Share it with your friends on Facebook! NOTE: marking yourself as "Going" on Facebook DOES NOT register you for Communal Pen. No previous experience necessary! We invite participants to view the exhibit before the workshop, and to pay special attention to those images and ideas that are most relatable you. On the day of the workshop, please bring a photo and/or object that has special meaning for you. This item will be used during a writing exercise.
The Communal Pen writing workshop is offered in conjunction with the traveling Smithsonian exhibition, Crossroads: Change in Rural America. Crossroads is presented through the Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program as part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. MoMS provides access to the Smithsonian for small-town America through museum exhibitions, research, educational resources, and programming. Communal Pen is developed through the S.C. Arts Commission’s place-based initiative, Art of Community: Rural SC, a new framework for engagement, learning, and action in rural communities. The writing workshops are coordinated through the SCAC’s Folklife & Traditional Arts and Community Arts Development programs, with generous support from the S.C. Humanities Council. Enjoy Crossroads at the Union County Carnegie Library through Oct. 21, 2018. The image at the top of this page is Old Sheldon by Varnville, S.C. artist Ment Nelson, who's no stranger to The Hub. Nelson celebrates his family, culture, and home community through his artwork. He is a Young Voice of the Art of Community-Rural SC initiative, and coordinator of the Creative Connectors, for the Create Rural SC project. On being an artist he says, “You never know who might be intrigued by your story.”
Deeply rooted in South Carolina, Communal Pen co-facilitator Eboni Ramm fell in love with the arts at a young age and was encouraged throughout her youth to express herself. Today, she is a gifted vocalist known for her special blend of timeless jazz classics with a pinch of poetry. Ramm resides in Columbia, where she conducts jazz poetry workshops in schools, libraries, and various learning centers. She serves her community as Richland Library's literary resident and as a teaching artist with ARTS ACCESS South Carolina and Youth Corps. She is a featured musician on SCETV’s education web portal, knowitall.org. Her publication Within His Star: The Story of Levi Pearson celebrates the ancestor who added strength to the unprecedented Brown vs. The Board of Education case. Learn more at www.EboniRamm.com. Communal Pen co-facilitator Michelle Ross is a folklorist and adjunct faculty in anthropology at the University of South Carolina Sumter. She holds a master's from the Folk Studies and Anthropology Department at Western Kentucky University. Ross embraces stories of all kinds. She helped establish the S.C. Center for Oral Narrative, through which she has co-created several writing workshops. Ross also works with the Mothers of Angels in telling and writing about grief from the death of a child, and has worked with veterans in telling and writing their stories. Her work has been published in The North Carolina Folklore Journal and an anthology of mother-in-law essays titled His Mother!; her poetry has appeared in Sandhill and The Petigru Review. For the past five years, she has been working on telling her Pontian Greek family’s refugee story, her most important project to date. Communal Pen coordinator Laura Marcus Green is Folklife & Traditional Arts Program Director at the South Carolina Arts Commission, where she manages several grant and award programs, and at the University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum, where she develops programming in conjunction with folklife exhibitions. She holds a Ph.D. in Folklore from Indiana University and an M.A. in Folklore/Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. Selected prior positions include Community Engagement Coordinator for the Museum of International Folk Art’s Gallery of Conscience, and work as a folklife fieldworker and researcher, writer, curator and consultant for the Louisiana Division of the Arts Folklife Program, the South Carolina Arts Commission, the Iowa Arts Council, New Mexico Arts, and the Idaho Commission on the Arts, among others.

Rural creatives, S.C. Arts Commission to launch program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 31 May 2018 Secondary Media Contact: Susan DuPlessis, Program Director sduplessis@arts.sc.gov | 803.734.8693 (direct) COLUMBIA, S.C. –  The South Carolina Arts Commission and a newly formed team of creative professionals are launching CREATE: Rural S.C. with a networking and informational meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 12, at the American Legion Hut in Hampton, S.C. “This new program is part of our greater work in community arts development with a special lens on rural communities,” said South Carolina Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May. “It’s an extension of what we began two years ago with our initiative called The Art of Community: Rural SC with six ‘mavens’ in six Lowcountry counties. As we build the narratives of place, we want to know who the creatives are: the innovators, artists, makers, and entrepreneurs. Who are the tradition bearers?” To fuel local connection and discovery, the arts commission has enlisted the help of 12 "creative connectors" who will be asking for creative contacts across Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper counties. Amber Westbrook will manage the program from the Arts Commission office, and visual artist Ment Nelson of Hampton County has agreed to serve as the local coordinator and liaison for the following ‘creative connectors:’

  • Marcus Johnson (Allendale)
  • Shakora Bamberg (Bamberg)
  • Naviree Johnson (Bamberg)
  • James Wilson (Bamberg)
  • Terrance Washington (Barnwell)
  • Bobby Harley (regional)
  • Ian Dillinger (Colleton)
  • Tamara Herring (Jasper)
  • Joanna Brailey (Jasper)
  • Amanda Whiteaker (regional)
  • Ashley Jordan (regional)
For the next three months, these individuals will be reaching out to people they know, businesses, organizations and local associations to discover who fits under the creative umbrella. They will share their findings with the S.C. Arts Commission as it builds a creative network in this rural region. Those identified will be invited to networking meetings in local communities. “We want an expansive list of folks and businesses that includes those who are well known and less well known but who are actively creative within their communities,” May said. The program is funded in part by grants from USDA-Rural Development as well as from a Neighborworks America grant won by Center for a Better South. “Part of this new program is to explore and develop the many assets of our places.  And we believe the creatives embedded within our small, rural communities are part of the lifeblood of community and what makes our places special,” said Susan DuPlessis, community arts development director at the arts commission. “Leadership, resource and professional development are important goals in this program as well as creating networking opportunities.” Networking meetings are also scheduled for July 10 in Allendale County and Aug. 28 in Bamberg County. A fourth gathering will be held Sept. 19-21 in Barnwell County, where national, state and local advisors for The Art of Community: Rural SC will explore the richness of rural South Carolina and opportunities for framing stories in ways that build upon assets and consider local challenges in new ways that use arts and culture as instruments for change. “One of the highlights of the September gathering will be to showcase some of the creatives who are discovered through CREATE: Rural SC and hear their stories about innovation, making and creation in rural communities,” DuPlessis said.  “And at the same time, we hope to put some of our local talent to work hosting and planning each of these networking meetings. We will be listening, connecting and learning from them as we support their next steps in entrepreneurship and creative expression.” For more information about The Art of Community: Rural SC, go to http://www.southcarolinaarts.com/artofcommunity/index.shtml.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants, and leadership initiatives in three areas:
  • arts education,
  • community arts development,
  • and artist development.
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.

Ment Nelson brings pride of place to ‘Souf Cak’

It's a great day in South Carolina Souf Cak. One can easily envision that phrase appearing among Ment Nelson's tweets at some point, if it's not in the 3,100+ already tweeted. His mission statement on the social media platform is "I make it cool to be from South Carolina," so we posit that our lede is not a stretch. But don't take The Hub's word for it; the Post & Courier undoubtedly has more cachet and on Monday made the case for Nelson's innate coolness with a wonderful story you should read if you haven't already:

As an emerging artist who has gone from bagging groceries to collaborating on a New York gallery show in the span of two years, Nelson doesn't draw a line between his portraits, his hip-hop songwriting, his computerized artwork and his ebullient social-media presence. He'll use any format that gets the job done, up to and including posing for a selfie with a roost full of chickens.
Hat tip to P&C writer Paul Bowers. Artists from South Carolina are certainly germane to a Hub story, but Ment is also working on a new initiative we're going to begin talking about soon called "Create: Rural S.C." The S.C. Arts Commission will lead research on South Carolina’s creative cluster, with a deeper examination of the creative economy in the state’s rural Promise Zone (Barnwell, Bamberg, Allendale, Hampton, Jasper, Colleton Counties), a priority community of the USDA-RD (the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development). A cohort of “Next Generation” creative professionals in the Promise Zone will assist in all aspects of the development and roll-out of the plan. This program is an outgrowth of the SCAC's "The Art of Community: Rural S.C." initiative, which is active in each of the Promise Zone counties as the umbrella organization for this program and already bearing fruit in the region. Hear more from the young voices of "Create: Rural S.C." in this video. YOUNG VOICES VIDEO 5 MINUTES from Cook Productions on Vimeo.  

Denmark-Olar students to make music with renowned chamber ensemble

Thanks to funding from the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC), Decoda – a NYC-based chamber music ensemble – will create and perform original songs with teens from Denmark-Olar High School (DOHS) this week. “This is an incredible opportunity for one of South Carolina’s rural high schools to work directly with nationally and internationally acclaimed artists in a process that awakens students to their own creative abilities,” said Ken May, executive director of the SCAC. The week-long event is an arts education project that is part of the agency’s Art of Community: Rural SC initiative. [caption id="attachment_34614" align="alignright" width="250"] Claire Bryant, by Caroline Bittencourt[/caption] One of the visiting artists, Claire Bryant, grew up in rural South Carolina and now lives in New York City. She has been working closely with SCAC for several years to organize this event. She calls experiences like this “transformative.” Bryant is a cellist and is director of Decoda’s social justice initiative, "Music for Transformation." During the week at Denmark-Olar, she and three other visiting Decoda artists will facilitate a collaborative songwriting workshop for 20 student participants. Together, they will write new songs based on the theme, "Where I’m From." Other students will be involved in organizing and documenting the experience. The workshop week will culminate with a celebratory performance at the school Friday, March 30th at 2:15 p.m. It is open to the public. Decoda’s transformative songwriting programs have garnered national attention for the both the artistic and social impact of its recent projects in partnership with NYPD officers and teens from Police Athletic League in NYC. In addition, it has been highlighted nationally for its program with incarcerated residents at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville. Also in South Carolina, Decoda has a long association with the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County in Camden where it has performed and also been “in residence” at schools there. “The integration of arts within our schools plays a vital role in the development and success of our youth. The arts, especially music, nurtures and empowers the humanity inside all of us,” Bryant said. “We are especially grateful to the Denmark community for its hospitality and kindness. A special thanks to Denmark-Olar High Arts Coordinator Dr. Anna Martin, who has arranged all the details for our school visit, as well Principal Mickey Pringle and Dr. Thelma Sojourner, superintendent of Bamberg District 2 schools. The list is long,” she said. SCAC also recognizes Mary Rivers and Denmark Technical College Choral Director Dr. Yvette McDaniel and assistant director (and Denmark-Olar alumna) Ashley Jordan for their assistance in making this partnership possible. (Ed. note: McDaniel and Jordan are involved with the Art of Community: Rural SC initiative.)


About Decoda

Decoda is a New York City-based modular chamber ensemble dedicated to creating meaningful musical experiences through dynamic performances, education, and a quest for social impact. Decoda provides engaging performances, interactive concerts, and enlightened discussions serving the widest possible types of audiences. Now in its fifth season, Decoda's projects and performances have taken place in South Africa, United Kingdom, Germany, Abu Dhabi, Denmark, Iceland, Japan, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, and across the U.S. "Music for Transformation," Decoda’s social justice initiative, brings creative songwriting projects to help empower vulnerable and disenfranchised voices. Decoda’s exemplary work in maximum-security prisons and in the juvenile justice system has been recognized by CNN, Huffington Post, the Associated Press, Washington Post, and Billboard Magazine. Decoda has on three separate occasions been invited to the White House to perform and advocate for arts programming as a means for criminal justice reform. For more information, please visit decodamusic.org.

Young Voices Build Pride in Place

Next week, the S.C. Arts Alliance presents the annual S.C. Arts Advocacy Day – with a twist: in 2018, it becomes Arts Advocacy Week. The main events are Tuesday with a State House rally and luncheon to follow. (We hope to see you there.) Here on The Hub, we're taking this week to connect the dots between public support of the arts and the net effect on society. This week's focus is on why we advocate, why support matters, and what arts support looks like on the ground, in communities around the state.


Sometimes, those communities have deep, historic problems. Oftentimes, those problems persist when one-size-fits-all solutions ... just aren't. Enter the Art of Community: Rural S.C. to foster creative, grassroots efforts to address problems through arts, culture, and creative placemaking. This program addresses the unique needs of rural South Carolina by taking what makes a community unique and building pride around that through creative partnerships with people previously not engaged to address those issues. An eclectic mix of young minds are rethinking the ways their rural communities are perceived to create a new framework for action. Please take a few moments to hear them tell their stories in the video below, which shows how arts and culture merge to face challenges where other attempts have fallen short. This is what arts support looks like on the ground. This is why we advocate: YOUNG VOICES VIDEO 5 MINUTES from Cook Productions on Vimeo.
The Art of Community: Rural S.C. advances the S.C. Arts Commission’s commitment to rural development through arts, culture and creative placemaking, creating a way to support new leadership, generate energy, and motivate action in a rural region of South Carolina. It is supported by the S.C. Arts Commission and U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development. Read more about it here.

Tuning Up: The arts and rural health, SC flag call for art?

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

(Image credit: South Carolina Philharmonic/Michael Dantzler)

  • Rural health: The Art of Community: Rural S.C. was in the national spotlight yesterday for work in Walterboro, but the program extends well beyond that. In Hampton County, the focus is on merging the arts with public health to address those needs with creative initiatives. (Courtesy of the Times & Democrat.)
  • Call for art? The South Carolina State Flag does not have an official design. Nobody's looking for a redesign; some want it standardized. (Courtesy of The State.)

Tuning Up: the SCAC at National Press Club, more

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

(Image credit: South Carolina Philharmonic/Michael Dantzler)