Submitted material

Fundraising partnership features works by homeless photographers

'Through Our Eyes Project' comes to Columbia

Provided photo. Click to enlarge.

Hundreds of images taken by homeless photographers will soon be on display at Columbia's Koger Center, the centerpiece of an exhibit designed to raise awareness and money for local organizations that serve them.

People experiencing homelessness often cite a feeling of being invisible. Founded in 2016 by Spartanburg pastor and avid photographer Jason Williamson, Through Our Eyes Project (TOEP) gives homeless people a voice by allowing them to document their everyday lives with disposable cameras. The photos are then curated into an exhibit that celebrates the photographers and provides a personal view of homelessness that few have ever seen. TOEP has had successful runs in other South Carolina cities such as Boiling Springs, Greenville, and Spartanburg and extended to other states: Alaska, Massachusetts, and neighboring North Carolina. Williamson reflected on previous experiences: “The things that are always surprising is the amount of joy that a lot of people have—whether it’s a pet they’ve adopted, a child, or a friend. There’s a lot of joy, and that’s the part of the project that really caught me off guard,” he said. “We like to say that the cameras are disposable, but the people are not.” TOEP typically partners with host churches to connect with relevant nonprofits as recipients of funds raised from project sponsors, opening reception ticket sales, and the general public, who can vote for their favorite photos for $1 per vote. The top three photographers who receive the most votes will receive gifts with the money raised. Provided photo. Click to enlarge. The Columbia project debuts with a ticketed opening reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 3. “We’ve wanted to bring TOEP to Columbia for several years now,” said Allison Caldwell, local missions director at Shandon Baptist Church. “We’re proud to partner with Oliver Gospel, Toby’s Place, and Family Promise of the Midlands to highlight what they do for homeless men, women and children in our community, and how others can help.” Opening reception tickets are available at Shandon.org for a donation of $25 or more. Held in the Koger Center’s upstairs gallery, the reception will include hors d'oeuvres, live music, partner booths, and a first glance at the images captured by more than 30 photographers. Space is limited and advance tickets are required to attend. After Nov. 3, the exhibit will be open for free public viewing weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Dec. 19. For more information visit Shandon.org or contact Allison Caldwell, Shandon Local Missions Director (803.528.0740 or acaldwell@shandon.org).
Disclosure: SCAC Communications Director Jason Rapp, editor of The Hub, is an active member and current deacon of Shandon Baptist Church and volunteered on a steering group for this project. The SCAC is not a project funder. This story was a submitted news release.

Jason Rapp

South Arts opens applications for Emerging Leaders of Color

New cycle for development program

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Wednesday, December 1, 2021

South Arts announced that applications are open for its Emerging Leaders of Color program.

They anticipate finding 18 cultural leader from across their nine-state region to form a cohort and participate in professional development and networking opportunities. Emerging Leaders of Color (ELC) is a free multi-day professional development program for early- to mid-career arts administrators of color. This partnership program between South Arts and our colleague Regional Arts Organization WESTAF (Western States Arts Federation) provides tools, continued learning opportunities, and a growing professional network to administrators of color who seek to move into leadership positions in the arts and culture sector. This second Southern cohort will build on the success of South Arts’ first cohort and WESTAF’s ELC program which has been attracting, training, networking, and promoting a new generation of diverse arts leaders since 2010. Here's a quick video: ELC promotes representative leadership and equity in the arts by:
  • Building a cohort of cultural leaders of color in the southern United States who are committed to the advancement of the arts.
  • Engaging diverse emerging leaders in coursework and activities designed to strengthen competencies and prepare participants for leadership positions in the field.
  • Providing opportunities for promising arts professionals to establish networks that support their careers.
  • Advocating for the cultural interests of the communities participants represent and serve.
  • Deepening participants’ understanding of the arts in the United States and how public support sustains the vibrancy of the sector.
The second Southern cohort of this program will occur online in late January or early February 2022. At least one participant from each of South Arts’ nine-state region will be chosen to participate, with participation expenses paid. Selected participants will also be invited to join program alumni for continued leadership development. The faculty has distinct SCAC connections: Joy Young (star of the video above) served at the agency several years until leaving in 2019, and Margie Johnson Reese was a one-time grant panelist who also consulted on the One Columbia cultural plan for Columbia. Basically, The Hub is telling you that selected participants are in impeccable hands. Applications are due December 1, 2021.

Jason Rapp

Five-year case study to seek improvements in rural arts ed

The Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Project announced it will conduct an intensive five-year case study with the Allendale County School District to discover solutions in how to improve rural communities’ arts education offerings.

The Community Access to the Arts in Rural Education (CARE) Project, its study and resulting guidebook will be accomplished with a $2.58 million Assistance in Arts Education grant funded by the U.S. Dept. of Education. Set to begin in 2021, the CARE Project will include multiple strategic state and local partnerships with the goal to develop sustainable approaches that will continue beyond the 2026 grant completion date. “Rural communities require a rural network of partnerships because of their lack of resources, and the CARE Project will align, strengthen and expand community partnerships among the Allendale schools with state and local partners,” ABC Project Director Kim Wilson said. Initial commitments to the CARE Project were received from the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC), South Carolina Department of Education, Arts Access SC and South Carolina Educational Television. Additional state and national partners will develop based on the needs and areas of growth identified throughout the CARE Project. Margaret Gilmore, superintendent of Allendale County School District, said her district is truly excited and grateful to have been awarded the arts grant for the amazing scholars of Allendale County School District. “This funding opportunity will certainly provide access to a sustainable arts-rich learning environment for the entire school community,” she said.
Arts advocates also are pleased with this opportunity. “After many years of working in Allendale County, it’s clear that there are many people who love and care about their community and the next generation,” said Susan DuPlessis, SCAC director of community arts development.  “We are excited about ways to engage the community as this study and new practices are developed.” DuPlessis runs the SCAC's "The Art of Community: Rural SC" initiative, which works in partnership with Allendale Rural Arts Team, which is led by Lottie Lewis. “There is momentum in Allendale for building community, addressing issues and identifying assets like never before,” she said. “This new emphasis on learning through the arts within the school system will have a reciprocal effect, I believe, on the whole community—and that’s exciting for young and old.” In communities with high rates of poverty, access to the arts can be difficult, Wilson added. It takes money for art, music or dance lessons, and all too often, rural schools don’t prioritize arts education due to financial constraints. Access to the arts, however, has been found to influence student engagement and there is hope in South Carolina that the arts can be nurtured in every community.
The CARE Project’s goal is to create and share a resource guidebook based on Allendale’s experiences to empower other rural communities of persistent poverty to increase access to arts education for its students. “One of the most important outcomes will be to explore how to develop and maintain arts-rich learning environments as a pathway to equitable education,” Wilson said. “There is an urgent need to research and serve these communities, which have been continually absent from research and policy discussions, yet represent the most extreme gaps in equitable education,” she added. To communicate the grant’s significance, Wilson noted that the Palmetto state has a higher percentage of schools in rural communities than the national average and 12 of the state's 46 counties suffer from persistent poverty, meaning poverty rates have exceeded 20 percent of the population for more than 30 years. The CARE Project will provide direct arts education programs and professional development for arts educators, teachers and principals in practices that support arts-rich learning. “An arts-rich learning environment includes a combination of direct arts instruction, arts integration with other non-arts curriculum and arts experiences provided by visiting artists or cultural and community organizations,” said Wilson. The guidebook will contain instructional materials, arts-based lesson plans and other resources to engage stakeholder groups in other rural communities to replicate the promising aspects of the process developed during the CARE Project in Allendale. Education Superintendent Molly Spearman said that, growing up and teaching in a rural community, she has seen firsthand the disparities that still exist in South Carolina. “Students in rural schools deserve the same opportunities afforded to their peers in more affluent areas,” Spearman said. “I commend the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project for its pursuit and receipt of this funding that will help us establish innovative solutions for bringing access to arts-based education to all students in South Carolina. I look forward to seeing this work in Allendale and learning how we may replicate their successes across our state.”

Jason Rapp

Reflect on travels with Communal Pen series


Ed. note: Avid and savvy Hub readers like you know all about Communal Pen. The creative writing workshop you know is presented by the S.C. Arts Commission (SCAC) and South Carolina Humanities in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institute's Museum on Main Street traveling exhibits in rural parts of South Carolina. However, you might also know that Museum on Main Street is on hiatus until 2022. It turns out the Communal Pen is full of ink and ready to roll. So... the SCAC is offering a series of one-session workshops to fill demand as we wait 'til next year!

Communal Pen: Postcards

In the Communal Pen: Postcards workshop, facilitator EBONIRAMM will lead the virtual workshop participants to celebrate and explore their connections to place, community, and travel. 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 is a one-part writing workshop offered two separate times:
  • OPTION 1: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26
  • OPTION 2: 12-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30
Space is limited; registration is on a first-come, first-served basis online or call 803.734.8680. The new format does not support walk-ins as previous workshops have. Share it with your friends on Facebook! NOTE: marking yourself as "Going" on Facebook DOES NOT register you for Communal Pen: Postcards No previous experience is necessary to participate. 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 South Carolina Humanities.
Deeply rooted in South Carolina, "Communal Pen" writing workshop creator and facilitator EboniRamm fell in love with the arts at a very young age and was encouraged throughout her youth to express herself. Today, an accomplished poet and jazz singer, she invites audiences of all ages to share her passion for combining these art forms, highlighting her belief in the powerful influence of jazz on the American literary experience and aesthetic. She has taught her unique Jazz Poetry Salon at residencies with the Richland County Public Library, Arts Access South Carolina, Youth Corps, Fairfield Middle School, McKissick Museum, and ColaJazz’s partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center, among others. Other selected accomplishments include her publication, Within His Star: The Story of Levi Pearson, celebrating Eboni’s ancestor who added strength to the unprecedented Brown vs. The Board of Education case, and the release of her poetry CD, Passion, and her jazz CD, The Look of Love. Learn more about Eboni at www.EboniRamm.com. Workshop coordinator Laura Marcus Green is program specialist for community arts & folklife at the S.C. Arts Commission, where she provides statewide outreach and project coordination through The Art of Community: Rural SC initiative and other projects, while managing folklife grant and award programs. 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 folklife & traditional arts program director at McKissick Museum, 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 various arts and culture agencies nationwide. Having attended, coordinated, and facilitated diverse workshops, she is a devoted believer in the power of community writing.

Jason Rapp

Arts Council of York County announces new leader

New executive director starts next month


Lori Robishaw was named the new executive director of the Arts Council of York County (ACYC) Thursday, and the organization expects her tenure to begin Monday, Nov. 15.

Lori Robishaw Robishaw will come to Rock Hill after five years as executive director of La Grua Center in Stonington, Connecticut, a small cultural venue that presents concerts, art exhibitions, and speakers on a wide range of topics. She was responsible for increasing both earned and contributed revenues there, as well as leading the organization through a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training that then informed the organization’s new strategic plan. Prior to that position she was the executive director of the Ashtabula Arts Center in her Ohio hometown and an arts management consultant who helped launch the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition in 2013. ACYC Board of Director President Priscilla Nealy said Robishaw's "wide breadth of experience and connections to the greater arts community makes her perfectly suited to propel the ACYC into our next chapter.” Her career has also included a five-year stint in Washington, where she headed the communications office for Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading organization for advancing the arts and arts education. She continued with the organization as a consultant for 15 years, which included writing the book commemorating the organization’s 50th Anniversary and the program journal and event script for its annual National Arts Awards in New York City. “I am delighted to be joining the Arts Council of York County and excited to move to this growing region,” Robishaw said. “It is a tough time for the arts and culture world as we continue to move through this pandemic, but surely the last year and a half has shown us how critical the arts are to our health and well-being, not to mention the economy of our communities.” “I feel like I am returning to my roots, working with what I call the arts infrastructure of our country. I started out with a state arts agency in Ohio, worked at the national level in Washington, and now have the chance to run an arts council at the local level. These umbrella organizations are so important for communities to be able to look at the big picture as they foster partnerships among cultural assets to strengthen a sense of place, while at the same time, play a role in attracting and retaining businesses, residents, and visitors,” said Robishaw. “The board and staff have done a stellar job this past year following Debra Heintz’s long and distinguished tenure, and I am eager to contribute what I can to moving the organization forward.”

More about Lori Robishaw

Lori Robishaw has held positions with some of America’s leading regional theatres, including managing the National Playwrights Conference for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in New York City and Waterford, CT. She also was a founder of CATCO, now Columbus’s major resident professional theatre, The Echo Theater Company in Los Angeles, and the Ojai Playwrights Conference. In addition, she has worked in higher education in a senior staff communications position at Ohio State, as well as in the broader nonprofit arts sector for the Ohio Arts Council—which included a fellowship with the National Endowment for the Arts—and The Music Center of Los Angeles County. She has also forayed briefly into the commercial sector by managing a producer’s office for a season on Broadway and working for two film production companies and as a script analyst in Hollywood. Robishaw holds a BA in theatre from Ohio State and an MFA in theatre management from the Yale School of Drama.

About the Arts Council of York County

The Arts Council is headquartered in downtown Rock Hill, a state-recognized cultural district. For more information on Arts Council events, contact the Arts Council of York County at 803.328.2787, by email at arts@yorkcountyarts.org, or visit yorkcountyarts.org.

Jason Rapp

701 CCA’s South Carolina Biennial opens tonight

Two-part exhibition runs Oct. 7 to Dec. 23


The 701 CCA South Carolina Biennial 2021 is the sixth survey of South Carolina art taking place at 701 Center for Contemporary Art.

As the successor of the South Carolina Triennial, 701 CCA's Biennial is the main regular event of its kind. The Biennial presents some of the best contemporary art produced statewide and is a juried, multimedia exhibition in two parts. Exhibitions Part I and II both feature works created on a variety of media—oil or acrylic on canvas, photography, inkjet print, woodcut, mixed media, and three-dimensional art.

Acceptance to the 701 CCA South Carolina Biennial 2021 was based on a competitive selection process. Contemporary artists living in South Carolina were invited via a public call to submit both images of their recent artwork and documentation of their career to 701 CCA.

An independent jury of three art professionals reviewed all submissions, selecting 24 artists out of a total of about 88 applications. Visit the 701 CCA website to find out who they are. But know that among them are four recipients of the S.C. Arts Commission individual artist fellowship:

  • Jean Grosser (1993) – Part I
  • Adrian Rhodes (2020) – Part II
  • Kristi Ryba (2022) – Part II
  • Valerie Zimany (2020) – Part I

The jurors were:

  • Anita N. Bateman, Ph.D., associate curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
  • Paul Barrett, independent curator, Birmingham, Alabama
  • Cecelia Lucas Stucker, independent curator and founder of both Curating & Collections and the Palmetto Curatorial Exchange, Columbia, South Carolina

The Biennial 2021 will be presented in two parts. The first part begins tonight with a reception from 7-9 p.m. and remains on view through Nov. 14. The opening reception for Part II will be Friday, Nov. 19 from 7-9 p.m. 701 CCA is located at 701 Whaley St., 2nd Floor, in Columbia. During exhibitions, hours are Wednesday-Saturday 1-5 p.m. by appointment and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. Free, but donations appreciated.


Submitted material

North Charleston sets Harvest Festival date

Click flyer to enlarge.

The City of North Charleston announces the 8th Annual Harvest Festival featuring live music, an artist market, costume contests, trick-or-treat on the street, a pop-up pumpkin patch, children’s activities, and more.

The fall festivities will take place in the Olde Village of North Charleston, located on East Montague Avenue near Park Circle, on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021 from 4-7 p.m. Admission and parking are free. East Montague Avenue will close to vehicular traffic from Jenkins Avenue to Virginia Avenue at 2 p.m. and remain closed for the duration of the event. The celebration includes live music by vintage pop rock n’ roll band Rock•Pop•Cult. The Kid’s Zone offers craft activities, carnival games, balloon twisting, roving entertainers, rides, and more. An artist market featuring local artists, crafters, and makers will line two blocks of East Montague Avenue, along with a few festive treat vendors. In addition, many of the restaurants in the Olde Village will offer food and drink specials. Other highlights include:
  • trick-or-treating on the street with free treat bags for kids age 12 and under (4-6 p.m., while supplies last),
  • a pop-up pumpkin patch with on-site decorating stations (cash only; prices of pumpkins vary),
  • a mechanical bull,
  • photo booths,
  • and costume contests with categories for youth, groups, and pets. The contests are free to enter and prizes will be furnished by the City of North Charleston Recreation Department, the Park Circle Business Collective, and Park Pets. Participants for all contests should be prepared to line up for judging at 5:45 p.m. for the contests to begin at 6 p.m.
The annual Harvest Festival is a rain or shine event produced by the City of North Charleston in collaboration with the Park Circle Business Collective. For information on additional programs and events, visit the Arts & Culture section of the City’s website at www.northcharleston.org.

Jason Rapp

America’s cultural agencies celebrate 35th anniversary of Arts and Humanities Month

IMLS, NEA, NEH Join Together to Showcase the Power and Positive Impact of Arts and Humanities

Provided photo by Paula Lobo.

In celebration of the vital roles that arts and humanities play in American society, the nation’s cultural agencies—the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)—have joined together to celebrate the 35th anniversary of National Arts and Humanities Month in October.

During the month, IMLS, NEA, and NEH will engage communities across the country to highlight how the arts and humanities help rebuild the economy, promote the health and well-being of individuals and communities, and unite our nation. In honor of the occasion, President Biden issued a Presidential Proclamation on National Arts and Humanities Month, 2021 which states:

“As our nation continues to grapple with consequential crises—from combating the ongoing global pandemic and addressing cries for racial justice to tackling the existential threat that climate change poses to our planet—the arts and humanities enable us to both understand our experiences and lift our sights. During this National Arts and Humanities Month, we celebrate the power of the arts and humanities to provide solace, understanding, and healing. We recognize the ability of the arts and humanities to amplify important and diverse voices and messages. We reflect on the fact that, as we have struggled with isolation, anxiety, and the loss of loved ones, we have turned to music and dance, literature and poetry, and philosophy and history to bring us together and help us persevere through, and grapple with, our current moment.…”

IMLS, NEA, and NEH released a joint statement in honor of the occasion:

“Three and a half decades after its first official recognition, National Arts and Humanities Month takes on new relevance to American life today. Music inspires and uplifts us, poems and stories spark our imagination, and museums teach us about the world—and ourselves. The arts and humanities have the power to unite us, to heal us, to sustain us, to help us better understand each other, and to guide us through challenging times.

“Like in many communities across the nation, the pandemic deeply affected those who work in the arts. Prior to COVID, the cultural sector employed 5.2 million Americans and annually generated nearly $1 trillion, and revitalizing our workforce is vital to the economic success of our nation. We must also work together to ensure that the systemic barriers to full participation in the arts and humanities are torn down, so that all Americans—regardless of race, geography, ability, and socioeconomic status—have unrestricted and equal access. This October, we hope that organizations, communities, and people across the nation will join us in marking the myriad of ways that arts and humanities matter each and every day.”

Throughout our nation’s history, the arts and humanities have showcased the creativity of our communities, made significant contributions to the wellness of young and old alike, and helped bring people together. In addition, a thriving creative economy is essential to America’s economy. Before the pandemic, the arts and culture sector was approaching a $1 trillion industry that directly employed 5.2 million people and indirectly supported millions more. Now more than ever, our nation needs the arts and humanities to rebuild, heal, and unite. Through social media, engagement with stakeholders and partners, and events, the three agencies will show the depth and diversity of our nation’s cultural landscape. Cultural organizations, government agencies, museums, libraries, and the American public are encouraged to join in celebrating National Arts and Humanities Month using #NAHM21 and #NAHM. For more information, please visit the IMLS, NEA, and NEH websites. Deep Center. Provided photo.
National Endowment for the Humanities Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at neh.gov. The Institute of Museum and Library Services The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. National Endowment for the Arts Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov.  

Jason Rapp

FEMA makes aid available for arts, cultural orgs

Reimbursements for safe operating costs


Per our friends at ArtsReady, FEMA is now providing retroactive reimbursement for safe opening and operation costs incurred to address COVID safety for expenses incurred from Jan. 20, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2021.

COVID-19 molecular structure image An image of COVID-19, courtesy of CDC Eligible private nonprofits can apply. Reimbursement is exclusive to COVID-19 emergency and major disaster declarations through FEMA’s Public Assistance program. Items that may be eligible for reimbursement include face coverings, Personal Protective Equipment, cleaning and disinfection, COVID-19 diagnostic testing, screening and temperature scanning and portable temporary physical barriers for social distancing.

Jason Rapp

Freeway Music School celebrates 10-year anniversary

Freeway Music—Columbia’s locally owned, premier music school—is celebrating 10 years of bringing music lessons, programs and events to students across the Midlands region.

Provided photo. Click to enlarge. Since opening its doors in 2011, Freeway Music has taught nearly 10,000 students through nearly half a million lessons, has donated more than $70,000 to local nonprofits, has given countless volunteer hours to the community and has collaborated with many partners to bring music to the region. From day one, Freeway Music has challenged its music schools and teachers to be innovative and responsive to the needs of their students. As a result of COVID-19, Freeway Music adapted its traditional in-person lessons and now offers the options for virtual lessons, showcases and recitals. Additionally, Freeway Music offers music lessons in participating Midlands area schools and through a long-standing partnership with The Columbia Children’s Theatre. “Freeway Music goes beyond your traditional music school,” Freeway Music co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Dan Russo said. “We are a hub for building deep relationships between teachers, students and the community — while staying focused on being innovative and adapting to the world around us. We use the power of music to develop and grow our students and ourselves.” Now with six locations throughout the greater Columbia metropolitan area and optional virtual lessons, what began as chance encounter by local musicians Russo and Tony Lee has flourished into the fastest growing music instruction school in South Carolina. Freeway Music offers private music lessons for all skill levels, styles and ages on a wide range of instruments, including piano, voice, ukulele, drums, bass, strings, woodwinds, horns, mandolin, banjo and more. “Adapting to virtual lessons and other programming has opened many doors for our students and teachers,” said co-founder Lee. “It’s allowed us to expand our way of teaching, as well as introduce new technology that gives us the capacity to teach anywhere in the world.”

Homegrown talent rooted in the Midlands

Freeway Music has been the catalyst for many of the region’s top music talent — many of which have gone on to pursue their musical careers on a national stage, from Neoni — the modern alternative pop rock and electronic band with over one million monthly listeners on Spotify — to Jonathan Wyndham, a top contender on The Voice in 2014, now turned independent singer, songwriter and producer with a number of singles on Spotify. Additionally, more than a dozen former students have graduated to becoming Freeway Music instructors — sharing their passion and love for music with others. “We could not be more proud to be Freeway Music alumni,” say Sydney Powell and Caitlin Powell of Neoni. “And to think it all began ten years ago in a lesson room, to music becoming our entire career—it’s truly amazing.”

Giving back through music

“Supporting our community is part of who we are — it’s embedded in the fabric of our DNA,” says Russo. “We’ve seen music transcend barriers, transform lives and unify people of all walks of life. An example of this in commitment was shown in 2016 when our instructors rallied together and played to raise money for a former cancer patient, who then recovered and became a Freeway student.” Over the past 10 years, Freeway Music has been making a positive mark on the community in countless way, including:
  • Donating nearly $60,000 to local charities through its co-partnership of the Freeway Music Festival, which unites the music community and celebrates local and regional talent.
  • Providing music scholarships to support youth who may not otherwise be able to afford music lessons.
  • Participating in fundraising and performances for many local nonprofits, including The Conner Foundation, Palmetto Children’s Hospital, Harvest Hope Food Bank, The Women’s Shelter, Pets Inc., Pawmetto Lifeline, Trustus Theatre, Girls Rock Columbia, the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation, and the South Carolina Philharmonic, among others.
  • Supporting local schools with free lesson and performances, including Bethel-Hanberry Elementary, St. John Newman, Heathwood Hall, the University of South Carolina, Columbia College, Blythewood High School, Irmo High School, St. Andrews Middle School and many more.
  • Volunteering and supporting local events, including the Festival of Trees, Rooftop Rhythms, St. Pat's in Five Points Parade, Palmetto Christmas, the MG&C Long Run, the Heart and Sole Run, Get in the Pink Race, Vista Lights, First Thursdays on Main and more.

Showcasing talent on the Big Stage

Each season, Freeway Music presents music showcases that are free and open to the public at various large venues in the region. These showcases are crucial to students’ musical development and allows an opportunity for them to show off their skills in “real life” settings for an experience similar to professional music performances. Support local students and enjoy live music by attending a Freeway Music showcase this fall.
  • Downtown: Sunday, Sept. 26, 2-5 p.m., Tin Roof, 1022 Senate St., Columbia
  • Lexington: Sunday, Oct. 31, 2-4 p.m., Ice House Amphitheater, 107 W. Main St., Lexington
  • Northeast: Sunday, Nov. 21, 1-6 p.m., The Senate, 1022 Senate St, Columbia
  • Irmo: TBD. Check the Freeway Music calendar for updates on this showcase.
For the latest on upcoming event dates and venues, visit https://freewaymusic.net/events/. To learn more about Freeway Music and register for classes with year-round enrollment at https://freewaymusic.net/.
Founded in 2011, Freeway Music is the Columbia region’s premier music school with five locations in downtown Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, the Northeast, and within Sims Music. Freeway Music offers private lessons for all skill levels, styles, and ages on a wide range of instruments, including piano, voice, ukulele, drums, bass, strings, woodwinds, horns, mandolin, banjo, and more. Freeway Music’s mission is to equip students in music and life to make a positive impact in their community. Freeway Music is the exclusive music school partner of Sims Music, a locally owned and nationally recognized music store. For more information visit freewaymusic.net or call 844.537.7661.