Jason Rapp

Chapman finds new facilities director within

Spartanburg's Chapman Cultural Center, front view of the building from street.

Chapman Cultural Center is pleased to announce that Tarah S. Dawkins has been promoted to the position of director of facility operations for the Spartanburg arts giant.

According to a news release, Dawkins joined the organization in 2016 and has assisted the president & CEO in managing payables, vendor relationships, crisis management, operational needs, and supervising the cultural center facilities and security. Prior to joining Chapman Cultural Center, Dawkins worked in the field of property management in Atlanta. The facilities director is responsible for the efficient operation, maintenance, and management of the facilities owned and operated by Chapman Cultural Center Inc, including Chapman Cultural Center and Mayfair Art Studios. The grounds of the Chapman Cultural Center consist of approximately five acres of parking lots, facilities, and land. Mayfair Art Studios is a 20,000 square foot facility operated by Chapman Cultural Center adjacent to the Arcadia Station Lofts in Spartanburg. As the facilities director, Dawkins is responsible for supervising the facilities maintenance technician, security personnel, Mayfair Art Studios operations manager, the office and event services manager, and theatre services manager, plus contracted custodial personnel.

Submitted material

Columbia-area artist directory opens

If you're interested in learning more about or connecting with other creatives in the Midlands region, there's a new resource.

Thanks to a partnership with former Richland Library artist-in-residence (AiR) Crush Rush and One Columbia for Arts & Culture, Richland Library is excited to announce the launch of the Local Artist Directory. It provides an online platform for local artists to share a brief biography, indicate their art medium or area of focus, and exhibit some of their work. They can also add ways to communicate by listing a personal or business website, social media channels, and contact information. You can view the Local Artist Directory through our website at richlandlibrary.com/art and One Columbia for Arts & Culture's website at https://www.onecolumbiasc.com/artist. The Local Artist Directory was part of Rush's final project as the library's artist-in-residence at the end of 2020. He proposed working with One Columbia for Arts & Culture to offer a free online resource that features working artists and allows local residents to engage with or hire artists in our community. If you're interested in becoming part of the Local Artist Directory, you can create an artist profile by visiting https://www.onecolumbiasc.com/artist/. For questions, please contact Emily Stoll at 803.587.3637 or estoll@richlandlibrary.com.

About Richland Library

Awarded the National Medal in 2017 by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Richland Library is a vibrant, contemporary organization that provides resources and information that advance the Midlands. Offering state-of-the-art technology, a variety of literary and cultural programs and 13 bustling facilities located throughout the county, Richland Library provides a truly customizable, modern library experience for residents and visitors alike.

Jason Rapp

Friday feel-good post: ‘Together While Apart’

Seabrook Island artist spans coasts with project

Deane Bowers set out to spread a positive message to fight prevailing "negativity, divisiveness, loss, and pessimism" running rampant with what she does best: making art.

Deane Bowers, dressed in a white top with green scarf, holds a piece of art resembling the U.S. flag. Deane Bowers (provided photo) The Seabrook Island artist (right) says it best: "I decided I needed to find a way to bring people together, even if it was only a small one. I thought that if I could gather people, even people physically separated, to work towards something bigger than ourselves, that collectively we might find joy, fellowship and fun-and we could make a difference. I wanted to be a part of the solution, to offer something positive to a hurting world." So Bowers put out an open call for art on social media and used some personal contacts. Artists of diverse backgrounds and locations, 19 in all from eight states, were culled to lend their talents to a collective large piece. Thus, Together While Apart was born, a group of artists coming together amidst pandemic conditions with the collective wish to combat isolation, loneliness, and unhappiness during an unsettled time. Health worries, economic insecurity, racial strife—we're all aware.

The creative process

Much of Bowers' art comes from repurposed items, and the only art supplies she had in abundance at the time were recycled shipping boxes: a certain sign of the times and familiar refrain from most of us in the early days of lockdowns and restrictions. "I sent each artist several 6” x 6” square pieces of cut cardboard from these recycled boxes with one simple instruction: think outside of the box! My goal was that through the creative process, each artist would find an outlet for his or her feelings and eventually these emotions would transform into joy. Ultimately, our collective joys would be multiplied and shared with many others through our artwork," she said. "As the weeks passed, and I started receiving the squares back, I was repeatedly amazed by the imagination, talent and effort that each artist put forth in their cardboard. The result was so much more than I could ever imagine. The creative energy of the group was palpable, and our pieces seem to flow together with beautiful synergy. It was my honor to be the artist who pieced the squares together ... What started as discarded cardboard boxes stacked in my garage, ended as an incredible artistic collage of many beautiful souls who poured themselves into their work..."

BONUS CONTENT: Bowers in her own words on the project, with pieces and their artists identified (YouTube)

The artists

  • Deane Bowers (Seabrook Island, South Carolina)
  • Liz Brent (Chicago)
  • Sandy Buffie (Washington)
  • Nikki Contini (San Rafael, California)
  • Will Cooke with Jennifer Mildonian and Marcelle VanYahres (Charlottesville, Virginia)
  • Lynette Driver (Brevard, North Carolina)
  • Celie Gehring (Richmond, Virginia)
  • Lynn Karegeannes (Asheville, North Carolina)
  • Cathy Kleiman (Charleston)
  • Dayo Johnson (Nashville)
  • Amy Lauria (Painesville, Ohio)
  • Rachel McLaughlin (Charlottesville, Virginia)
  • Debbie Pompano (Hanover, Virginia)
  • Rebecca Potts (Los Angeles)
  • Frankie Slaughter (Richmond, Virginia)
  • Jim Weaver (Florence, Alabama)
  • Cindy Webb (Statesville, North Carolina)

Where is it now?

"The biggest thrill is that Together While Apart is featured on the Smithsonian's "Stories of 2020" online exhibit," Bowers said. The finished work is scheduled to be reviewed by the art review boards at both Cedars- Sinai Hospital in L.A. and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina. A large hospital in Richmond, Virginia is requesting to display it "for however long they can have it" and the Hickory Museum of Art has offered a six-month exhibit. And then? Bowers intends to gift to a non-profit or medical facility whose mission resonates with the group. They hope it inspires feelings of the love, warmth, and optimism that went into its creation. Together While Apart (2020). Click image to enlarge.

Jason Rapp

Tuning Up: Arts groups get CCCF grants + Poetry Out Loud finals

Good morning! 

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

It's been a minute since our last tune up.

So let's do some quick news... CCCF grants to benefit Midlands arts groups. We've had clustering of arts news from Spartanburg and Charleston lately, and today might be Columbia's—or at least the Midlands'—time to shine. Central Carolina Community Foundation announced "Connected Communities" grants totaling about $315,000 to 11 groups for innovative, community-based projects. Among them were two arts projects:
  • ColaJazz Foundation will host enhanced livestream concerts through “ColaJazz Presents Livestream Jazz,” offering musicians a professional virtual venue to connect with diverse communities throughout the Midlands and the state. This project aims to support musicians, provide live jazz safely throughout communities and foster an increasing audience for jazz.
  • Sumter County Cultural Center, “Creative Canvas” is an outdoor mural project meant to create vibrant and welcoming spaces, adding vitality to the city while making quality art accessible to all residents. Buildings will become giant canvases illustrating the city’s collective story—encouraging people to explore and experience Sumter’s diverse and historic communities.
Our frequent partner McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina is also among the grantees, but not for an arts-related project. Because they partner with us for the S.C. Arts Awards and because it is AWARDS SZN, The Hub is contractually obligated to remind you ColaJazz Foundation will receive the Governor's Award for the Arts at the upcoming S.C. Arts Awards ceremony in just about a month. Keep on making those waves, Mark Rapp and Co. And our best to Melanie Colclough making waves in Sumter. (We see you.) Poetry Out Loud semifinals begin this weekend. Greenville student Emily Allison, whom you might remember topped the field in South Carolina's Poetry Out Loud competition this academic year, represents us all Sunday at noon ET as the national semifinals begin virtually. (Children, don't let teachers tell you you can't write coherent long sentences.-Ed.) Get more information and watch here, or keep giving us clicks checking The Hub for updates on her progress toward the May 27 finals.      

Jason Rapp

Evins to lead Florida arts organization

Will depart Chapman Cultural Center in June

Citing "the immense success that the arts and cultural community has enjoyed" under her leadership, Chapman Cultural Center (CCC) Board President Brant Bynum, Ph.D. announced that Executive Director Jennifer Clark Evins is departing the Upstate arts organization this summer.

Beginning June 21st, she will take on a new role as the president and CEO of the United Arts of Central Florida. Based in Orlando, UACF is the second largest United Arts organization in the U.S. and provides more than $6 million in grants to over 60 arts, science and history organizations, and provides arts education programs to more than 1 million children. "We are elated for this next chapter in her career and wish her tremendous success and know that the Spartanburg community will miss her dearly," Bynum said. In February, the S.C. Arts Commission announced Evins will receive the South Carolina Governor's Award for the Arts in the individual category at next month's South Carolina Arts Awards ceremony.
Evins will continue to lead CCC through June 8. An executive search committee has been formed by the Chapman Cultural Center Board of Trustees and will be led by Stacy McBride. The committee’s work has already begun as they are committed to finding the next visionary leader to advance the mission to provide cultural leadership for Greater Spartanburg by developing, strengthening and promoting the scope, excellence, and educational role of the arts, humanities, and sciences, to further their significance in the life of our community. Despite the impact of COVID-19, Bynum said in the announcement letter that Evins "will leave the organization in a strong financial and structural position with key strategies for sustained success through the recent completion of Chapman Cultural Center’s 2024 strategic planning process." Strategies include planning for the future with a new county-wide cultural plan, engaging new audiences through next-generation education and arts engagement, promoting equity through increased diversity and inclusion in the arts and cultural sector, and helping creatives thrive professionally through increased advocacy and financial support.
As president and CEO, Evins led the day-to-day operations and management of Chapman Cultural Center, Spartanburg City and County’s local arts agency, and the cog that allows the broader arts, science, and humanities community to thrive. Through her work over the last ten years, she has increased the total sustainable annual funding of the arts and cultural community by $250,000, a 17% increase while also growing operating endowments by 70%. One key achievement was developing a sustainable business model for operating Chapman Cultural Center with equitable allocation of its resources including expanding the general operating grants program to include more local arts, science, and humanities organizations and expanding the pool of grants available to local artists. Along with county-wide arts coordination, Evins provided visionary leadership for the arts and engaged key stakeholders through advocacy, facility operations, finance, marketing, cultural tourism, resource development, arts education, grantmaking, and public art facilitation. Evins has dedicated 26 years to strengthening the cultural sector as a volunteer and arts professional.  Most notably, as volunteer chair, Evins led the capital fundraising campaign that resulted in the successful construction of the Chapman Cultural Center facility, securing more than $42 million in the process. Throughout Evins’ service in the arts, she has partnered and built successful collaborations with multiple community stakeholders including the City and County of Spartanburg, OneSpartanburg, local and regional foundations, corporations, and higher education institutions. Evins' work and leadership were focused on a vision that Spartanburg be nationally recognized as a unique and vibrant cultural community that inspires creativity and collaboration. Evins achieved this vision as she authored and led the winning Bloomberg Philanthropies $1 million Public Art Challenge “Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light” and aided the City of Spartanburg in receiving an official South Carolina Cultural District Designation for downtown Spartanburg – the second in the state and the only official Cultural District in Upstate South Carolina. She also authored and served as the project director for two winning National Endowment for the Arts grants. Evins was a key facilitator of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training for the cultural sector and encouraged the adoption of the organization's Cultural Equity Statement and diversity policies and procedures. Evins' passion to bring the arts to people outside traditional cultural venues has resulted in her vision for Spartanburg Soaring International Kite Festival and downtown Street Musician program that employs over 150 local musicians and helps downtown Spartanburg be more vibrant and welcoming.  In addition, Evins developed Culture Counts, the first cultural asset mapping and inventory initiative in South Carolina that utilizes and promotes Spartanburg’s cultural assets to promote it as a national arts and cultural tourism destination. Most recently, Evins led the successful $1.2 million fundraising campaign for the expansion of the Chapman Cultural Center brand through its newest arts incubator, Mayfair Art Studios. Through her visionary leadership, Mayfair opened in 2020 in a repurposed textile mill designed to help artists thrive as professionals and make the arts accessible to all. Mayfair Art Studios provides affordable studios for both professional and amateur artists in a range of artistic and creative disciplines while providing additional resources for the entire cultural sector. Evins is a Diversity Leadership Fellow of the Riley Institute and a Hull Fellow of the Southeastern Council on Foundations and has received numerous awards because of her leadership, including:
  • the Women of Influence 2020 by GSA Business,
  • The Mary Mildred Sullivan Award by Wofford College;
  • Neville Holcombe Distinguished Citizenship Award by the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce;
  • South Carolina Woman of Achievement by the South Carolina Business and Professional Women;
  • Leadership Spartanburg Alumnus of the Year;
  • Elaine Harris Tourism Award, Spartanburg Convention and Visitors Bureau;
  • Distinguished Service Award from the South Carolina Governor’s School of the Arts and Humanities;
  • and the Leadership Honoree of the Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership & Community Change by Spartanburg County Foundation.

Jason Rapp

South Arts names 2021 State Fellows

Fletcher Williams III stands in his art studio among works in progress. Fletcher Williams III (Photo by Andrew Cebulka)

South Arts has named the ten visual artists (eight individual artists and one team) receiving the 2021 State Fellowship awards.

Each fellowship—one per state in the South Arts region—comes with a cash award of $5,000 and inclusion in an exhibition opening this fall at the Bo Bartlett Center in Columbus, Georgia. The State Fellows are also now in consideration for the two larger Southern Prize awards. One fellowship recipient will be named the Southern Prize winner receiving an additional $25,000 cash award, and another fellow will be named the Southern Prize Finalist receiving an additional $10,000; both Southern Prize recipients will also receive a two-week residency at the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences. The two winners will be named at a virtual ceremony on June 17 celebrating the work of all ten State Fellows. The 2021 State Fellowship recipients are:
  • Tameca Cole. Mixed Media. Birmingham, Alabama.
  • Marielle Plaisir. Mixed Media. Hollywood, Florida.
  • Myra Greene. Craft. Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Joyce Garner. Painting. Prospect, Kentucky.
  • Chandra McCormick and Keith Calhoun. Photography. New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Ming Ying Hong. Drawing. Starkville, Mississippi.
  • Jewel Ham. Painting. Huntersville, North Carolina.
  • Fletcher Williams III. Mixed Media. North Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Raheleh Filsoofi. Multidisciplinary. Nashville, Tennessee.
“The 2021 Southern Prize and State Fellowship recipients represent the amazing creativity of our region,” explained Susie Surkamer, President and CEO of South Arts. “Although they each speak with a unique voice through their work, their combined diversity is a great showcase of what it means to be an artist living, working, creating, and thriving in the South.” Launched in 2017, the Southern Prize and State Fellowships acknowledge, support, and celebrate the highest quality art being created in the South. More than 850 artists applied for consideration this past fall and winter, and jurors reviewed each application to recommend the State Fellowship recipients. Another national panel of jurors will review the State Fellows to determine the Southern Prize winner and finalist, both of whom will be named at a virtual ceremony in June 2021. Visual artists living in South Arts’ nine-state region and producing crafts, drawing, experimental, painting, photography, sculpture, mixed media, and multidisciplinary work were eligible to apply. To view work by the 2021 State Fellowship recipients and register to attend the June 17, 2021 Southern Prize ceremony, visit www.southarts.org. An exhibition featuring the 2021 Southern Prize and State Fellowship recipients will be open at the Bo Bartlett Center in Columbus, Georgia, from Aug. 20-Dec. 20, 2021.

More about Fletcher Williams III


Fletcher Williams III (b. 1987) is a multidisciplinary artist working primarily in sculpture and painting. Williams received his BFA from The Cooper Union for the Advancement in Science and Art (2010). He maintained a studio practice in Long Island City, Queens, and later Crowns Heights, Brooklyn before returning to his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, in 2013. Upon his return to Charleston, Williams remained an independent artist and began producing solo exhibitions throughout the City of Charleston and North Charleston, the latest being a site-wide solo exhibition, Promiseland (2020), at the Historic Aiken-Rhett House Museum.

Artist statement

My work engages the rituals and traditions of the American South. My interest in the way we seek to establish place and identity has prompted a working methodology that utilizes found and natural materials and an exhibition practice that incorporates public and historic sites. I often paint with Spanish moss, builds house-like structures with salvaged wood and tin roof, and fashion delicate sculptures out of handwoven palmetto roses. My approach is architectural and figural, tactile, and multi-sensory and unveils my curiosity for both people and place, material, and process. To view selected artworks, visit his page on 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.

Jason Rapp

New leadership in place at CofC’s Halsey Institute

New executive director began April 1

Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston announced the appointment of its new executive director: recently promoted Katie Hirsch assumed her new role April 1.

Hirsch who was previously the museum's curator and director of strategic partnerships, was serving as interim director after the December 2020 retirement of long-time director Mark Sloan.

Related Hub content: Charleston scene takes on sea change in CHS, S.C. arts leadership.

Says Hirsch: “I am honored to be the new director of the Halsey Institute. It is a true privilege to lead the talented team that brings innovative artists to Charleston and beyond. I am eager to connect with our community in this new role, and to share the compelling programming that the Halsey has planned.” School of the Arts Dean Dr. Edward Hart says of the appointment, “We are thrilled that Katie Hirsch has accepted the appointment as the new Director of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. She brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the position, and her artistic vision, leadership skills, and enthusiasm will benefit this world-class institution for years to come.”

About Katie Hirsch

Katie Hirsch joined the Halsey Institute team in August 2016 and was most recently a Curator and the Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. Hirsch took the reigns as Interim Director on January 1, 2021 during the pandemic, so has had to make many tough decisions about accessibility, staffing, and programming in the most challenging of times. She has curated exhibitions on Roberto Diago and Coulter Fussell, among others. She served as Associate Curator for the Halsey Institute’s landmark 2018 exhibition Southbound: Photographs of and about the New South, for which she contributed to the catalogue. She is responsible for the Halsey Institute’s traveling exhibitions program, organizing nationwide tours of Southbound and exhibitions featuring the work of Fahamu Pecou, Jiha Moon, and Hitnes, among others. She is also an adjunct instructor of arts management at the College of Charleston. Katie Hirsch earned an MA with honors in Art History, Visual Cultures of the Americas from The Florida State University, and a BA and magna cum laude distinction in Art History, with a Minor in General Business from Virginia Commonwealth University. Prior to the Halsey Institute, Hirsch worked for Spoleto Festival USA and island6 Arts Center in Shanghai, China. Before turning her focus to contemporary art, Hirsch specialized in the art and culture of the Maya. She brings not only a broad knowledge of art history and visual culture, but also the unconventional knowledge of the Yucatec Maya language, acquired through years of study in Mexico with support from government fellowships.

About the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston provides a multidisciplinary laboratory for the production, presentation, interpretation, and dissemination of ideas by innovative visual artists from around the world. As a non-collecting museum, the Halsey Institute creates meaningful interactions between adventurous artists and diverse communities within a context that emphasizes the historical, social, and cultural importance of the art of our time. Learn more.

Jason Rapp

S.C. Arts Awards to stream live again in 2021

Virtual presentation planned for May 24

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Awards will honor South Carolinians for their exceptional achievements in, support of, or advocacy for the arts during a professionally produced online streaming presentation planned for Monday, May 24, 2020 at 6 p.m. The South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) and partner McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina look forward to honoring the seven recipients of the South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts and two recipients of the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards in a special online presentation on SouthCarolinaArts.com. Lead host and SCAC Executive Director David Platts will be joined again by South Carolina First Lady Peggy McMaster as co-host from the Governor’s Mansion. UofSC McKissick Museum Executive Director Jane Przybysz will join Platts and McMaster to announce the Folk Heritage Award recipients. Platts will announce the Governor’s Award recipients. Before the pandemic, the South Carolina Arts Awards were presented at an in-person ceremony. Rather than cancel in 2020, the ceremony was shifted to a virtual format that was successful for its extended reach and production quality. After overwhelmingly positive feedback—and with lingering COVID-19 transmission concerns—the ceremony will again be presented online, at no cost to viewers anywhere. Surprise guests will join to help introduce each recipient. Mini-films by South Carolina filmmakers Drew Baron, Lynn Cornfoot, Abe Duenas, Patrick Hayes, Roni Henderson, Lee Ann Kornegay, and Ebony Wilson will debut, telling each recipient’s story. The filmmakers worked under the direction of producer Betsy Newman. Location shooting for the ceremony and production of the stream are being provided by Midlands-based iSite Multimedia and Fisher Films. The Governor’s Award recipients were announced in February. The recipients are:
  • Tom Flowers (posthumous, Greenville): Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Charlton Singleton (Charleston): Artist Category
  • Jennifer Clark Evins (Spartanburg): Individual Category
  • Tayloe Harding (Columbia): Arts in Education Category
  • Colonial Life (Columbia): Business/Foundation Category
  • ColaJazz Foundation (Columbia): Organization Category
  • Marjory Wentworth (Mount Pleasant): Special Award
The Folk Heritage Award recipients were also announced in February. Being honored are:
  • Jugnu Verma (Lexington): Traditional Indian folk arts
  • Robert W. Hill, III (Plantersville): Advocacy, American long rifles and accoutrements

 About the South Carolina Arts Commission The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences. A state agency created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas: arts education, community arts development, and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the SCAC is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts, and other sources. Visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696, and follow @scartscomm on social media. About McKissick Museum The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum tells the story of southern life: community, culture, and the environment. The Museum, located on the University of South Carolina’s historic Horseshoe, has more than 140,000 objects in its collection, including one of the most extensive natural science collections in the Southeast. For visitation information, online exhibits, and more, please visit sc.edu/mckissickmuseum.

Submitted material

S.C. public arts high school welcomes poet Danez Smith

On April 12, creative writing students at the Fine Arts Center in Greenville had the opportunity to participate in a class presented by Danez Smith, a national award-winning author and writer, through the Momentum Series, a program headed by the students of the program.

The Momentum Series is a project produced and managed by the Fine Arts Center Creative Writing Program, in which members of the class work together to bring an innovative writer of national reputation to Greenville to do a community reading and teach a class to the creative writing program at FAC. Through this, the students are able to learn from professional and accomplished writers who are active in the field while also promoting the arts within the Greenville community and strengthening the bonds between the city’s diverse cultural communities and the school district. The Momentum Series is curated, organized, implemented and publicized by students in the Fine Arts Center’s Careers In Publishing class. While usually available to the public, this year the Momentum Series will take place as a closed, virtual event for the FAC creative writing class due to COVID-19 restrictions; however, next spring we hope to be live again in the community! For this year’s installment, the organizers of the program have worked together to bring in poet Danez Smith. Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer & performer from St. Paul, Minnesota. Danez is the author of "Don’t Call Us Dead" (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award, and " boy" (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. Danez is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness. Danez’s third collection, “Homie”, was published by Graywolf in January 2020. - Elizabeth Scott, Fine Arts Center creative writing student

Jason Rapp

COVID-19 survey reveals ‘frightening situation’ for creativity, culture

Sectors surviving on emergency funding, more needed


COLUMBIA, S.C. – A recent survey of South Carolina nonprofit organizations revealed more than half serving in the creative and cultural sector lacked the funding to continue operations—and still face potential closure—without emergency funding for a sector that adds $9.7 billion to the state economy.

Together SC, in partnership with a mix of foundations and funders from across the state, commissioned a late-winter survey of non-profit groups served by those funders to determine their financial health considering COVID-19. The South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) and Lowcountry-based Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation (GDDF) provided questions geared toward arts, culture, and the humanities non-profits they serve. The survey was designed, collected, analyzed, and reported by Kahle Strategic Insights Managing Director Robert W. Kahle, Ph.D. with Gloria Roderick, MPA.

Key findings

  • Statewide, the outlook is bleak, with 48% of creative and cultural (arts, culture, and humanities) survey respondents claiming they can operate for six months at most without additional revenue.
  • Job losses at responding organizations reached 16% from March 2020 to March 2021.
  • Though a slight, 6% rebound is expected by June 2021, the resulting 11% aggregate drop could grow again once funding expires with the fiscal year on June 30.
“We have known for some time that creativity and culture are being hammered by this pandemic. These survey results show that difficult times are far from over,” SCAC Executive Director David Platts said. “As resilient as the organizations served by the arts commission and Donnelley Foundation are, they are telling us the pandemic is not over for them. These are neighbors and friends in every community who need help and their options to support themselves are simply too limited to sustain them.”
Most respondents received PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans and either federal or state CARES Act funds. However, those funds were limited and only filled the gap for a few months. The SCAC requested additional funding in its proposed FY22 state budget. Platts points out that even though data from the survey shows SCAC respondents estimate needing a total infusion of $3.2 million to operate past June, the need is far greater because response rate to the survey was 32%. “We can only guess at the actual number, but creativity and culture here are facing a frightening situation,” he said. Many barriers prevent these organizations from a near-term return to pre-pandemic operating conditions that could generate self-sustaining revenue. With many sponsors and individual donors feeling effects of the pandemic, that leaves federal and state emergency funds as critical lifelines used to close the gap. Though significant majorities of respondents reported integration of digital programming, the survey showed that it is difficult to monetize. Among SCAC respondents, 75% reported at least some digital programming and 90% of GDDF respondents reported it. However, three quarters of both group’s respondents said digital programming was only able to make up, at most, 19% of their income. Cost was identified as the most significant barrier to digital programming. “The survey points to the immediate critical need to support our arts and culture organizations. We will know the non-profit sector has recovered when the arts and culture sector has recovered,” David Farren, GDDF executive director said. “These organizations and their staffs are a vital part of the quality of life and economy in our communities.  We all need to step up to ensure they are able to return, when it is safe to do so, viable and ready to serve the community.”

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences. A state agency created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas: arts education, community arts development, and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the SCAC is fun­­­ded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts, and other sources. Visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696, and follow @scartscomm on social media.

About the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation supports land conservation, artistic vitality, and regional collections for the people of the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina.   The Foundation supports a wide spectrum of arts groups that reflect the vitality and diversity of the Lowcountry, providing general operations grants to arts organizations, as well as other assistance to support, strengthen and connect the Lowcountry arts ecosystem. For more information on the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, visit www.gddf.org or contact Lowcountry Program Director, Kerri Forrest, at kforrest@gddf.org.