Jason Rapp

SCAC to honor 7 with Governor’s Awards for the Arts

Four artists, one advocate, two organizations


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Today, the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is announcing seven qualified recipients of South Carolina’s highest award for high achievement in practicing or supporting the arts.

The South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts are presented annually by the SCAC. The appointed members of the agency’s board of directors vote on panel recommendations for the award. For 2021, the following honorees from their respective categories are being recognized for outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina:
  • LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Tom Flowers, Greenville (posthumous)
  • ARTIST: Charlton Singleton, Charleston
  • INDIVIDUAL: Jennifer Clark Evins, Spartanburg
  • ARTS IN EDUCATION: Tayloe Harding, Columbia
  • BUSINESS: Colonial Life, Columbia
  • ORGANIZATION: ColaJazz Foundation, Columbia
  • SPECIAL AWARD: Marjory Wentworth, Mount Pleasant
“With the Governor’s Award, we celebrate achievement and thank these accomplished recipients for enriching life and culture here in South Carolina. Recipients always represent the best of South Carolina. They are talented, successful, and dedicated. They exemplify giving of themselves to ensure everyone who wants to can benefit from access to the arts,” S.C. Arts Commission Chairwoman Dee Crawford said. A diverse committee, appointed by the S.C. Arts Commission Board of Directors and drawn from members community statewide, reviews all nominations. After a rigorous process and multiple meetings, the panel produces a recommendation from each category that is sent to the board for final approval. Serving on the panel for the 2021 awards were Flavia Harton (Greenville), Glenis Redmond (Mauldin), Bob Reeder (Columbia), Bhavna Vasudeva (Columbia), and Kim Wilson (Rock Hill). The South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards are presented to recipients at the South Carolina Arts Awards ceremony, normally held in person every spring. The pandemic forced the shift of last year’s ceremony to a virtual format in July rather than May. Reaction to that was positive and it is planned once again for 2021, but instead of being held in the summer it will revert to its normal timeframe in the spring. The SCAC and its partner for the Folk Heritage Awards, McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina, will announce a date and time later.

About the 2021 S.C. Governor’s Awards for the Arts Recipients

Washington, D.C. native TOM FLOWERS (Lifetime Achievement) came to South Carolina for football at Furman University and left with a bachelor’s in art. After earning a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Iowa and serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, his teaching career wound its way from Kansas and North Carolina back to Furman. He spent the next 30 years teaching arts at the school, from 1959 to 1989, and was chairman of the art department for most of his tenure. Upon completion he was named to the school’s emeritus faculty. Decorated and widely exhibited as an artist, Flowers’ works have homes in museums and collections throughout the Southeast, including the South Carolina State Art Collection. He served on several Upstate arts boards and commissions and as a state representative on the American Craft Council. Thomas Earl Flowers passed away Dec. 13, 2020 after his nomination was made in the Governor’s Award artist category. He is survived by multiple practicing artists in his family, further adding to his legacy. Over the past several years, CHARLTON SINGLETON (Artist Category) has emerged as the face of jazz performance in the Lowcountry. Because of his membership in the band Ranky Tanky, a quintet that interprets the sounds of Gullah culture, he can also be called a Grammy Award winner. Singleton studied organ, violin, cello, and trumpet throughout childhood and adolescence and earned a music performance degree from South Carolina State University. Since, he’s taught music at every level from elementary school through college. In addition to Ranky Tanky, he is previous artistic director of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, has his own touring ensemble, is organist and choir director of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Charleston and was named inaugural artist-in-residence at the renovated Gaillard Center in Charleston. He is in demand as a speaker, composer, and arranger. As president and CEO, JENNIFER CLARK EVINS (Individual Category) leads the day-to-day operations and management of Chapman Cultural Center (CCC), Spartanburg city and county’s local arts agency. Along with her county-wide arts coordination, she has nearly 26 years as a visionary community and statewide arts leader to her credit. As a volunteer, Evins led the 10-year project and capital campaign that raised $42 million that built CCC, led another successful campaign to add Mayfair Art Studios to CCC, and led the charge to get Downtown Spartanburg named a South Carolina Cultural District. Evins was the author and director for the winning $1 million Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. Her Culture Counts program, which started as a local asset inventory and mapping project, is now used as a South Carolina cultural tourism tool through Ten at the Top. A winner of numerous awards for service and leadership, she serves or served on prominent Upstate boards. Evins is a strong advocate for local artists, arts organizations, and arts education, and is an active board member of the South Carolina Arts Alliance. TAYLOE HARDING (Arts in Education Category) has a belief in the power of music and the arts to transform communities and individuals that is evident in his work with local and state arts education and advocacy organizations. The dean of the University of South Carolina School of Music has participated in and led efforts as diverse as 12 years on the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project steering committee, consulting on the city of Columbia’s cultural plan and for its One Columbia for Arts & Culture office, frequent advocacy work on behalf of the South Carolina Arts Alliance, and on grant panels for the defunct Cultural Council of Richland/Lexington Counties. Harding has national exposure as past president of the College Music Society and past secretary of the National Association for Schools of Music. He remains active as a composer, earning commissions, performances, and recordings worldwide. COLONIAL LIFE (Business/Foundation Category) is a Columbia-based market leader of financial protection benefits offered through the workplace. For more than 80 years the company has demonstrated a commitment to the community through corporate giving, the employee matching gift programs and volunteerism. The company also has made significant investments each year to support educational, health, wellbeing, arts and culture state programs. Colonial Life’s mission to help America’s workers face unexpected events and challenging times makes it the extraordinary company it is today. Since its 2014 founding, COLAJAZZ FOUNDATION (Organization Category) has worked tirelessly to establish Columbia as a premier jazz destination by highlighting the accomplished jazz artists and educators active in and around the city. Successful and vibrant programming includes bringing international jazz stars, including NEA Jazz Masters and Grammy Award winners, to Columbia. Its annual season includes the ColaJazz Summer Camp; ColaJazz Fest; Great Day in Columbia; Live in the Lobby (Koger Center for the Arts) series; monthly Dinner & Jazz concerts; Jazz Appreciation Month; ColaJazz Crawl; live and virtual concerts, workshops, after-school curriculum for International Jazz Day; and Jazz for Young People concerts that bring people from across the state and beyond to enjoy the capital city. The erstwhile poet laureate of South Carolina, MARJORY WENTWORTH (Special Award) is its second-longest serving. She received her appointment to the position from Gov. Mark Sanford in 2003 and served until 2020. Wentworth is New York Times bestselling co-author of Out of Wonder, Poems Celebrating Poets and author of prize-winning children’s story Shackles. Her lengthy list of published titles includes several of her own poetry books, additional co-authored titles, and she is co-editor, with Kwame Dawes, of Seeking: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green. Wentworth serves on the board of advisors at The Global Social Justice Practice Academy, and she is a 2020 National Coalition Against Censorship Free Speech is for Me Advocate. She teaches courses in writing, social justice and banned books at the College of Charleston and formerly taught courses at The Citadel and Art Institute of Charleston and Charleston County School of the Arts.

Correction

On Feb. 17, this copy was corrected to reflect that Charlton Singleton is a former artistic director of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra. The original copy stated he is the current artistic director and conductor.

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.

Jason Rapp

Tuning Up: NFL features S.C. artist, new Orangeburg Co. FAC website

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 a cold damp morning, and more coffee is in order. Grab yourself a cuppa and check out these tidbits:
  • New Year, New You Website. The Hub got word yesterday that Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center just introduced a new-look OrangeburgArts.com for the new year. If you have ever been involved with such a project, you know that they deserve kudos for this undertaking (IYKYK, as the kids say). The home page uses eye-catching images to drive home their mission and uses other pages to highlight 14 area communities and artists who call the area home. Great work!
  • Game recognize game. The NFL playoffs began this past weekend (and abruptly ended for The Hub Sunday night). Maybe not the most important thing on most Hub readers' radars, but the NFL rolled out a new program, NFL Artist Replay, to bring recognition to BIPOC artists. One happened to be Ija Charles, whom the league asked to contribute to Artist Replay. #SCartists' Charles is known around the Midlands for mural work in Cayce, West Columbia and the Richland Library Main branch. Her work for the NFL is below, and you can read more and watch video from WLTX TV 19.
Ija Charles' work for NFL Artist Replay. Ija Charles' work for NFL Artist Replay. Image courtesy of WLTX.com.

Jason Rapp

S.C. Governor’s School for Arts recognized for arts ed research

Link uncovered between drama curriculum and reading success


The Arts Schools Network Board of Directors has awarded the Research Initiative-Institution Award to the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities.

The award honors an organization for its commitment to ongoing research and the dissemination of knowledge in research in arts education. The Governor's School's research initiative, implemented by the Office of Outreach in partnership with the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) and University of South Carolina Department of Theatre and Dance, examines the potential impact that drama curriculum has on reading motivation and success for young children. Melissa Brookes, managing director for ASN, said, “Each year the Arts Schools Network board of directors take great pride in honoring and recognizing schools and individuals for their extraordinary efforts and impact throughout arts education. This year, we are thrilled to recognize the Governor’s School as the winner of our Research Initiative Award.” In the Spark! outreach program that this research is based on, at-risk third-grade readers attending the state mandated Read-To-Succeed summer program are exposed to drama principles in addition to their reading requirements. Now in its third year, Spark! participants are showing increased gains in creativity measures like fluency and originality, along with critical reading measures required by MAP testing, when compared to similar students not exposed to the drama component. “While we are only three years into this five-year initiative, the combination of creativity gains and reading gains together are what draws us further into this research, and we’re very excited to see these promising trends,” said Carol Baker, outreach director at the Governor’s School. “We’re grateful for this acknowledgement from the Arts Schools Network and for the ongoing support and participation of our partners, the South Carolina Arts Commission, who is funding this project, and the USC Department of Theatre and Dance, who is compiling and analyzing the data.”

About the Research

Dr. Peter Duffy, who heads the Master of Arts in Teaching program in theatre education at the University of South Carolina is leading this research which combines the qualitative measures of theatre making and creativity with quantitative methods of reading and motivation. “This research matters because it examines how story, motivation, and embodied learning through drama can impact a child’s desire to read, and how this component can affect the way young readers interact with their reading materials,” said Duffy. “We are studying how more creative teaching methods can motivate readers to really know the story inside and out. “Our research suggests that students who engage in the drama work make small but important improvements in their overall reading scores. Gathering five years of data will help us see whether these trends hold overtime, giving us a stronger impression of the real impact these programs can make.” The Spark! program was initiated at Kenneth Gardner Elementary in Williamsburg County School District, and thanks to two years of early positive findings, received increased funding to expand to Hardeeville Elementary in Jasper County School District. Both districts serve high poverty, rural, under-resourced populations and neither has a certified drama teacher at any level. Each school offers a multi-week summer remedial reading camp for rising fourth-grade students at risk of retention due to low test scores. The summer camp is part of the Read-to-Succeed program and is the last possible opportunity for these young students to increase their scores enough to move on to the next grade. How this research impacts arts education funding priorities “The Spark! outreach program’s research into the relationship between drama and reading in young, at-risk readers, provides compelling evidence of the correlation between creativity and reading retention,” said David Platts, executive director of the SCAC. “Working with Dr. Duffy and his team at the University of South Carolina and the SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities has demonstrated how these types of programs, while specifically designed to help students, also provide vital information for agencies such as ours as we analyze and prioritize our programming decisions. Good decisions and responsible stewardship of public funds are possible only with the availability of solid and meaningful research and data.” Getting students back on track “Ultimately, this is about improving reading skills and reading motivation of young students in South Carolina,” said Dr. Cedric Adderley, Governor’s School president. “We know that early reading comprehension is the key to success, and in this day and time, when we’re seeing reading regression in elementary school students due to pandemic-imposed virtual learning, we hope that programs like Spark! will be part of the solution to getting these students back on track.” “At the Governor’s School, we see first-hand how incorporating the arts into education can help improve student engagement, academic success, motivation, and hope for the future,” continued Adderley. “Now our challenge, as an arts resource and research center for teachers and students throughout the state, is to expand these proven programs to impact more students in need.”

About SC Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities

Located in Greenville, the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities cultivates young artists from across the state through pre-professional training in the areas of creative writing, dance, drama, music and visual arts. In the public, residential high school, students refine their talents in an arts-centered community while receiving a nationally recognized academic education. Summer programs are available to rising 7th-12th grade students. The Governor’s School serves as a resource to all teachers and students in South Carolina, offering comprehensive outreach programs designed to bring together artists, educators, community organizations and schools. SCGSAH.org

About the Arts Schools Network

Dedicated to excellence and leadership in arts education, Arts Schools Network, a non-profit association founded in 1981, provides arts school leaders, innovative partners and members of arts education institutions with quality resources, support and networking opportunities. Visit www.artsschoolsnetwork.org to learn more.
Image by Amberrose Nelson from Pixabay

Submitted material

College of Charleston’s Valerie Morris announces retirement

Long-time, accomplished arts dean exiting the stage


For 22 years Valerie Morris, dean of the College of Charleston School of the Arts, has sat in the audience at music and dance performances, theater productions and art lectures and presentations.

She has served as a member of various boards and joined committees to raise funds. A perennial champion of the arts, Morris has always been there, standing off stage, determinedly cheering. And it’s an essential role in a city where the arts often take center stage. “I have known Dean Morris for years as a fellow Rotarian and through her leadership in Charleston’s thriving arts community,” says Charleston Mayor John T. Tecklenburg. “Simply put, she’s been amazing in her impact on the arts scene here in Charleston, along with her personal joie de vivre!”
Morris’s “joie de vivre” or enthusiasm for the arts began at a young age. Growing up in Beverly, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, she first became interested in the arts at the age of six after an aunt took her to see the movie Hans Christian Anderson starring Danny Kaye. Then she became very active in the local children’s theater and “used every excuse to spend backstage” at the North Shore Music Theatre, the largest operating regional theater in New England. “I guess from the age of 6, I always felt pushed towards the arts,” Morris said, noting that in high school her focus shifted to public speaking and promoting the arts, which won her an award for marketing her high school’s productions. “First, I wanted to perform, then I realized I wanted to be around artists of all types, and to help them achieve their goals.” And that first meant achieving her goals. Morris received her bachelor’s degree in speech arts from American University and a master in speech with a theatre administration emphasis from the University of Michigan. Her career in the arts really picked up when she joined the faculty of American University’s Department of Performing Arts, where she became the founding director of that institution’s Arts Management program. According to Karen Chandler, associate professor of arts management at the College, Morris forged a path for women in the field. “When I entered the field in the early ’80s, Valerie was one of a handful of women arts leaders who had founded and very successfully developed a program in arts management (at American University),” says Chandler, who also worked alongside Morris at American University.
Morris came to the College as dean of the School of the Arts in the fall of 1998. Since then, she has helped establish the undergraduate Arts Management Program and the Graduate Certificate in Arts and Cultural Management, as well as the Historic Preservation and Community Planning Program. Under Morris’s leadership, the School of the Arts has grown and flourished, including earning the South Carolina Governor’s Award for the Arts, the state’s highest award in the arts. Other highlights of Morris’ tenure include helping to launch the Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Center for the Arts in January 2010. The $27.2 million dollar, 70,000-square-foot building is a testament to the growth of the school from a small fine arts department into a comprehensive arts school with seven academic departments and programs. Morris also expanded the School of the Arts Council and, in 2003, established the Friends of the School of the Arts, a membership program that funds scholarships, student travel for competitions and productions, visiting artists, faculty research and development, and international recruitment efforts. And Morris’s hard work has garnered the attention and support of some of CofC’s most esteemed arts alumni, including acclaimed painter Brian Rutenberg (Class of 1987). “To excel as an artist, one needs to be organized, possess a clear-eyed vision and have a great sense of humor. These same qualities apply to leading an entire art school,” says Rutenberg. “Valerie has all of these attributes, plus she is a skillful communicator. Her creation is the world-class reputation that the School of the Arts at the College of Charleston enjoys today. We are all the beneficiaries of her effort.”
As for what comes next, Morris says her future will always include the arts as well as a focus on family. “I’m keeping active on local, regional and national boards,” she says. “Eventually, my husband and I plan to spend considerable time on the West Coast, where my children and grandchildren live.” To honor Morris’s 22 years of service to the College and the School of the Arts, longtime College of Charleston advocates, donors and volunteers Jean and Tap Johnson have established a scholarship in her name. It’s a fitting honor for someone who has done so much for CofC. “Valerie has been a consummate mentor, advisor and colleague over the past 25 years. But more importantly, she is a trusted supporter and dear friend,” says Chandler. “She deserves to do whatever she wants now, feeling satisfied about the outstanding contributions she’s made to the arts infrastructure in so many places – and especially here at CofC.”

Jason Rapp

Tuning Up: Arts people news + down to the wire

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...


South Arts names two from S.C. to Emerging Leaders of Color program

The Hub helped promote South Arts' Emerging Leaders of Color opportunity once, twice, or three times, so it's only right that we let you know how it all shook out. Two leaders from South Carolina were named to the cohort: Melanie Colclough of Sumter (executive director of Patriot Hall/Sumter County Cultural Center) and Jemimah Ekeh of Columbia (freelance designer + administrator with One Columbia for Arts & Culture). There is more about the program and see who was accepted from other states right here.

State's arts community loses two beacons

We pause to note with sadness the passing of two members of South Carolina's tight-knit arts community:

It's down to the wire

No. Not that. This is your two-weeks' two-day notice that nomination time is coming to a close for the South Carolina Governor's Awards for the Arts and the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award. Nominations for both are due by 11:59 p.m. ET THIS FRIDAY, Nov. 6.

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2020 College of Charleston theatre grad wins national award. Again.

Noah Ezell headshot Noah Ezell.

Recent College of Charleston alumnus Noah Ezell (2020) had completely forgotten about the award.

He’d entered his submission way back in January and, to be fair, there have been some major distractions since then. So, when he recently learned he’d won the 2020 national Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Undergraduate Theater Scholar Award, it was a welcome surprise—one the College of Charleston theatre major really needed. “This award reaffirmed for me something that felt a little more distant than it did in early March. I needed that reminder that this field is my home, that this is what I was designed to do,” Ezell said. His winning paper, “Metamodernism of the Oppressed: An Exploration of Metamodernism and Its Surfacing in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins ‘An Octoroon,’” was derived from his senior thesis paper. The KCACTF is a national theater program serving as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the U.S. In order to further student activity in the discipline of scholarship, the prestigious national awards program encourages and rewards research and scholarly writing among undergraduates throughout the nation. But this isn’t Ezell’s first national KCACTF award. Last year, he received the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA)/KCACTF Student Dramaturgy Award for his work on the college’s production of Marisol by José Rivera. “It was through the LMDA/KCACTF Student Dramaturgy Award that I made a network of artistic connections, and I was able to intern at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, one of the leading new play development centers in America,” Ezell said. “From there it’s just been a sort of spiral as my networks of connections and collaborators have grown, and my love for new plays and new play dramaturgy has expanded.”
  Since graduating in May, Ezell has stayed busy with several projects, carving out a place for himself in the professional theater world, one that has all but come to a standstill since the coronavirus pandemic. “Even though things aren’t what I thought they would be, I’m getting to create art with my friends, and that’s really soul filling for me,” says Ezell, who is currently serving as a dramaturg for a friend’s new play about queer bodies and trauma as well as a script reader for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, among other things. “I’m lucky that in the midst of all this I am still able to connect theatrically in all these different ways.” Ezell hopes to have a career both in new play development theater and, later, in academia. “Ultimately I am both an artist and an academic, which is why I love dramaturgy so much. It melds those two worlds in a very beautiful way,” he said. “At the core, though, I really just want to fully support myself with my art and help make art that is socially conscious, lifts up the voices of underrepresented groups and makes a difference in the world.”

Jason Rapp

Arts Education Partnership report lauds ABC Project in S.C.

AEP report 'reflects back and projects forward'


Over 25 years ago, the U.S. Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts partnered with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and Council of Chief State School Officers to create the Arts Education Partnership (AEP) to ensure that all students have equitable access to an excellent arts education.​ - AEP report


A new report from AEP takes a long look at the genesis of the partnership. While it's no surprise to those involved in the work, casual readers might be surprised to know that South Carolina and a few South Carolinians at the right place at the right time figured mightily in how everything came together on a national level. In a Part 2 of the report, former SCAC Executive Director Scott Shanklin-Peterson and Dr. Terry Peterson recount work with Dick Riley in Columbia as governor and Washington as President Clinton's education secretary to get the arts included in sweeping educational reforms in the 1980s and 1990s. The South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is extremely proud of the ongoing work of the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project, a national model for integrating the arts into K-12 curriculum discussed at length in the AEP report. Together with the South Carolina Dept. of Education and the Winthrop University College of Visual and Performing Arts, the ABC Project continues serving the Palmetto State 31 years after starting and 33 years after the SCAC received a $20,000 Arts in Schools Basic Education planning grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to develop the it. Read the full report here.

Jason Rapp

‘Learning Why’ provides S.C. quality arts ed lessons

Arts in Basic Curriculum Project, SCETV partner for students


A collaboration between the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project (ABC) Project and SCETV is thrilled to highlight great teachers through the in-state television network's "LearningWhy." 

The partnership stems from a singular belief: all students in South Carolina deserve a quality arts education. Through the generosity of great teachers like Elise Helms sharing great lessons, that goal is possible. ABC Project’s mission is to provide leadership to achieve quality arts education for all students. For the past 32 years, ABC Project has worked with schools and districts across the state to invest resources in teacher professionalism to design and create standards-based, quality arts and arts-integrated lessons. As a part of this investment and mission, ABC Project has aimed to collect and publish exemplary lessons that can be shared across the state. Through the partnership with SCETV "LearningWhy," lesson plans are reviewed by content specialists within ABC's network, and then vetted by SCETV for publication. The lessons submitted are from South Carolina Arts Commission ABC Advancement grant applicants who received a top score on a submitted lesson. This year, ABC Project had one teacher who was published. Veteran music teacher Elise Helms’ music lesson, "Making Music with the Pout, Pout Fish," is the culminating lesson on how music can help tell a story. This 2nd-grade lesson asks students to contemplate the question, “how can we use instrument sounds to enhance our storytelling?” Helms’ lesson skillfully combines the use of various classroom percussion instruments along with The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen to guide students as they explore both storytelling and instrumental music. To check out "Making Music with the Pout, Pout Fish," along with other great one-to-one lessons, you can visit www.learningwhy.org. The ABC Project is a long-standing partnership among the South Carolina Arts Commission, Winthrop University, and the South Carolina Dept. of Education.
Helms, a 33-year veteran elementary music educator who has made music education her life's work, feels passionately about the arts being a part of every child's elementary school experience and beyond. Currently, at AC Moore Elementary School in Columbia (Richland One School District), she taught at Irmo Elementary (District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties), where she was chosen Teacher of the Year in 2003. Among her many leadership contributions, she served as lead teacher for District 5 Elementary Music teachers, president of the Elementary Division of South Carolina Music Educators Association, and coach for the Curriculum Leadership Institute for the Arts. She is the co-founder of the District 5 Elementary Honor Choir which was chosen to participate in the Celebration of States in Washington for two different years. Helms earned a bachelor's of music education from Newberry College and a master's in education in administration from the UofSC.

Jason Rapp

Race in America: How art, and a St. Helena champion, open world’s eyes to S.C.’s Gullah Culture

An interview with Mary Inabinett Mack


Mary Inabinett Mack is a newly-minted recipient of the Governor's Award for the Arts and a legend in her coastal community of St. Helena Island.

Late last week, she was the subject of a story chronicling her community impact through the arts (subscription may be required to read) by David Lauderdale of the Hilton Head Island Packet. Mack was, until recently, owner of Red Piano Too Art Gallery. Her influence in Lowcountry art, in particular Gullah-centric art, is what helped her to the state's highest award for the arts. From the story:

She would get a nursing degree in New York City, raise a family there, and move back home for good in 1977. She was deputy director of the Beaufort-Jasper-Hampton Comprehensive Health Services by day, and an art framer by night.

In New York, Mack’s husband took her to an outdoor art display in Greenwich Village, and her walls were never again bare.

“Art fulfills a need,” she said. “It’s like a passion. It lifts my spirit.”

As a student at Penn, Mack sat next to Sam Doyle Jr. They called him “Chubby.”The teacher asked them to bring in something from the community to reflect their lives. Chubby brought one of his daddy’s paintings.We can look back now and see how it changed the course of history.

Jason Rapp

Fairfield Central High’s ‘Theater Tech Team (T3)’ brings home title

Midlands school earns National Federation of High Schools award


The South Carolina High School League announced that its candidate for the 2020 NFHS Heart of the Arts Award, the Fairfield Central High T3 (Theatre Tech Team), has been selected by the NFHS Heart of the Arts Selection Committee to receive the NFHS Section 3 Heart of the Arts Award.

SCHSL Commissioner Jerome Singleton states, “To say we are pleasantly surprised with yet another NFHS award is putting it mildly. We have had a banner year as far as national recognitions and, this being only our second arts centered nomination and winning the Section 3 title, it puts a bright light on a somewhat somber end to 2019-20 school year. We are truly proud of the Fairfield Central High students for their work on the T3 projects, especially a production as moving as A Pony and His Boy.”

Although the SCHSL is not an activities association, all states are encouraged to nominate their state’s best arts activities and projects. Last year, South Carolina won the national title with Beaufort High School’s theater club. There are only eight section award winners in the country each year.

"I am already so proud of the students, so to learn that their accomplishments were appreciated outside of the district was truly heartwarming. For the past three years these students have come together from such a variety of backgrounds and interests, from athletes to STEM Cohort members, from G&T Artistic identifications to students with special needs, they've worked as a team to bring important stories to the forefront in our community, and they’ve done it together," Fairfield County School District Coordinator of Visual and Performing Arts Julianne Neal said. "Not only do they collaborate because they need to do that for a project, they truly care about one another and the stories that they are telling. As each of them moves toward graduation, whether they continue in an arts-based career or plan to enjoy the arts as a hobby or past-time, through the T3 program they know that their creativity and focus on important issues can make a difference in the world. I’m so very proud of every one of them."
Top photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels
Secondary photo by cottonbro from Pexels