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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.”

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Calling all S.C. student artists

From now through February 12th, 2021 Lake City’s ArtFields Jr. is accepting art submissions from South Carolina student-artists in grades 1-12 who are 18 years old or younger.

Submissions are free and almost $3,000 is up for grabs in prize money, with individual prizes up to $200 for lower elementary students, and up to $500 for high schoolers. Prizes also include art supplies and ArtFields merchandise. Besides the juried awards up for grabs in four grade categories, selected ArtFields Jr. artists will have their work on display during ArtFields and will have the opportunity to win student choice awards voted by fellow students. Full prizes and rules information can be found at this link: https://www.artfieldssc.org/news/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/2021-ArtFields-Jr.-Competition-Guidelines-and-Letter-2021.pdf

ArtFields Jr. Submissions Details

  • Submission deadline: February 12, 2021
  • Students grades 1-12 who are 18 years old or younger may apply
  • Submission cost: Free
  • Accepted artists will be notified March 13, 2021
  • Accepted art will be displayed April 21 - May 1, 2021
  • ArtFields Jr. winners will be announced at the ArtFields Jr. Awards Ceremony on May 1
 

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Star Wars characters lend hand to Puppetry Arts videos

Force is strong with free interactive video series


"Ownership of Education" digital support videos produced by Puppetry Arts are a COVID 19-Rapid Response Arts in Education outreach program funded by the National Education Association Foundation.

The series includes 15, seven-minute videos, each with a specific topic or vocabulary word featured. They are structured in a Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR) format. Infusing puppetry and animation, the videos are taught by teachers Mr. Tim, Miss Arlee, and Mr. Miles, who introduce a specific topic and talk about how they experience that topic and what we can do about it together. Finally, they empower and encourage young audiences to think about and share what they themselves can do about it. Tying into the COVID-19 pandemic, some issues touch on social distancing aiming to help young audiences better understand what is happening and why. These interactive videos are designed to be seen in order and ask for student replies (through the collaborating teacher) with the top 3 responses shared at the beginning of the next video. Adding to the fun, cameos by Star Wars characters from the 501st Garrison and Rebel Legions help reinforce the vocabulary with visits from Stormtroopers and even Darth Vader. Puppetry Arts is making these free videos available to all school and classrooms to help support virtual learning and bridge the gap between the classroom and the student. Email Puppetry Arts at info@puppetryarts.org to participate and receive links to videos unique to each school or classroom.

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Furman alumni donate $6.1 million to music department

Gordon Herring and Sarah Herring, Furman classes of 1965 and 1966, respectively, have pledged a gift of $6.1 million to the Furman Department of Music.

The donation established the Herring Music Chair Endowment and the Herring Music Fellowship Fund. The couple’s gift continues a decades-long tradition of generosity to the department in terms of time, guidance and financial support. “We hope our gift will attract exceptional students who can be magnets to draw other talented musicians to Furman’s music programs,” Sarah Herring said. Both Sarah, a German major, and Gordon, a history major, were members of the Furman Singers when they were students, an experience that fostered a special bond with Furman’s music department. “Furman is exceptional for providing students with a rigorous liberal arts education,” Gordon Herring said. “We believe the other liberal arts are enhanced by music. Because we weren’t music majors, our experience with Furman Singers served to complete our liberal arts education.” Gordon was a telecommunications executive who helped launch The Weather Channel in 1982, while Sarah’s career was in senior management for telephone company operations.
The Herrings’ legacy of generosity to Furman includes a $1.8 million gift that led to the construction of the Herring Center for Lifelong Learning, and a $1.25 million donation that served as the lead investment for the Nan Trammell Herring Music Pavilion. Since the mid-1990s, the Herrings have provided Partner Scholarships, which support multiple music students each year. Gordon, an emeritus trustee, believes music speaks to the soul of the individual and thereby enriches the soul of the university, especially in these challenging times. Bingham Vick Jr., professor of music emeritus and director of the Furman Singers from 1970 to 2010, emphasizes the importance of the Herrings’ gift to the university in attracting gifted music students. “In recent years, rising costs of Furman, increased competition for musical talent with other quality collegiate music programs, and knowing the value and the importance of the cultural experience that a strong music department could offer to students and to the community, the Herrings have taken a bold and important step and investment in the Furman musical program,” Vick said. “I can attest to the importance and benefit Furman’s strong music program has had on the lives thousands of students. The Herring Fellowships now lead the way toward an even brighter future for the enrichment of the Furman experience.”

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Major new funding initiative to illuminate underrepresented narratives

Foundation's grants to fund Lowcountry collections

Application deadline: Friday, March 26, 2021

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation (the Foundation) announced the launch of a major new collections funding initiative to help museums, libraries, and other collecting organizations bring forward new and recovered narratives within its two geographies: Chicago and the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

The Foundation has allocated $750,000 for grants to organizations whose collections illustrate BIPOC communities, LGBTQ+ perspectives, working-class narratives, small community experiences, as well as other underrepresented groups and viewpoints. Emerging, compelling, underrepresented perspectives reflective of collections in the areas of science, public health and the natural world also are eligible. Any Chicago or Lowcountry based non-profit organization with a relevant collection is encouraged to learn more about the strategy at gddf.org. The first deadline for applications is March 26, 2021. Collections traditionally have ensured that stories are preserved, added to, revisited, and reconsidered in context of the past, the present, and the future. Some narratives, however, have been less valued or overlooked because of decisions based—consciously or subconsciously—on race, gender, sexual identity, educational background, economic or social status, or because they are perceived to be unpopular, divisive or outside the conventional thinking of the day. This new funding initiative is designed to be part of a new way forward in collections thinking as it shifts focus from the care and processing of material objects to the telling of broader and more inclusive narratives and perspectives through collections. “The launch of this ‘broadening narratives’ initiative arrives serendipitously as our country faces a historic moment of social justice reawakening and a compelling need for these trusted institutions to engage with the public on science-based realities, whether Covid-19 or climate change,” said David Farren, executive director of the Foundation. “With this new strategy, we will recognize and be responsive to the emerging opportunities, challenges, and narratives of both the Lowcountry and Chicago regions.” Chicago’s broad tapestry of ethnic groups is reflective of the city’s industrial and commercial history and the immigration and migration it sparked, while the Lowcountry’s history is rooted in the country’s oldest experiences of race and power. Applicants for the new funding will be asked to demonstrate how the proposed effort may add to these regional narratives and amplify overlooked voices and perspectives from the past, contribute to a better informed present, or lead to a more inclusive, sustainable and healthier future.
An organization will be eligible to apply as long as collections are a significant part of their mission—though it need not be their primary mission—and they have resources dedicated to the ongoing care, management, and sharing of the collection. Those who work with the collections may include creatives, individual artists, curators, historians, teachers, social activists, researchers, scientists, and more, though grants will be made only to organizations. For over three years, the Foundation has convened five advisory groups to assist with the formation of this new funding initiative by providing important feedback, keeping the Foundation apprised of trends in the field, and serving as valuable connectors and conveners. The groups include Black Metropolis Research Consortium, Chicago Collections Consortium, Chicago Cultural Alliance, the College of Charleston’s Lowcountry Digital Library, and the Southeastern Museums Conference. “Working with the Foundation on this strategy has highlighted the value of collaboration and deliberation among diverse collections organizations and their potential to amplify marginalized voices,” said Marcia Walker-McWilliams, executive director of Black Metropolis Research Consortium. “There is an urgent need for more inclusive and informed spaces of engagement within the field. We have worked tirelessly to discover where this new initiative is needed most, and are eager to carry those discoveries into the next phase with our fellow advisory groups and the Foundation.” “The opportunity to work with Donnelley Foundation staff and a diverse group of professionals who shared a common passion for arts, culture, preservation and inclusive narratives was truly rewarding. The conversation, camaraderie, equity and acceptance of all voices among our working group helped define the 'broadening narratives' strategy,” said Zinnia Willits, executive director, Southeastern Museums Conference. “As a museum professional, my own concept of collection preservation was expanded by this initiative as the process evolved to place collection care in a much broader context. I am excited to see how institutions reconsider the art and artifacts they hold and develop projects that offer opportunities to reveal untold histories that deserve to be shared broadly, create connections between museums and the communities they serve and develop lasting connections and intentional communities of practice among those who have the great privilege to preserve, protect and amplify these diverse histories.”

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2021 North Charleston Arts Fest is a ‘go’

Artists of all disciplines sought to perform or present

Application deadline: Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department is seeking artists in music, theatre, dance, visual art, media art, and literature to participate in the 2021 North Charleston Arts Fest to be held April 28-May 2 at various venues throughout North Charleston.

Click to enlarge. Regional and local artists and community organizations are welcome to submit an application to perform on stage or present their talents through programs such as exhibitions, lectures, demonstrations, workshops, and more.
  • The application can be accessed at NorthCharlestonArtsFest.com/apply.
  • There is NO fee to apply.
  • Agents submitting applications on behalf of two or more acts should contact the Cultural Arts Department at 843.740.5854 or culturalarts@northcharleston.org for special application instructions.
  • Applications will be accepted through the online submission platform until midnight on Tuesday, December 15, 2020.
  • Artists in need of assistance with any part of the application process may contact the Cultural Arts Department to schedule a one-on-one meeting, which can be conducted over the phone, virtually, or in person.
The Arts Fest review panel will select applicants from all art disciplines to create a mix of free and ticketed events that will work well in the available venues and are geared to meet the interests of a cross-section of ages, cultures, and backgrounds. Proposals for new concepts or programs are encouraged.
The North Charleston Arts Fest is an annual five-day celebration of the arts, offering an array of events and activities such as concerts, theatre presentations, exhibitions and installations, children’s programs, workshops and demonstrations, and more, throughout the City of North Charleston. The festival was cancelled in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, so will once again be presented as the 38th annual event in 2021. All programs and activities will be presented with COVID-19 safety measures in place (face coverings, social distancing, etc.). Because of restrictions on large gatherings, the World Art Expo at Riverfront Park and Children's Festival will not be part of the festival schedule in 2021.
For more information about the North Charleston Arts Fest and other participation opportunities visit NorthCharlestonArtsFest.com or contact the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department office at 843.740.5854 or culturalarts@northcharleston.org.

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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.”

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Spartanburg Art Museum calls for 2021-2022 artists

Submission deadline; Friday, October 30, 2020


Spartanburg Art Museum is seeking proposals for solo and group exhibitions for 2021/2022.

The world-famous Hub Calls for Art Megaphone. We're interested in all types of work that address contemporary issues and concerns, use traditional materials in unusual ways, and elevate our visitors' experiences to new levels of participation and engagement. Any individual, collective, or group of artists (age 18+) who reside in the United States or Canada may apply. All media and themes will be considered for exhibition. Artists may submit a full exhibition concept, a cohesive body of work, or a general sampling from their portfolio. Our exhibition history illustrates that SAM has exhibited more white artists than any other ethnic group. In an effort to be a more responsible institution moving forward in regard to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion, we are especially interested in emerging and mid-career artists who identify as Black, POC, LGBTQ, and those with physical disabilities.

Applications MUST include the following materials to be considered:

  • 8-10 examples of artwork (please send any multimedia as a link)
  • artist statement
  • short biography
  • résumé and/or CV
  • $35 application fee
  • completed official application form

Visit this page to learn more.

For more information, please contact our Associate Curator Ashleigh Shuler at apayne@spartanarts.org or call 864.582.7616 x 254.


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New public art opportunity for ArtFields 2021

Proposal submission deadline: February 1, 2021


The ArtFields Collective is excited to announce a brand-new aspect of ArtFields for the 2021 event!

The world-famous Hub Calls for Art Megaphone. In addition to the competition, there will be large scale/installation pieces in key places outside around downtown. Each year, the Collective hears from artists with large outdoor pieces that transporting their work to Lake City is just not feasible for a 9-day period. With this new initiative, we aim to make ArtFields a place to explore artists’ big ideas. Now let’s get down to the details: Artists can submit a proposal from Dec. 1, 2020 to Feb. 1, 2021. The proposal should include the concept, photos and needs (ex. Volunteers, accommodation, materials, transportation). Up to 5 artists will be invited to install their work beginning March 2021 for display through ArtFields 2021 into early 2022. Selected artists will be offered assistance to bring their artwork to Lake City and install. While selected art will be on display during ArtFields 2021, this is not part of the ArtFields competition. If artists are accepted into the competition and invited to install public art, they must choose which to participate in. Please email any questions to artteam@artfieldssc.org!

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Call for exhibition proposals for Park Circle Gallery in North Charleston

Individual or group options

Application deadline: Monday, November 30, 2020


Established and emerging professional visual artists are invited to apply individually or with a group to exhibit at the Park Circle Gallery.

The world-famous Hub Calls for Art Megaphone. The gallery aims to showcase artwork by regional and local artists in a variety of subjects and media. The City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department manages the exhibitions in the space, which are rotated on a monthly basis and may feature two or more artists concurrently. Exhibits are programmed one year in advance according to fiscal year. A review panel will convene in December 2020 to evaluate and select exhibits for July 2021-June 2022. There is no fee to apply. Artists must apply online at www.northcharlestonculturalartsdepartment.slideroom.com by Monday, Nov. 30, 2020 in order for their exhibition proposal to be considered. Park Circle Gallery (PCG), formerly known as the Olde Village Community Building, is located at 4820 Jenkins Ave. in the bustling Park Circle neighborhood of North Charleston, adjacent to several restaurants, bars, breweries, and shops. Exhibits are open to the public Tuesday-Saturday and admission is free. Applicants must be at least 18 years old. Only original, two-dimensional or three-dimensional pieces will be considered. Submission requirements include an artist statement, resume and exhibition history, exhibition concept, and five quality digital images that portray the quality and style of the artists’ work. For additional information about PCG and other exhibition opportunities or to learn more about programs and services offered by the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department, visit the Arts & Culture section of the City’s website at northcharleston.org, email culturalarts@northcharleston.org, or call 843.740.5854.