Groundbreaking SCAC pilot program becomes rolling grant

Up to $7,500 to use the arts to address rural issues


Purely decorative stock art of a field of yellow wildflowers and a structure resembling an A-frame house without walls and stained glass of different colors

In 2017, the S.C. Arts Commission began a pilot program in rural, Lowcountry communities that activated partnerships to use the power of the arts to address long-standing issues.

Under The Art of Community: Rural SC name, small teams in six counties reimagined their communities through an arts and culture lens. Each team created projects to grapple with a current community development issue, be it economic, community or workforce development, healthcare, education, public safety, housing or capital.

The program, through the leadership of retired SCAC Program Director Susan DuPlessis and the hard work of team leaders known as mavens, received national attention. It would eventually expand from the original six counties—Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper, don’t you know—to 15.

This week, the SCAC debuted the metamorphosis of the program into a new rolling-deadline grant category. Most S.C. nonprofit organizations (arts or non-arts!) are eligible, along with colleges and universities and units of government.

It is an exciting change, because it opens up possibilities to groups throughout the state without the formality of a program structure.

Successful applicants can get up to $7,500 of support for things like:

  • Artist residencies
  • Exhibitions
  • Digital projects
  • Arts festivals
  • Workshops
  • Community murals
  • Equipment (e.g., kilns, lighting or sound equipment, musical instruments, storage)
  • Furniture (e.g., easels, music stands)
  • Professional services (e.g., performance space rental, web designer, consultant fees)
  • Artistic services (e.g., muralist, performers, instructors)

The idea is that grant-funded activities would:

  1. expand community access to the arts in rural areas and
  2. include a public engagement component and
  3. engage a project steering committee to lead the project. (A project steering committee is the group of people who will be collaborating on and leading this project. This group should have a strong understanding of the project and the applicant organization.)

Matching requirements of up to 1:1, but as little as 1:3 (applicant:SCAC) are determined by the county in which applicants are located. You can get all the details from the grant guidelines.

The application deadline is rolling to fund projects from Oct. 31, 2023-May 31, 2024.