Request an application by May 1; applications due May 15
For 75 years, the generosity of a Charleston man has rippled quietly through the Lowcountry by giving financial help to some of its most talented writers, artists and scientists.
Charles Hughes died before his time in 1939, but the 31-year-old already had experienced success, particularly given the economic headwinds of the Great Depression. His father, Thomas Hughes, founded Hughes Lumber Co. on Mary Street.
Charles Hughes’ will left most of his $167,397 assets to different charities, but the largest slice went to create the Charleston Scientific and Cultural Education Fund.
Today, those in charge of his Hughes’ legacy hope to raise awareness of the fund, which mostly awards South Carolina natives grants of about $2,500, so its work can continue.
The fund’s stated mission was heartfelt, if a bit long-winded.
It called for the “encouragement of scientific or cultural arts or professions or pursuits … by maintaining and financially assisting persons actually engaged in scientific or cultural or artistic work of a character that promises benefit to humanity or to result in scientific or cultural or artistic productions of merit or to increase the knowledge of mankind.”
By growing its principle as well as making grants, the fund has grown to about $450,000 while awarding more than $425,000 to hundreds of people over the past 25 years, said Charleston lawyer Charlton deSaussure, one of five board members who oversee the fund.
He said it plans to awarded another $25,000 this year, and any South Carolina native between 21 and 60 is eligible to apply.
They don’t have to be from Charleston, but deSaussure said the board considers whether they plan to return to the tri-county area to live at some point.
“We want to make it more far-flung, to tell you the truth,” he said. “We want to get the word out.”
Previous recipients include artists, such as William Halsey, namesake of the College of Charleston’s contemporary art institute, and Merton Simpson, a black Charleston native who helped pioneer the Abstract Expressionist movement in New York.
Others have included jazz historian Jack McCray, painter Anne Worsham Richardson, and biologist Robert Lunz, who received $15,000 in 1957 to study the pond culture of oysters on Wadmalaw Island.
Today, grants average about $2,500 for a year, deSaussure said.
Charleston artist Lese Corrigan has applied for the grant but not won it.
She said the award offers a certain prestige, but even a small grant also offers a liberating moment for an artist.
“Any time money comes in that isn’t, ‘Oh I sold X piece,’ it gives you the impetus to do something new, something different, to think about it in a different way,” she said.
Case Jernigan, a Charleston native, was long interested in becoming an artist. He had taken classes at the Gibbes Museum, studied in Virginia and was teaching and coaching at a boys’ school in Connecticut when he applied for help from the fund to study in New York.
While he taught art at the school, Jernigan said, “I knew I needed a different environment with more artists, more galleries and more museums.”
He received a few thousand dollars to attend the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture from 2010-12. He eventually returned to Charleston and had a show at the Corrigan Gallery in February.
“It was a pretty big leap for me, but the fund helped me do that, which I’m super thankful for because it was the right move,” he said.
How to apply:
What: The Charleston Scientific and Cultural Education Fund awards grants to support scientific, cultural and artistic pursuits of individuals.
Who can apply: Native born South Carolinian between the ages of 21 and 60.
How much: Grants typically average $2,500 and are for one year only.
Where to apply: Application forms may be obtained from Tamme Suggs at Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A., P.O. Box 340, Charleston, SC 29402 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Key dates: Requests for applications may be made until May 1. Applications are due by May 15. Awards will be announced by June 1.