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S.C. Arts Alliance previews Arts Advocacy Week 2019

Hey planners: this one's for you. Arts Advocacy Week 2019 is going back to its roots, as teased yesterday in their membership email. (Quick aside: did you know membership is free? Become an advocate today!) The festivities will fall Feb. 11-15, 2019. Arrive in Columbia on Tuesday, Feb. 12 for an evening reception celebrating the 40th anniversary of the S.C. Arts Alliance, and/or join Wednesday morning (Feb. 13) for a Legislative Breakfast followed by scheduled meetings with your legislators in their offices! End the day with our usual rally at the Statehouse featuring student performances and lots of excitement. Mark your calendars now! Registration will open up in December.

Young Voices Build Pride in Place

Next week, the S.C. Arts Alliance presents the annual S.C. Arts Advocacy Day – with a twist: in 2018, it becomes Arts Advocacy Week. The main events are Tuesday with a State House rally and luncheon to follow. (We hope to see you there.) Here on The Hub, we're taking this week to connect the dots between public support of the arts and the net effect on society. This week's focus is on why we advocate, why support matters, and what arts support looks like on the ground, in communities around the state.


Sometimes, those communities have deep, historic problems. Oftentimes, those problems persist when one-size-fits-all solutions ... just aren't. Enter the Art of Community: Rural S.C. to foster creative, grassroots efforts to address problems through arts, culture, and creative placemaking. This program addresses the unique needs of rural South Carolina by taking what makes a community unique and building pride around that through creative partnerships with people previously not engaged to address those issues. An eclectic mix of young minds are rethinking the ways their rural communities are perceived to create a new framework for action. Please take a few moments to hear them tell their stories in the video below, which shows how arts and culture merge to face challenges where other attempts have fallen short. This is what arts support looks like on the ground. This is why we advocate: YOUNG VOICES VIDEO 5 MINUTES from Cook Productions on Vimeo.
The Art of Community: Rural S.C. advances the S.C. Arts Commission’s commitment to rural development through arts, culture and creative placemaking, creating a way to support new leadership, generate energy, and motivate action in a rural region of South Carolina. It is supported by the S.C. Arts Commission and U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development. Read more about it here.

George Patrick McLeer changes gears from Mauldin to state arts advocacy

From The Greenville News Article and photo by Scott Keeler

For someone who serves as executive director of the leading non-profit arts advocacy group in the state and works out of a performing arts center that has helped revitalize Fountain Inn, George Patrick McLeer’s new office really isn’t artsy. “I really probably should have more stuff up and I will eventually,” McLeer said as he looked around the white walls of his new work space at the Younts Center for Performing Arts. “We’re a pretty mobile office though. It’s a one-person show.” McLeer completed the move last week as the South Carolina Arts Alliance office officially shifted from Rock Hill to Fountain Inn. McLeer actually doesn’t have a typical office. It’s part of a shared space in the box office of the Younts Center. That’s just fine with him. McLeer didn’t take over as SCAA’s new executive director July 1 for a title or for fancy artwork in a luxurious office. He took it to continue doing what he’s done in Mauldin for the past six years, but on a statewide level. The SCAA is a coalition of arts organizations, educators, administrators, artists and other business and community leaders, that serve the arts through advocacy and leadership development. The SCAA works throughout South Carolina to encourage civic engagement to advance the arts, to inform public policy and to advocate for public-sector support for the arts and arts education. “Some of the work that the Arts Alliance does at the state and federal level is making sure that the arts are seen as a tool for community and economic and quality of life,” McLeer said. Having a mobile office is essential for McLeer as he works throughout the state. A goal is to visit all 46 counties over a two-year span. McLeer has spent the past six years transforming the Mauldin Cultural Center into an arts center that attracts more than 30,000 visitors each year to a variety of events. In addition to programs, McLeer also led beautification projects outside and inside the old Mauldin Elementary School. In 2013, McLeer joined the City of Mauldin’s team when it created a new Office of Cultural Affairs. As the Office of Cultural Affairs' administrator, McLeer continued to manage the Cultural Center's facility and programs. At the same time, McLeer was responsible for implementing the Mauldin’s new branding and logo, managing all citywide marketing as well as the city’s website. McLeer started the Railroad Concert Series, an annual free series featuring locally and nationally known performers. He managed the BBQ Cook-Off, which ranks as arguably the most popular annual event in Mauldin. Most recently, McLeer created the Maudlin Public Art Trail, a 10-year continuous cycle of public art installations surrounding the Cultural Center’s amphitheater. Soon after McLeer starting working in Mauldin in June of 2010, Southwest Airlines arrived at the GSP International Airport. A cheap fare to Washington D.C. played a big role in where McLeer is today. “In March of 2011, I ended up going to National Arts Advocacy Day almost by accident,” McLeer said. “Southwest had $40 one-way flights to D.C. and me and my family happened to go on the same weekend as Arts Advocacy Day.” McLeer said that experience inspired him to really become hands-on in advocacy work. Shortly after making those connections in Washington, McLeer accepted an invitation to join SCAA’s board. He most recently served as the vice president before becoming executive director following the retirement of Betty Plumb. Plumb, who served as executive director for 27 years, said McLeer brings a fresh look at what a new generation would want from the SCAA. While McLeer officially took the reins July 1, Plumb will be assisting in the transition until Sept. 1. “We think we've got the best man for the job," Plumb said. "He brings a new skillset and a lot more technology. He’s a real people person with a lot of enthusiasm and great ideas. “Our constituents enjoy working with him and there’s a real trust factor there because he’s worked with us so closely as vice president.” A perk of McLeer’s new position is that the SCAA shifted its physical location based on where the executive director lives as well as the commitment the city has made to the arts. McLeer said his Fountain Inn home is about 200 yards away from the Younts Center. In addition to walking to work, the Younts Center also serves as a homecoming location for McLeer. After graduating from the College of Charleston in 2010, McLeer began working as an intern in the same box office at the Younts Center which was then led by Van Broad. Much like the Mauldin Cultural Center, the Younts Center is an old schoolhouse that has transformed into a thriving arts facility. Working at an old school seems to come naturally for McLeer, whose parents were both teachers and whose sister is currently studying to become a teacher. “It’s nice being back. It’s like a full-circle moment,” McLeer said. “I’m on the Board of Trustees at St. Joseph’s (Catholic School) and the School of the Arts Council for College of Charleston, so I have a thing for my alma maters. It’s funny that I’ve always worked in someone’s alma mater.” McLeer added that education is a passion of his thanks to his family, and arts education is a big focus of the SCAA. Fountain Inn Economic Development Director Byron Rucker is thrilled to have McLeer as a part of the building that he manages. “With the ever-growing focus on performing arts in Fountain Inn, this is a natural location for the SCAA and its leadership as it moves into a new era,” Rucker said The Younts Center’s transformation that began years ago helped start what has been a city-wide revitalization of Fountain Inn. McLeer said part of his duties is to show what the arts can do for other cities — no matter their size — throughout South Carolina. “I remember building the set pieces for the very first theatrical show inside what is now Cucina 100 (restaurant in downtown Fountain Inn), and I remember having to always bring my dinner with me to rehearsal because there was almost nowhere to eat,” McLeer said. “I have seen firsthand how the arts continue to transform this community and how the vision set by city leaders includes the arts. It’s a vision which mirrors that of the SCAA, and made the move to Fountain Inn an easy decision for our board.” McLeer said his new job feels like a pinnacle in his career. He joked that with him being 27 years old and Plumb retiring after 27 years, SCAA’s next executive director may have just been born this year. “I’ve really fallen in love with the advocacy work and working with art in public policy. Mauldin was able to give me a really great platform to explore that,” McLeer said. “So I went for it (the executive director position) and luckily was chosen to do it. “To see your fingerprints and your impact happen in other areas of the state, not just your own backyard, is kind of surreal, overwhelming, thrilling and terrifying at the same time. But it’s a lot of fun.”

SC Arts Alliance seeking new executive director

1/19/16 update: The application process for this position is now closed.  The South Carolina Arts Alliance, a 501-c-3 statewide non-governmental membership organization, seeks a dynamic executive director to work with its board, membership, the state arts agency, state legislators and other policy makers and stakeholders in South Carolina as well as colleagues in national organizations. SC Arts Alliance(Related: Long-time S.C. Arts Alliance director announces retirement) The South Carolina Arts Alliance is the state's primary, private sector arts coalition of arts organizations, educators, administrators, artists, parents, business and community leaders. The organization’s mission is to serve the arts through leadership development and advocacy throughout South Carolina, to encourage civic engagement to advance the arts, and to inform public policy and to advocate for public sector support for and of the arts and arts education. The executive director is responsible for day-to-day operations of the organization, including project management; management of a state-wide membership organization; and working collaboratively with a variety of agencies, organizations, institutions and volunteers. Experience in financial management, including building and monitoring a budget, and outstanding oral and written communication skills are necessary. Candidates must have an established record of or related experience in the management of a nonprofit organization. Successful candidates will have earned a bachelor’s degree (or a higher degree) and possess knowledge of media relations and the workings of social media as well as fundraising skills, including grant writing and grant management, development of business sponsorships and memberships, and the implementation of constituent services. Knowledge of South Carolina’s legislative processes and environment, as well as experience in working with legislators in strategic advocacy, is preferred. Knowledge of education policy is preferred. Executive leadership skills, including strategic thinking, diplomacy, flexibility, creativity, and the ability to work independently are necessary. A minimum of five years of arts management or related experience are highly preferred for this full-time position that will include oversight of a part-time financial administrator. This is a salaried position with a benefit package that includes paid vacation, health benefits and 401K. Applicants should send a cover letter with salary range and resume or CV to Rose Sheheen, president of the South Carolina Arts Alliance, at rsheheen@bellsouth.net. (Please send all documents as PDF files and as Microsoft Word attachments.) Review of applications will begin on January 15, 2016. The position will remain open until filled. An announcement about the new executive director is planned for May 2016 with a start date of July 1, 2016. Visit  www.scartsalliance.net for more information on the organization and its activities. Via: South Carolina Arts Alliance

Long-time SC Arts Alliance director announces retirement

Long-time South Carolina Arts Alliance Executive Director Betty Plumb has announced her retirement effective Sept. 1, 2016. Plumb's career in arts administration and advocacy spans more than 30 years, with 27 of those years spent with the Arts Alliance. (Related: S.C. Arts Alliance seeking new executive director) Here's an excerpt of Plumb's announcement:

Dear Friends, Betty PlumbAfter more than 30 years in the arts administration and advocacy field, 27 of those years with the South Carolina Arts Alliance, I recently notified my board that I would be stepping down as executive director effective Sept. 1, 2016, the month that I will observe my 70th birthday. In advocacy and in life, timing is everything, and this is the right time for me to step away from the professional world. Seventy may be the new 50, but it's time for a new phase in life. Over the years, the Arts Alliance has been state's primary private sector coalition for developing leaders to advance the arts, inform public policy development and advocate effectively for public sector support of the arts and arts education. I hope you agree that we have lived up to that vision. With your help, we have advocated successfully for increased funding for the South Carolina Arts Commission and for arts education initiatives within the South Carolina Department of Education. We have also advocated in support of federal cultural agencies such as the National Endowment for the Arts, arts education programs within the U.S. Department of Education, and for other policy issues that have impacted the arts at the national level. The Arts Alliance has been recognized nationally for our advocacy efforts. We have developed an informed and civically engaged constituency and built bipartisan support among legislators who value the contributions of artists and arts educators to South Carolina's economy and quality of life. And what's more important, we will continue to strengthen our efforts to ensure that students have the opportunity to experience quality arts education regardless of where their school is located or their financial circumstances. During the coming months, there will be plenty of time to say farewell to my many friends in the arts community, both in South Carolina and across the country. Under the leadership of our Board President Rose Sheheen and the search committee, our priority at this time is a nationwide search to select a dynamic, visionary leader to take the Arts Alliance forward. Even as retirement nears, be assured that we will continue to pursue an aggressive advocacy agenda for 2016, knowing that we can count on your continued support. Thank you for your support and the support of the Arts Alliance! Betty Plumb Executive Director South Carolina Arts Alliance Betty@scartsalliance.net www.scartsalliance.net
Image, left to right: Kathleen Bateson, S.C. Arts Alliance Immediate Past President; Ken May, S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director; and Betty Plumb, S.C. Arts Alliance Executive Director

Artist spotlight: Claire Bryant – cellist, teacher, advocate

clairebryantSouth Carolina is well-represented by successful artists who were born or raised here but who now live beyond the state's borders. Cellist Claire Bryant, based in New York City, is one artist who maintains close ties with her birthplace as a musician and educator. Bryant performs Nov. 20 in a homecoming recital at the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County (details available on the FAC website.) Here's an excerpt from Bryant's bio. Find out more about her on her website.

New York City-based cellist Claire Bryant enjoys an active and diverse career as a leading performer of chamber music, contemporary music, and the solo cello repertoire in premiere venues such as Carnegie Hall, Southbank Centre, Suntory Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Barbican Centre. Bryant is a founding member of the acclaimed chamber music collective, Decoda - an Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall, and is the principal cellist of Trinity Wall Street’s chamber orchestra, Novus N.Y. Bryant is a frequent guest artist with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Lukes, Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Band and Ensemble ACJW, of which she is an alumna. Bryant has appeared as a soloist with orchestras from South Carolina to California and from Honduras to Finland performing concertos of Haydn, Elgar, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saens and Vivaldi, among others, and appears frequently at festivals in the U.S. and abroad. Bryant is equally engaged as an educator and advocate for inclusive arts in society. Her international body of work in these areas was recognized in 2010 with The Robert Sherman Award for outstanding innovation in community outreach and music education by the McGraw Hill Companies.  In 2009, she founded a community residency project through chamber music in her native South Carolina called “"Claire Bryant and Friends.”" This endeavor brings world-class artists to communities for weeklong residencies which go beyond the concert hall - bringing engaging pedagogy and performances into the public schools, advocacy forums supporting arts education, and community concerts and creative projects in diverse and innovative venues including hospitals, homeless shelters, and correctional facilities.

She is a graduate of The Juilliard School and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She was in the pilot class of The Academy -- A Program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School and Weill Music Institute and served as an assistant faculty for Professor Bonnie Hampton at The Juilliard School from 2007 –to 2012.

Photo of Claire Bryant by Caroline Bittencourt Fotografia
 

Arts Advocacy Post-Election To Do List

Americans for the Arts has put together a list of post-election-day suggestions for arts professionals to reach out to the newly elected and reconnect with incumbents, including congratulating the winners through multiple channels, asking for meetings, inviting them to share in holiday socializing, keeping them informed about the issues affecting the arts, and welcoming them as they begin their new year in office. Hopefully, by making use of the time between Election Day and when the session starts, new elected officials will become familiar (and supportive) of you, your organization and your issues. Get the details at blog.arts.org. Via: Americans for the Arts ARTSblog