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New NEA report shows increasing arts attendance

The performing arts cultural season is upon us, and a new report from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) might encourage you to head to the box office sooner than later.

Between 2012 and 2017, the share of adults who attended visual or performing arts activities grew by 3.6 percentage points to 132.3 million people, representing nearly 54 percent of the U.S. adult population. Performing arts events range from dance to theater performances while visual arts events include going to art museums, galleries, and craft festivals.

Most of the increase in this survey came from visiting art museums or galleries and the “informal” arts sector that includes outdoor performing arts festivals and touring places for their design or historic value. Also scoring high is attending “other” performing arts events—those not tracked individually in the SPPA—such as rap and hip hop, country music, rock, or folk music events.

Other highlights from the report:
  • Between 2012 and 2017, the rate of poetry-reading among adults grew by 76 percent, to 28 million people in 2017, and the share of 18-24-year-olds who read poetry more than doubled.
  • Greater participation by African Americans, Asian Americans, and 25-54-year-olds helped the performing arts numbers increase.
  • Art museum or gallery visits grew by 13% in the period studied.
Get the full report and read the study announcement on NEA.gov.

The geographic divide in American creativity

From The Washington Post Article by Christopher Ingraham

Urbanist Richard Florida popularized the term "creative class," describing the millions of workers in fields such as the arts, sciences and technology whose work largely involves coming up with new ideas and innovating on old ones. The creative class has, for better or worse, primarily been associated with big American cities along the coasts: out of Richard Florida's top 20 creative-class cities in 2015, only one — Dublin, Ohio — was located in a non-coastal state. But new data recently released by the National Endowment for the Arts suggests that there's an awful lot of creativity happening far inland from America's coastal tech and arts hubs. Among other things, the NEA worked with the Census to poll residents of all 50 states on their participation in the arts, particularly whether they performed or created works of art in 2014. Those data reveal a somewhat surprising pattern: America's Great Creative Divide isn't between the coasts and the center, but rather between North and South. Take a look. Nationwide, 45 percent of American adults said they personally performed or created artwork in 2014. "Art," in this case, was defined by a wide variety of activities. Rather than recite all of them, I'll just leave the definition, from the NEA's report, here: As you can see from the map, the study found a surprisingly wide range of arts participation between states. At one end of the spectrum, folks in places such as West Virginia, Oklahoma and Florida seemed to have little interest in doing art — participation levels there hovered around 30 percent. By contrast, people in states such as Colorado, Vermont, Montana and Oregon were roughly twice as likely to personally create or perform artwork. You can see that the states are heavily sorted by geography, with the dividing line at parallel 36°30' (by chance, the line that delineated the boundary between new slave and free states in the Missouri Compromise). In no state to the south of that line do a majority of people say they personally create or perform art. Conversely, in only three states above that line — Kentucky, Delaware and West Virginia — do fewer than 40 percent of residents create or perform art.
What's driving these differences? A separate analysis by the NEA has some answers. Education is a big part of it. The percent of state residents with a bachelor's degree or higher is positively correlated with creating artwork: in other words, more education, more art. This relationship is even stronger in some of the other categories the NEA looked at, such as attendance at art exhibits or performing arts events. Conversely, poverty rates are a strong negative driver of arts participation. If you're working three minimum wage jobs, you're probably not going to have a lot of time to indulge in crochet or creative writing. Of course, education and poverty are big drivers of each other, too. States with more money can spend more on better education, which leads to higher wages, which leads to more education, in an ongoing virtuous cycle. Unfortunately, the reverse holds true as well. Rates of participation in the arts are a powerful and under-appreciated proxy for human well-being. "Self-actualization," including creative activities, are all the way at the top of Maslow's famous hierarchy of needs. If you're able to spend the time and resources necessary to, say, practice with the local theater group or join the local community band, it's highly likely that you've got all the basics like food, shelter and safety taken care of. The NEA numbers suggest that a lot of folks in Southern states are falling behind their Northern counterparts on some of those measures. This mirrors what researchers see in other domains too, such as child well-being. Geography, again, is destiny. Statistically speaking, a kid born in a state such as Florida is likely to have a harder time reaching the pinnacle of Maslow's pyramid than one born in, say, Minnesota.

Making art to feed the hungry: Hub City Empty Bowls 2016

Hub City Empty BowlsHub City Empty Bowls is gearing up for Soup Day, its annual arts-based fundraiser to feed hungry people in Spartanburg County. Each year, the public is invited to make the hand-crafted pottery bowls that are featured on Soup Day. Three bowl-making events are scheduled:

  • Saturday, July 16, 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. in Spartanburg Art Museum’s studios at Chapman Cultural Center
  • Thursday, July 21, 6-8:30 p.m. at West Main Artists Co-Op
  • Saturday, Aug. 27, 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. in Spartanburg Art Museum’s studios at Chapman Cultural Center.
These free, family-friendly events provide the experience of working with clay at any level of experience, including no experience. The clay, facilities, and instruction are all donated. Members of Carolina Clay Artists and volunteers will be on hand to instruct participants in bowl-making techniques. “People look forward to our bowl-making events every year,” said Nancy Williamson, publicity leader for Carolina Clay Artists. “I see some of the same faces and families come back each year. It’s fun, easy, creative, free, and, of course, it is for a good cause. I am truly amazed at some of the raw talent I see. Even more amazing is to see all the finished bowls laid out on Soup Day for the public to take home. It’s almost like an art exhibit – a huge art exhibit with every color of the rainbow and shape imaginable.” Soup Day takes place Oct. 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Chapman Cultural Center. For every $15 donation, a donor gets to keep a bowl of his or her choice and enjoy a simple meal of soup, bread, and tea. Patrons can enjoy soup donated by some of the best restaurants in Spartanburg, listen to live music and share in the fellowship of helping to feed local citizens. A silent auction of donated items and a drum circle are part of the event. TOTAL Ministries will receive the proceeds to help feed the needy in Spartanburg County. Last year’s campaign allowed Hub City Empty Bowls to make an all-time high donation of $26,000 to TOTAL Ministries. Empty Bowls was started by a high school teacher in Michigan in 1990 as a student project to help feed the needy and has grown into an international phenomenon. There are hundreds of Empty Bowls projects around the world, raising millions of dollars to feed the hungry. Each Empty Bowls organization is independent and self-governed. 2016 marks the eighth year that Carolina Clay Artists has spearheaded the Spartanburg effort. Thus far, this year’s sponsors are Spartanburg Regional Foundation Healing Arts Fund, Carolina Clay Artists, West Main Artists Co-Op, Action Printing, Milliken & Company, Wheresville Productions, Chapman Cultural Center, Spartanburg Art Museum, and Chris Williams. The project is seeking more sponsors: companies and individuals willing to donate funds; restaurants to donate soup, bread, and tea; other businesses to donate eating utensils; individuals and businesses to donate silent auction items; and potters to make the bowls. Those willing to donate should contact Traci Kennedy at Director@TotalMinistries.org or (864) 585-9167. For more information about TOTAL Ministries, visit TotalMinistries.org. Hub City Empty Bowls, a component fund of the Spartanburg County Foundation, was established to increase awareness about the issues of hunger and food insecurity and to help local organizations fight hunger. For more information, visit HubCityEmptyBowls.com or Hub City Empty Bowls on Facebook. Via: Hub City Empty Bowls  

Conductor sought for new series: YOU

SC PhilharmonicAir conductors of all skill and experience levels are hereby on notice. From this September through next spring, the South Carolina Philharmonic is rehearsing, then heading off the stage and into the community with the interactive and engaging new “Conduct the Phil” program, funded by a grant from the Central Carolina Community Foundation. Music moves many to start conducting spontaneously in the car or office, but have you ever thought you’d like a chance to conduct a professional orchestra? If you said “yes,” start practicing. “Conduct the Phil” improves the popular flash mob experience by making it interactive. In the process, it will connect around 100,000 people in the region with the S.C. Phil and each other by virtue of a unique shared experience at six free concerts in vibrant social settings where the Midlands gathers: the S.C. State Fair, Orangeburg’s Festival of Roses, Irmo’s Okra Strut, the Kershaw County Farmers Market, and Soda City Market twice. The first concert is at the Irmo Okra Strut, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, from 7 to 8 p.m, kicking off the largest-scale audience/community-engagement initiative in the S.C. Phil’s 52-season history. As passersby enjoy these festivals, they’ll encounter around 20 S.C. Phil musicians set up as if on stage, with music stands, chairs, and a podium and baton for the conductor – who will be conspicuously absent. On Music Director Morihiko Nakahara’s music stand will be a sign that reads, “Conduct us!” As brave volunteers take turns picking up the baton, the assembled orchestra will begin playing a surprise tune to whatever tempo the volunteer conductor sets. Music will include patriotic works and popular classical repertoire such as Mozart’s Eine kleine nachtmusik, Pachelbel’s Canon in D, and the opening of Beethoven’s famed Fifth Symphony. The orchestra will perform at each location for an hour as members of the public take turns at the podium. The Central Carolina Community Foundation’s generous, $24,000 grant funds most of the new program’s $30,000 cost, with the S.C. Phil covering the rest.

From MORIHIKO NAKAHARA, S.C. Philharmonic Music Director “What we've experienced from adapting the ‘Link Up’ concerts in the recent years is the power of audience participation and audience/performer interaction. ‘Conduct the Phil’ is a fun way for people of all ages and backgrounds to experience what I am fortunate to experience every time I step in front of an ensemble. You are placed right in the middle of all the musical action, perhaps similar to being right on the sidelines during a football game as opposed to watching it from the stands or on TV. If you are adventurous, feel free to experiment – make the orchestra go faster, slower, louder, softer, etc.” From JOANN TURNQUIST, President and CEO of Central Carolina Community Foundation “Central Carolina Community Foundation is proud to support the South Carolina Philharmonic with an inaugural Connected Communities grant. The grant we’ve awarded will help this organization promote a more welcoming and vibrant community by engaging our community in the music making process. We are delighted to provide funding for the ‘Phil’s’ unique concert series.”

About the S.C. Philharmonic

An independent 501(c) (3) non-profit organization founded in 1964, the South Carolina Philharmonic entertains, educates, enriches and excites diverse audiences through live symphonic music. The introduction of Music Director Morihiko Nakahara in 2008/2009 ushered in a New Era of Artistic Excellence that is allowing the orchestra to move forward and become the Midlands pre-eminent performing arts group. Image credit: Improv Everywhere Via: S.C. Philharmonic

Arts in black and white. Is Columbia a culturally segregated city?

From The Free Times Article by Dan Cook

When The Avett Brothers played the Township Auditorium in mid-March, it was a big deal for Columbia — or at least some of its residents. The North Carolina-based Americana band, probably best known for its 2009 song “I and Love and You,” played a virtually unprecedented three-night run. Free Times put the show on its cover, and thousands of people came out every night. Just as the March 7 performance was about to start, Free Times tweeted out to its 18,000 followers: “Waiting for @theavettbros … who’s here?” “Almost entirely white people,” came a reply from the Twitterverse.
It was breathtakingly true. At the Saturday night show, at least, there didn’t seem to be a single black person in the audience.In the specific case of The Avett Brothers, this shouldn’t be a surprise: Bluegrass, folk and Americana bands draw mostly white fans everywhere, not just in Columbia.But it’s not just Avett Brothers concerts where the racial breakdown at local arts and entertainment events is often skewed in one direction or the other. Go to a ballet, an art opening, a play, a classical music concert or a lot of the city’s festivals, and you’ll often find an overwhelmingly white audience in a city where 42 percent of the residents are black.Of course, there are also events where you’ll find much the opposite — gospel plays and R&B shows at the Township, the Black Expo, the Harambee Festival at Benedict College, the Jubilee Festival and Hip-Hop Family Day, among others.What’s harder to find are the events that are truly integrated.“This city is very divided in the arts when it comes to race,” says Sherard Duvall, director of media education at the Nickelodeon Theatre and one of the organizers of Hip-Hop Family Day, a festival celebrating hip-hop music and culture. “Black people go to black arts events, and white people go to white arts events.” That’s certainly not Duvall’s intent with Hip Hop Family Day — organizers try to define it “by what it is, not by who it is,” he says. Yet, like lots of other events in the city, it tends to draw a crowd of mostly one race. This week, Free Times looks at cultural segregation in Columbia — why it exists, whether it’s changing and why it matters. Alone in a Crowd Dalvin Spann, an artist and founding member of the local artists collective Izms of Art, was born and raised in Columbia. He went to Dent Middle School and studied at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He’s been going to art openings and other arts-related events for a long time. And for as long as he can remember, he’s usually been one of the only black people to show up at these events. “That’s what I was accustomed to seeing,” he says. But, he adds, “It depends on where I go.” At an event where there’s a likelihood of seeing works by black artists, he says, there’s more likely to be black people in the audience, too. At the Black Expo, he says, “The attendees are going knowing that there is the possibility of seeing black art there, so they tend to gather there more — as opposed to a gallery where there might or might not be a black artist.” Terrance Henderson, a frequent choreographer and performer at Trustus Theatre, states it more bluntly: “There’s a lot of cultural segregation [in Columbia] … most people live in segregated neighborhoods,” he says. “It’s a segregated lifestyle.” A 2009 statewide study by the South Carolina Arts Commission found that black people are slightly less engaged in the arts than white people — 39 percent of black people had not attended an arts event in the past year, compared to 30 percent of white people. The study defined arts participation widely, to include not only attendance at concerts and other performing arts events, but also attendance at school and community performances and engaging in the arts through writing, painting or playing an instrument. Though many of Columbia’s neighborhoods do split along racial lines, overall the city used to be evenly divided racially. Fifteen years ago, Columbia was nearly a 50-50 city — 48 percent of its residents were white and 47 percent were black, with the rest split among Latino, Asian or other ethnicities. It’s now 52 percent white and 42 percent black. Even before the percentage of black residents started to decline, a Knight Foundation study conducted around the turn of the 21st century found that white residents were generally happier with the city’s cultural offerings, with 83 percent of whites saying Columbia was an “excellent” or “good” place to live, while only 69 percent of blacks agreed. It shouldn’t be surprising, perhaps, in a city where black-oriented arts groups have tended to be — and still are — small and poorly funded. There are no recent studies examining perceptions of Columbia by race. Culturally, though, the city has been gradually offering more to its black and minority residents in recent years even as its population has grown modestly more white. Events such as Hip-Hop Family Day, the Main Street Latin Fest and Famously Hot New Year, which has presented old-school R&B headliners three of the past four years, have helped serve as a counterbalance to staples such as St. Pat’s in Five Points, which is the city’s largest annual event and draws a predominantly white crowd. With such shows as Run the Jewels and Waka Flocka Flame, the Music Farm, too, has offered the hope of diverse programming in a town where music clubs have often tended to cater to white or black audiences, but not both. Non-Legal Barriers To the extent that audiences still tend to split along racial lines today, that split is a matter of things like habit, choice, exposure and economic opportunity — not a matter of law. That’s a big difference from the 1950s, when blacks had to enter the Township Auditorium through a side door and were only allowed to sit in the balcony. Though legal barriers are long gone, other barriers remain — some easy to define, others less so. Part of participating in the city’s cultural offerings is feeling comfortable in participating. Artist Leo Twiggs remembers when blacks were not allowed in institutions like the Columbia Museum of Art — and, well after formal integration, when blacks still didn’t feel welcome there or at other museums. (Full disclosure: This writer is married to the deputy director of the CMA.) “There is a kind of aloofness that is personified by museums,” Twiggs says. “Museums never had signs during the years of segregation … but you just knew that was not a place that you could go.” That status didn’t change overnight.
“Because museums were this place that it was just assumed you couldn’t go, even after desegregation, museums had to work very hard to get African-Americans to participate,” Twiggs says.Brandolyn Pinkston, former board chair of Friends of African-American Art and Culture, an affiliate group of the Columbia Museum of Art, recalls a story from her father, who passed away last year at the age of 90. He went to college in the Midwest at a time when there were few black college students and blacks lived largely separately from whites.“He loved classical music,” she says, but when he went to concerts, “People thought [he was] there to work at the reception.”Columbia is well past such perceptions today. African-Americans can and do attend all types of arts and cultural events in the city and are freely welcomed at them — but they often do so at rates far lower than their representation in the local population.At a lot of events, Duvall says, people feel subtly excluded — not like they can’t attend, but more like they shouldn’t.“A lot of people — black and white — feel like, ‘That’s not for me. They don’t want me there. They didn’t do this for me,” he says. Spann says that even today, galleries and other arts groups “need to keep in mind how to bring in everybody, how to make it appealing to everyone.” And to make that happen, he says, it’s up to both institutions and individuals to come out of their comfort zones. It’s About Experience — Not Race Pinkston has a story to tell about inclusiveness and participation in the arts. She was at the Columbia Museum of Art one day when she saw a family wandering outside on the plaza. They were trying to decide whether to come in, and they were leaning against it. “‘Oh no, we’ve got on jeans,’” Pinkston recalls them saying. “And I said, ‘Come on in — it’s not that kind of place.’” The family was white. Pinkston, who use to head the S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs, tells the story to make a simple point: Some people are intimidated by participating in the arts, and that intimidation doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with race. Ken May, director of the S.C. Arts Commission, says a person’s level of education is the strongest predictor of participation in the arts. Spann echoes the point. At each stage of his artistic development in middle school and high school, Spann says, “I was kind of taken under the wing of an art teacher.” What was perhaps the biggest stage of his development — attending the Savannah College of Art and Design — came about because the college came directly into his high school. “I didn’t know about SCAD until they came to my school,” Spann says. “When you come directly to the students and the kids, then they become aware — and then their parents become aware,” he says. “You have to put it in front of them; I think that plays a large part of it.”
It helped at a certain point to have black role models, too, Spann says. His middle school and high school art teachers were both white, and Spann learned a lot from both of them. But it really hit home with Spann when he met and learned about black artists like Twiggs, Tom Feelings and Tyrone Geter.“They had to fight a little harder and make sure they were better than the best, and their skills were so on point,” Spann says. “I think there is not enough discussion between people like Leo and people in their teens.”Pinkston places a strong emphasis on education, too.“I truly believe that you have to start with young minds and keep that process going,” she says. “When schools can’t take children on field trips or get the necessary supplies to create that expansive mind, or [can’t] bring in a group of actors or fund transportation, that’s where the limitation of resources or exposure comes in.”To help bridge that experience gap, Pinkston is part of a nonprofit, The Links Inc., that commits part of its budget to taking students to arts and cultural events.Like Pinkston, Twiggs emphasizes the importance of arts-related experiences — especially for those kids whose parents aren’t middle class. “Those kids from well-to-do schools, you are just preaching to the choir — because their parents will take them anyway,” he says. Twiggs founded the Stanback Museum at S.C. State University and taught art appreciation for many years. “You never know what it does,” Twiggs says, recalling one student who told him she cried when she got a chance to see the Coliseum in Rome in person after learning about it in Twiggs’ class. “I have just had so many students over the years I have taught art appreciation … it was just so important for me to instill that in them, because I knew that they did not have that experience before they got there.” Building a Foundation In January, Columbia’s most progressive and only professional theater company, Trustus Theatre, presented a play called In the Red and Brown Water, which featured a predominantly black cast. On the weekend the play opened, most of the audience members were white. “We chose it because the narrative is strong — not because it’s a white or black cast,” says Larry Hembree, executive director of Trustus. Because of its black cast, though, there was some expectation at the theater that at least a significant proportion of the audience would be black. Chad Henderson, director of marketing at the theater, was fielding questions about how the play was being promoted. “People mentioned talking to churches,” he says. “But it’s not like it was a gospel thing.” Then one of the cast members took it upon herself to try to attract a black audience. She posted on her Facebook page about how she was upset that her friends weren’t supporting the work she and the other cast members were doing. The post led to a lively discussion on social media — and also brought in a lot of black audience members the next weekend. Trustus staffers make it clear that they’re not trying to fill quotas — nobody is counting the number of tickets sold to black people. But they are trying to be inclusive, and part of the reason the cast member’s Facebook post had an effect was because of work done at Trustus over a long period of time. Jim Thigpen, who founded Trustus along with his wife, Kay, made it a priority to recruit and train local black actors, Hembree says. “I was not used to seeing black actors,” Hembree says — 15 or 20 years ago, there just wasn’t a significant contingent of trained black actors performing in Columbia’s major theaters. But having that base of actors connected to the theater has helped the organization build a foundation for diversifying its audience. “A strong core of our group is our African-American company members,” says Chad Henderson. Adds Terrance Henderson: “It’s not the point [for black audiences] to just personally identify with everything,” he says. But, he adds, there is meaning in producing works that resonate with black audiences. To see part of their culture “accepted in a wider venue,” he says, makes black people “feel validated.” A Dialogue, Not a Month Arts leaders say privately that they’re trying hard to diversify their audience base. Many do things like outreach programs at local schools, and some offer free or reduced-price tickets in an effort to attract underserved audiences. Even so, it can be an uphill battle — and there are some types of outreach that are more effective than others. “It’s hard to get people out of their comfort zone if they’re not comfortable,” Duvall says. “It’s like having a difficult conversation.” It’s on arts groups, Duvall says, to create “a comfortable place.” That can be harder than it sounds, given hard-wired perceptions in the community. Take just one example: The historical perception of Lexington County as a not-so-welcoming place for blacks can still be a barrier. Duvall brings up the example of trying to offer programming geared toward black audiences at venues like New Brookland Tavern and Conundrum Music Hall. It’s “that West Columbia thing,” he says. “[Black] people will not cross the bridge.” The S.C. Arts Commission has learned through its own efforts how hard it can be to connect with communities it hasn’t traditionally worked with. In recent years, the commission has been involved in efforts to establish the Gullah-Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. In the early stages of an outreach effort, May says, it’s important “to do more listening than talking.” He also says it’s time-intensive and takes a lot of human contact and relationship building. “You’ve got to be in it for the long haul,” he says. “This is not a short run.” Local artist Michaela Pilar Brown, who moderated a discussion at the Columbia Museum of Art in January featuring three of the state’s top African-American artists, says it’s hard to attract black audiences without having black staff members. “It is difficult to come into a space and not feel completely at home — and that has to do as much with the people who are employed there as with what’s on the wall,” she says. “What’s on the walls will change when the employees are more diverse.” Brown is quick to point out that she’s not singling out the museum. “That’s true for all institutions,” she says. “You can’t give lip service to diversity without addressing it on the staff.” When blacks and Latinos “are in positions of leadership,” she says, “then you start to speak to diversity in your program offerings.” At Trustus Theatre, Hembree sees it slightly differently. To him, it’s the art that comes first and the diversity that naturally follows it. “People get grants because they beef up the number of blacks on their board,” Hembree says. “‘We’ve got to find three awesome black bankers — who are they?’” he says, imitating the mindset. “I’m not going to buy into that.” Instead, Hembree says, it’s about producing the right plays and “programming from the heart” — which will naturally lead to producing plays that reflect the diversity of the human condition.
Terrance Henderson says it is important to him that there are black board members and staff members. Otherwise, he says, it sends a signal that the only place for blacks at Trustus is on the stage.But, he adds, the theater is already achieving that balance without adopting a quota mentality.“There’s a sincerity that is evident” at Trustus, Henderson says. “It permeates through their staffing and their marketing.”He contrasts the Trustus approach with what he sees from other organizations that he sees as “not about being engaged” with a minority community as much as just “trying to sell tickets to a community.”At the Nickelodeon Theatre, Columbia’s primary home for independent film, Duvall echoes the point.“It’s not about marketing per se,” he says. “It’s about relationships.”
Take, for example, the theater’s Civil Rights Sundays.“‘Civil Rights Sundays’ sounds black,” Duvall admits. “But civil rights are human rights — it’s about your rights as a citizen.”In organizing the series, the Nickelodeon works hard to reach out to all parts of the community. So, if the theme is protest, for example, they don’t limit panel speakers to civil rights activists — anyone who has experience in a protest movement of any kind might be asked to join the discussion. That, in turn, opens up a discussion with a broader swath of the community. The movies, too, aren’t always about black America.“At the end of the day, it’s ‘Do I feel included? — and not just when you are ready to include me,’” Duvall says. When people feel like, “‘This is for me, too,’ then they will take part.”More Diversity Means Less ControlSometimes, making people feel included can take an institution out of its comfort zone. Ken May at the Arts Commission says he’s seen a long evolution in how the Columbia Museum of Art has sought to attract black audiences. “Ten years ago, some of their efforts were pretty clumsy,” he says. Now, though, he sees “maturity” in the museum’s approach. The Friends of African-American Art and Culture group is a key example. Instead of trying to ‘target’ a community in a quick-fix, numbers-boosting effort, the museum has sought to have an ongoing conversation with a group it hopes to engage as an audience over the long term. It’s the difference between an organization presenting a black-themed exhibition or performance once a year during Black History Month — in an effort to sell tickets as well as to show its inclusiveness — and actually inviting representatives of the black community to have a hand in determining the institution’s programming. “You have to be willing to share control,” May says.
Arts groups are under a fair amount of political pressure to be more inclusive. Both the City of Columbia and Richland County, which fund the arts through hospitality taxes, are keenly interested in how local organizations are serving minority communities. Arts groups are routinely asked how they are diversifying their boards and their programming, and privately there are complaints about perceived inequities in public funding between established organizations with white leaders and smaller organizations with black leaders.At the Arts Commission, May says that political pressure is growing at foundations, too.At some major foundations, he says, “The discussion has gone from equity in access to equity in funding,” May says, a shift that “has pretty profound implications.”As arts groups seek to diversify their audiences and their programming, however, there are limits — and perhaps underlying problems with the whole conversation, May says.The assumption “is that everybody should go because it’s ‘high art,’” he says. “There’s arrogance in that. In fact, nobody likes everything — no art form appeals to everyone.”To put it plainly, what if the people arts groups want to reach simply aren’t interested in what’s being offered? That’s a difficult question. Orchestras and ballet companies, for example, mostly perform works from the Western canon. To what extent should audiences be educated on the virtues of these classics — versus institutions expanding their understanding of what counts as art? As art forms and audiences evolve, there’s a case to be made for re-examining the whole paradigm and reconsidering which types of art deserve a home in major arts institutions. Look at an event like Cola-Con, a local event celebrating comics and hip-hop culture. “That is animation, it’s not classical European art,” Pinkston says. “But that was a huge event for a lot of people in this town.” And not just black or white people; Cola-Con has typically been one of the more integrated cultural events in the city. Columbia’s Great Strength Though its cultural habits still tend to skew black or white, there’s also a freshness to Columbia’s cultural scene that shows great promise. Asked if Columbia has an inclusive arts culture, Spann brings up a show called Post Graffiti, put on by the Columbia Museum of Art in 2010. For the show, the museum allowed graffiti artists to paint on one of its walls for a community exhibition. It was quite a step for a museum known for its Renaissance collection. But it attracted artists from outside the city and was covered by the website Art Daily. “We did the Post Graffiti event, and we had artists from Charlotte,” Spann recalls. “They were honored. They said, ‘We can’t get a museum to show our work in Charlotte, but we can go to Columbia and post on the walls.’” Among Columbia’s strengths, Spann says, are its size and the relative open-mindedness and accessibility of its leadership. “You have transplants from other places playing key roles in getting things going here,” he says. And the arts scene is growing, he says, because the relatively small size of the city makes it easy to get out to different venues and meet people. That’s a Columbia trait that many have recognized. Several arts leaders with experience in other cities say Columbia stands out for its openness to collaboration across disciplines and institutions. May says things are definitely changing in Columbia. Though there’s still a sense of “a dominant culture and a marginalized culture,” he says, he also sees a lot of good things happening. “Columbia has changed a lot — the larger Columbia, not just the arts community,” he says. The city has become “more cosmopolitan and tolerant … than we have been historically.” Recent events such as the ColumbiaSC 63 project, focusing on the city’s civil rights history, and the Burning of Columbia commemoration, have served as important points of reflection, May says. While there’s much work that remains to be done before all of Columbia’s residents feel equally invested in the cultural life of the community, the trend seems to be headed in the right direction. What seems normal now, May says — such as the city’s open acceptance of its gay and lesbian community, for example — would not have been 10 or 15 years ago. And, he says, “I think it’s accelerating.”

New arts research reveals why and how people participate, plus a revised economic impact

Three reports from the National Endowment for the Arts reveal new findings about the economic impact of arts and cultural industries, as well as how and why Americans participate in certain arts activities. The data for the three reports is all from 2012, so for the first time the NEA can show a comprehensive view of a single year in the life of the arts and cultural sector from three different angles: supply, demand, and motivations for consumer behavior. The new information will help arts providers and others more effectively understand and develop strategies to engage individuals and communities in the arts. “The implications from this research are significant," said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. "The findings show that there is great diversity in how people engage in the arts, and this gives us a framework to use our creativity to innovate new ways to reach these audiences.” “With the creation of new data analyses like this one - which shows how arts and culture contribute to gross domestic product (GDP) - the Department of Commerce is providing a more detailed picture of what drives the U.S. economy, growth, and job creation,” said Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, referring to the Bureau of Economic Analysis satellite account data discussed below in report 3. Report 1: When Going Gets Tough: Barriers and Motivations Affecting Arts Attendance (click on each infographic for a larger view)

 Why attend the arts?

In 2012, the National Endowment for the Arts partnered with the General Social Survey to ask why people attend arts events (specifically music, dance, theater, and visual arts). This new report looks beyond demographics to discover the attitudes, motivations, and barriers for attending the arts at different life stages—the first time the NEA has published a report on this type of data. There were common barriers for the 13 percent — 31 million adults — who were interested in a specific event, but did not go for some reason:
  • Nearly 60 percent of people with children under age six said lack of time was the greatest single barrier to attendance. This finding could inspire arts providers to develop more family-friendly program options.
  • Some noted that the location was too difficult to get to. This was especially a problem for retirees, older adults, and adults with physical disabilities. If we're quantifying the value of what we often term "access to the arts," it's about 11 million lost audience members or exhibit-goers.
  • Twenty-two percent of those who wanted to attend but chose not to said a barrier was not having someone to go with.
Motivations include:
  • Top reasons Americans attend the arts (performances and exhibits) include socializing with friends or family members (73 percent); learning new things (64 percent); and supporting the community (51 percent).
  • Despite similar household incomes and education, people who call themselves middle-class were more likely to attend the arts than those who identified themselves as working class. Thwarted interest, rather than lack of interest, may be the cause for lower attendance rates among some audiences.
  • Life stages — pursuing higher education, marriage, child-rearing, and retirement — are often more predictive than age alone, as a factor in attending the arts. For example, parents with young children under age six more often cited socializing with family or friends, learning new things and celebrating cultural heritage when they attended performances accompanied by their children.
  • For more key findings, go to Arts Data Profile #4.
Report 2: A Decade of Arts Engagement: Findings from the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, 2002-2012


The Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA) is the largest and most comprehensive survey of U.S. arts participation, with a total sample size exceeding 37,000 adults, ages 18 and over. The latest SPPA compares arts participation rates based on surveys from 2002, 2008, and 2012, as well as regional, state, and metro-area statistics.
  • A new question in the 2012 survey revealed that adults who attended performing arts or visited museums as children were three to four times as likely to see shows or visit museums as adults. Exposure to the arts in childhood turns out to be a stronger predictor of adult arts participation than education, gender, age, or income.
  • Technology is a great enabler of arts creation and participation. In 2012, nearly three-quarters of American adults — about 167 million people — used electronic media to view or listen to art, and large proportions of adults used electronic media to create music or visual art.
  • Women participate in the arts at higher rates than men across all categories, except a few. For example, men are more than twice as likely as women to use electronic media to create or perform music, and they are also more likely to create visual art online.
  • More than half (54 percent) of all American adults attended at least one live music, theater, or dance performance in the past year, or they went to view an art exhibit. That's about 120 million people.
  • For more key findings, go to Arts Data Profile #5.
Report 3: The Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account (ACPSA)


The ACPSA, a partnership between the NEA and the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis, is the first federal effort to provide an in-depth analysis of the arts and cultural sector's contributions to current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of the final dollar value of all goods and services produced in the United States. The revised estimates reveal the arts are a bigger driver of GDP and jobs than previously estimated. Among the new estimates are:
  • In 2012, arts and cultural production contributed more than $698 billion to the U.S. economy, or 4.32 percent to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, more than construction ($586.7B) or transportation and warehousing ($464.1B).
  • 4.7 million workers were employed in the production of arts and cultural goods, receiving $334.9 billion in compensation.
  • Arts and cultural spending has a ripple effect on the overall economy, boosting both commodities and jobs. For example, for every 100 jobs created from new demand for the arts, 62 additional jobs are also created.
  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis highlights the Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account in the January edition of the Survey of Current Business, widely read by economists and financial analysts to understand the state of the U.S. economy.
  • For more key findings, go to Arts Data Profile #6.
The underlying data for the SPPA and GSS research reports are available to researchers, policymakers, and arts practitioners via a brand-new online resource. Through the National Archive of Data on Arts & Culture (NADAC), the NEA provides free access to the data files and related resources, as well as a user-friendly platform for querying the data. Visit NADAC to learn more. The NEA is the only federal agency to conduct periodic analyses of the value and impact of the arts in American life. For nearly 40 years, the NEA Office of Research & Analysis has produced research publications, conferences, and data sources on arts-related topics of interest to policymakers, educators, journalists, cultural researchers and practitioners, and the general public. Many of these products have emerged in consultation or collaboration with other federal agencies such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In recent years, the NEA launched a new research grant opportunity to support research that investigates the value and/or impact of the arts. About the NEA The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to strengthen the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at arts.gov. Via: National Endowment for the Arts

Charleston Supported Art (CSA) seeks local, emerging and established artists for second year

After a successful launch in late 2013, Charleston Supported Art, LLC, is gearing up for its second year of local art sponsorship and distribution. On October 1, the group will begin accepting proposals from emerging and established visual artists to create original work for its 2015 seasonal shares. Contemporary visual artists ages 18 and up working in any media and living in the Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties are eligible to apply to the open call jury process, which closes on November 1, 2014. A link to the application as well as answers to frequently asked questions are available at www.CharlestonSupportedArt.com/how-to-apply. Charleston Supported Art (CSA) aims to support artists in the creation of new work, cultivate a culture of support for original work by Charleston area artists, and foster new relationships between buyers and artists with the potential for future art purchases. The program, which is based on the buy-local, from-the-source model of community supported agriculture, was met with great enthusiasm and support from artists and art patrons in its inaugural year. Artists who wish to participate in 2015 must submit an online application via Slideroom including a CV, work samples, and a proposal detailing the nature of the pieces that they intend to create for the program. A minimum of 25 artists will be chosen to move on to Phase II of the selection process and will be asked to create one piece that represents the style and quality of work that they will create for their season. After a review of these works and personal interviews, a total of 12 artists will be selected and will receive a stipend of $1,500 to produce 32 pieces of original fine art or fine craft, such as paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, ceramics, textile, jewelry, and more. A jury panel consisting of the seven co-founders of CSA will make the selections. The panel will seek input from the 2014 roster of artists. CSA’s 2015 program will consist of three seasons – Spring, Summer, and Fall – with four artists per season. The 2015 artists and their season assignments will be publicly announced in January 2015. Seasonal shares will be available for purchase at $425 + tax following the announcement. The public will have an opportunity to meet the artists and view their work at a Meet & Greet event in February 2015. For more information about Charleston Supported Art, visit www.charlestonsupportedart.com. Questions or requests to be added to the CSA mailing list should be directed to info@charlestonsupportedart.com. Images: Work by 2014 artists.


About Charleston Supported Art, LLC Charleston Supported Art is a platform to connect emerging and established artists and collectors. Launched in November 2013, the program is part of a nationwide movement that has developed in over 40 communities across the country and is the first of its kind in Charleston, SC. Co-founders include Kristy Bishop, Camela Guevara, Stacy Huggins, Karen Ann Myers, Erin Glaze Nathanson, AnneTrabue Nelson and Ann Simmons. Supporters include 1600 Meeting Street, Artist & Craftsman Supply, Básico, Cannonborough Beverage Company, Drill Films, Enough Pie, Frothy Beard Brewing Company, GrowFood Carolina, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Ink Meets Paper, Mixson Bath & Racquet Club, Redux Contemporary Art Center, The Cut Company, Three Little Birds Café, and Tree Climber Productions. Via: Charleston Supported Art

Charleston Supported Art to reveal second round of artwork shares

Charleston Supported Art, LLC, is preparing to reveal the second round of artwork for its inaugural year. Offering seasonal shares of art for purchase based on the community supported agriculture model, the group has established an easy, affordable, and fun way for art lovers to begin or add to their personal art collections. Individual shares are priced at just $450 and consist of six original pieces of artwork produced by a curated group of local, established and emerging artists working in a variety of media. Charleston Supported Art (CSA) shares are limited and delivered through exclusive pick-up events for each season. The first season of work was released at a spring pick-up event at GrowFood Carolina in May. The next pick-up event, dedicated to the fall season, takes place on Thursday, August 28, from 5-7 p.m, at Mixson Bath and Racquet Club in Park Circle, North Charleston. Shares may be purchased on site or ahead of the event at charlestonsupportedart.com. CSA’s fall season features works by Mariah Channing, Olivia Cramer, Miyako Fujiwara, Fred Jamar, Jennifer Henriques Phillips, and Kristi Ryba. The six artists will be present at the August 28 pick-up event to mingle with patrons and discuss the 32 pieces of original artwork they each created specifically for and exclusive to Charleston Supported Art. The pick-up event, open to current and prospective shareholders, will be the first time these works will be revealed. The pieces, which include photography, jewelry, pottery, oil paintings, and monotypes will not be available for purchase anywhere else. To read more about the six artists or purchase a share online, visit www.charlestonsupportedart.com. Shares for both the spring and fall seasons will be available to purchase and carry home at the fall pick-up event. Shares for the winter season may also be purchased, with delivery slated for early December. Questions or requests to be added to the CSA mailing list should be directed to info@charlestonsupportedart.com. View a short video promoting the spring pick-up event. Note: images of artists’ work shown above represent the style and quality of their work, but do not necessarily depict the work they’ve produced for their seasonal share. About Charleston Supported Art, LLC Charleston Supported Art is a platform to connect emerging and established artists and collectors. Launched in November 2013, the program is part of a nationwide movement that has developed in over 40 communities across the country and is the first of its kind in Charleston, S.C. Co-founders include Kristy Bishop, Camela Guevara, Stacy Huggins, Karen Ann Myers, Erin Glaze Nathanson, AnneTrabue Nelson and Ann Simmons. Supporters include 1600 Meeting Street, Artist & Craftsman Supply, Básico, Enough Pie, Frothy Beard Brewing Company, GrowFood Carolina, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Mixson Bath & Racquet Club, Redux Contemporary Art Center, The Cut Company, and Three Little Birds Café.

Two S.C. arts organizations receive NEA Our Town grants

Two South Carolina arts organizations (and current South Carolina Arts Commission grantees) are the recipients of Our Town grants from the National Endowment for the Arts: The Nickelodeon Theatre in Columbia and Preserving Our Southern Appalachian Music (POSAM) in Pickens. Indie GritsThe Nickelodeon Theatre will receive $50,000 to support the expansion of free public programming for the 2015 Indie Grits Festival. Though it began in 2009 as a film festival in Columbia, S.C., Indie Grits has grown to showcase diverse and innovative work of artists from across the Southeast. Columbia Film Festival and the City of Columbia will partner to increase public programming throughout the festival, including video installations in downtown storefronts, pop-up arts experiences along Main Street, and public panels discussing how arts and culture can help shape the future of cities. Artists will activate vacant storefronts during the festival, demonstrating the potential for spaces to be used year round for creative endeavors. Preserving Our Southern Appalachian MusicPreserving Our Southern Appalachian Music will receive $25,000 to support the redesign of a former elementary school auditorium into a community cultural space for workshops, concerts, and traditional arts activities in Pickens, S.C. The schoolhouse now serves as the Hagood Community Center and is in need of significant restoration to function as an arts space and the cultural and civic hub of the town. Preserving Our Southern Appalachian Music, City of Pickens, and the Senior Citizens of Pickens will come together to conduct historical research to inform the design of the facility, host town hall meetings to solicit citizen input, hire an architect to redesign the auditorium, and participate in fact-finding visits to learn from other cultural centers in the region. This project will provide a space for residents and visitors to keep alive the traditional arts and culture of Appalachia. "Our Town grants are very competitive," said S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May. "For the past three years, only one grantee from South Carolina has received this grant, so to have two this year is remarkable. We always encourage and offer to work with eligible S.C. organizations to apply for this grant and others from the NEA. The application process can be time-consuming, but the payoff can be great." Sixty-six Our Town grants totaling $5.07 million were awarded to organizations in 38 states, investing in local efforts to leverage arts assets to drive community development. Since Our Town's inception in 2011, the NEA has awarded 256 Our Town grants totaling more than $21 million in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Our Town projects generally fall into two categories; those that feature arts engagement activities, and others that deal with design and cultural planning activities. In arts engagement projects, artistic production is the focus. Design and cultural planning projects develop the local support systems and infrastructure necessary for community development to succeed. Visit the Our Town website to find out more and explore the interactive map with all Our Town projects to date. Via: National Endowment for the Arts

Art 101 at ArtFields Gallery features State Art Collection

Noted New York curator and art critic Eleanor Heartney once described the State Art Collection as “somewhat rowdy and unruly, reflecting the variety of movements and debates that have roiled the art world over the last 40 years.”  Two upcoming programs in Lake City will shed some light on that opinion. The programs are part of Art 101 at ONE -- Lunch Box Conversations presented by ArtFields. Part I Photography and Social Activism - February 25 Cecil Williams will discuss the artistic, historic and social relevance of his civil rights-era photographs. Willams, currently living in Orangeburg, S.C., was on the front lines in documenting an important historical moment in South Carolina’s history. Williams’ work is included in the State Art Collection: The African-American Voice exhibition at the Jones-Carter Gallery, January 31 – March 22, 2014. Part II Movers, Shakers and Trend Makers in the State Art Collection - March 25 Harriett Green, visual arts director for the South Carolina Arts Commission and curator of the State Art Collection, will highlight works from the collection in the context of local, regional and national art trends with a focus on the cultural, historic and aesthetic significance of works by some of the state’s most prominent artists. Each event takes place from 1 - 2 p.m. at the ArtFields® Gallery at 110 East Main Street in Lake City. $12 per person per event includes a lunch box created by local restaurants. Seating is limited; call for reservations: (843) 374-0180. About the State Art Collection The State Art Collection is considered the most comprehensive public collection of works by contemporary South Carolina artists. Established in 1967 as one of the first programs of the South Carolina Arts Commission, the State Art Collection has grown to include 448 works in a variety of media and styles by 277 South Carolina contemporary artists. Small exhibitions featuring work from the collection are organized on a regular basis for rural and isolated areas inside and outside of the state. Works from the State Art Collection are available for loan to art museums, state agencies, and public and private organizations for the purpose of public exhibition or public display. The collection is supported in part by the South Carolina Arts Foundation and Kahn Development Company. Via: ArtFields