← View All Articles

Arts Grow SC to expand, first executive director named

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE A woman is smiling, Headline reads "Breaking News"

The South Carolina Arts Commission and the South Carolina Department of Education announce the expansion of Arts Grow SC as a permanent fixture in the state’s arts learning landscape.

Arts Grow SC began in July 2021 as a three-year partnership between the South Carolina Department of Education and the South Carolina Arts Commission to use ARP ESSER funds to help public schools address pandemic-related learning loss with proven, arts-based learning initiatives. This landmark investment of $20 million allows a professional team and a network of partners to help schools and teachers fill learning loss gaps, use arts integration to remediate core subject areas,​ and provide summer and afterschool learning opportunities.​ This newly announced expansion establishes Arts Grow SC as a permanent part of the arts learning community. It will utilize a collective impact model, with the SCAC serving as the backbone for the work. This approach brings greater sustainability: building on the strengths of the SCDE, the SCAC, partnering organizations, schools, and districts. The collective impact model will activate existing education consortiums, shared-resource school districts, and newly identified hubs in areas not currently being served. These hubs will enable statewide programs and services. The flagship physical location for a more permanent Arts Grow SC will be the Spearman Center for Arts Innovation, located in Columbia at 1026 Sumter Street. Named for former music teacher and current state Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, the Spearman Center will provide:
  • direct programs
  • professional learning
  • events
  • resource distribution
  • exhibitions
SCAC Deputy Director Ashley Brown has been appointed executive director of Arts Grow SC and the Spearman Center for Arts Innovation. Brown has served throughout the Southeast as a nonprofit and higher education administrator, public school teacher, stage manager, teaching artist, and director. She received her bachelor of arts in theatre from Winthrop University and her Master of Fine Art in theatre management from Florida State University.
Current Arts Grow SC partners include:
  • the Arts in Basic Curriculum Institute;
  • Engaging Creative Minds;
  • S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities;
  • ArtsNOW;
  • Boys and Girls Club of the Crescent Region;
  • S.C. Educational Television;
  • S.C. Arts Alliance;
  • Palmetto State Arts Education;
  • Education Commission of the States/Arts Education Partnerships;
  • and the Research, Evaluation, and Measurement Center at the University of South Carolina. 
“In just a year we have rallied a statewide network to use the arts to address COVID-19 related learning loss. Using a collective impact model, Arts Grow SC and the Spearman Center for Arts Innovation will work to ensure every student in South Carolina has access to quality arts education and experiences," Brown said. "I can’t think of a better way to honor the legacy of Superintendent Spearman and all she has done for the arts in South Carolina.” “I have seen first-hand the tremendous impact that the arts can have on student engagement and academic achievement,” Spearman remarked. “Throughout my career in public education, I have strived to bring these opportunities to all students across our state and am so honored that the South Carolina Arts Commission has chosen to name this center after me. I look forward to seeing the innovative practices and programs that this center will grow and support.” “This is an exciting time for the arts in South Carolina,” said SCAC Executive Director David Platts. “Building on the strong foundation of existing partnerships across the state, Arts Grow SC stands as a model of how we, as state agencies, can work together with local consortia, organizations and school districts to help students most directly impacted by COVID recover and position themselves for future academic success.  I can think of no more fitting tribute to Superintendent Spearman, whose life and career have been dedicated to turning challenges into opportunities in order to better serve students from all over South Carolina.”
While Arts Grow SC programs, grants, and professional learning opportunities are already taking place, the SCAC hopes to site work on the Spearman Center for Arts Innovation in the coming year. To learn more about Arts Grow SC, visit ArtsGrowSC.org.
South Carolina Arts Commission News Release, Media Contact: Jason L. Rapp, Communications Director. jrapp@arts.sc.gov or 803.734.8899

Margot Lane Strasburger

Team additions, senior staff changes to improve SCAC service


COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is announcing additions to the agency’s team of arts professionals and changes to senior staff designed to improve and streamline the constituent service experience. New Executive Director David Platts is making these changes as part of plans being implemented to improve responsiveness to increasing demand for the agency’s services. The changes begin with two full-time staff additions that will provide constituents program-specific access points to arts professionals who can best serve their needs. Ce Scott-Fitts is to join the SCAC Monday, Aug. 19 as artist services program director. Scott-Fitts comes from Charlotte, where she was creative director and founding staff of McColl Center for Art + Innovation. She established an international residency program for North Carolina artists, curated exhibitions, developed the artist-in-residence program, and built the education/outreach and artist services programs. In addition, Scott-Fitts partnered with colleges and universities in both Carolinas, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and others to develop and fund residencies and public art commissions. She taught at Central Piedmont Community College and served on selection panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. An artist herself, she has exhibited throughout the Southeast and her work is held in public and private collections in the U.S., Japan, and the U.K. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from Maryland Institute, College of Art in Baltimore. Laura Marcus Green, Ph.D. joined SCAC on a full-time basis in late July. She previously split time between the agency and the University of South Carolina McKissick Museum as a result of a folklife and traditional arts partnership between the two. In her new role, she is serving as program specialist for community arts and folklife. She holds a doctorate in folklore from Indiana University and a master’s in folklore/anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. Selected prior positions include community engagement coordinator for the Museum of International Folk Art’s Gallery of Conscience, and work as a folklife fieldworker and researcher, writer, curator and consultant for the Louisiana Division of the Arts Folklife Program, SCAC, Iowa Arts Council, New Mexico Arts, and the Idaho Commission on the Arts, among others.
Further changes include the promotion of Arts Education Director Ashley Brown to senior staff in a new role as deputy director. In addition to continuing as arts education director, Brown will also direct the short and long-term work of the grants, community arts, artist services, and visual art departments. Deputy Director Milly Hough is being promoted to senior deputy director. She will direct the short and long-term administrative, communications, finance, human resources, and operations departments’ work. “Having come to the arts commission from the role of a grantee lets me see some ways we can position ourselves to provide better constituent service. These changes are the start of a process that should ultimately make us even more responsive and efficient,” Platts said. “It is exciting for our team to be fully staffed again. Ce and Laura have the qualifications and experience to benefit the people they serve at a high level, and the expertise Ashley and Milly provide should dramatically enhance internal organization and processes.”

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

With a commitment to excellence across the spectrum of our state’s cultures and forms of expression, the South Carolina Arts Commission pursues its public charge to develop a thriving arts environment, which is essential to quality of life, education, and economic vitality for all South Carolinians. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas:
  • arts education,
  • community arts development,
  • and artist development.
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696.