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Jason Rapp

Coastal Community Foundation of S.C. furthers SCAC grantmaking

Getting by with a little help from our friends

Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina

"Though not the only way, grants are among the main ways the SCAC accomplishes its work."

Savvy and/or loyal Hub readers should recognize that sentence as the opening line of the weekly "Grants Roundup" feature from Monday mornings. But did you know that grants from the South Carolina Arts Commission are made possible, except in either infrequent or limited circumstances, by public funding appropriated by the state General Assembly? One exception to that is the regular generous support of the John & Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina. In FY21, which marked 17 consecutive years of awards, the fund provided $33,197 to support the SCAC's efforts in subgranting to local arts organizations throughout the state and funding arts projects by individual #SCartists in select counties. Not all of the artists and projects listed below were directly funded by the John & Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund, but including them all could inspire another artist with a project in mind for which they might need a little help. So let's take a look at what artists, sorted by county, were up to in recently closed FY21 thanks to the SCAC's Arts Project Support Grants, funded in part by the John & Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of CCF. (Ed. note: Expect a formal wrap on FY21 to come later this month.)

Julie Hamer | Anderson County

Ceramic artist Julie Hamer upgraded her current kiln and purchased a second pottery wheel with this grant funding. The new equipment allowed her to teach more students and increased her capacity to keep producing her own work while providing facilities for students to complete their projects. During the grant period, she taught in person and online, in group classes as well as private lessons. The second wheel also allowed her to provide demonstrations and introductory throwing opportunities at art events in the area. Her students ranged in age from six to 75, including multiple people who had never had the opportunity to learn pottery and have now gotten experience throwing on a wheel and creating their own works of art. One 75-year-old woman shared that she had wanted to try art her whole life, and Hamer’s pottery class was the very first class ever; now that she has tried it, she wants to do it for the rest of her life. The artist helped multiple students find resources to continue their pottery work, from setting up their own home studios to connecting with established local studios to allowing them to fire their work in her upgraded kiln.

Terrance Washington | Barnwell County

The funding supported artist Terrance Washington’s mobile exhibition of The Lucidity Collection, eight paintings utilizing imagery to evoke thought and conversation, internally or outspoken, colored by aesthetic relevancy of our present condition. The exhibit included live performances by singers and musicians to further elicit emotion and thought along with the visual works. The Lucidity Collection traveled to five different communities (Walterboro, Columbia, Blackville, Aiken, and Hampton) and continues to travel around South Carolina. The mobility of the exhibit allows it to be shown in rural locations without galleries, often in spaces that have other functions such as church halls and conference rooms. The artist reported experiencing professional growth as an artist and inspiring thought within each community.

Bhakti Hough | Lee County

“Jazzy Poetic: The South Carolina Jazz & Poetry Connection – Music and Words for Healing the Nation” was a virtual program featuring poets sharing their thoughts about poetry and reading or reciting from their works. The poets were former SC Poet Laureate Marjory Heath Wentworth; Columbia, SC, Poet Laureate Ed Madden; Len Lawson; and Felton Eaddy. The poets shared their works and explained how they think engaging poetry as reader, listener, or writer can help to ease anxiety and provide hope during the current public health crisis. The event also featured video and audio presentations of Bhakti Larry Hough and the Bhakti Project jazz combo reciting original poetry that paid tribute to other poets, the poetry of Claude McKay, and performing jazz poetry and the music of South Carolina native John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie. The project showcased some of the literary and musical artistry to which South Carolina lays claim, raising awareness of the kind and level of jazz and poetry performance that can be produced in local communities, some of which often “flies beneath the arts radar.”

Historic Marion Revitalization Association | Marion County

This project produced the first artistic mural in Marion, SC’s Historic District. A graphic designer was hired to create a "Greetings from Marion, SC" mural, in which photos of historic and significant places from around the area are rendered within the letters of “Marion” to look like a traditional postcard. The mural includes images of cotton fields, the Marion Museum, palmetto trees, tractors, the courthouse, and magnolia flowers. Artist Narzhio was hired to complete the mural in a little over two weeks. The project is paving the way for more art to come to Marion by inspiring further art creation and conversation within the community. The initial goal of the mural was to provide some artistic content in a town that considered itself to have “a nonexistent art scene.” The positive feedback on the project has expanded to include discussion about the mural both on site and on social media, with memories being shared of what it was like in the "good ol' days" and people talking about their favorite part of the mural. The artist has been in talks with several local business owners about more work, and the association has been approached about bringing art to other buildings downtown.

Robert Matheson | Newberry County/Bamberg County

Newberry-based artist Robert Matheson is creating “A Different View of Bamberg County,” a short film designed to introduce viewers to the beauty and assets found in the four largest cities of Bamberg County: Denmark, Bamberg, Olar, and Erhardt. Matheson worked with Bamberg artist James Wilson to collect still photography and drone video footage showcasing community assets found throughout the county. The final product will include voice and music. The video will be distributed via YouTube and social media channels, and the work will be shared with local media outlets and statewide art networks.

Dr. Eunjung Choi | Orangeburg County

With the support of this grant funding, musician Eunjung Choi recorded Celebrating Women Composers, a CD of classical music for piano. The project highlighted classical women composers and their musical influences and impact on Dr. Choi’s professional artistry. The featured composers included Cécile Chaminade, Teresa Carreño, Fanny Mendelssohn, and Amy Beach. This project provided Dr. Choi an opportunity to grow as a professional artist through the exploration of women composers’ piano music. The completed CD can enhance the listeners’ knowledge of classical piano music of women composers with diverse cultural backgrounds.

Stephen Winkler | Orangeburg County

Stephen Winkler, graphic artist and CEO of 75 Flavas, showcased vinyl printing to children of all ages at Garden Oasis: Spring Seedling Day 2021 in Denmark, SC. After a demonstration to learn about heat transfers and t-shirt making, Parents and children produced their own unique shirts starting with the creation of their own vinyl design. Children also decorated raised garden beds in the park with precut vinyl numbers, letters, and flowers provided by the artist. The activities inspired the children to ask questions about starting their own graphic design businesses, and the artist was able to connect with a new community through the arts.

Bullets and Bandaids | Richland County

Bullets and Bandaids is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to further a living anthology of veterans, writers, and artists to celebrate our common humanity through a traveling art project spanning North and South Carolina. By giving veterans a platform to speak their truth, as well as an opportunity for civilians to take an active listening role, the program helps alleviate problems on an individual as well as communal level, covering issues like domestic violence, drug abuse, and suicidal ideation. The program also provides a venue for local artists, writers, and businesses to join in the celebration of their own potential in all the communities they impact. With this funding, the organization was able to set up workshops through Veterans Affairs in Columbia to teach creative nonfiction to veterans from multiple demographics; set up workshops through the Arken Media Group to teach veterans photography therapy; and collect stories from across the Carolinas through online linking through the VAs, as well as independent organizations like Brothers and Sisters Like These, the Charlotte Art League, and local VFWs. The organization continues to collect work by artists from South Carolina, create and edit voiceovers for veterans’ stories, create merchandise designs from veterans and artists, and connect with local writers to amplify veterans’ stories. In addition, this project resulted in three-time presidential advisor Henry Lozano joining the organization’s Board of Directors, providing greater connections within the veteran community and guidance and resources to a degree that was beyond their expectation at this point in their development.

Susan DuPlessis

Rural arts and culture initiative expands to 15 counties

Addressing local issues with S.C. Arts Commission program

[caption id="attachment_45057" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Mavens join heads and hands to celebrate their local communities and discuss shared challenges in a January meeting in Eastover, South Carolina, hosted by Michael Dantzler. Shown l to r, mavens and their corresponding counties: Brooke Bauer, Catawba Indian Nation/York; Marquerite Palmer, Newberry; Lottie Lewis, Allendale; Betty McDaniel, Pickens; Victoria Smalls, Beaufort; Evelyn Coker, Barnwell; Audrey Hopkins-Williams, Hampton; Libby Sweatt-Lambert, Chester; Luis Rodriguez (seated), Marion; Johnny Davis, Jasper; Michael Dantzler, Richland; and Matt Mardell, Colleton. Photo credit: Sherard Duvall, OTR Media.[/caption]
For Immediate Release

Across South Carolina, an initiative called The Art of Community: Rural SC has taken root, creating new networks, community engagement, partnerships and energy to change minds and build communities together.

The initiative, a program of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC), poses a central question: “How can we use arts and culture as strategic tools to address local challenges we face?” “It’s growing, and it’s always a learning opportunity,” said Matt Mardell, executive director of the Colleton Museum, Farmers Market and Commercial Kitchen in Walterboro, South Carolina. Mardell is one of the ‘mavens’ for The Art of Community; Rural SC. He said that, as part of this network of rural leaders and their teams, he is “hearing others’ creative solutions to issues we all face.” He and his predecessor, Gary Brightwell, have participated in the initiative with five other mavens from throughout a six-county Lowcountry region since it was conceived in 2015 and launched in 2016. Mavens in other counties include: Lottie Lewis of Allendale; Dr. Yvette McDaniel representing Bamberg; Evelyn Coker of Barnwell; Audrey Hopkins-Williams of Hampton; and Johnny Davis representing Jasper County. The growth Mardell references is an expansion of the initiative in 2019 that includes a broader swath of rural South Carolina. Nine additional mavens represent their communities from the mountains to the sea and myriad cultures in between. They include the following community leaders and their corresponding counties: Kayla Hyatt-Hostetler of Aiken; Victoria Smalls of Beaufort; Lydia Cotton of Berkeley; Libby Sweatt-Lambert representing Chester; Luis Rodriguez representing Marion; Marquerite Palmer of Newberry; Betty McDaniel of Pickens; Michael Dantzler of Richland; and Dr. Brooke Bauer with co-maven Laney Buckley of The Catawba Indian Nation in York County. How does the initiative work? “It’s a framework built with four critical components:  mavens, local teams, partners and advisors coupled with a state arts agency willing to invest in rural and tribal communities in a new way,” said Community Arts Development Director Susan DuPlessis of the arts commission. All 15 teams, created and led by the mavens, gather locally and as a statewide network to get to know each other better, to listen, and to consider their local assets and challenges—ultimately, to learn together. "Mavens are 'the bridges' who make this initiative work," DuPlessis said. "Knowing that I have a community beyond my community has bolstered me in my local work," said maven Lottie Lewis of Allendale. As part of this initiative, Lewis led members of her local team on a fact-finding field trip to Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, in 2019. They went to explore how another small, rural town had spurred connection and growth using arts and culture. They then planned to integrate some of that learning into their local project. “We learned so much from our new friends in Tamaqua,” Lewis said. “We were inspired by how they engaged their local community to share their ideas about where they live.” Allendale’s local project plan, though, along with the plans of the other 14 sites in this initiative, took an unexpected turn beginning in the spring of 2020. “We all had to shift in how we were engaging with one another and ask what our roles are in this moment of quarantine and separation,” according to DuPlessis who said many of the participating teams shifted their focuses to react to the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic and mounting social justice issues. Since March 20, the arts commission has convened mavens in weekly meetings to continue the practice of sharing, listening and learning together. "That's what's been so important to me and other mavens who I now count as dear friends," Lewis said. She also notes the spirit of the initiative which, built on trust and relationships, has allowed for flexibility with grant-funded local projects in this “uncertain time.” Each of The Art of Community: Rural SC teams received a $7,500 grant award in FY20 to engage and build community in ways that use arts and culture strategically. “Project plans in January 2020 didn’t look the same three months later in March,” DuPlessis said. Some communities planning festivals and other gatherings have had to postpone those for now. In a number of cases, mavens and their teams retrofitted their projects to respond to the current context and include the following examples:
  • In Aiken, in addition to getting helpful information out about the pandemic, the local project also incorporated the NextGen fight for equality, justice and respect for all people through the creation of a ‘peaceful protest’ linking them with other students around the country;
  • In Allendale, the local project’s focus became community engagement through a celebration of frontline pandemic workers as ‘hometown heroes;’
  • In Bamberg County, the local team developed a 'Little People's Learning Page' to accompany the local newspaper and address learning in a fun, creative way for students who are isolated from one another;
  • In Barnwell County, the Town of Blackville team developed a new dance called ‘The Wagon Wheel’ to engage its residents on social media in a healthy activity during a time of isolation;
  • In Beaufort County, a collective of Gullah Geechee artists used their voices and talents for public service announcements that address safety protocols for the pandemic;
  • In Berkeley County, a Spanish-language video was created to remind its community of best practices for reducing infection rates; and
  • In Chester County, the town of Fort Lawn team partnered with local businesses and state parks to showcase artists' and entrepreneurs' work to help generate income during this time of economic distress.
[caption id="attachment_45056" align="aligncenter" width="600"] The Allendale Rural Arts Team, led by maven Lottie Lewis,  celebrated its Hometown Heroes June 19 with recognition of front line workers in the face of COVID 19; and the unveiling of a community mural by Hampton County artist Sophie Docalavich. Photo credit: Xavier Blake.[/caption] Other participating communities in the initiative bolstered their local project planning by addressing infrastructure and equipment needs as they anticipate future community gatherings, festivals and local engagement as part of their community building strategies. For instance, in Walterboro where the WHAM Festival, originally set for March 27-29, was cancelled, Matt Mardell re-examined the needs for this inaugural event by purchasing displays for exhibits and creating a website for the festival--WHAMfestival.org. The festival is now tentatively set for Oct. 23-25, 2020. Set within the framework of “arts plus economic development,” Mardell said, “I know when the festival does happen, we will be ready and even better prepared for it.” In addition to implementing local projects, all participants are invited to join additional activities and programs to build their own toolkits for considering the importance of ‘place’ in South Carolina and in their personal lives. They include a community writing workshop series; a field school offering instruction in documentary skills; and asset mapping workshops. These offerings are all coordinated by the arts commission’s Folklife & Traditional Arts Program. In addition to these activities, a rural networking program called CREATE: Rural SC engages rural creative professionals who serve as conduits between the mavens, the local creative economies and the arts commission. "These new networks and learning opportunities are bridging gaps and connecting us in ways we need to be connected in rural communities and across the state," Hampton County Maven Audrey Hopkins-Williams of Estill said. All 15 communities, along with the arts commission, partners and advisors constitute a ‘learning community’ that spans the state and the nation. Its story has been shared in national and state conferences from South Carolina to Iowa and Colorado; and from Detroit to Washington, D.C. using the voices and stories of mavens, advisors and emerging creative leaders. Also, with more than 25 partners in its national Advisory Council, this learning community has access to a wide range of sectors, insights, geographies and resources for community building using arts and culture. Co-chairs for the advisory council are Pam Breaux, president and CEO for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), headquartered in Washington; and Bob Reeder, program director for Rural LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation), headquartered in New York City. Looking at the value of community engagement in rural America, Co-Chair Pam Breaux cites The Art of Community: Rural SC as an exemplar for state arts agencies across the country. "This work has become a leading example of ingenuity in funding, partnership and framework creation for state arts agencies across the country," she said. Art of Community: Rural SC Director Susan DuPlessis was invited to share the initiative at a National Press Club briefing in Washington in January 2018; Mardell of Colleton County joined her as the local voice and example of growth and development through arts and culture as demonstrated through the Colleton Museum, Farmers Market and Commercial Kitchen. More than 25,000 'views' resulted on social media from that presentation. The South Carolina initiative was also included within a rural action guide on developing prosperity, produced by the National Governors Association, the National Endowment for the Arts and NASAA. “This initiative is about re-imagining 'place' in terms of assets, not deficits,” said Co-Chair Bob Reeder whose professional work in the field of community development crosses the nation. “We're building on the strengths of local communities and the power of a network that connects to state and national resources,” he said. “Ultimately, this work is about changing minds.” Concurring with Reeder, Advisor Dixie Goswami of Clemson, South Carolina noted that the initiative makes visible local people, including young people, as "assets with wisdom and knowledge, not as deficient and needing outside help." Goswami is director of the Write to Change Foundation and director emerita of Middlebury Bread Loaf NextGen Network. "We're a state rich in creativity and ingenuity—and this initiative showcases some of that in our smallest communities" said SCAC Executive Director David Platts. "We are grateful to USDA-Rural Development for first believing in and funding this initiative in 2015. We've built a case for creative placemaking—the strategic use of arts and culture to address community issues—and this platform is being showcased nationally. The arts commission has also garnered more support for this approach from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation as well as funding from the South Carolina General Assembly. The Art of Community: Rural SC initiative is part of the Community Arts Development program of the arts commission and is one of three program areas that also include artist services and arts education. “Through this program, we continue to strive to meet our mission-‘to develop a thriving arts environment’ for the people and places in our South Carolina,” said Board of Commissioners Chair Dee Crawford of Aiken, South Carolina. “The arts are invaluable to our communities, both big and small. They are tools for growth, development and social cohesion in each and every county in our state.” Crawford also serves on the Advisory Council for Art of Community: Rural SC. The South Carolina Arts Commission is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and collaborates in its work with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and South Arts. It received funding from USDA-Rural Development to launch this program in 2015; and additional USDA-RD funding from 2017 to 2019. It also has received support from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation for this initiative since 2018. More information about The Art of Community: Rural SC can be found at https://www.southcarolinaarts.com/community-development/programs/art-of-community-rural-sc/, including a recently produced film called Meet the Mavens and a brochure featuring all mavens representing 14 South Carolina counties and the Catawba Indian Nation in York County.
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, 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.

Salkehatchie Arts hires new director

Salkehatchie Arts has announced that Susan J. Oswald, a local artist and lifelong resident of Allendale County, is the new director for Salkehatchie Arts. Her position will include management of the Salkehatchie Arts Center, a retail outlet for local artists, promoting arts in the Salkehatchie region, and assisting with Salkehatchie Stew, a storytelling initiative that promotes stories of the region through an original play each year. She comes to Salkehatchie Arts with extensive experience in management, retailing, wholesaling, marketing, and advertising. Oswald graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor of fine arts. She gained experience in retailing as the owner and operator of Country Flair, a retail business in Allendale, for 23 years.

Upon closing that business, she entered the wholesale fashion world as a multi-line manufacturer’s representative for five annual Women’s Apparel trade shows in the AmericasMart Atlanta and traveled a nine-state area as a manufacturer’s representative. During this period, she developed efficient marketing and advertising strategies to increase sales and acted as a link to provide customer service between retail stores and manufacturers.
In 2013, Oswald returned to Allendale to recapture a lifelong dream to paint. She has gallery representation in Allendale and Charleston, established an online presence and has been accepted into juried art competition/shows.
Salkehatchie Arts is a 501-c-3 nonprofit organization including Allendale, Barnwell, Bamberg, Hampton, and Colleton counties with a mission to foster cooperation between arts, economic, education, and community development groups. It supports the local artists and local economy, encourages future arts programs, helps to bring awareness to local arts resources, promotes tourism and the visability of the Salkehatchie Region, and enhances the production of arts and entertainment in the region.