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Five honorees to receive 2023 S.C. Governor’s Awards for the Arts


COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Commission is happy to announce it will bestow five recipients in 2023 with the state’s highest award for exceptional achievement in practicing or supporting the arts: the South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts.

The SCAC presents the Governor’s Awards for the Arts annually in the spring. The appointed members of the agency’s board of directors vote on panel recommendations for the award. In 2023, the SCAC board approved the recommendations of the following honorees from their respective categories to be recognized for outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina:
  • SPECIAL AWARD: Nigel Redden; Mystic, Connecticut
  • ARTIST: Ray McManus, Lexington
  • INDIVIDUAL: Carlos Agudelo, Spartanburg
  • ARTS IN EDUCATION: American College of the Building Arts, Charleston
  • ORGANIZATION: Aiken Center for the Arts, Aiken
“Recipients are talented, successful, and dedicated. They always represent the best of South Carolina. They give of themselves to ensure access to the arts for all. By presenting them the Governor’s Award, we celebrate their achievements and thank these accomplished recipients for enriching life and culture throughout our state.” SCAC Board of Directors Chair Dee Crawford said. “Making the arts more representative is central to the South Carolina Arts Commission’s mission,” SCAC Executive Director David Platts. “This class of Governor’s Award recipients is notable not just for its excellence, but also for the ways it improves access to the arts. All five of these have made demonstrable efforts to help make the arts in South Carolina more inclusive and accessible.” A committee appointed by the SCAC Board of Directors reviews all nominations. After a rigorous process and multiple meetings, the panel sends to the board a recommendation from each category with a nomination for its approval. Serving on the panel in 2023 were Shani Blann (Lexington), Flavia B. Harton (Greenville), Tamara Herring (Ridgeland), Ed Madden (Columbia), and Regi Strickland (Columbia). Recipients of the South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards are honored during a broadcast presentation of the South Carolina Arts Awards, which are expected to air on South Carolina ETV this May at a date and time to be announced later. South Carolina First Lady Peggy McMaster will join David Platts and Jane Przybysz, executive director of University of South Carolina McKissick Museum to honor award recipients.

About the 2023 S.C. Governor’s Awards for the Arts Recipients

Nigel Redden (Special Award) retired as the general director of Spoleto Festival USA in 2021 having rejoined the festival in October 1995 after having previously served as its general manager from 1986 to 1991. Redden was director of the Lincoln Center Festival from 1998 to 2017. He has also served as executive director of the Santa Fe Opera (1991-1995), artistic consultant to Philadelphia’s American Music Theater Festival (1992-1994), and consultant to the chairperson of the New York International Festival of the Arts (1991-1992). He was director of the National Endowment for the Arts’ dance program from 1981 to 1986 and has served on numerous panels for the NEA, regional arts organizations, and various foundations. He is president of the Spaulding-Paolozzi Foundation and serves on the board of South Arts. In 2001 he was awarded the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters and was promoted to Commandeur in 2019. He has received honorary doctorates from the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina. He is currently the project leader for the Anson African Burial Memorial in Charleston which will honor 36 Africans/African Americans buried in the late 18th century whose bodies were disinterred during the renovation of the Charleston Gaillard Center. Born and raised in Lexington County, Ray McManus (Artist Category) is frequently active in poetry initiatives across the state. He serves as the writer-in-residence at the Columbia Museum of Art. McManus founded Split P Soup, a creative writing outreach program that places writers in schools and communities across South Carolina, and former director of the creative writing program at the Tri-District Arts Consortium that serves Columbia area schools. He coedited a collection of writing responding to historical photographs from South Carolina archives. He is the author of five collections of poetry. His first was selected for the S.C. Poetry Book Prize and published in 2007 and a fifth, Last Saturday in America, will be published by Hub City Press in 2024. His poems and prose have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies of Southern and Irish-American writers. McManus earned his master’s in poetry and his doctorate in rhetoric and composition from the University of South Carolina. Now an English professor at USC Sumter, he teaches creative writing, Irish literature, and Southern literature. He is division chair of both arts and letters and humanities and social sciences and director of the school’s Center for Oral Narrative. Carlos Agudelo (Individual Category) has been Ballet Spartanburg’s artistic director since 1991. Among his choreography are classic and contemporary favorites; some of these have been performed at Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Columbia, Greenville, Greenwood, and Rutherford County, North Carolina. Under Agudelo’s direction in 2012, Ballet Spartanburg formed a resident professional company comprised of a diverse group of dancers from across the world. For 10 years, it has performed from Spartanburg to North Carolina, Texas, and Las Vegas, in the process staging more than 85 presentations of his choreography. The native of Colombia, Agudelo began his training in Florida under the direction of Ruth Petrinovic. He received a scholarship to study at the Harkness Ballet School in New York City and danced with the Israel Classic Ballet in Tel Aviv and the International Ballet de Caracas. Alvin Ailey coached him in Ailey’s ballet, The River. He also danced with Ballet Hispanico of New York. Mr. Agudelo received the 2021 Civitan Servant’s Heart Award for the community of Spartanburg and the 2022 Spartanburg Citizen of the Year awarded by the Spartanburg Kiwanis Club. In 2018, Ballet Spartanburg was awarded the S.C. Governor’s Award for the Arts in the organization category. Real-world implications led Charleston’s School of Building Arts to become the American College of the Building Arts (Arts in Education Category) in 2003. A 1968, a warning came that American artisans in the traditional building arts were aging out of the job market. As school systems cut traditional crafts training, no new generation was being trained to create or repair, restore, and preserve American architectural, historic, and cultural treasures. Then, owners of historic Lowcountry properties had to look to Europe to find artisans who could repair and restore damage after Hurricane Hugo.  A group of Charleston’s preservation leaders created ABCA as a unique higher education experience that fills a gap. ACBA was the first to combine old-world apprenticeship training with a liberal arts core curriculum. ACBA students graduate with the skills to practice their trade and broad liberal arts foundation that allows them to design while leading their fields. They understand not only how to do something, but to think critically within the context of their specialization, manage a business, and communicate effectively with clients. ACBA students have trained through a wide range of community service projects, restoring or creating from the Oval Office back to the Lowcountry. Making art more inclusive and accessible is a high priority for Aiken Center for the Arts (Organization Category). Staff and board of directors use this lens to make the vision a reality for the 40,000 people who come through its doors yearly. Three galleries change exhibitions every six weeks. ACA staff work to incorporate each exhibition into their ongoing educational programs, making a cohesive experience for the community. ACA provides instruction from local artists and musicians, enabling community members to find a creative voice through lessons, camps, workshops, and classes—with scholarships available. ACA works closely with the Aiken County public schools. A program brings Aiken Head Start 4K students into the gallery, and ACA places authors and artists in schools as the arts that are integrated to connect learning and life. Further, ACA serves individuals with cognitive and physical disabilities in its community. Youth summer workshops and year-round adult workshops provide for the development of communication skills, teamwork, and decision making at no cost to participants, and art experiences relating movement and painting reach the Alzheimer’s/dementia community.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences. A state agency created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in artist development, arts industry, arts learning, creative placemaking, and folklife and traditional arts. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the SCAC is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts, and other sources. Visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696, and follow @scartscomm on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for #Arts4SC and #SCartists content.
South Carolina Arts Commission News Release, Media Contact: Jason L. Rapp, Communications Director. jrapp@arts.sc.gov or 803.734.8899

Jason Rapp

Ballet Spartanburg debuts new professional dance company

From GoUpstate.com; article by Cody H.  Owens, marketing assistant at the Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg.

Like a well-oiled machine, Ballet Spartanburg's new professional dance company performs as a unit, in sync and in step. Jumping into one another's arms and leaping hand in hand, they move and collaborate with all the fluidity of art in motion. Floating almost silently across the dance floor, they listen to the director's instructions and then execute them with precision and straight-faced determination. Founded in 1966, Ballet Spartanburg has spent many years dreaming, hoping, and planning, and now as a result, Spartanburg has a professional dance company — individuals who actually make their living by dancing together. Within this troupe of professional dancers are six young men and women from all over the Western hemisphere. Seed funding to launch the company was made by a generous donor in 2010, and when board members realized they were spending annual operating resources on outside guest artists for major productions, they came to the realization this same money could be spent to support a professional resident company. Earlier this year, applications came in from Russia, Italy, Spain and other international locations. Auditions were held in June and July, then in September, Ballet Spartanburg's new professional dance company of well-trained performers was born. The six new arrivals are Leslie Fuentes of Mexico, Nichola Montt of Massachusetts, Daynier Rivero of Cuba, Kristina Roper of Canada, Analay Saiz of Cuba and Will Scott of Georgia. McCree O'Kelley, an assistant professor of dance at Converse College, is serving temporarily as a guest artist as well. All of the dancers have remarkable resumes. Young as the new hires may be — they range in age from 22 to 25 years old — these enthusiastic dancers already have achieved high accolades in their careers. Take Saiz, for instance, who after graduating from the National School of Arts in Havana, joined the National Ballet of Cuba. Like Saiz, Rivero and Fuentes have worked professionally with the prestigious Ballet de Monterrey in Mexico. Montt attended the intensive summer program Dance New York International in Paris, while her newfound roommate Roper performed on the high seas aboard Princess Cruises with Royal City Youth Ballet. University of Alabama graduate Scott has worked under such names as Cornelius Carter, Clay Taliaferro and Qianping Guo. You don't have to know what a “cou-de-pied sur le” is to understand how impressive these new additions to Spartanburg are. Almost as marvelous as the dancers themselves are is how they work together. With half of the dancers speaking English as a second language, “there's at least somewhat of a language barrier,” Scott said. Nevertheless, the diversity has driven the group even harder. Coming from various areas beyond their native borders, these professionals have come together to speak the international language of dance. But body language aside, it's Ballet Spartanburg's Artistic Director Carlos Agudelo who frequently serves as translator-in-chief. The group has been together for only a couple of months, but with rigorous training comes intensive bonding. A few dancers carpool to the Dance Center studios at Chapman Cultural Center. Some are roommates. Two even recently tied the knot. But training five days a week, they all essentially live together on the dance floor. Step into rehearsals, and you'd never know they had only met just months ago. “We're very hardworking and focused individuals,” Roper said. “Everyone wants to be here. Everyone is putting everything they have into it.” According to Agudelo, this new professional dance company means great things. It provides opportunity for the dancers to more organically express themselves. It means dance students right here in Spartanburg can see others making a living of their passion. It turns top-notch international talent into local residents. It allows Ballet Spartanburg to not only bring the community to the Center but the Center to the community in outreach programs. And it fosters further collaboration, growing another world-class sense of pride in the heart of Spartanburg. “I when I first arrived here 22 years ago, I had many goals for Ballet Spartanburg: to make the transition from a presenting organization to a performing organization: to acquire our own sets and costumes, in particular for 'The Nutcracker,' to present a diversity of high quality productions, to enhance our outreach programs in order to provide life affirming dance activities for all members of our community and to create a ballet company. Achieving this last goal is truly exciting for us, although I am aware that fueling this engine of artistic progress will require a lot of financial support,” said Agudelo, “but this is a wonderful beginning.” Spartanburg's dance lovers will get their first glimpse of the new troupe when they take to the stage at Twichell Auditorium for the annual production of “The Nutcracker” December 13-15. “I predict it will be the best yet,” Agudelo said. “In the past, I have always had to bring in outside soloists from other companies to fill leading roles. This year, we have our own professionals. These will be dancers who Spartanburg can get to know during this show and for many more to come. This is truly one of my dreams come true.”