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College of Charleston readies for Simons Center renovation

Multimillion-dollar update begins this month

[caption id="attachment_47756" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Click image to enlarge. Provided rendering.[/caption]

The Albert Simons Center for the Arts will be closed for the next two years while the 42-year-old building undergoes an extensive multimillion-dollar renovation.

“This has been a long time coming and we’re delighted,” School of the Arts Dean Edward Hart said. “We are so appreciative of the college’s administration for supporting us. You know, when times are tough, very often the arts take it on the chin. And our administration has shown the foresight to really stand by us with this project, which indicates that the arts really are a priority for the college.” Completed in 1979, the Simons Center, located on St. Philip Street in the heart of the College of Charleston campus, was constructed to serve no more than 800 students. Today the facility serves more than five times that number—and, says Hart, as the hub of the School of the Arts, it’s time to update the classrooms and performance spaces as well as the building’s technology and infrastructure. “The Simons Center has been great, but after 40 years, it needs a little work,” he said. “Better facilities make for a better environment. Everybody wants to be in a place where it looks and feels nice, and where there’s appropriate space.” The project includes renovation of almost 87,400 square feet. Around 10,900 square feet will be demolished, and 22,871 square feet of new building space will be constructed, said Brad Weiland, senior project manager for CofC’s Facilities Management. When the renovation is complete, the updated Simons Center will feature just over 99,000 square feet of classroom and performance space. Upgrades will include:
  • New seminar classrooms, as well as updated and enlarged classroom spaces
  • A new two-story black box theater
  • A state-of-the-art costume shop, scene shop and theater design studio
  • All new sculpture, printmaking and drawing studios
  • A digital lab and gallery/multipurpose room
  • New music practice rooms and revamped dressing room spaces
  • New mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems and updated technological systems
Crews spent the summer moving everything out of the center in preparation of construction, which is to begin in late September. “It was really a logistical jigsaw puzzle trying to figure out where everything was going to go,” Hart said, noting that moving pianos, studio art equipment along with typical classroom furniture was a lengthy process with some items being sent to other locations on campus and others now in storage. Five locations around campus will house School of the Arts programs and departments during the renovation:
  • Harbor Walk West will host offices, classrooms and event spaces for the Department of Art and Architectural History as well as the Arts Management Program. Some music classes will also take place at this location.
  • 136 St. Philip Street (the former site of Redux Contemporary Art Studio) will house the theater and dance scene shop and the Department of Studio Art’s sculpture studio.
  • The third floor of the Lightsey Center will serve as the Department of Studio Art’s offices and printmaking studio as well as drawing studios, which were already housed there.
  • Calhoun Annex (172 Calhoun St./Chapel Theatre) will house the Department of Theatre and Dance design studio.
  • The Department of Theatre and Dance’s costume shop and classroom/meeting facilities will span three floors of the historic building at 329 King St. (corner of King and George streets).
With the Recital Hall and the Emmett Robinson Theatre, located within the Simons Center, closed for the duration of the renovation, many School of the Arts performances will be held in the college’s Sottile Theatre as well as the Chapel Theatre. The renovation will begin with the demolition of the back portion of the building where the new sculpture studio and scene shops will be located. Weiland says demolition of the section of the building near the Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Center for the Arts along St. Philip Street will also begin this fall to make way for the new black box theater. The courtyard on St. Philip Street will also see demolition before the end of the year in preparation for a new front entrance and courtyard. “Construction will run through 2022, and major completion of the building will take place in the spring of 2023 through the summer of 2023. The project is tentatively scheduled to be fully completed and turned over to the College in time for an estimated opening for the fall 2023 semester,” Weiland said. Designed by Liollio Architecture and HGA Design Firm, the reimagined Simons Center will have a bright and colorful ambiance that is inviting to students and visitors. Hart says the colors featured throughout the building are inspired by iconic architectural features found on campus such as the blue-green door of Towell Library and the rich coral color of Randolph Hall. With large windows, a modern façade and carefully chosen brick, Hart says the entrance is meant to subtly grab visitors’ attention as they make their way from the rear of Randolph Hall to St. Philip Street. “It will look brighter, and I think it will be more noticeable from the street.” And the new building will give the School of the Arts the opportunity to visually claim its prominence in the city of Charleston’s vibrant arts scene in lock-step with the school’s new tagline branding itself “The Artistic Heartbeat of Charleston.” “There really isn’t an artistic institution in this town that we aren’t somehow involved with, whether it’s a direct relationship or partnership or whether it’s our graduates that are over there or our faculty members,” Hart said, ticking off the School of the Arts’ connections to Spoleto Festival USA, Piccolo Spoleto, the Charleston Symphony, the Charleston Gaillard Center, the Preservation Society of Charleston as well as area theater and dance companies and art galleries. “We can just go on and on, and I think it’s time for us to claim that. Charleston is an arts city and we’re at the heart of it.”

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Halsey Institute is hiring a development coordinator

  APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, June 11, 2021


Join a fast-growing contemporary art organization and help us secure the support needed to bring innovative and adventurous programming to the community!

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston is searching for a development coordinator to help with our mission-centric fundraising efforts and be the main point of contact for our awesome members. This entry-level, full-time position works with our senior staff on the long-term strategic success and growth of our membership program and other funding initiatives like grants and our Community Partners program. Apply online and learn more about the position at https://jobs.cofc.edu/postings/10642.

Jason Rapp

New leadership in place at CofC’s Halsey Institute

New executive director began April 1


Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston announced the appointment of its new executive director: recently promoted Katie Hirsch assumed her new role April 1.

Hirsch who was previously the museum's curator and director of strategic partnerships, was serving as interim director after the December 2020 retirement of long-time director Mark Sloan.

Related Hub content: Charleston scene takes on sea change in CHS, S.C. arts leadership.

Says Hirsch: “I am honored to be the new director of the Halsey Institute. It is a true privilege to lead the talented team that brings innovative artists to Charleston and beyond. I am eager to connect with our community in this new role, and to share the compelling programming that the Halsey has planned.” School of the Arts Dean Dr. Edward Hart says of the appointment, “We are thrilled that Katie Hirsch has accepted the appointment as the new Director of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. She brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the position, and her artistic vision, leadership skills, and enthusiasm will benefit this world-class institution for years to come.”

About Katie Hirsch

Katie Hirsch joined the Halsey Institute team in August 2016 and was most recently a Curator and the Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. Hirsch took the reigns as Interim Director on January 1, 2021 during the pandemic, so has had to make many tough decisions about accessibility, staffing, and programming in the most challenging of times. She has curated exhibitions on Roberto Diago and Coulter Fussell, among others. She served as Associate Curator for the Halsey Institute’s landmark 2018 exhibition Southbound: Photographs of and about the New South, for which she contributed to the catalogue. She is responsible for the Halsey Institute’s traveling exhibitions program, organizing nationwide tours of Southbound and exhibitions featuring the work of Fahamu Pecou, Jiha Moon, and Hitnes, among others. She is also an adjunct instructor of arts management at the College of Charleston. Katie Hirsch earned an MA with honors in Art History, Visual Cultures of the Americas from The Florida State University, and a BA and magna cum laude distinction in Art History, with a Minor in General Business from Virginia Commonwealth University. Prior to the Halsey Institute, Hirsch worked for Spoleto Festival USA and island6 Arts Center in Shanghai, China. Before turning her focus to contemporary art, Hirsch specialized in the art and culture of the Maya. She brings not only a broad knowledge of art history and visual culture, but also the unconventional knowledge of the Yucatec Maya language, acquired through years of study in Mexico with support from government fellowships.

About the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston provides a multidisciplinary laboratory for the production, presentation, interpretation, and dissemination of ideas by innovative visual artists from around the world. As a non-collecting museum, the Halsey Institute creates meaningful interactions between adventurous artists and diverse communities within a context that emphasizes the historical, social, and cultural importance of the art of our time. Learn more.

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College of Charleston posts two theatre jobs


Assistant Professor of Theatre - Lighting Design

  • APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, April 30, 2021
College of Charleston is accepting applications for a full-time, tenure-track appointment in the Department of Theatre and Dance, beginning August 16, 2021. The Department of Theatre and Dance is NAST accredited, offering BA and MAT degrees in Theatre and a BA in Dance. Seeking a candidate to teach electrics, CAD, design fundamentals, and advanced lighting design. Secondary areas are open, but may include Production/Stage Management, Video Design/Production, or Sound Design/Engineering. Candidate may teach introductory theatre and General Education courses. Online teaching experience is desired.

Qualifications

  • MFA in Lighting Design or Theatre Production by August 15, 2021;
  • Professional theatre experience theatre;
  • Undergraduate teaching experience preferred.

Full-time Instructor of Theatre, Non-Tenure-Track

  • APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, April 30, 2021
College of Charleston is accepting applications for nine-month, renewable, non-tenure track appointment in the Department of Theatre and Dance, contract beginning August 16, 2021. The Department of Theatre and Dance is NAST accredited, offering BA and MAT degrees in Theatre and a BA in Dance. Seeking a theatre generalist to teach introductory classes to majors and non-majors. Secondary areas of expertise are open, but may include Stage Management, Sound Design, Performance, or other. Aptitude and passion for online teaching is desirable.

Qualifications

  • MA, MFA or PhD required by August 15, 2021;
  • Professional experience in theatre;
  • Prior undergraduate teaching experience strongly preferred.

Apply at jobs.cofc.edu by using the links above. Questions regarding the position can be directed to Janine McCabe, department chair, at mccabej@cofc.edu. The College is located in historic downtown Charleston. Additional information about the institution and area available at www.cofc.edu. The College of Charleston is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer and does not discriminate against any individual or group on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, race, color, religion, national origin, veteran status, genetic information, or disability.

Jason Rapp

Charleston Scene takes on ‘sea change’ in CHS, S.C. arts leadership

Thought-provoking piece on future of S.C. arts


In a sweeping new story, Charleston Scene interviewed several arts leaders who recently—or will—depart their posts as change comes to South Carolina's arts scene.

Picture of an iconic church steeple in downtown CharlestonWriter Maura Hogan asks, "What will the next phase look like?" after several high profile departures dating back to 2019. Among them:
  • Kathleen (Kathi) P. Bateson (Arts Center of Coastal Carolina)
  • Stephen Bedard (Gaillard Management Co.)
  • Ken May (S.C. Arts Commission)
  • Valerie Morris (College of Charleston School of the Arts)
  • Nigel Redden (Spoleto Festival USA)
  • Mark Sloan (College of Charleston Halsey Institute)
  • Marjory Wentworth (former state poet laureate)
While reasons for the departures varied, nearly all involved foresee major change on the horizon in Charleston and the state, whether as a result of the pandemic, recent emphasis on diversity and inclusion, or other things. Click here to read the story from Charleston Scene (subscription possibly required).
Charleston photo by Jason Rapp/SCAC.

Jason Rapp

Six S.C. organizations receive Arts Endowment grants

NEA releases first FY21 grantees


The National Endowment for the Arts is pleased to announce the first round of recommended awards for fiscal year 2021 totaling $27,562,040.

Supported projects span 14 artistic disciplines in communities throughout the U.S. Also included in this announcement are the recipients of NEA Literature Fellowships in creative writing and translation and support for arts research projects. “The creativity and resilience of artists and arts organizations across the country have inspired Americans during this challenging year,” said Arts Endowment Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. “These projects represent the vitality and perseverance of arts organizations small and large to overcome significant challenges, transform to new ways of engagement, and forge new relationships that benefit the diverse populations in neighborhoods and cities throughout the United States.” The Grants for Arts Projects (GAP) awards range from $10,000 to $100,000 and cover these artistic disciplines: Artist Communities, Arts Education, Dance, Design, Folk & Traditional Arts, Literary Arts, Local Arts Agencies, Media Arts, Museums, Music, Musical Theater, Opera, Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works, Theater, and Visual Arts. In February 2020, the agency received 1,674 eligible GAP applications requesting more than $82.4 million in FY 2021 support. Approved for funding are 1,073 projects totaling nearly $25 million, with grants recommended to 64% of all applicants and an average grant amount of $23,190. Grant guidelines and upcoming application deadlines are now available on the Arts Endowment website for organizations wishing to apply. Five arts projects in South Carolina were granted in this cycle. They are:
  • College of Charleston ($20,000)
  • Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston ($40,000)
  • Columbia Film Society ($20,000)
  • Greenville Light Opera Works ($10,000)
  • Hub City Writers Project ($10,000)
The Arts Endowment is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and fostering mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all individuals and groups. Part of this commitment includes our partnership with the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Outreach to develop relationships and help HBCUs navigate funding opportunities has led to an increased number of applications from and involving HBCUs. A few Grants for Arts Projects examples of successful applications from this round of funding include:
  • A $20,000 award to National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, Georgia, to support the Move/Dance! Program in partnership with Atlanta Public Schools and Spelman College, which will virtually engage students in the appreciation of Black dance in America.
  • A $15,000 award to Illinois State University to support outreach to HBCUs and the publication of Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora. With the aim of growing its readership and cultivating new voices, Obsidian plans to offer online literary programming at HBCUs across the country.
  • A $25,000 award to Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts to support a master class series for aspiring classical music singers. The project will take place at several historically Black colleges and universities such as Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland; Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia; and Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia.
  • A $20,000 award to Josephine Sculpture Park in Frankfort, Kentucky, to support an artist residency program for visual artists and related public programming. Artists will engage local rural audiences and a partnership with Kentucky State University will enable students to engage with the residency program as interns and volunteers.
  • A $100,000 award to Arts and Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to support the pARTners Project. The goal of the initiative is to increase access to arts education for students in West-Central Alabama, with a special focus on preK-12th grade students in rural areas, by creating a strategic plan, providing arts integration programs to schools, including developing curriculum and training teachers. Teaching artists will be recruited for participation from local colleges and universities such as Stillman College.

The National Endowment for the Arts will award $1.2 million in FY 2021 Literature Fellowships to creative writers and translators. This includes 35 Creative Writing Fellowships of $25,000 each. These FY 2021 fellowships are in poetry and enable the recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel, and general career advancement. In addition, the Arts Endowment approved $325,000 in fellowships to 24 translators to translate works from 16 languages and 19 countries into English. Click here to take a more in-depth look at these fellowships and other Literary Arts grants this round.
The National Endowment for the Arts also offers two funding opportunities for research projects. This year marks the tenth anniversary of grants for arts research, a program currently known as Research Grants in the Arts. For FY 2021, 14 organizations are recommended for Research Grants in the Arts totaling $833,000. In addition, five NEA Research Labs are recommended for funding totaling $645,790. Transdisciplinary research partnerships grounded in the social and behavioral sciences will examine and report on the benefit of the arts in non-arts sectors. Click here to explore more about the recommended arts research awards. A research project by Clinical Biotechnology Research Institute at Roper St. Francis Hospital in Charleston was the recipient of an $80,000 research grant.
About the National Endowment for the Arts Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more.

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College of Charleston’s Valerie Morris announces retirement

Long-time, accomplished arts dean exiting the stage


For 22 years Valerie Morris, dean of the College of Charleston School of the Arts, has sat in the audience at music and dance performances, theater productions and art lectures and presentations.

She has served as a member of various boards and joined committees to raise funds. A perennial champion of the arts, Morris has always been there, standing off stage, determinedly cheering. And it’s an essential role in a city where the arts often take center stage. “I have known Dean Morris for years as a fellow Rotarian and through her leadership in Charleston’s thriving arts community,” says Charleston Mayor John T. Tecklenburg. “Simply put, she’s been amazing in her impact on the arts scene here in Charleston, along with her personal joie de vivre!”
Morris’s “joie de vivre” or enthusiasm for the arts began at a young age. Growing up in Beverly, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, she first became interested in the arts at the age of six after an aunt took her to see the movie Hans Christian Anderson starring Danny Kaye. Then she became very active in the local children’s theater and “used every excuse to spend backstage” at the North Shore Music Theatre, the largest operating regional theater in New England. “I guess from the age of 6, I always felt pushed towards the arts,” Morris said, noting that in high school her focus shifted to public speaking and promoting the arts, which won her an award for marketing her high school’s productions. “First, I wanted to perform, then I realized I wanted to be around artists of all types, and to help them achieve their goals.” And that first meant achieving her goals. Morris received her bachelor’s degree in speech arts from American University and a master in speech with a theatre administration emphasis from the University of Michigan. Her career in the arts really picked up when she joined the faculty of American University’s Department of Performing Arts, where she became the founding director of that institution’s Arts Management program. According to Karen Chandler, associate professor of arts management at the College, Morris forged a path for women in the field. “When I entered the field in the early ’80s, Valerie was one of a handful of women arts leaders who had founded and very successfully developed a program in arts management (at American University),” says Chandler, who also worked alongside Morris at American University.
Morris came to the College as dean of the School of the Arts in the fall of 1998. Since then, she has helped establish the undergraduate Arts Management Program and the Graduate Certificate in Arts and Cultural Management, as well as the Historic Preservation and Community Planning Program. Under Morris’s leadership, the School of the Arts has grown and flourished, including earning the South Carolina Governor’s Award for the Arts, the state’s highest award in the arts. Other highlights of Morris’ tenure include helping to launch the Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Center for the Arts in January 2010. The $27.2 million dollar, 70,000-square-foot building is a testament to the growth of the school from a small fine arts department into a comprehensive arts school with seven academic departments and programs. Morris also expanded the School of the Arts Council and, in 2003, established the Friends of the School of the Arts, a membership program that funds scholarships, student travel for competitions and productions, visiting artists, faculty research and development, and international recruitment efforts. And Morris’s hard work has garnered the attention and support of some of CofC’s most esteemed arts alumni, including acclaimed painter Brian Rutenberg (Class of 1987). “To excel as an artist, one needs to be organized, possess a clear-eyed vision and have a great sense of humor. These same qualities apply to leading an entire art school,” says Rutenberg. “Valerie has all of these attributes, plus she is a skillful communicator. Her creation is the world-class reputation that the School of the Arts at the College of Charleston enjoys today. We are all the beneficiaries of her effort.”
As for what comes next, Morris says her future will always include the arts as well as a focus on family. “I’m keeping active on local, regional and national boards,” she says. “Eventually, my husband and I plan to spend considerable time on the West Coast, where my children and grandchildren live.” To honor Morris’s 22 years of service to the College and the School of the Arts, longtime College of Charleston advocates, donors and volunteers Jean and Tap Johnson have established a scholarship in her name. It’s a fitting honor for someone who has done so much for CofC. “Valerie has been a consummate mentor, advisor and colleague over the past 25 years. But more importantly, she is a trusted supporter and dear friend,” says Chandler. “She deserves to do whatever she wants now, feeling satisfied about the outstanding contributions she’s made to the arts infrastructure in so many places – and especially here at CofC.”

Jason Rapp

Halsey Institute’s Mark Sloan to retire

Director's tenure to end Dec. 31

[caption id="attachment_17308" align="aligncenter" width="532"]Halsey Pulse Dome Project Pulse Dome Project at Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Dec. 2014. Hub file image.[/caption]

Long-time Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art Director and Curator Mark Sloan announced Friday he will retire from the position as of Dec. 31, 2020.

mark sloan headshotSloan has been a member of the Halsey team since 1994. The public announcement came via email to stakeholders, excerpted here:

The time has come for me to step down as Director & Chief Curator of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. I have made the difficult decision to retire as of December 31, 2020.

... I am very proud of the work we have all done together—members, friends, artists, community partners, donors, staff, advisory board members, and faculty colleagues at the College of Charleston. The four words “It takes a village” come to mind. Being the director and chief curator at the Halsey has propelled me into some of the most rewarding and amazing life experiences ...

The changes that will be brought about in our culture as a result of the COVID-19 virus are only beginning to be felt. At the time of this writing, we have no sense of the scope of the virus, much less how it will impact our lives in the months and years ahead. The Halsey Institute staff and Advisory Board will endeavor to navigate these uncharted waters with aplomb, but we will need your support ... We want to keep admission free, so that our galleries remain a place where the public can have direct experience with the notion of how an artist turns a thought into a thing.

I would like to thank each of you for being in the Halsey Institute’s orbit. It has been a grand adventure so far, and a privilege to serve as the director for Charleston’s contemporary art museum and to watch the concomitant explosion of contemporary arts programming throughout the region over these last two and-a-half decades. It has been thrilling to be a part of that. My wife and I have forged many wonderful friendships here and feel incredibly grateful to have been so warmly embraced by this community..."

No details were announced about the search to replace Sloan.

College of Charleston honors Haga with art history scholarship

Michael Haga is retiring after 26 years at the College of Charleston School of the Arts. But as he steps down, a scholarship honoring him will help students step up their education in art. Haga is the school's associate dean and a long-time friend of the South Carolina Arts Commission, Arts Alliance, and Arts Foundation (and all around good guy - Ed.). The College of Charleston is honoring him with the Michael W. Haga Endowed Art History Award, a $15,000 scholarship for art history students. From The College Today:

Established in 2016, the award was the brainchild of Nina Liu, a renowned Charleston gallery owner, as well as a friend of Haga, who wanted to honor his contribution to the College by creating the endowed award in his name ... Working with Liu, Haga came upon the idea of directing the fund to his chosen field of art history, supporting majors in that area so that they can travel for research or engage in a formal study abroad program.

Haga taught Art History 101 for 20 years during his tenure. “No matter how sophisticated you may be through reading and interacting with people from other parts of the world, until you physically are elsewhere yourself, you simply cannot understand what a transformative thing travel is. It changes your world,” Haga said.

S.C. Arts Commission announces 2015 Verner Award recipients

The Verner Awards statueCongratulations to the recipients of the 2015 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts! The S.C. Arts Commission annually presents the awards, the highest honor the state gives in the arts, to recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina. The awards will be presented at a ceremony in Columbia on Wednesday, May 13. The S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients and the arts community at the South Carolina Arts Gala. This year’s recipients:

"South Carolina's quality of life, education and economy are enhanced tremendously by those who dedicate their work and lives to the arts," said S.C. Arts Commission Chairman Henry Horowitz. "The Verner Awards recognize that service of commitment and passion. We are honored again this year to present the awards to a most worthy group of organizations and individuals. We are grateful for their contributions to our state." For more about the Verner Awards or the S.C. Arts Gala, call (803) 734-8696 or visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com. About the South Carolina Arts Commission The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants and leadership initiatives in three 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 www.SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.