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Jason Rapp

Nature to inspire next ‘Communal Pen’ workshop

Two-part writing workshop 'visits' Congaree National Park

[caption id="attachment_44954" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Medlock Bridge Park
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area[/caption]
Communal Pen, a creative writing workshop presented by the S.C. Arts Commission and South Carolina Humanities, is back for starting THIS SATURDAY to help you write to celebrate memories, stories, and traditions of place... continuing its reimagined virtual format with a brand-new theme! SC HumanitiesWhat are the memories, stories and traditions that make your community home? What landmarks, customs, sights and sounds connect us with family, friends and neighbors, while highlighting our unique experience and identity? Sometimes, you’ve just got to write it down!
Facilitator EBONI RAMM will lead the virtual workshop as you write to celebrate and explore connections to place and community. Often, it is in our written words that memory lives. The writing process can itself help us to awaken and preserve thoughts and traditions, offering insight, understanding and respect to present and future generations. In conjunction with the traveling exhibit Water/Ways, Congaree National Park and Friends of Congaree Swamp are co-hosts of this two-part writing workshop, which will be conducted over two Saturday mornings next month:
  • 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5
  • 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12
Space is limited; registration is on a first-come, first-served basis online or call 803.734.8680. The new format does not support walk-ins as previous workshops have. Share it with your friends on Facebook! NOTE: marking yourself as "Going" on Facebook DOES NOT register you for Communal Pen. No previous experience necessary! Although Communal Pen is a virtual program, the Water/Ways exhibit will be on display at the South Carolina Maritime Museum from Nov. 13 through Jan. 13, 2021.
The Communal Pen writing workshop draws inspiration from the new Smithsonian exhibit, Water/Ways, which is touring South Carolina with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) Traveling Exhibition Service from June 2020-April 2021. MoMS provides access to the Smithsonian for small-town America through museum exhibitions, research, educational resources, and programming. Exhibit themes and images are a springboard for igniting our own stories, giving voice to our shared and individual experience of place. Communal Pen is developed through the S.C. Arts Commission’s place-based initiative, "Art of Community: Rural SC," a new framework for engagement, learning, and action in rural communities. The writing workshops are coordinated through the SCAC’s Folklife & Traditional Arts and Community Arts Development programs, with generous support from South Carolina Humanities.
Deeply rooted in South Carolina, "Communal Pen" writing workshop creator and facilitator Eboni Ramm fell in love with the arts at a very young age and was encouraged throughout her youth to express herself. Today, an accomplished poet and jazz singer, she invites audiences of all ages to share her passion for combining these art forms, highlighting her belief in the powerful influence of jazz on the American literary experience and aesthetic. She has taught her unique Jazz Poetry Salon at residencies with the Richland County Public Library, Arts Access South Carolina, Youth Corps, Fairfield Middle School, McKissick Museum, and ColaJazz’s partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center, among others. Other selected accomplishments include her publication, Within His Star: The Story of Levi Pearson, celebrating Eboni’s ancestor who added strength to the unprecedented Brown vs. The Board of Education case, and the release of her poetry CD, Passion, and her jazz CD, The Look of Love. Learn more about Eboni at www.EboniRamm.com. "Communal Pen: Water/Ways" coordinator Laura Marcus Green is program specialist for community arts & folklife at the S.C. Arts Commission, where she provides statewide outreach and project coordination through the Art of Community: Rural SC initiative and other projects, while managing folklife grant and award programs. She holds a Ph.D. in folklore from Indiana University and an M.A. in folklore/anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. Selected prior positions include folklife & traditional arts program director at McKissick Museum, 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 various arts and culture agencies nationwide. Having attended, coordinated, and facilitated diverse workshops, she is a devoted believer in the power of community writing.

Jason Rapp

Announcing think tanks for S.C. arts orgs

Specialist for Arts Organizations and Education Catherine Ntube and the South Carolina Arts Commission are thrilled to announce a series of think tanks to bring together arts organization leaders across the state.

The hope is that these virtual forums will provide fruitful opportunities for arts organization leaders to connect, share resources, and bounce ideas off of one another. Sessions occur bi-monthly on Tuesdays or Thursdays from 2-3 p.m., and cover a range of topics and affinity groups:
  • small arts organizations
  • equity initiatives
  • performing arts organizations
  • youth programming
To learn more and register, visit the new Think Tanks page on SouthCarolinaArts.com. We look forward to sharing space and learning alongside you!

Jason Rapp

FY21 S.C. Arts Commission grants to fuel state’s creative sector

$4.1 million to support arts, cultural work in at least 41 counties

[caption id="attachment_45056" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Group picture with big, colorful cutout letters spelling "thank you." 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]
For Immediate Release

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Commission is announcing grants totaling $4.1 million awarded in at least 41 South Carolina counties to support arts and culture work in the new fiscal year.

The grants, approved by votes of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) board of directors on June 18, will be distributed during the July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 grant period to artists and organizations who applied for grants that support the agency’s work to further arts education, artist development, and community arts development across South Carolina. “This is a significant investment of public funds that will further the work of South Carolina’s creative sector. It will support quality arts education programming for South Carolina students. It will support many of the 115,000 jobs in and supported by our $9.7 billion arts and creative sector. It will also help make arts programming that is more representative and more accessible to all South Carolinians and our visitors,” SCAC Executive Director David Platts said. “The South Carolina Arts Commission is proud and excited to help provide those benefits for the people of South Carolina.”
Individual Artist Fellowship grants, announced earlier this month, and Artist Ventures Initiative grants further the agency’s artist development work by enabling creatives in South Carolina to focus on the creation of art. In the case of the Artist Ventures Initiative, those grants help an artist turn the art into sustainable income as they give artist entrepreneurs seed money to create an arts-based business or strengthen an existing one with needed materials or training. Four grants of each type, totaling just less than $37,000, were awarded. Arts education grants are heading to 76 schools and seven districts across the state, strengthening arts in school curriculum with a combined investment of $896,000. Education Pilot Project grants use $295,000 to help South Carolina organizations provide musical learning, summertime STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) camps, and professional development. Grants totaling $85,400 supporting the SCAC’s community arts development work are going to the 15 counties where The Art of Community: Rural SC is addressing local issues with arts and culture. These grants also keep unique South Carolina arts and cultural traditions alive by funding eight Folklife & Traditional Arts Apprenticeships for artists and folklife work done by four organizations. Also funded is the SCAC’s folklife partnership with the University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum. Additional grants to be awarded throughout the year offer potential for impact in all counties. Among them are Arts Project Support grants, which offer funding for projects by artists and arts organizations. Both grants have rolling deadlines, and project support grants are designed to be accessible, streamlining the application process to remove barriers often faced by small organizations and individual artists.

Amounts awarded to programs in primary grant categories

Arts in Education: $1,463,832 Grants help fund curriculum planning and implementation, artist residencies, performances, professional development for teachers and summer and afterschool arts programs.
  • Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Advancement: $770,000  Awarded to 83 schools and school districts that are participating in the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project, which works to ensure every child in South Carolina has access to a quality, comprehensive education in the arts. The ABC Project is cooperatively directed by the SCAC, the S.C. Department of Education, and the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Winthrop University.
  • Education Pilot Projects: $295,000 Grants initiated by the agency for partners who carry out education initiatives.
  • Arts in Basic (ABC) Curriculum: $272,832 One grant to support management of the ABC Project partnership.
Operating Support: $2,040,978 Grants help strengthen arts organizations that bring ongoing arts experiences and services to individuals, other organizations and communities throughout the state.
  • General Operating Support: $1,908,066 One hundred twenty-nine grants for arts organizations.
  • Operating Support for Small Organizations: $111,972 Forty-six grants for arts organizations with annual expense budgets of less than $75,000.
  • Statewide Organizations: $20,940 Six grants for arts organizations operating statewide.
The Art of Community: Rural SC: $85,400 Using arts and culture to address issues in rural communities with the help of local partners. Folklife and Traditional Arts: $104,033 Grants support programs that promote a greater understanding and visibility of South Carolina’s many cultures through documentation and presentation of traditional art forms, their practitioners and their communities.
  • Organization grants: $23,000 Four grants to support nonprofit organizations that seek to promote and preserve the traditional arts practiced across the state.
  • Apprenticeships: $10,000 Eight grants that support a partnership between a master artist, who will share artistic and cultural knowledge, and a qualified apprentice, who will then continue to pursue the art form.
  • Partnerships: $71,033 One grant to support management of the Folklife and Traditional Arts Partnership.
Subgranting: $69,000 Seven awards to local arts councils that distribute quarterly grants to organizations and artists in their regions. This program is funded in part by an award from the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of The Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina. Artists Ventures Initiative: $16,700 Four grants to individual artists for projects designed to help them develop the knowledge and skills to build satisfying, sustainable careers.  Individual Artist Fellowships: $20,000 Four grants to individual artists to recognize and reward their artistic achievements. These were announced in July 2020 after approval by the SCAC Board of Directors.
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.

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.

So, what would you say you do here?

[caption id="attachment_35603" align="aligncenter" width="600"] "The Bobs" from Office Space, 1999 by Twentieth Century Fox and Cubicle, Inc.[/caption] There's not a quick answer to that question, but let's start with this: The South Carolina Arts Commission does three things:

  • artist development,
  • community arts development,
  • and arts education
through four means:
  • direct programs,
  • staff assistance,
  • partnerships,
  • and grants.

The Hub serves as… a hub for the promotion of news items related to all those things. (The “Arts Daily” section serves as a centralized - what’s the word? - hub for promoting statewide arts events.) On a given week, you can see posts that serve to promote any number of those things. It’s critical for this outlet to do that because if you’re a tax-paying South Carolinian, your income comes to Columbia through the Department of Revenue and can return to your community from our agency by those four means. For the current fiscal year that ends in two weeks, we’ve helped provide one, some, or all the three things we do to all 46 counties. Barbara Streeter In short, we use The Hub to tell you how we’re attempting to be good stewards for your money. It’s not an election-year gimmick, but it’s here every year, on as many days as workload allows. The programs, artists, and ventures are not just lofty ones perched on the peak of Mount Olympus. No, we’re also using arts and culture to make Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper counties feel like they have a slice of the peak as new perspectives converge to address old problems. We help schools integrate the arts (top, right) into their curricula to foster creativity and critical thinking in new generations. We also enable artists to contribute to a $9.7 billion sector of the state economy by helping them not only further, but monetize their skills (bottom, right) to provide themselves sustainable income. That’s where your money goes, and it’s important for you to know that all the time, not just when differing opinions on funding collide - because it’s your money, entrusted to our professionals to impact all South Carolinians.
Two things you might have noticed here and/or our social media outlets lately are renewed emphasis on a) promoting what “SC Artists” are doing (spoiler alert: they are a wildly successful lot) and b) how “SCAC Grants At Work” are being put to work. Here is today’s example, which happens to encompass both. The grantee artists used an S.C. Arts Commission grant to take an art form often assumed to be reserved for Olympus right to Main Street: Here’s to seeing plenty more of this, all the time.

City of Greenwood earns Cultural District status

The South Carolina Arts Commission has named Greenwood as the newest state-recognized cultural district. A cultural district is an easily identifiable geographic area with a concentration of arts facilities and assets that support cultural, artistic and economic activity. The cultural district designation was created by the S.C. General Assembly in 2014. The City of Greenwood and The Arts Center of Greenwood worked with local leaders and Arts Commission staff to develop a map of cultural assets and a strategic plan for the district. City officials will use the cultural district designation to attract visitors and residents to downtown and promote the area as a hub of arts and culture. (Find out more about the Greenwood cultural district.) “Thank you to the South Carolina Arts Commission for bestowing this honor on the City of Greenwood,” said Greenwood Mayor Welborn Adams.  “This designation recognizes the hard work over the last 14 years to implement the City Center Master Plan and grow Greenwood’s City Center as a cultural arts and entertainment hub for our six-county Upper Savannah Region.” Anne Craig, director of The Arts Center of Greenwood, gives credit to local arts organizations for their role. “Along with the City Center Master Plan, the arts and cultural organizations have led the way in the revitalization of Uptown Greenwood, which has become more vibrant with year-round events, programs and festivals. The strong cultural activity and extensive city improvements have been the basis for growth in restaurants, retail and businesses. It is a formula that has worked well for Greenwood.” Participation of community stakeholders is key, according to S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May. “Non-arts businesses and organizations are important pieces of a cultural district. A successful cultural district attracts creative enterprises, such as galleries and theatres, whose patrons want to dine out and shop, so nearby retail and other businesses benefit from that increased economic activity.” The cultural district program was developed after reviewing successful programs in other states and gathering input from leaders representing several sectors, including economic development, tourism, local government and the arts. Greenwood joins Beaufort, Bluffton, Columbia’s Congaree Vista, Florence, Lancaster, Rock Hill and Spartanburg as S.C. cities and areas that have earned cultural district status. Other states with similar cultural district programs include Colorado, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Texas. S.C. cities, towns and rural communities interested in exploring a cultural district designation are invited to contact their Arts Commission county coordinator or call (803) 734-8696. Complete guidelines are available at www.SouthCarolinaArts.com.

Florence is the newest South Carolina Cultural District

The South Carolina Arts Commission has named downtown Florence as the newest state-recognized cultural district. A cultural district is an easily identifiable geographic area with a concentration of arts facilities and assets that support cultural, artistic and economic activity. The cultural district designation was created by the S.C. General Assembly and Gov. Nikki Haley in 2014. The City of Florence and the Florence Regional Arts Alliance worked with local leaders and Arts Commission staff to develop a map of cultural assets and a strategic plan for the district. City officials will use the cultural district designation to attract visitors and residents to downtown and promote the area as a hub of arts and culture. "This cultural district designation from the South Carolina Arts Commission is a tremendous honor," said Florence City Council member George Jebailey. "This designation recognizes the hard work done over the last 17 years by a community committed to a unified vision to create a detailed master plan establishing a purposeful clustering of multiple arts venues in downtown Florence. Through the collaboration of the many public-private partners working together on this unified vision, we have seen the master plan become a reality leading to this important designation. We anticipate that many new opportunities will now be available for us to promote both the City of Florence and the entire Pee Dee Region as an important destination for arts, culture and entertainment." “Receiving the S.C. state recognition of a designated cultural district will assist in our ongoing marketing of downtown Florence as a tourist destination,” said Florence Downtown Development Manager Ray Reich. “The Vision 2010 Initiative that was created in 2000, as well as the 2010 Downtown Master Plan, envisioned downtown as a place featuring a string of cultural pearls. The first pearl in the string was the library, followed by the Florence Little Theatre, and then the FMU Performing Arts Center, followed by the new museum, as well as many other cultural amenities that have been developed in recent years in our beautiful and historic downtown. This designation affirms that we are well in our way to achieving the vision of a string of cultural pearls. However, this is just the beginning, and while we have created an outstanding foundation, the work will not stop as we continue to work together as a community to live up to our new community brand of being a community full of life and moving full forward with more amenities.” Florence Regional Arts Alliance Executive Director Sandy Cook added, “We are very excited for this award, which shows Florence’s continued commitment to preserve and support the arts.  We thank all of our stakeholders for their collaborative efforts in making this happen.” The participation of those stakeholders is key, according to S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May. “Non-arts businesses and organizations are important pieces of a cultural district. A successful cultural district attracts creative enterprises, such as galleries and theatres, whose patrons want to dine out and shop, so nearby retail and other businesses benefit from that increased economic activity.” The cultural district program was developed after reviewing successful programs in other states and gathering input from leaders representing several sectors, including economic development, tourism, local government and the arts. Florence joins Beaufort, Bluffton, Columbia’s Congaree Vista, Lancaster, Rock Hill and Spartanburg as S.C. cities and areas that have earned cultural district status. Other states with similar cultural district programs include Colorado, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Texas. S.C. cities, towns and rural communities interested in exploring a cultural district designation are invited to contact their Arts Commission county coordinator or call (803) 734-8696. Complete guidelines are available at www.SouthCarolinaArts.com. About the S.C. Arts Commission The South Carolina Arts Commission is celebrating 50 years of public support for the arts. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. The Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts through staff assistance, programs, grants and partnerships 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.

Hilton Head Island seeks culture and arts network director

Apply by March 22 GreenTownLogo-72R-5inThe Town of Hilton Head Island is seeking a dynamic and creative individual to become its first culture and arts network director. The new director will lead the process to create and implement a civic plan for enhancing the Island’s existing entertainment, arts, culture and heritage (EACH) assets and for identifying new assets for development. Working with other stakeholders, the director will elevate the marketing of these assets in a way that showcases them as successfully as other Island amenities, with a focus on new ways to reach both residents and visitors. This position is the first of its kind in Beaufort County and will offer the successful candidate a challenging and rewarding opportunity to steer the town’s future in these important areas. The successful candidate will be able to interact effectively with multiple audiences, quickly grasp the current situation and determine possibilities for enhancement and development. The ability to communicate with the following constituents is required: leaders of various EACH organizations, Island residents and visitors, Town government and the Island’s marketing entities (Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and its Visitors and Convention Bureau). The successful candidate will also be able to demonstrate knowledge, skills or abilities in the areas of strategic planning, marketing, facilitation, group presentations, use of social media platforms and technology resources, and administrative management. Currently the Island has a world-class symphony, a vibrant theater scene, a rich music community, nationally recognized artistic talent, and a storied but under-told heritage. We are seeking a candidate who can showcase these assets (and others) to expand their reach and broaden our Island’s appeal to both residents and visitors. Application deadline is March 22. Complete details and application instructions are online.  

Winthrop grad touts “fantastic” public arts plan for Rock Hill roundabout

From the Rock Hill Herald Article by David Thackham

[caption id="attachment_28428" align="alignleft" width="150"]brandyscholl Brandy Scholl[/caption] In truth, Brandy Scholl got her inspiration from a real-life case of #ThrowbackThursday.
Inspired by a photograph of an old buggy car and a visit to a renovated fabrics manufacturer, the recent Winthrop University graduate brainstormed and designed an intricate public arts project that may adorn the city’s new roundabout by next summer. “It’s a little surreal,” said Scholl, who designed the top concept of her class earlier this spring. “I’m still wrapping my head around the idea that I came up with this out of my head, and now it’s actually being built into this community. Being welcomed... as an artist, it’s the most gratifying thing you could possibly imagine.” Scholl, who now works as a self-employed artist in Greenville, laid out her plan in front of the Rock Hill Economic Development Corp. on Tuesday afternoon. The idea is to create what she calls a “sensory experience” by decorating the four outside edges of the roundabout circle with flowers and plants which would be adapted to each season. The effect uses the entire space and gives drivers a better visual experience as they make their way around to their exit, says Scholl. The art is funded through a portion of a $50,000 grant the city received last summer from the National Endowment for the Arts. The design drew rave reviews from David Lawrence, project manager for the Knowledge Park project, which lies close to the incoming roundabout. “I think it’s fantastic,” said Lawrence. “It’s a new gateway entering that direction, with everything heading into Knowledge Park. It’s a unique idea, and I hope it’s as colorful as her images.” Scholl’s design includes use of 10 3x3 concrete discs, carved with themes around the city, which will be placed in the ground for pedestrians to step on in between the plants. Construction on the roundabout is going smoothly, says Lawrence, and the site should be open again within the next six months. Once that starts, workers will be able to start laying in Scholl’s design. She’ll present her concept in front of the Rock Hill City Council next month for final approval. It took Scholl nearly three months to fully draw out her plans and put together her concept, which was deemed the best in her class at a board review. She was most inspired by a trip to the Springs Creative textile building on Chatham Ave., where she saw huge rolls of fabric in the warehouse. She also drew parallels from an old archive photo of a vintage Anderson motor buggy from the Rock Hill Buggy Company. “I had three posters of this traffic design hanging up all over my space alone, and I kept seeing a spinning, central part of it,” said Scholl. “That’s where the creation came from.” Although it’ll likely be about 8 to 9 months before she’s able to see the fruits of her labor, Scholl said she’s proud to see that her work has been appreciated. “The more you research, the more you know what you have,” she said. “Just getting to learn about Rock Hill’s history, that I didn’t know about, that was great.”

Group gets $50,000 grant to help Conway become an art district

From MyHorryNews.com Article by Kathy Ropp

Conway has a large number of talented artists and musicians who want to see the city emerge as an arts mecca, and now it looks as if they will have the money to make that happen. Conway Cultural Development Corporation President Dr. Dennis Stevens says the Knight Foundation has recommended that Conway get a $50,000 grant for the arts, and the Waccamaw Community Foundation has signed off on it. The only thing the area’s artists need now is the support of the Conway City Council, whose members did not discuss the issue in March after hearing from representatives of the S.C. Arts Commission, who explained the process of making Conway a cultural art district. One of the presenters, Joy Young, the SCAC’s arts coordinator for Horry and Georgetown counties, returned to Conway recently to meet with more than 35 artists and musicians in an informal setting to assess the arts possibilities in Conway and see what’s needed to move the city forward. Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy attended that meeting at Conway Glass where she offered encouragement to the group. The SCAC is in the nascent stage of creating a network of art districts throughout the state. Areas already carrying the label of cultural art district are Spartanburg, Rock Hill, Lancaster, Beaufort, the Congaree Vista area in Columbia and, the most recent city to join the group, Bluffton. Florence is working now to create a district in that city. “It’s not really a network like an art trail or anything like that,” Stevens said. “I think it’s more driven by the place and the resources that are in the place and enhancing the community and cataloguing resources. I think they have a specific vision that enables the place to enhance itself. “It’s less about the network of communities and more about the individual place putting forth its best assets.” Stevens says the agency defines the arts broadly so the term includes visual and performing arts, theatre and all kinds of music. Even a writer attended the recent gathering at Conway Glass. One idea Stevens likes is stepping up arts education in low-income areas, perhaps in the Whittemore Park or Racepath communities in Conway. This could be done with an artist-in-residence who might give art lessons, help youngsters secure orchestra instruments or, perhaps, help improve the looks of some of the U.S. 378 corridor, a project getting a lot of attention from Conway City Council recently. Becoming a cultural arts district will open the door for state grants, coordination with other cities and counties and advice from the SCAC. The Cultural Arts Development Corporation is already talking with consultants who can help the group get the process moving and guide its leadership in the direction Conway should go; however, the consultants won’t be signed until at least August when Stevens hopes everybody is on board and the Knight Foundation money is in-hand. If Conway City Council gives its blessing to the program, a board of stakeholders will be created to help guide the process. Supporters of the program say the arts and culture are economic engines that draw people to an area to shop, dine, buy gas and stay over night, and they make a city more livable. They point to Asheville, N.C., and Walterboro in this state to prove their point. Rusty Sox with the SCAC says the art districts program is relatively new, existing for only about 18 months now. He says developing the districts has given him interesting travel around South Carolina. The state’s mission is to create an environment where the arts thrive for all South Carolina citizens, he told Conway City Council back in March. The program hopes to provide quality arts education for youngsters in kindergarten through 12th grade, help artists develop their talents into sustainable careers and improve life for South Carolinians. He says the SCAC can help by offering the assistance of its staff, developing partnerships with other organizations, implementing professional development and training through conferences and meetings, and giving grants to individual artists, schools and arts programs. Some of their ideas include creating studios where people can watch artists work; opening retail shops, galleries, art centers, educational spaces and more. The program takes note of significant architecture and uses nontraditional settings, bank lobbies for instance, to offer art displays. Some cities also offer storytellers and performers. Through all of these activities the arts enthusiasts hope to celebrate and capitalize on an area’s local identification, or, in other words, the things that make each community unique. After the stakeholders are appointed, they will take public input, designate a cultural district and solidify a list of goals. Communities must be reviewed and recertified every five years to remain cultural art districts. Young and Sox recommend identifying a compact, walkable, easily-navigable area for an art district. They categorize it as a place where people can park and walk. Conway and its surrounding areas already have a good start on promoting the arts, according to area artists. Another issue that Stevens and Barbara Streeter with CREATE! Conway are pursuing is an office for arts groups. Streeter and other artists asked at a recent public hearing at Conway City Hall for space for art exhibits and performances in the old Conway Post Office/Horry County museum. Stevens points out that during the tenure of the late Mayor Greg Martin, he helped work on Conway’s comprehensive plan, which calls for a Waccamaw artisans center. He’d love to work out something with the Burroughs Company to see the center located in Conway’s riverfront district. Stevens says once the CCDC has its grant money he expects things to start happening quickly. By the fall of this year he hopes to hold some public meetings to discuss the needs of the arts and cultural community and to start things in motion to meet those needs. “I think everybody is engaged and excited about the possibility of arts and culture in Horry and Georgetown, but specifically what Conway can do to facilitate that,” he said. “There’s no central leadership now. We’re trying and we’re trying to do it in a new way.” Stevens says anyone who’s interested in becoming part of the process should talk with a member of city council because they’re the ones who will ultimately make the decision. “If they say no, I don’t know what comes next,” Stevens said.