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Jason Rapp

2021 Folk Heritage Awards recipients announced

Proving S.C. traditions 'long-lived and ever-evolving'


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

COLUMBIA, S.C. – In 2021, the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards will be presented by the General Assembly to two recipients being honored for work keeping the state’s traditional art forms alive.

One practicing artist and one arts advocate are to be recognized as ambassadors of traditions significant to communities throughout the state. Their traditions embody folklife’s dynamic, multigenerational nature and its fusion of artistic and utilitarian ideals. The 2021 recipients are:
  • Jugnu Verma (Lexington): Traditional Indian folk arts
  • Robert Hill, III (Plantersville): Advocacy, American long rifles and accoutrements
The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award is named for the late State Rep. Jean Laney Harris of Cheraw, respected as an outspoken advocate and ardent supporter of the arts and cultural resources of the state. Up to four artists or organizations and one advocate may receive awards each year. The program is managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and the University of South Carolina McKissick Museum. Community members make nominations to recognize exemplary artistic achievement/advocacy. An independent advisory panel appointed by the lieutenant governor and president of the Senate select the recipients, who must be living and practicing in the state. “From a gun-making tradition that hearkens back to colonial America, when Carolinians commonly used rifles for hunting, to the art of rangoli—a patterned ground decoration created with colored rice and flower petals that community members have more recently brought with them from India and introduced to South Carolina—the state’s folklife is both long-lived and ever-evolving,” observes McKissick Museum Executive Director Jane Przybysz. “By their very definition, folk arts illustrate both the rich heritage and broad diversity of who we, as South Carolinians, are as a people,” South Carolina Arts Commission Executive Director David Platts said. “It is sometimes said that we are a state where change and changelessness co-exist, and this year’s award recipients reflect something of this balance between preserving South Carolina’s traditions and opening ourselves to new and exciting art forms and experiences from around the world. Both artists do exceptional work on our behalf, and we are all grateful for what they do.” The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards and South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts and are presented at the South Carolina Arts Awards ceremony. The pandemic forced the shift of last year’s ceremony to a virtual format in July rather than May. A virtual ceremony is planned once again for 2021, but it will revert to its normal timeframe in the spring. The SCAC and UofSC McKissick Museum will announce a date and time later.

About the 2021 South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts Recipients

Jugnu Verma | Lexington | Traditional Indian Folk Arts Growing up in the Indian state of Bihar, Jugnu Verma found herself surrounded by Madhubani artists, whose painting was characterized by distinctive geometric patterns and depicted people, nature, and scenes featuring Hindu deities. An early interest led to learning the art form from neighbors in the community, as well as rangoli from the neighbor’s grandmother. From her mother, Verma learned the art of Henna, an integral part of Indian weddings and festivals where a plant-based dye is used to create temporary designs on the body. Verma is eager and enthusiastic about sharing her artistic traditions at various venues, which include her work as a Diwali (Indian Festival of Lights) Kick-off Party Organizer, workshops, and exhibitions at the Columbia Museum of Art, the rangoli educator at Overdue: Curated for the Creative, Richland Library Main Branch, and as a lead artist at Artista Vista in Columbia. She has served as Artist in Residence at Lexington District One’s New Providence Elementary, River Bluff High and White Knoll elementary school where she taught students Madhubani and other art forms. Verma feels it is important for South Carolinians to know about India and its culture and she serves as a cultural ambassador through her work throughout the state. Robert W. Hill, III | Plantersville | Advocacy: American Long Rifles and Accoutrements From Plantersville, Robert W. Hill III grew up an avid outdoorsman eager to learn the skills to support his passion for decoy carving, forging knives, and carving gun stocks. His paternal grandfather had been an accomplished blacksmith, woodcarver, and gun stocker who, unfortunately, did not live long enough to teach Hill his skills. But he was nonetheless an inspiration to Hill pursuing his passion. Hill had the opportunity to watch and learn from master engraver Jack Spain and developed a relationship with master gunsmith Frank Burton. After a year of studying and experimenting, Hill completed his first rifle. He recognized the need to preserve the craft and continued his training by studying historic firearms from the Carolinas. Today, he is recognized by gunsmiths across the region as both an exemplary artist and an advocate. In 1994, he co-founded the South Carolina Artist Blacksmith Association, later to become the Phillip Simmons Artists Blacksmith Guild of South Carolina. Through demonstrations and lectures, he has educated people about gun makers from South Carolina to recognize and preserve the artists of the state’s past. Hill passes his skills onto others, including his son and grandson, assuring a legacy of continued preservation, study, and celebration of the traditional craft of gunsmithing.

About the University of South Carolina McKissick Museum

The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum tells the story of southern life: community, culture, and the environment. The Museum is located on the University of South Carolina’s historic Horseshoe with available parking in the garage at the corner of Pendleton and Bull streets. All exhibitions are free and open to the public. The Museum is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. The Museum is closed Sundays and University holidays. For more information, please call at 803.777.7251 or visit sc.edu/mckissickmuseum.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) 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 three key areas: arts education, community arts development, and artist development. 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 social media.

Jason Rapp

Be S.C.’s next poet laureate

Applications open for honorary position

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, March 19, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. ET

The South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is accepting applications through Friday, March 19, 2020 to assist Gov. Henry McMaster in appointing the state’s next poet laureate.

Applications opened Monday, Feb. 8 on the SCAC website. To be eligible for the honorary position, applicants must be 18 or more years old, U.S. citizens, and residents of South Carolina for at least a year among other requirements. Anyone who wishes to be considered must apply by the deadline. “South Carolina has a long, storied history of gifted poets and writers,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “I have no doubt the next poet laureate will continue this tradition of excellence and will serve as an inspiration to our next generation of artists. I look forward to reviewing the candidates and making my selection.” “The South Carolina Arts Commission is both pleased and honored to be a part of naming the state’s next poet laureate,” said David T. Platts, SCAC executive director. “Words are powerful, with the ability to tear down walls and to build bridges.  The poet laureate’s role as artistic and cultural ambassador, representing both the voice and even the conscience of the state, provides a unique opportunity and platform to inspire and unite all South Carolinians.” In FY2018, legislation passed by the General Assembly directed the SCAC to recommend poet laureate candidates to the governor. After a panel reviews the applications submitted to the SCAC, it will make recommendations from among those to the governor for consideration. He will then “name and appoint an outstanding and distinguished person of letters as poet laureate for the state of South Carolina” who will serve a four-year term. The named poet laureate will be eligible for one re-appointment. That person will be the sixth poet laureate since the first was named in 1934. The most recent was Marjory Wentworth of Mount Pleasant, who was appointed by Gov. Mark Sanford in 2003 until she stepped down this past December. Poetry is enjoying the spotlight after National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman captured the country’s attention with her high-profile appearances at the inauguration of President Joe Biden last month and the Super Bowl just days ago. She infused those moments with powerful commentary on society and culture using the power of poetry. “Artistically speaking, there is an immediacy to poetry that can offer insight, hope, and encouragement,” SCAC Program Director for Artist Services Ce Scott-Fitts said.
About the South Carolina Arts Commission The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) 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 three key areas: arts education, community arts development, and artist development. 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 social media.

Jason Rapp

S.C. Governor’s School for Arts recognized for arts ed research

Link uncovered between drama curriculum and reading success


The Arts Schools Network Board of Directors has awarded the Research Initiative-Institution Award to the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities.

The award honors an organization for its commitment to ongoing research and the dissemination of knowledge in research in arts education. The Governor's School's research initiative, implemented by the Office of Outreach in partnership with the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) and University of South Carolina Department of Theatre and Dance, examines the potential impact that drama curriculum has on reading motivation and success for young children. Melissa Brookes, managing director for ASN, said, “Each year the Arts Schools Network board of directors take great pride in honoring and recognizing schools and individuals for their extraordinary efforts and impact throughout arts education. This year, we are thrilled to recognize the Governor’s School as the winner of our Research Initiative Award.” In the Spark! outreach program that this research is based on, at-risk third-grade readers attending the state mandated Read-To-Succeed summer program are exposed to drama principles in addition to their reading requirements. Now in its third year, Spark! participants are showing increased gains in creativity measures like fluency and originality, along with critical reading measures required by MAP testing, when compared to similar students not exposed to the drama component. “While we are only three years into this five-year initiative, the combination of creativity gains and reading gains together are what draws us further into this research, and we’re very excited to see these promising trends,” said Carol Baker, outreach director at the Governor’s School. “We’re grateful for this acknowledgement from the Arts Schools Network and for the ongoing support and participation of our partners, the South Carolina Arts Commission, who is funding this project, and the USC Department of Theatre and Dance, who is compiling and analyzing the data.”

About the Research

Dr. Peter Duffy, who heads the Master of Arts in Teaching program in theatre education at the University of South Carolina is leading this research which combines the qualitative measures of theatre making and creativity with quantitative methods of reading and motivation. “This research matters because it examines how story, motivation, and embodied learning through drama can impact a child’s desire to read, and how this component can affect the way young readers interact with their reading materials,” said Duffy. “We are studying how more creative teaching methods can motivate readers to really know the story inside and out. “Our research suggests that students who engage in the drama work make small but important improvements in their overall reading scores. Gathering five years of data will help us see whether these trends hold overtime, giving us a stronger impression of the real impact these programs can make.” The Spark! program was initiated at Kenneth Gardner Elementary in Williamsburg County School District, and thanks to two years of early positive findings, received increased funding to expand to Hardeeville Elementary in Jasper County School District. Both districts serve high poverty, rural, under-resourced populations and neither has a certified drama teacher at any level. Each school offers a multi-week summer remedial reading camp for rising fourth-grade students at risk of retention due to low test scores. The summer camp is part of the Read-to-Succeed program and is the last possible opportunity for these young students to increase their scores enough to move on to the next grade. How this research impacts arts education funding priorities “The Spark! outreach program’s research into the relationship between drama and reading in young, at-risk readers, provides compelling evidence of the correlation between creativity and reading retention,” said David Platts, executive director of the SCAC. “Working with Dr. Duffy and his team at the University of South Carolina and the SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities has demonstrated how these types of programs, while specifically designed to help students, also provide vital information for agencies such as ours as we analyze and prioritize our programming decisions. Good decisions and responsible stewardship of public funds are possible only with the availability of solid and meaningful research and data.” Getting students back on track “Ultimately, this is about improving reading skills and reading motivation of young students in South Carolina,” said Dr. Cedric Adderley, Governor’s School president. “We know that early reading comprehension is the key to success, and in this day and time, when we’re seeing reading regression in elementary school students due to pandemic-imposed virtual learning, we hope that programs like Spark! will be part of the solution to getting these students back on track.” “At the Governor’s School, we see first-hand how incorporating the arts into education can help improve student engagement, academic success, motivation, and hope for the future,” continued Adderley. “Now our challenge, as an arts resource and research center for teachers and students throughout the state, is to expand these proven programs to impact more students in need.”

About SC Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities

Located in Greenville, the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities cultivates young artists from across the state through pre-professional training in the areas of creative writing, dance, drama, music and visual arts. In the public, residential high school, students refine their talents in an arts-centered community while receiving a nationally recognized academic education. Summer programs are available to rising 7th-12th grade students. The Governor’s School serves as a resource to all teachers and students in South Carolina, offering comprehensive outreach programs designed to bring together artists, educators, community organizations and schools. SCGSAH.org

About the Arts Schools Network

Dedicated to excellence and leadership in arts education, Arts Schools Network, a non-profit association founded in 1981, provides arts school leaders, innovative partners and members of arts education institutions with quality resources, support and networking opportunities. Visit www.artsschoolsnetwork.org to learn more.
Image by Amberrose Nelson from Pixabay

Jason Rapp

It’s here: Announcing the SCAC’s FY21-25 Strategic Plan

Updated vision, mission, and values to inform work


From October 2019 to March 2020, teams from the South Carolina Arts Commission conducted 17 in-person meetings from the mountains to the coast and gathered additional input via an online survey that was offered in English and Spanish.

In all, more than 1,000 constituents shared their thoughts and opinions during the Canvass of the People 2020. Using this public input, the agency crafted an updated vision, mission, and set of values that, along with the new strategic plan, will guide the Arts Commission’s work for the foreseeable future. Executive Director David Platts introduces it in this video: Read more and/or download the plan from SouthCarolinaArts.com!

Jason Rapp

Ninth S.C. Cultural District approved in Camden

S.C. Arts Commission board votes unanimously for approval


For Immediate Release

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The city of Camden was awarded the ninth South Carolina Cultural District today by a unanimous vote of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) board of directors, effective immediately.

The new Downtown Camden Cultural District runs along Broad Street from West/East DeKalb streets south to York Street and along Rutledge Street from Church to Lyttleton streets, touching all or part of 14 city blocks. It includes the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County, galleries, studios and other makers spaces, artisan and farmers markets, and prominent historic landmarks dating to the late 1800s. Signage and other markers are planned to define the area to residents and visitors. Children making chalk drawings in an alley in Camden“Camden has had a strong arts community for well over half a century, and downtown Camden hosts several arts spaces, including the Arts Center of Kershaw County, private galleries and studios, music and maker spaces,” said city of Camden Main Street Program Manager Katharine Spadacenta. “We’ve identified 60 cultural assets in this area to be designated as the Cultural District. We are very excited for the arts and culture of our community to be recognized as an official South Carolina Cultural District.” Cultural districts are defined by the SCAC as walkable geographic areas with a concentration of cultural facilities, activities, and assets. They are easily identifiable and serve as centers of cultural, artistic, and economic activity. They frequently have galleries and artist studios, theaters and other live performance venues, public art, museums and arts centers, and arts schools in addition to non-cultural attractions like parks, restaurants and bars, and other commercial activity. Legislation ratified by the South Carolina General Assembly in 2014 authorizes the SCAC to grant official state designation to cultural districts. The legislation specifies the following goals of this program:
  • attract artists, creative entrepreneurs and cultural enterprises to communities
  • encourage economic development
  • foster local cultural development
  • provide a focal point for celebrating and strengthening local cultural identity
“Cultural districts show the best of what South Carolina has to offer. They prove that arts and culture drive growth, bring people together, and make our communities stronger. We welcome Camden’s new cultural district. The possibilities and impact are boundless. We hope other cities and towns make arts a focal point of progress,” SCAC board of directors Chairwoman Dee Crawford said. “Our South Carolina Cultural Districts attract tourists, help preserve and reuse historic buildings, enhance the image and visibility of a place, foster a supportive environment for arts and culture,” SCAC Executive Director David Platts said. “You don’t have to be in Camden long to see all of that is going on in our newest district. It is a wonderful and fitting addition to the program, and I congratulate them for making arts and culture a point of community pride.” “Personal connections in Camden let me observe the progress of its ongoing downtown revitalization through the past 13 years. Strong, visionary leadership steered toward this accomplishment, and the arts commission is thrilled to see the arts and creative sector used yet again to keep momentum building,” South Carolina Cultural Districts Program Director Jason Rapp said. Downtown Camden Cultural Districts joins eight other districts: Beaufort, Bluffton, Congaree Vista, Florence, Greenwood, Lancaster, Rock Hill, and Downtown Spartanburg. More information about South Carolina Cultural Districts is available at https://www.southcarolinaarts.com/community-development/programs/cultural-districts/.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) 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. 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.

Jason Rapp

Platts issues SCAC statement on Marjory Wentworth

 

Official Statement from the S.C. Arts Commission


Earlier today, on Facebook, South Carolina poet laureate Marjory Wentworth announced she is resigning from the post. She provided no further details in that medium, and the South Carolina Arts Commission is not aware of any. [caption id="attachment_26773" align="alignright" width="200"]Marjory Wentworth Marjory Wentworth, the former poet laureate of South Carolina. Photo by Andy Allen.[/caption] As she is a notable figure on the state's arts and culture scene, South Carolina Arts Commission Executive Director David Platts issued the following statement:

"On behalf of all of us at the South Carolina Arts Commission, I wish Marjory well and thank her for the many contributions she has made while serving as our state’s poet laureate.

Throughout much of history, poets have played a significant role in examining and addressing important issues of the day through the lens of their art. The stature of the poet laureate’s position allows all of us to see and recognize that the arts do not merely exist for their own sake. Rather, they can provoke thought, self-reflection, and meaningful dialogue across a wide range of opinions and perspectives, and they can unify by appealing to our better instincts.

In all times, but most especially in uncertain times like we are currently experiencing, artists like Marjory Wentworth exemplify and demonstrate the relevance and the importance of the arts to our daily lives.”


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.

Jason Rapp

Tuning Up: S.C. arts ed icon passes away

Good morning!  "Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers curated, quick-hit arts stories of interest to readers. Sometimes there will be one story, sometimes there will be several. Get in tune now, and have a masterpiece of a day. And now, in no particular order...


Remembering Rose Myers

Arts education in South Carolina owes a lot to Rose Myers. We note with sadness yesterday's news of her passing down in the Lowcountry she improved with her vision and drive. Myers was 84 and passed from complications caused by vascular dementia. From the Post & Courier:

Myers spearheaded the creation of both Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary and Charleston County School of the Arts, two schools that have repeatedly earned state and national recognition for their success blending traditional academics with art education.

S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director David Platts reflected on her life and his introduction to her.

“I met her 20 years ago as a young administrator and remember thinking I had just met an arts rock star. She was an amazing, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer educator, and her reach in this state was broad and deep. What a legacy she leaves!”

Read the full story from the Post & Courier here (subscription possibly required).
 

Jason Rapp

‘The show can’t go on’

P&C  reviews hard times in the arts


Hub readers know the devastation felt in South Carolina's arts community because of the pandemic's economic effects.

Know, though, the story is reaching broader audiences. Today, the Greenville outpost of the Post & Courier published a story that paints a bleak picture throughout the state. From the story:

“You know the old adage, ‘The show must go on.’ Well, this is one of those times when the show can’t go on,” said Graham Shaffer, technical director at the Greenville Theatre. “We just have to sit here until we can.”

Some hoped for salvation via a federal coronavirus relief package that hasn’t materialized. Now, the South Carolina Arts Commission has asked the state General Assembly to approve $3.8 million in nonrecurring funds to prop up the ailing industry until it can recover. Originally, the arts commission asked for that amount to help venues make repairs to aging buildings.

Now it just hopes to keep the buildings open.

Read Nate Cary's full story here. Subscription possibly required.

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.