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Entrepreneurism workshop offered for creatives

Monetize that talent, y'all.

It is apparently workshop day on The Hub, and the Columbia Office of Business Opportunities is up next with one aimed at developing entrepreneurism among creatives: Creative Entrepreneurs 101 Workshop: Understanding the Basics to Monetize our Talents Participants will receive tools and resources to get started on their path to becoming a creative entrepreneur. Topics covered:
  • How to Project the Right Reflection
  • How to Brand Around Your Talent
  • How to Protect your Work
  • How to Price Your Work
  • How to Negotiate & Get Booked
  • How to Manage Your Coins
Scheduled speakers: Naida Rutherford, Katera, Rod King, Marcus Gullen, Shannon N. O'Berry Hammond, and Jeremy Polley. Special guest: CammWess, South Carolina native singer/songwriter and finalist on NBC’s The Voice. Lunch will be provided and masks are required. More information and registration available here.

Jason Rapp

Creative entrepreneurship Q&A

Are you an artist yearning to create full time?

Have questions about grant opportunities, taxes, licensing, and marketing yourself? Local artists and art professionals like the SCAC's Ce Scott-Fitts are available to answer your questions at Richland Library Main Branch in a Q&A session! Register here: https://www.richlandlibrary.com/event/2021-07-08/creative-entrepreneurship-questions-answered
Ed. note: An earlier version of this post ran an incorrect event description. The Hub regrets the error.

Jason Rapp

Love at first arc for S.C. welder

New direction leads to arts entrepreneurship


The Hub was honestly not expecting a don't-miss story from The Welder.

Shame on us. Do yourself a favor and read the story of Kristen Albro of Charleston from the Illinois-based trade publication. Writer Amanda Carlson does a terrific profile of the unexpected blacksmith. Here's a small excerpt:

As a veteran of the Air Force, Albro spent her time in service as an aircraft mechanic. Later she earned a degree in criminal justice with a minor in intelligence and homeland security from The Citadel. Seeing the writing on the wall about a white-collar desk job, the lifelong artist did a little soul-searching about what exactly would make her happy. Working with your hands can lead to many pathways, but she landed on welding because she wondered if she could somehow incorporate that into her art.

Carlson mentions Albro's techniques and inspiration and how the two came together to form her entrepreneurial artistic venture. We'll stop there, because you should just go read it right now (TheFabricator.com).
Photo by Kateryna Babaieva from Pexels

Jason Rapp

Midlands music school expands virtual services, offers scholarships

Freeway Music School serves Columbia area


In response to the pandemic, Columbia's Freeway Music launched new virtual and socially distanced technique lessons, showcases, recitals, studio time and music videos, along with new scholarships, positively impacting hundreds of students across the region.

A small business, Freeway Music is rooted in face-to-face interaction and in-person instruction. Once the COVID-19 pandemic limited its ability to open studio doors at its five Columbia locations, the music school brought instruction and opportunities into the homes of its students by incorporating virtual lessons, showcases and recitals in different formats. It has also introduced new technology in order to make lessons even more productive.
“Music is a vehicle for creativity, healing, emotional expression, and so much more,” says Don Russo, founder and chief operating officer of Freeway Music. “It offers hope and is vital during these isolating times. We are committed to showing our music family that they don’t need to physically be together to play together.”
Founded in 2011, Freeway Music offers student-centered music education that also benefits the broader community, making a positive impact through lessons for all skill levels and ages, as well as music therapy, theater, showcases, recitals, and partnerships with various charities, organizations and community events. Freeway Music has locations in downtown Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, Northeast and within Sims Music. In addition to its virtual services, Freeway Music is now offering in-person, socially distanced lessons and free studio time as a new experience for its students, enabling them to take home their own recordings. The school is also using technology like Sound Slice, which allows students to see their music notated online, control tempo, and loop sections with which they may be struggling. This summer, Freeway Music students held outdoor, socially distanced concerts at Steel Hands Brewing and Market on Main in downtown Columbia, giving kids the opportunity to perform safely in public with adult supervision. “Our goal is to create opportunities for our students to continue to learn and showcase their work during this hectic time,” says Tony Lee, co-founder of Freeway Music. “Music and creative expression should be accessible to everyone, which is why we’re creating safe and innovative solutions to meet the needs of every family.”
As the pandemic began to alter lives for businesses and families alike, Freeway Music recognized a need within its own music community–families who no longer can afford lessons and instructors who have lost their jobs. As a result, Freeway Music created “Jam for the Fam,” a virtual concert benefiting those in need. Local musicians volunteered to perform, and the event provided 10 scholarships for students to continue lessons and benefitted four instructors who have recently experienced significant loss. “Freeway Music is so much more than a music school — they are our extended family,” says one scholarship recipient’s mother. “When COVID-19 hit and my family was down to one income, they stepped in to help my daughter continue her lessons with a special scholarship. With their help, my girls could continue doing what they love, making music.” Freeway Music believes that music transcends barriers of all kinds and unites people from all walks of life, and the school uses its resources to uplift and encourage the entire Columbia region and beyond. Its philanthropic support of local organizations and community outreach include the following:
  • Co-partnership of the Freeway Music Festival, which unites the music community and celebrates local and regional talent. The 2019 event raised money to help build a new greenhouse at City Roots Organic Farm.
  • Fundraising and performances for many local causes and charities including The Conner Foundation, Palmetto Children’s Hospital, Harvest Hope Food Bank, The Women’s Shelter, Pets Inc., Pawmetto Lifeline, Trustus Theatre, Girls Rock Columbia, the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation, and the South Carolina Philharmonic, among others.
  • Lesson donations and performances for local schools including Bethel-Hanberry Elementary, St. John Newman, Heathwood Hall, the University of South Carolina, Columbia College, Blythewood  and Irmo high schools, St. Andrews Middle School and many more.
  • Volunteerism and support of local events including the Festival of Trees, Rooftop Rhythms, St. Pat's in Five Points Parade, Palmetto Christmas, the MG&C Long Run, the Heart and Sole Run, Get in the Pink Race, Vista Lights, First Thursdays on Main, and more.
  • Music scholarships including the Friends Grant in partnership with The Christopher Conner Foundation to help students that can’t afford music lessons, and the Davis Cripe Scholarship, which was created in loving memory of Freeway Music Irmo/Ballentine drum student Davis Cripe.

About Freeway Music

Founded in 2011, Freeway Music is the Columbia region’s premier music school with five locations in downtown Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, the Northeast, and within Sims Music. Freeway Music offers private lessons for all skill levels, styles, and ages on a wide range of instruments including piano, voice, ukulele, drums, bass, strings, woodwinds, horns, mandolin, banjo, and more. Freeway Music’s mission is to equip students in music and life to make a positive impact in their community. Freeway Music is the exclusive music school partner of Sims Music, a locally owned and nationally recognized music store. For more information visit www.freewaymusic.net or call 844.537.7661.
Photo by Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels

Jason Rapp

New grant launches for artists with SCI

SCI Artist-Innovator Fund offers up to $7,500

Application deadline: Wednesday, June 12, 2019 The spinal cord injury (SCI) community is abundant with out-of-the-box thinkers, hackers, problem solvers, and individuals creatively tackling challenges. Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI) launches the first ever SCI Artist-Innovator Fund to offer artists, innovators, inventors, makers, and entrepreneurs financial capital for social-impact oriented, creative entrepreneurship projects.
Recent statistics show that self-employment rates in the US are higher among disabled people than non-disabled people (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). However, there is limited funding dedicated to developing entrepreneurial capabilities of disabled artists that would provide pathways for financial independence. In addition, these programs assume that disabled people are driven to become entrepreneurs primarily as a result of barriers in other sections of the workforce. CCI challenges these assumptions and recognizes that the spinal cord injury (SCI) experience brings a unique perspective to innovation.

Program

The SCI Artist-Innovator Grant will offer 10-12 grants of up to $7,500, for a total of $75,000 in grants, to individual artist-entrepreneurs with spinal cord injuries who are inspired to innovate by opportunity-based entrepreneurship – in other words, by the possibilities and benefits that are offered through the experience of pursuing a creative practice and living with spinal cord injury. CCI recognizes that having an underserved perspective, living with challenging circumstances, and applying creative practice can yield important solutions for not only the innovator but for the benefit of society. This opportunity to recognize the powerful combination of SCI populations, craftsmanship and creative practice, and positive social impact is made possible by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation whose founder lived with SCI and whose legacy is as an entrepreneur.

Eligibility

To be eligible for consideration, applicants must:
  • Be an individual living with spinal cord injury (SCI applicants may be part of a team, but only if the applicant is the primary owner or lead);
  • Live and work in the USA or its territories; and
  • Self-define as an artist, maker, creative, or culture bearer, or whose project reflects deep and sustained refining that reflects a craft, cultural, or artistic practice.
Go here to learn more (guidelines, etc.) and apply.

Avoiding the life of the starving artist

From USC School of Music Article by John Brunelli

SAVVY Arts Venture Challenge teaches entrepreneurship to the arts community [caption id="attachment_31142" align="alignright" width="250"]Savvy Musicians SAVVY teams create exhibits showcasing their business ventures.[/caption] Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most celebrated postimpressionist painters of the 19th century. But at the time of his death, he was penniless and obscure — the epitome of a starving artist. "You don't get any brownie points for being an amazing artist, who is so poor that you can't afford to create your art or share your gifts," says David Cutler, director of music entrepreneurship at the University of South Carolina. For the past five summers, Cutler has led a School of Music workshop designed to help a diverse group of artists maximize income, prove their worth and adapt to a world that is changing at an exponential rate. This experiential workshop called the SAVVY Arts Venture Challenge explores how a variety of business lessons are applicable to all art disciplines. This year's class is the most diverse yet — including musicians, visual artists, dancers, actors and even two mimes. Each of the 72 participants begins the week by giving a one-minute elevator pitch for an innovative arts-based business. The entire class votes on favorites and ultimately selects nine ideas to develop throughout the week. They divide into teams each with a CEO, a CFO, a marketing director and other key positions designed to create a successful business model. "There aren't a lot of tidy, secure, full-time jobs available for artists, even those with the most talent," Cutler says. "Most of us have to create our lives. SAVVY helps participants develop a variety of relevant skills for their own unique career path." Throughout the week, teams are required to solve eight "challenges." The finance challenge asks groups to create a startup budget, explain their business' cash flow and build a financial statement. A digital branding challenge requires the creation of a website consistent with the brand's personality while meeting the needs of customers. A research challenge gets them into the community to conduct surveys, interview experts and test core assumptions. "Entrepreneurship, for me, isn't just about career training. It's a way of life," Cutler says. "It's about creative problem-solving and innovation, as well as value creation, financial literacy, business-model design, taking chances and bold unapologetic leadership." At the end of the week, the teams pitch their businesses again — this time to a panel of judges and local government, arts and business leaders during the SAVVY Reveal at the Copenhaver Band Hall. People watching a livestream of the program from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. June 9 also can vote for their favorites. The week begins with the SAVVY Chamber Showcase, where four finalist ensembles featuring artistic excellence and innovative event design compete for a $10,000 grant prize/School of Music residency and management options. All finalists receive full tuition scholarships to attend the 2017 SAVVY Arts Venture Challenge. This year's finalists are: Real Vocal String Quartet from Berkeley, California, a multi-genre string quartet where all members also sing. Projecto Acromusical, based in Dekalb, Illnois, is a world music sextet that reimagines the Afro-Brazilian berimbau, a single-string percussion instrument, through a repertoire of concert chamber music. BIK Ensemble from Montreal, Canada, is a theatrical trio whose musicians dance around the stage, use cutlery as percussion and incorporate a host of other surprises. The final ensemble, The Living Earth Show from San Francisco, is an electro-acoustic group that generates a huge variety of sounds and sights from just a guitarist and a percussionist. The four ensembles compete at 7:30 p.m. Monday (June 5) in the newly opened auditorium at the Richland County Main Library. The concert is free and open to the public. In addition to becoming business savvy, Cutler hopes the participants, who are from nine countries and 25 states, will gain an appreciation for the resources and potential of a vibrant city like Columbia. Local organizations, businesses and community members are involved with SAVVY in a variety of capacities, as partners, dinner hosts, guest presenters and "entrepre-tainers." "SAVVY is literally the best event of its kind in the world," Cutler says. "This parallels a lesson we emphasize. For those with the courage and audacity to lead in relevant ways, the benefits can be tremendous."

Free webinar for artists: find out more about Artists Ventures Initiative Grants

Webinar scheduled for December 2 [caption id="attachment_16931" align="alignright" width="250"]Barbara Streeter Barbara Streeter of Conway, a previous AVI grant recipient[/caption] Are you a professional-caliber artist or an artist collaborative with an arts-based business idea? Or, have you launched an arts-based business that needs a bit more lift? The S.C. Artists’ Ventures Initiative (AVI), a broad-reaching project at the South Carolina Arts Commission, may be just right for you. AVI grantees may be awarded up to $3,500 for a one-time project/single purchase in support of an arts-based business. An ongoing arts-based business venture may be awarded up to $5,000. Join us for a free webinar to learn more about the grant and the first step in the process, the all-important Letter of Intent, which is due January 11, 2017. (The deadline for AVI Letters of Intent is January 11, 2017. You do not have to participate in the webinar in order to submit a Letter of Intent.) Topics to be covered:

  • Learn about the S.C. Artists Ventures Initiative
  • Walk through the process of completing the online Letter of Intent
  • Hear from recent AVI grant recipient(s)
  • Ask questions
When: December 2, 2016
Time: 7:15 – 8:30 p.m.
Where: Online — you will receive log-in information two days before the webinar. You will need access to the Internet and a telephone to see and hear the presentation.
RSVP: This webinar is free, but you must register online in order to attend and to receive webinar log-in information. The registration password is AVI.
  Questions? Email Joy Young, jyoung@arts.sc.gov.

Artist entrepreneurs: apply for an Artists Ventures Initiatives grant

Letters of intent due Jan. 11, 2017 The South Carolina Arts Commission invites artists to apply for the next round of S.C. Artists Ventures Initiative grants. AVI grants encourage and enable the creation of new artist-driven, arts-based business ventures that will provide career satisfaction and sustainability for S.C. artists. S.C. artists (individuals and collaboratives) may use AVI funding to help launch a new venture or significantly alter an existing venture. A one-time project/single purchase may be awarded up to $3,500. An ongoing business venture may be awarded up to $5,000. The AVI grant program is a two-part process, with letters of intent due Jan. 11, 2017. Selected applicants will be invited to develop a full grant proposal. Read the complete guidelines online. Image: Artist Kristy Bishop of Charleston received an Artists Ventures Initiative Grant to expand her textile workshops.

From Hurricane Katrina to the Great Recession: Out of adversity comes art

Natalie Brown received a South Carolina Arts Commission Artists' Ventures Initiative grant in 2011. From Westwood.com Article by Ana Campbell, photos by Scott Bilby

Often it is the case that from bad comes good. For Natalie Brown, it took a few slipped discs, a natural disaster, the untimely death of a loved one and the Great Recession to find her calling: the Phantom Circus, the performance group she founded that will debut at the Oriental Theater this month. [caption id="attachment_27965" align="alignleft" width="271"]Natalie Brown, photo by Scott Bilby Natalie Brown, photo by Scott Bilby[/caption] Brown starts her story after college, when a genetic disease left the lifelong ballerina with a nearly broken back. With rehab in mind, she found a less grueling creative outlet in tribal-style belly dancing. She was practicing and performing with a group in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, forcing Brown and her then-partner out of Louisiana. They found a home in Columbia, South Carolina, where Brown's family was living. Nobody was doing tribal-style belly dancing in South Carolina at the time, so Brown decided to open a dance company that specialized in it. "If I can make art, then I'm okay," she says. Brown found the one "alt watering hole" in the sleepy Southern town and became friendly with the owners – so friendly that they let Brown and her belly-dancing troupe perform in the bar's parking lot once a month. The belly-dancing performances were just that until Brown decided to expand. She started looking into underground circuses, which were becoming more mainstream, particularly after several toured and found fame with the band Panic! at the Disco. Brown found a single mom living in the suburbs with a talent for hula-hooping and a fire performer who, as Brown tells it, "wouldn't burn the place down," and started Alternacirque in 2007. Just as the circus was picking up steam, Brown got word that her father had terminal cancer. He died shortly thereafter. "Once again, something bad happened, so I turned to art," she says. A year later, in 2008, the economy tanked. But for once, bad luck was on Brown's side. "No one had money to do anything at all," she explains. "Word got out that there was this free show in the parking lot." Before Brown knew it, the audience at her bar shows had grown from fifty people to 500. The show continued to grow and change – mostly through Kickstarter campaigns and self-taught performance pieces – until the performers decided to part ways in 2013. Brown used her newfound downtime to improve her performance art. She moved to Boulder to train with a renowned belly-dancing professor at the University of Colorado and eventually enrolled in Frequent Flyers, an aerial-dance studio in Boulder. As much as Brown loves performing and the arts, she also loves the business behind it, which she learned a lot about in South Carolina. A succession of conservative governors had slashed arts funding, so the state's arts commission told performers not to rely on anyone but themselves, Brown says: "They kept telling artists in South Carolina, 'Look, the salary is not coming; nobody's going to rescue you. You need to be self-sufficient, self-sustaining, learn the business and be entrepreneurs and artists.'" Once Brown finished at Frequent Flyers, where she also got professional business training in about nine months, she started thinking about running her own circus again. While she was formulating a business plan, she started interning at a company that taught her how to book corporate events. She married her passions and started the Phantom Circus, which until recently specialized in aerial bartending. "Imagine your guests walking into a ballroom greeted with the sight of aerialists hanging from a chandelier pouring champagne," explains the Phantom Circus's website. "A stilt-walker wanders by and pours a signature cocktail. A contortionist performs on a table and hands out wine glasses." Brown will premiere the strictly performance side of Phantom Circus on September 15 at the Oriental Theater. "We're doing this as variety-show style," she says. The all-ages show will feature belly dancing, acrobatics, hula-hooping and fire and aerial performers. Brown's romantic partner, Steve Millin, will serve as the ringmaster. Denver is hardly known for its underground-circus scene, Brown notes. "But I think there is a desire in the community for us to make our mark and to help each other and get better and build something really, really unique," she concludes.
 

For nearly 50 years, father-son faculty members blaze trails at Clemson University

Jack and David Stevenson have made an impact in the Clemson community in very different capacities for almost five decades. Father-son pair Jack and David Stevenson took very different career paths. Jack (the father) spent time as a chaplain for the Navy before travelling south to organize outdoor wilderness camp programs. David pursued classical guitar at the University of South Carolina and has a thriving career as a musician and teacher. Both, however, found their way to Clemson University. Though their tenures did not overlap, the Stevensons have been a fixture in Tiger Town for almost 50 years. Jack began work as the camp director for the Atlanta Presbytery in Georgia, a year-round camp, conference, and retreat center. “Summer camps were the big thing, but we had a lot of other groups that came in,” he said. His experience with the camp led him to pursue a Ph.D. at Indiana University. He originally wanted to work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, so he applied for a position there in 1968. “The Department Chair, Doug Sessoms, said, ‘Jack, I don’t have any hard money, it’s all grant money, and I can’t guarantee that if you came here, that you’d have a job, so I wish you well.’” Then Sessoms sat down and sent all Jack’s application papers to Clemson’s brand new parks, recreations, and tourism management department. Jack was the fifth faculty member hired in the new department. Beyond the nuts and bolts of the curriculum, he enjoyed fostering students’ ambitions during their time at Clemson. “I loved helping students emerge and get enthusiastic about something that they didn’t know about before,” he said. “To learn on their own, I had everybody write in a journal. I asked them to tie in the readings I assigned with their lives. People emerged, and I got the biggest kick out of it.” This passion for helping students extended to his tenure as head of the Calhoun Honors College, which he held from 1981 until his retirement in 1992. Jack helped secure funding from deans throughout the University to help fund the program, which was in its early stages when he began. Jack’s son, David, grew up in Clemson. “I was running around here as a little kid,” he said. He remembers tagging along with his father when Jack took his classes on camping trips. “I would go because I wanted to hang out with cool college kids, and I remember being on a camping trip when everyone was saying, ‘Yeah, next year, this will all be under water.’ We were camping where Lake Jocassee is now.” “We’ve hiked many miles on the Appalachian Trail,” his father adds. The outdoors were not merely an area of study for Jack, but a way of bonding for father and son. Despite his enthusiasm for the outdoors, David took a different path, and discovered a deep love for music. “There was always music in our home – mostly classical,” he said. “But no one else in our family is a musician. It was something I took to.” He attributes his brother with providing him with that first spark of inspiration. “We were both home, the two of us, and we went into the living room, where he played this Led Zeppelin record on Dad’s stereo. The minute that needle hit the record, I said, ‘That is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. I want to be a guitar player.’” David’s early experiences and associations as a teenager in Clemson also heavily influenced his love of guitar. The Barnett family owned Barnett Music Center in downtown Clemson in the 1970s. Bobby Barnett was a faculty member at the Poole Agricultural Center, and David took his first guitar lessons from Bonnie Barnett in 1972. Their twin sons were talented guitarists themselves who once performed as the opening act for an Allman Brothers concert. “I had some of my first rock-and-roll lessons from those guys,” he said. Steve Goggins, an architecture student and talented guitarist, mentored David and was key in turning his interest from electric- and rock-based guitar to acoustic. His friend Robert Johnson, who lived in student housing (which was near the current location of the Brooks Center) with his wife Ann in the mid-1970s, introduced him to experimental music. In addition to being an engineering graduate student, he was a Vietnam War veteran who served in the Air Force. David would often visit the couple to listen to and talk about music. “I find it so interesting that I was visiting them and playing and learning literally where the Brooks Center parking lots are now,” he said. While he played guitar in rock bands around town, David wanted to grow as a musician. He would eventually enroll at the University of South Carolina as a classical guitar major. “Frankly, I didn’t have much talent,” he said. “But I had a lot of determination, so I was willing to work hard. And the classical discipline was really good for me, because I could follow instructions. I wanted what those people knew, and I wanted to do what they could do. I didn’t necessarily love classical guitar at the time that I showed up, but by the time I left, it had taken over my life.” Jack paid his son’s tuition to go to college, but had a little fun when he wrote the check, referencing the Clemson-Carolina rivalry in a subtle way. “Clemson was in a long period of dominance back then in football, and the only way he could write my tuition check was that he would put the football score in the memo line of the check.” “For five years,” Jack chimed in. “And they cashed them anyway!” After graduation, David ended up in Asheville, North Carolina, where he has lived for 26 years. In addition to being a freelance musician, he has taught at the University of North Carolina at Asheville for 28 years, as well as Gardner-Webb University, Brevard College, and, of course, Clemson. “Eventually, when the Brooks Center opened, word came: ‘We’re hiring teachers.’ So I applied and was hired in 1994,” he recalled. As the first faculty guitar instructor at Clemson, David commuted four total hours to Clemson to teach two hours of lessons to four students. Now he teaches three days a week and has over 100 students each semester, including one-on-one private lessons and larger classroom sessions. *   *   * In addition to being a performer and teacher, David is also an entrepreneur: “Part of my patchwork quilt of a living,” he says. With a friend, he began making and selling guitar accessories. He patented the A-Frame in 1991, a device that takes the place of the footstool used by classical guitarists during concerts. The small, compact invention props the guitar up to playing height on the thigh, rather than forcing the musician to put his or her leg in an uncomfortable position for the entirety of a performance. David earned his second patent in 2015 with the X-Strap, an extra strap (hence the name) that secures the guitar more tightly to a musician’s body. He was inspired to create it after seeing an ensemble that stood during an entire performance at the Brooks Center. “They were the happiest, most expressive group,” he said. “It was infectious! I loved it! I immediately thought, ‘We’ve got to get guitarists out of the chair.” There was one problem: David felt the standard guitar strap allowed the guitar too much movement, and classical guitarists need the guitar to be secure. This new, second strap would keep the guitar in place and allow the user to move. “I think it invites the audience in,” he said. “Often when you go to a classical guitar concert, here’s this person sitting very rigidly in a chair way over there, they’re playing a soft instrument and they barely move and they’re looking down all the time. It doesn’t invite the listener in. If you can engage your body a little, it somehow invites them in.” His A-Frame and X-Strap were conceptual solutions to problems he faced as a musician. But for his inventions to be of use to others, he had to do more than conceptualize: he had to find a way to build and distribute them efficiently and economically. With his company, SageWorks, he would develop such a system. Now, he makes both the A-Frame and X-Strap himself, by hand, in a workshop beside his house. “I source all the parts,” he said. “I fabricate everything and put them together when the orders come in.”  The A-Frame went through several iterations before it was finalized for the market. Aaron Shearer, a friend and world-class guitar pedagogue who taught at some of the most prestigious music institutions in the country, endorsed it, and David estimates that he has sold close to 20,000 units over 25 years. *   *   * The Stevenson family has always believed in Clemson, David said, even when he was on the road for lessons in Tiger Town longer than he was in the classroom. The fact that Jack established an endowment in 1989 that was, around 1994, re-designated for use by the guitar program shows how dedicated they are to the community and the performing arts. The endowment, which has grown substantially over the years, is now used to purchase sheet music and instruments, and to take care of other costs related to guitar. There are 18 guitars for use by students at Clemson, and classes are designed to help students of all levels and interests – even total beginners. David is often able to invite guest artists to perform and speak to students: Gaelle Solal, classical guitarist from Belgium; Bluegrass master musician Josh Goforth; the rock band Buster; and master fingers style guitarists Alex de Grassi from California and Al Pettaway from Asheville, to name a few. He points to his experiences in Clemson as a teenager to explain his long-lasting connection to his hometown. “Those early influences have literally kept me right here in almost the exact same spot sharing the guitar with so many Clemson students over the last 22 years,” he said. For many years after retiring from Clemson, Jack kept an office in Clemson as a pastoral Counselor at Fort Hill Presbyterian Church. When in town, David has the privilege, as his father says, of staying with him. Nearly 50 years later, for at least a few days each week, the Jack and David can be found under one roof near the University and city they love. For more information about David, his music, and his patents, visit http://riverpointdesign.com/davidsguitar/Home. Thomas Hudgins is director of marketing and communications for the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts in Clemson.

Thomas Hudgins