Tuning Up: Update on relief funding awards to S.C. arts orgs
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...
ColumbiaThe Columbia Museum of Art announces it has been selected as a recipient of a CARES Act economic stabilization grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The $150,000 award will support public programming associated with the upcoming major exhibition Visions from India: 21st-Century Art from the Pizzuti Collection. “I am pleased that the Columbia Museum of Art has received funding allocated through the CARES Act,” says Congressman James E. Clyburn. “The museum serves as a community center, art studio and entertainment venue. We must continue to support them as they strive to provide safe opportunities to participate in meaningful cultural experiences and connect with others.” From Oct. 17, 2020, through Jan. 10, 2021, the CMA will present Visions from India, a breathtaking sweep of 21st-century painting, sculpture, and multimedia works from India and its diaspora. The museum is eager to showcase this exhibition for diverse local and regional audiences and believes it will make an important impact on the community. The NEH is generously providing support for exhibition-related activities that require retaining humanities staff to maintain and adapt critical public programs.
GreenvilleLocal arts organizations have received another infusion of COVID-19 relief funds thanks to a $100,000 contribution from Hollingsworth Funds Inc. The funding, which is being distributed by the Metropolitan Arts Council, was awarded to the following groups: Artisphere, Centre Stage, Greenville Chorale, Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville Symphony Orchestra, Greenville Theatre, Metropolitan Arts Council, Peace Center, South Carolina Children’s Theatre and Warehouse Theatre. Each of the 10 organizations will receive $10,000 within the next few days, said Alan Ethridge, executive director of the Metropolitan Arts Council.
NEA awards grants to S.C. Arts Commission, others in state
$933,900 coming (back) to South Carolina
$80 million awarded across U.S. by NEA
WASHINGTON—The National Endowment for the Arts announces $80.4 million for 1,114 new awards located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and four U.S. jurisdictions. This is the Art Endowment’s second major grant announcement of fiscal year 2019, and these awards continue the Arts Endowment’s commitment as the only arts funder reaching the entire country. Awards from this round of funding come from four categories: Art Works II, Our Town, state and regional partnerships and Research: Art Works, plus a renewal in NEA Research Labs. “Reflecting the diverse artistic richness of our nation, these Arts Endowment-funded projects are varied in their size, scope, and artistic discipline,” said Arts Endowment Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter. “The projects also illustrate the unique geographic reach of Arts Endowment funding, serving Americans in places large and small in all corners of the country.” Grants recommended in this round are listed in two ways:
- State/jurisdiction and listed by city/town and
- Funding category (Art Works II, Our Town, state and regional partnerships, and Research: Art Works) and then listed by artistic discipline/field.
SOUTH CAROLINA: 5 awards totaling $933,900
- Columbia Film Society, Columbia $22,500; Art Works - Media Arts
- South Carolina Arts Commission, Columbia $811,400; Partnerships (State & Regional)
- Greenville Symphony Association/Greenville Symphony Orchestra, Greenville $10,000; Art Works - Music
- City of Rock Hill $75,000; Our Town - Design
- Hub City Writers Project, Spartanburg $15,000; Art Works - Literature
ART WORKS II: 977 awards totaling $23,983,500 Art Works is the Arts Endowment’s largest category with projects supported in 13 artistic disciplines and fields in this Art Works II group, ranging from arts education to visual arts. Grant amounts range from $10,000 to $100,000 with a median amount of $20,000. Examples of Art Works-supported projects in this round are:
- A $10,000 award to the Madison Public Library Association in Madison, Wisconsin (a first-time Arts Endowment grantee) to support programming at the Wisconsin Book Festival featuring award-winning authors of genres such as literary fiction, poetry, and science.
- A $10,000 award to Shreveport Opera in Shreveport, Louisiana to support the Shreveport Opera Xpress educational touring program, which offers performances and activities for public school students in central and south Louisiana.
- A $15,000 award to the Pioneer School of Drama in Danville, Kentucky to support Voices Inside: The Northpoint Prison Writing and Performance Project, where theater professionals will conduct workshops for inmates at the Northpoint Training Center.
- A $20,000 award to Cultural Resources in Rockport, Maine to support the Wabanaki Arts Mentorship Program, where accomplished Wabanaki artists will instruct youth in basket-making techniques and cultural knowledge.
- A $30,000 award to the City of Phoenix to support a partnership with the city’s Neighborhood Services Department and the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture to provide grants for intergenerational arts projects.
OUR TOWN: 57 awards totaling $4,115,000 Our Town is the Arts Endowment’s signature creative placemaking program that supports partnerships of artists, arts organizations, and municipal government that work to revitalize neighborhoods. Two program areas are place-based projects with grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000, and knowledge building projects with grant amounts ranging from $25,000-$100,000. This year’s cohort is remarkable for its diversity. Approximately a third of the recommended grantees are first-time applicants to the Arts Endowment. The types of communities vary widely with 18 recommendations for projects in rural or tribal communities. And project types range from cultural planning to festivals and cross several artistic disciplines. Examples of Our Town-supported projects are:
- A $25,000 award to the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne in Hogansburg, New York, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe will undertake a project to engage local artists and designers to develop public art and architecture that reflects Akwesasne Mohawk culture.
- A $50,000 award to the City of Granite Falls in Minnesota to establish an artist residency program within local government. The program is the first of its kind in a small, rural setting, and has the potential to serve as a national model for other small communities.
- An $85,000 grant to the Santa Fe Art Institute to re-enliven the shuttered campus of the former Santa Fe College of Art and Design by inventorying the campus’s cultural assets and creating community arts events to build enthusiasm around the campus’s development potential and to advance community goals.
STATE AND REGIONAL PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS: 64 awards totaling $51,456,500 Through partnership agreements, the Arts Endowment translates national leadership into local and regional benefit. Every U.S. state and jurisdiction has its own state arts agency that coordinates cultural policies and invests in arts programming on behalf of, or as part of, state/jurisdiction government. The geographically-defined consortium of state arts agencies known as regional arts organizations are funded to manage programs across state, national, and international borders. Together, these organizations receive 40 percent of the Arts Endowment’s grantmaking funds each year to support their activities and to leverage state and other public and private funds. Partnership Agreements help support life-long learning in schools and communities, community economic development through creative districts, and arts participation through artist tours, festivals, readings, and exhibits. Some examples of state and regional programming funded by partnership agreements are:
- The Delaware Division of the Arts and Delaware State Parks have been working together since 2008 to offer arts-in-the-park programming that has increased the number and diversity of visitors to state parks.
- Through its Arts and Military Initiative, the Oklahoma Arts Council works with the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs and a local partner to provide arts activities to residents at the Oklahoma Veterans Center in Norman.
- Through its Launchpad initiative, South Arts is providing mentorships and other professional development services to presenting organizations beginning or expanding in the South Arts region.
- A $20,000 award to MINDPOP in Austin, Texas will support a study led by researchers from the Austin Independent School District and the University of Texas at Austin that examines relationships between schools and arts partners participating in a collective impact arts education project.
- An $88,000 award to the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio will support a randomized controlled trial examining the arts’ ability to improve health, resilience, and well-being in individuals with chronic health conditions.
About the National Endowment for the ArtsEstablished by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. For more information, visit www.arts.gov.
Image by Kendall Hoopes/Pexels
Tuning Up: Literally (spoiler: it’s about orchestras)
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...
This morning we offer some news and notes from South Carolina orchestras. ICYMI: Three Mor-ihiko Years. The South Carolina Philharmonic announced a three-year contract extension for Music Director Morihiko Nakahara this week, keeping him in Columbia into (at least) 2022 for a total of (at least) 14 seasons. The Free Times caught up with the well-traveled maestro, who begins his 11th season, and the orchestra's 55th, Saturday, Sept. 29. Rock Hill Symphony debuts tomorrow night. Literally. As in, first-ever concert, not just new season. Pianist Marina Lomazov (an SCAC music performance fellowship recipient) is the featured soloist for the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto on Music Director David Rudge's premiere program, which also offers works by Berlioz, Rimsky-Korsakov, Smetana, and more. It is sold out (and has been), but check out the first season's offerings here. Season's greetings! Rock Hill joins 10 other professional orchestras in South Carolina. September and October are typically when orchestra season gets going. Here are start dates for others from around the Palmetto State:
- Aiken Symphony Orchestra: Saturday, Sept. 15
- Beaufort Symphony Orchestra: Thursday, Oct. 11
- Charleston Symphony Orchestra: Friday, Sept 21
- Florence Symphony Orchestra: Monday, Oct. 15
- Foothills Philharmonic: Saturday, Sept. 22
- Greenville Symphony Orchestra: Saturday, Sept. 22
- Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra: Sunday, Oct. 21
- Long Bay Symphony: Sunday, Sept. 23
- South Carolina Philharmonic: Saturday, Sept. 29
- Spartanburg Philharmonic: Saturday, Sept. 29
What would Greenville be without arts grants?
From The Greenville News
Article by Donna Isbell Walker, photos by Lauren Petracca
Image: Alyson Amato, co-founder of Carolina Dance Collaborative, leads an after-school dance class last week at Chandler Creek Elementary in Greer.
This weekend, Greenville will proudly display its commitment to the arts.
The 13th annual Artisphere festival opens Friday, and for three days, the streets of downtown will overflow with rich color and the sounds of music and the aroma of lamb burgers and caramel popcorn.
Last year, Artisphere had an economic impact of $6.4 million, as 100,000 visitors packed the streets, purchasing original art, checking out the local merchants, sampling the cuisine.
But, what would the festival look like if it didn’t receive funding from the South Carolina Arts Commission?
Kerry Murphy, the festival’s executive director, said putting on the festival would be a lot tougher without a $21,000 general operating support grant from SCAC, which in turn receives a large portion of its funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The NEA has been under fire this year, as President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would have eliminated the NEA, as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Those agencies were spared by the House Appropriation Committee’s appropriations bill for the 2017 fiscal year, which actually increased NEA and NEH funding.
Across the Upstate, arts grants make a difference. At Chandler Creek Elementary School in Greer one recent afternoon, students showed off the jazz and African dance moves they spent the previous six weeks mastering in an after-school program operated by Communities in Schools through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
At the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, teachers have the chance to attend workshops and other professional development opportunities, and they share that knowledge with other teachers, as well as the students The Greenville Symphony Orchestra targets elementary and middle school students with its educational outreach programs, and Warehouse Theatre takes Shakespeare to middle and high schools around the Carolinas, in a program that offers a mini-course in the Bard, complete with a live production of one of his plays.
It may be easy to take for granted that Greenville’s local theaters will continue to stage productions each year, that festivals will brighten the streets of downtown, that students can learn painting and music and creative writing in school.
But all of those programs require funding, in most cases more money than an arts entity can generate on its own, said Mike Sablone, producing artistic director for Warehouse Theatre.
“All of that funding is incredibly important to every aspect of the theater,” Sablone said. “We’re a non-profit. We rely on ticket sales, we rely on donations, we rely on grants. And all those allow us to do the work that we do. And without that money, we’d have to take a harder look at how we produce, what we produce, and the quality that we’ve come to expect with a Warehouse Theatre production.”
Greenville is blessed to have a vibrant arts scene, one that contributes to the city’s overall popularity as a place to visit and as a place where people are moving, said Dr. Braxton Ballew, education director for Greenville Symphony Orchestra.
“We’ve got a tremendous arts community here, and I think it’s no accident that you see Greenville on these top 10 best places to live, top 10 places to retire (lists), all the accolades that we get, and we just happen to have this great arts community here, that’s not a coincidence,” Ballew said. “It cannot be understated what a big part the Arts Commission is to that success.”
Learning new things
The Chandler Creek dance program offers third- through fifth-graders at the Title I school a chance to learn dances that they might not otherwise have an opportunity to practice, said Alyson Amato, co-founder and director of education for Carolina Dance Collaborative.
For six weeks, Amato and Kelsey Crum, Carolina Dance Collaborative’s other co-founder, taught the students the moves for three dances, and on the seventh week, they demonstrated their new skills for parents and friends.
They rolled their arms, snapped their fingers, did the “smush the bug” step, showed off their best jazz hands, and performed a celebratory African dance called yankadi, to songs like the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and “Blackbird” from the Broadway show “Fosse.”
The program isn’t just a chance to have fun, Amato said.
“The process of learning something, practicing it and then performing it is a massive self-esteem booster,” Amato said. “Seeing how they work hard at something, they can achieve in just six weeks. And also, having fun doing it at the same time. It’s also a way to really enhance what they get in their physical education during school time. Because you will see, we sweat. … But I really do want them to get their heart rate up, also their minds to be challenged.”
The 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding includes enrichment opportunities such as the dance program. Without that funding, the program might be merely homework-based, or it might be cut entirely, Amato said.
More than entertainment
A community’s support of the arts means more in the long run than an evening of entertainment at the theater or the ballet, said Julie Allen, vice president of arts and academics at South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities.
“Many people see arts-based funding as something which is nice,” Allen said. “It’s something that a community does when it’s nice, when there’s extra money. But I think when you delve a little bit deeper into that, you recognize that the arts, while there certainly is an aesthetic value, and there’s an intrinsic human value, there’s also a real economic value. The arts are a significant part of South Carolina’s economy; they’re an incredible part of Greenville’s economy. And so I do think anything we can do to help people see the arts as an intrinsic part of a vibrant economy is really important.”
But even beyond that, a talent and affinity for the arts can go a long way toward helping a teenager find his or her voice, a purpose in life, a profession.
“Particularly for arts students, who often see themselves as perhaps a little bit different than their typical peer, this is a place that they feel is home,” Allen said. “It’s a place they feel safe, it’s a place they’re willing to take risks. And a lot of students do come back talk about (how) ‘I found my voice here because it gave me the confidence to continue to grow and figure out who I was.’”
Dozens of grants
For the 2017 fiscal year, the South Carolina Arts Commission awarded 28 grants totaling more than $400,000 to Greenville County organizations and individuals. Those grants ranged from $625 to Foothills Philharmonic Orchestra for general operating support, to $2,057 for Sweet Adelines International Greenville in Harmony for operating support for small organizations, to general operating support grants of more than $25,000 each to the Peace Center Foundation, Greenville Symphony Association, and South Carolina Arts Alliance.
Warehouse Theatre receives funding from South Carolina Arts Commission, as well as a direct NEA grant for the Shakespeare program, now in its third year.
Shakespeare in American Communities, a national program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, offers a $25,000 matching grant, and Warehouse must raise an equal amount of money through corporate sponsorships and other donations.
The aim of the program is “to increase Shakespeare performance in different communities across the nation,” said Mallory Pellegrino, director of education for Warehouse Theatre. “We are one of the very few companies in the Southeast.”
Through the grant, Warehouse is able to present Shakespeare to middle- and high-school students in the Carolinas, using a company of six or seven actors who travel to schools and offer an introductory workshop on the play to be presented, as well as a follow-up class after students have seen the play.
If the grant money disappeared, Pellegrino said, the program wouldn’t necessarily disappear. It would, however, require substantial changes to the way it operates, perhaps by soliciting more local sponsorships and donors.
But the biggest change would to be make the program “revenue-driven,” Pellegrino said. “We would have to make sure that we had enough venues to be able to go out, that there were enough people interested in it. And you would begin to limit your reach and your impact.”
Making an impact
The Greenville Symphony Orchestra seeks to make much of its educational impact on elementary and middle school students.
This year, GSO received a $10,000 grant from the NEA to fund its free concert for middle-school band and strings students, said Linda Grandy, Greenville Symphony Orchestra development director.
In addition, the GSO received a general operating support grant of $25,391 from SCAC this year, which helps to fund other educational programs, including the concerts available to all of Greenville County’s elementary schools.
One important aspect of the GSO’s educational programs is the opportunity for students to see the symphony in concert at no charge, which is especiallyimportant for students at less-affluent schools, said the GSO’s Ballew.
Losing that funding would have an impact on several programs, including GSO partnerships with SC Children’s Theatre and Greenville County Library.
“Maybe we wouldn’t offer as many, or maybe we would start charging $5 at the door,” Ballew said.
Sharing the wealth
Education is, of course, the mission of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, whose operational budget comes from the state. But continuing education is important to the teachers who share their knowledge and skills in visual arts, drama, creative writing and music.
And an SCAC grant for Arts in Basic Curriculum Advancement allows Governor’s School teachers to participate in continuing education programs that help both students and other teachers, Allen said.
When SCAC’s funding was increased two years ago, the commission passed on the increase, which allowed the Governor’s School to add a couple of components to its continuing education focus. One way was to share the knowledge, to offer professional development opportunities to teachers in other areas.
“We identified drama as an area where there seemed to be a real need for drama teachers in the state to have professional development experiences,” Allen said. “Typically, there’s one drama teacher in a school, maybe there’s two or three in a district. But to get content-level, really high-level training, those opportunities are often few and far between for them. So what we’ve been able to do is essentially share that wealth.
“For the last two years, we’ve brought a group of drama teachers here, we’ve let that group identify what their particular needs are, and the nice pairing there is the person that’s led those workshops for the last two years is someone who had elevated her own training by virtue of having taken advantage of the professional development funding earlier from the Arts Commission. So it was kind of a way of paying back what she had gained.”
Important source of funding
Artisphere depends on the SCAC funding for a large part of its budget; other revenue sources include vendor fees, corporate sponsorships, merchandise sales and other grants, Murphy said.
“That’s a very healthy mix, and is a huge part of why we’ve been able to grow the festival and its impact over the years,” Murphy said.
If the government grants were no longer available, Artisphere would survive, but other organizations might not be able to weather the loss, she said.
“We have spent a lot of time diversifying our funding model so that if we lose any single funder we can mitigate the loss of that funding, either through a focused effort to replace the money, or by trimming expenses here and there,” Murphy said. “That isn’t the case for smaller organizations, where SCAC funding could represent an entire marketing budget, or fees for artists for a performance.
“We think it is important to have public arts funding because it makes a statement about what we care about as a community.”
Alyson Amato, co-founder of Carolina Dance Collaborative, teaches an after-school dance class at Chandler Creek Elementary in Greer last week.
Greenville Symphony Orchestra seeks executive director
Deadline: January 27 The Greenville Symphony Orchestra seeks an executive director to work in partnership with a volunteer board of directors and Music Director Edvard Tchivzhel to develop and implement the strategic plan that both sustains the current level of operations and drives the organization forward, following its long-term strategic plan. Reporting to the president of the board, the executive director serves as the chief operating officer and is responsible for financial planning and human resources, marketing and fundraising activities, and education and community relations. The executive director leads a staff of nine, which includes the directors of marketing, development, operations, orchestra personnel, education, as well as the controller and office manager. Qualifications include a five-to-10 year track record in cultural or not-for-profit organization management with budgets in excess of $1.5 million. Knowledge of the issues, trends, and developments affecting community-supported orchestras is preferred, as is experience with contemporary marketing methods, including the use of social media. The Greenville Symphony Orchestra is a Group 4 orchestra, with an annual budget of $2.4 million. Send resume, cover letter with salary requirements and references by January 27, 2016 to: Margaret Genovese Senior Partner Genovese Vanderhoof & Associates email@example.com Additional information is available online.
Greenville Symphony Orchestra seeks executive director
Apply by August 5. The Greenville Symphony Orchestra seeks an executive director (ED) to work in partnership with a volunteer board of directors and Music Director Edvard Tchivzhel to develop and implement the strategic plan that both sustains the current level of operations and drives the organization forward, following its long-term strategic plan. Reporting to the president of the board, the ED serves as the COO and is responsible for financial planning and human resources; marketing and fundraising activities; and education and community relations. The ED leads a staff of nine, which includes the directors of marketing, development, operations, orchestra personnel, and education, as well as the controller and office manager. Qualifications include a five-to-10 year track record in cultural or not-for-profit organization management with budgets in excess of $1.5 million. Knowledge of the issues, trends, and development affecting community-support orchestras is preferred, as is experience with contemporary marketing methods, including the use of social media. The GSO is a Group 4 orchestra, with an annual budget of $2.4 million. Send resume, cover letter with salary requirements and references by August 5, 2016 to: Margaret Genovese Senior Partner Genovese Vanderhoof & Associates firstname.lastname@example.org Complete details are available online. Via: Greenville Symphony Orchestra
Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council marks new fundraising record
From The Greenville News Article by Paul Hyde
[caption id="attachment_25924" align="alignright" width="300"] Lorraine Goldstein and Hal Weiss accept the 2015 MAC Lifelong Support of the Arts Award at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Metropolitan Arts Council in Gunter Theatre on Tuesday, March 29, 2016.[/caption] Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council raised a record of more than $2 million in 2015, MAC board chairman Charles Ratterree announced Tuesday. Most of the money generated helps to support dozens of Greenville arts groups and artists. “This allows us to provide record high grants to individuals, arts organizations and arts education programs,” said MAC executive director Alan Ethridge. Among MAC's grants recipients, eight local arts groups received $25,000 each in operating support. Those organizations are Artisphere, Centre Stage, Greenville Chorale, Greenville Little Theatre, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, the Peace Center, the South Carolina Children’s Theatre and the Warehouse Theatre. MAC also committed $10,000 to the Greenville County Museum of Art to purchase works by Greenville-area artists for its permanent collection. To support its grants, MAC receives donations from a variety of sources: individuals, corporations, foundations, the city of Greenville’s accommodations tax, the South Carolina Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Greenville’s arts scene has never been more vibrant and prosperous, Ratterree said, speaking at MAC’s annual meeting at the Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre. “We are in the midst of an arts renaissance in Greenville, with over 60 arts nonprofits that display not only the incredible talent in our community but an enthusiasm for sharing with others,” Ratterree said. “One of the great things about Greenville is the idea that the arts are for everybody. Many arts events are free and open to the public.” Now in its 43rd year, MAC also provided $111,336 for specific programs or projects to 60 schools, individual artists and local arts organizations, Ratterree said. Ratterree announced that last year’s Open Studios, a weekend MAC event that spotlights Greenville’s visual arts community, involved 132 artists, generated a record $277,548 in sales and was attended by 41,284 people. Before announcing MAC’s annual awards, Ethridge remembered Sherwood Mobley, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra’s executive director who passed away Feb. 26. MAC honored several Greenville arts leaders. The MAC Visionary Award went to Sally Potosky and Caroline McIntyre, sisters who lead the Greenville Chautauqua Society. The MAC Lifelong Support of the Arts Award was presented to local arts philanthropists Lorraine Goldstein and Hal Weiss. The Carl R. Blair Award for Commitment to Arts Education went to Dr. Gary Robinson, a faculty member of the Fine Arts Center and longtime director of the Young Artist Orchestra, one of the ensembles of the Greenville County Youth Orchestras. The Young Supporter of the Arts Award was presented to Elizabeth and Michael Fletcher. Elizabeth Fletcher is the vice president for strategy and business development for Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. Michael Fletcher is a real estate broker and attorney. The TD Bank Business and the Arts Partnership awards went to: McKinney Dodge Ram Chrysler Jeep & Mazda (businesses under 100 employees) and BMW Manufacturing Company, LLC (businesses with 100 or more employees). The Put Your Heart in the Arts Volunteer of the Year Award went to Carl Sykes.
Remembering Sherwood Mobley, executive director of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra
From the Greenville News Article by Paul Hyde, photo (above) by Heidi Heilbrunn
Sherwood Mobley, the executive director and longtime former timpanist with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, died early Friday morning, the orchestra said. Mobley’s wife, Debbie Paden Mobley, posted a message on caringbridge.org: “Sherwood passed away peacefully in his sleep at 2:15 a.m. February 26th,” she wrote. “Thank you for your prayers.” Sherwood Mobley, 59, had been battling an acute infection and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, a blood cancer. “This is a great loss for our orchestra, our community, and for myself personally,” said Edvard Tchivzhel, conductor and music director of the Greenville Symphony. “I prayed last night that he might get better,” Tchivzhel said. “This all happened so fast. It was so unjust.” Mobley’s appointment in 2014 as executive director of the orchestra gained considerable notice nationwide because he was one of the few African Americans serving in the top administrative position in an American symphony orchestra. Mobley had been completely healthy up until only a few months ago, a spokesman with the Greenville Symphony said. “Sherwood was an extremely talented person, a great musician, a great personality, extremely energetic and optimistic,” said Tchivzhel, who first met Mobley in 1991, shortly after Tchivzhel defected from the Soviet Union. “He was the soul of our orchestra, a family man and a person with an incredibly friendly character,” Tchivzhel added. “Everybody loved him.” A Greenville Symphony spokesman said the orchestra would pay tribute to Mobley with an added work in tonight’s chamber music concert at the Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre. The orchestra will also honor him with a moment of silence, and dedicate a future program to Mobley. Mobley’s association with the orchestra extends back to 1991, when he became principal timpanist with the ensemble. In 1996, he was appointed director of operations and personnel. He served in that position until becoming executive director in 2014. The orchestra’s musicians on Friday praised Mobley for both his musicianship and kindness. “Sherwood and I shared so much during our years together in the GSO,” said principal flute player Caroline Ulrich. “We made music together under different conductors, explored chamber music, watched our families grow, taught together at the S.C. Governor’s School and laughed a whole lot,” she said. “There are few people in the world who possess his level of talent, compassion, intelligence and humor. There is a hole in my heart.” Ulrich is the featured soloist in this weekend’s chamber music concert at the Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre. “Of course, I dedicate my performances this weekend to him and his family,” she said. Christina Cornell, a French horn player with the orchestra who also worked in the administrative office with Mobley, said, “He was someone I always looked up to, as I’m sure all did who met him. He had a wonderful laugh and was always a joy to be around. Just the best person to know.” Joe Hughes, the orchestra’s principal trombonist who first met Mobley in 1992, said he recognized the timpanist as “the real deal, a phenomenal musician and professional on every level. “That was the start of a cherished friendship,” Hughes said. “He was a man who took a sincere interest in people and a man of integrity and honor. Sherwood always had beautiful pictures of his family to show and any mention of them made Sherwood glow with love and peace. The GSO and Greenville community have lost a huge advocate for music education and performance. We love and miss Sherwood immensely and are here for his family.” Mobley is survived by his wife, Debbie Paden Mobley, and his two daughters, Naomi and Sarah Mobley, who all reside in Simpsonville. Reaching out Mobley was appointed interim executive director of the orchestra on Sept. 11, 2014. Later, he was chosen from among dozens of applicants nationwide to serve as executive director, overseeing a staff of 10, a regular orchestra roster of up to 100 and an annual budget of $2.2 million. The Greenville Symphony is one of the Upstate’s cornerstone arts organizations, with dozens of performances every year at the Peace Center as well as smaller chamber music and children’s concerts throughout the community. Reaching out to young people and minority communities was a top priority for Mobley. “As executive director and a person of color, I’m very interested in expanding the audience, period,” Mobley told The Greenville News in a January, 2015 interview. “But secondly, I’d love to see more blacks in the audience,” Mobley added. Mobley pursued new educational initiatives and implemented a program called “Sunday Funday,” which allows young children to attend an orchestral performance for free when a parent buys an upper-balcony ticket. Mobley also sought to provide opportunities for minority musicians. Nationwide, only 5 percent of orchestral musicians are African American or Latino, and 7 percent of conductors are African American or Latino, according to the League of American Orchestras. “Because of my color, I know many blacks who are really fine musicians and deserve an opportunity to at least get into the audition process,” Mobley said in the 2015 interview. “I think I was very successful in getting the word out. If you look at the Greenville Symphony, there are blacks there than in most orchestras.” Music was everything Mobley was 3 years old when his father died, leaving his mother to raise Mobley, his three sisters and older brother. In a segregated Sanford, Florida, Mobley might not have found his way to music if not for a mother who introduced him to piano at age 4. “In that household, everybody had to take piano lessons,” Mobley said in 2015. “That was the rule. You couldn’t live there unless you took piano lessons.” One day, however, the young Mobley saw the Florida A&M band’s legendary drumline — and the young man discovered his calling. “I was just fascinated by the drums,” Mobley said. “They were flipping the sticks all around and it looked so cool. That was the wow-factor for me, seeing the Florida A&M marching band drumline.” Mobley’s mother made a deal with him: If he would agree to leave the segregated elementary school he attended for a predominately white school, she would buy him a Sears & Roebuck snare drum. She herself taught at her son’s predominately black school but wanted him to enjoy the better advantages of the predominately white school. “She was using textbooks that were old and tattered, so she knew there’d be better opportunities at a different school and she wanted me to be a part of that,” Mobley said last year. “So in fifth grade, I went to a new school where I was one of three blacks. My mother bought me that snare drum. I still have it today.” At his new school, Mobley met the music teacher’s husband, who was a professionally trained percussionist. He would become Mobley’s first private teacher. Later, Mobley would play percussion in a high school marching band but he found he really loved performing classics in the concert band. “I loved the symphonic band, playing the orchestral transcriptions of Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich,” Mobley said. Mobley would later attend the Boston Conservatory, earning a bachelor’s degree in music. He earned a master’s at the New England Conservatory, also in Boston. Several professional jobs would follow. Mobley served as principal timpanist with the Maracaibo (Venezuela) and Macon (Georgia) symphony orchestras before becoming principal timpanist with the Greenville Symphony in 1991. Through his long tenure with the orchestra, Mobley became close to his fellow musicians and conductor Tchivzhel. “I’ve developed a strong relationship not only with our musicians but with Edvard,” Mobley said in 2015. “We understand each other and there’s a great deal of trust there as well. I certainly trust Edvard’s musical instincts and knowledge, and I know I have the orchestra’s confidence and support.” When he became executive director in 2014, Mobley decided he wouldn’t be able to continue as the orchestra’s timpanist as well. Even more difficult than resigning from the orchestra was letting go of his teaching duties at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. “I’ve taught at the Governor’s School since the doors opened,” Mobley said in 2015. “Stepping away from those activities tugs at my heart more than anything else. It was hard for me to tell my students that I was leaving.” Mobley continued to perform occasionally in chamber music concerts or with the Greenville Symphony’s jazz trio. “Sherwood was a well-known and much loved member of the Greenville Symphony by its musicians, supporters and staff, as well as the Upstate community,” said Greenville Symphony Association president Lee Dixon in a statement. “He was a wonderful man and a gift to all of us. On behalf of the board of directors, we would like to convey our deepest condolences to Sherwood’s family.”
At age 25, Peace Center has a knack for risk-taking
From The Greenville News Article by Paul Hyde; photo by Katie McLean
As it celebrates its 25th birthday, the Peace Center has never been in better shape. A record-breaking 287,100 tickets were sold for 318 events at Greenville’s cornerstone performing arts venue during the 2014-15 season. Annual revenues, totaling $19 million, are at an all-time high. Plus, there are more shows on tap than ever before. “We’ve done nothing but go up up up,” said Megan Riegel, the Peace Center’s president and CEO since 1997. The world-class arts complex also has played a major role in revitalization, observers say, helping to make downtown Greenville one of the sparkling gems of the Southeast. For the Peace Center, the road to success has been paved with a fair amount of calculated risk-taking — of both the artistic and fiscal sort. In the past several years, the arts venue has pushed the artistic envelope with musicals such as “The Book of Mormon,” “Spring Awakening” and “Cabaret,” all of which include strong language and sexual content. The Peace Center, located on a 6-acre site at Main and Broad streets, also has hosted politically oriented “blue” comedians such as Bill Maher, Dennis Miller and Lewis Black. Maher, who’s often pointedly critical of religion, “certainly raised a lot of eyebrows for people, but he does a great show and he packs the house and people love him,” Riegel said. The Peace Center, nestled in the conservative South, might have avoided edgy shows in its earlier years, but the community’s tastes appear to have broadened over the past two decades. Several years ago, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” drew picketers outside the Peace Center. Today, such protests never occur at the center. “I think we grew together,” Riegel said. “We took a little more risk and people followed. I’ve seen a trend where people are more open-minded, embracing today’s culture. With the support of the board, over the years we became fearless in what we brought in. We wanted to have the highest-quality available. If it’s playing on Broadway and it’s a hit, we want to bring it in.” Balance also is fundamental to the Peace Center’s mission. “The Book of Mormon,” with its barbed critique of religious credulity, may capture the headlines, but the arts center also brings to town Broadway classics like “The Sound of Music” and family shows such as “Cinderella” and “Beauty and the Beast.” The Peace Center and its resident companies feature hundreds of children’s shows, educational programs, and theater, dance and orchestral performances. Serving eclectic tastes is the name of the game. In recent seasons, the Peace Center has hosted singing legends Tony Bennett, Audra McDonald, Liza Minnelli, Johnny Mathis and Diana Ross, singer-songwriters such as Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Melissa Ethridge, country singers Don Williams and Martina McBride, rock bands Foreigner, Counting Crows and Moody Blues, jazz and world music groups such as Pink Martini, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, dance companies like the Joffrey Ballet, Pilobolus and the Dance Theatre of Harlem, comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Kathy Griffin, and humorist/storyteller Garrison Keillor – just to name a few. “The Peace Center’s goal is always a broad variety of programming,” Riegel said. Fiscal risk-taking The arts center has taken some bold fiscal risks as well. Six years ago, it forged ahead with a $23 million renovation plan in the midst of the deepest national downtown since the Great Depression. “We launched it right when the recession started in 2009,” Riegel said. “But we had done our homework. We knew what we were getting into. The original plan was for a $36 million renovation and we trimmed that way back. We had a good assessment of what we could raise.” Fundraising efforts, which proved a tremendous success despite the economic challenges, doubled the size of the Concert Hall’s lobby, added a lounge overlooking the Reedy River, and created an education studio, multipurpose loft, outdoor amphitheater, public plaza and a park along the river. “It’s an amazing, gorgeous facility,” Riegel said. “I think that capital campaign went so well because people understand the importance of the Peace Center to our community.” Today, by many measures, the Peace Center reigns as the largest arts organization in the state. Attendance and revenues have increased exponentially over the years. In the Peace Center’s inaugural season of 1990-91, 75,000 people attended 45 events. This past season, 287,100 tickets were sold for 318 events. “The fact that people are buying tickets the way they are suggests that we’re getting some things right,” Riegel said. In 2005, Peace Center revenues were $6.8 million. For the season ending in 2015, that figure is $19 million, representing a 280 percent increase over 10 years. The arts center has grown in prestige over the years as well, attracting many first national tours of Broadway shows, such as the recent “Kinky Boots,” “Motown” and “Newsies.” Performing arts centers particularly covet first national tours, which generally feature top-notch casts and the direct involvement of the Broadway creative team. “Tour producers have all taken notice,” Riegel said. “They want to come here.” Broadway shows often play for one week at the Peace Center. But some blockbusters, such as “Wicked,” “The Lion King” and “Phantom of the Opera” have enjoyed three- or four-week runs — often selling out each performance. Riegel is particularly proud, however, of the center’s educational programs that reach tens of thousands of students every year. In addition, 1,400 free tickets are distributed annually to under-served communities in the Upstate. “We’ve seen people who’ve never walked through our doors before and when they do, we try to make them feel that this is their home, too,” Riegel said. Big business The Peace Center is big business for Greenville, too, creating and sustaining jobs, and helping boost the local economy. The complex contributes particularly to downtown’s roaring economic engine. A single Broadway blockbuster, for instance, can deliver a multimillion-dollar economic impact. In 2012, “The Lion King” provided an estimated $15 million shot in the arm to Greenville — just over the course of one month. The show brought thousands of people downtown, with many patrons visiting from outside the city and some from outside the state. A considerable number enjoyed Greenville restaurants and stayed in local hotels. “The Lion King” tour hired two dozen local musicians and backstage crew to assist with costumes and wigs and in other capacities. The production, which returns to Greenville next season, in 2012 included 134 cast and crew members who stayed in local hotels and dined in local restaurants. Plus, revenues from events sustain the Peace Center’s 52 full-time and 96 part-time jobs. All of this is a boon for Greenville’s economy. The Peace Center also has been central to the rebirth of downtown, many local observers say. In the early 1990s, the Peace Center and Hyatt Regency, located at two ends of a struggling Main Street, helped to spark the dynamic economic growth that, in turn, created the vibrant, award-winning downtown that Upstate residents cherish today. “Along with its significant role in downtown’s revitalization, the Peace Center truly catalyzed an amazing level of interest and support for the arts from both the public and private sectors,” said Alan Ethridge, executive director of Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council. The beginning The idea of building what came to be known as the Peace Center emerged as early as the late 1970s or early 80s with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, said Betty Peace Stall, who was president of the foundation that built the Peace Center. The orchestra performed regularly at Furman University’s McAlister Auditorium but desired a newer and more centrally located venue. In 1985, then-Mayor Bill Workman put together a task force to determine the cost of building a performing arts center. The late Greenville attorney David Freeman proposed a public-private fundraising partnership. Fred Walker, who had recently retired as president of Henderson Advertising, chaired the campaign. Three branches of Greenville’s prominent Peace family kicked off the capital fund drive by donating $10 million in 1986. “I think we did it for the quality of life for the people in this region,” said Stall, whose grandfather, Bony Hampton Peace, was a longtime owner of The Greenville News. “We didn’t have access to the things that come to the Peace Center these days,” she said. Other prominent local residents, including the Jolley and Furman families, supported the effort. Eventually, six branches of the Peace family would become involved with the project, Stall said. A total of $42 million was raised in just a few years, with 70 percent of the money coming from private donations. At the time, there were no large venues in Greenville capable of hosting major Broadway shows, although McAlister Auditorium provided space for classical concerts. The Greenville Memorial Auditorium, torn down in 1997, hosted big rock concerts — such as the last show by the original Lynyrd Skynyrd on Oct. 17, 1977, the day before the plane crash that claimed the lives of three members of the band. Project leaders looked at more than 15 possible sites for the new performing arts center and settled on a 6-acre area on Greenville’s Main Street that was then occupied by “a hodgepodge of buildings,” Stall said. “There was a paint shop in there, a construction office, a dry cleaner’s and a sewing plant,” Stall said. “There was an old coach factory. The first time I went in there, I stepped backwards on a dead pigeon. The Reedy River had been running different colors. That whole site really needed some help.” More than 1,500 attended the Peace Center groundbreaking in September, 1988. The Peace Center Concert Hall would have a capacity of 2,100 and feature state-of-the-art acoustics and technology. Dorothy Hipp Gunter, meanwhile, donated $3 million for a second performance space, the 400-seat theater that later would be named the Gunter Theatre. Grand opening The Peace Center opened its doors for the first time on Nov. 19, 1990, hosting “First Night at Peace.” The center bustled with artistic activity from the start. Jack Cohan, who served as the Peace Center’s executive director from 1989 to 1997, is particularly proud of the range of classical music legends he brought to the Peace Center in the early years. Many were visiting Greenville for the first time. Violinist Itzhak Perlman, a friend of Cohan’s, performed at the Peace Center five times. Soprano Leontyne Price sang in the center’s first and second seasons. Other classical performers at the venue included soprano Kiri Te Kanawa, mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, pianist Andre Watts, violinist Joshua Bell, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma in recital with pianist Emanuel Ax. Cohan recalled a visit by flutist James Galway, who phoned Cohan from the downtown Hyatt Regency with a minor emergency. “Jack, I’ve ripped me trousers,” Cohan remembers Galway saying in his lilting Irish accent. “You’ve got to take me shopping.” (The two found some suitable clothes at a local haberdashery.) The Peace Center featured Broadway greats Carol Channing and Rita Moreno. Also visiting were groups such as the Vienna Choir Boys, the Canadian Brass, the King’s Singers and the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. Hal Holbrook offered his iconic portrayal of Mark Twain. Shirley MacLaine performed three concerts at the Peace Center before a European tour. “We were doing a wide range of programming,” said Cohan, now a Travelers Rest resident who came to the Peace Center after leading a performing arts complex at the University of Connecticut. “There were loads of interesting and high-quality things in every category.” Another early public performance at the center was a concert by the visiting USSR State Symphony, conducted by Edvard Tchivzhel, who, while in Greenville, requested and was granted asylum in the United States. Tchivzhel was appointed music director of the Greenville Symphony in 1999 and continues to serve in the position today. The idea for the Peace Center originally came from the Greenville Symphony, of course, and classical musicians routinely praise the Concert Hall and Gunter Theatre for their fine acoustics. Tchivzhel said both halls offer a “very clear, warm, rich and natural sound.” He added, “That is why the Peace Center has become a wonderful, beloved home for the Greenville Symphony Orchestra.” Stall credits Riegel, who became president and CEO in 1997, for the Peace Center’s smooth sailing over the past 19 years. Under Riegel’s leadership, the center through the years has created an endowment of almost $28 million. Some interest from the endowment can be used for annual operations and capital expenses as well as a cushion when unexpected problems arise. “It’s put away for a rainy day,” Riegel said. Among Stall’s favorite events at the Peace Center are its educational programs for students. “For children to be able to enjoy these performances is really exciting,” Stall said. “When I would be in the Multimedia Building (currently The Greenville News building) and look out at those yellow school buses at the Peace Center, it just made my heart leap.” The Peace Center recently honored Stall for her many years as chairwoman of the Peace Center board by dedicating an art installation called “Butterflies for Peace.” Created by artist Yuri Tsuzuki, “Butterflies for Peace” displays 200 stainless steel butterflies in flight, measuring between 6 and 12 inches each. It is located on the south side of the Concert Hall building, on an exterior wall facing the Reedy River. “I was just blessed to have been a part of this,” Stall said. “It’s really gratifying to see the impact the Peace Center has had.” Riegel, for her part, is focusing on the Peace Center’s next big project: a multimillion-dollar campaign to address a number of needs, upgrading or replacing boilers, the HVAC system, roofing, sound systems and lighting, among other priorities. The Concert Hall also needs new seats. She’s confident the Peace Center’s generous supporters will once again step up to the plate. “I’m grateful every single day for this opportunity to lead this organization,” Riegel said. “I’m grateful for the board and this beautiful facility and the donors and volunteers and staff. It takes a village and everybody is just fantastic. I’m confident we’ll make good strategic decisions for the next 25 years.”