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Ken May becomes surprise recipient at S.C. Arts Awards

Receives McNair Award from S.C. Arts Foundation

Ken May making keynote address at 2019 S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon As he’d done at nine previous South Carolina Arts Awards ceremonies, Wednesday morning Ken May read the names and brief details of recipients as their awards were handed out—then it was happening to him. May was called to the stage to deliver the keynote address at the luncheon following the public ceremony when Flavia Harton of Greenville, president of the South Carolina Arts Foundation (SCAF), turned the tables. She began describing the Gov. Robert E. McNair Award, which the foundation presents to honor outstanding leaders who have built on the legacy of the award's namesake by working diligently to make South Carolina a place where the arts thrive for the benefit of all South Carolinians. “That sounds like a description of Ken May, and that’s why it is my privilege on behalf of the South Carolina Arts Foundation to present the seventh Robert E. McNair Award to Ken,” Harton said, after she and S.C. Arts Commission (SCAC) Board Chairman Henry Horowitz alternated extolling May’s leadership on the national and regional levels, advocacy, and "for leading the agency through turbulent times to flourish afterward." May, visibly moved by the presentation, expressed his gratitude and launched into a "state of the arts" keynote address. Gov. McNair was the first recipient of his namesake award when it was created in 2007 and awarded to him posthumously. Subsequent recipients include Gov. Richard Riley (2010), former State Sen. Wes Hayes (2015), and erstwhile Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley (2017) from the political field and Susie Surkamer (2011), previous executive director of the SCAC, and Patrick VanHuss (2013) who served in leadership roles for the SCAC and SCAF boards of directors. In January, May announced that he will retire from the SCAC after nine years as its executive director and 33 years in total. A search committee is currently reviewing applicants to be the next executive director.
Image by Lee Ann Kornegay

Joe Riley to receive McNair Award at SC Arts Awards Luncheon

[caption id="attachment_30719" align="alignright" width="225"]Joe Riley The Honorable Joseph P. Riley, Jr.[/caption] The South Carolina Arts Foundation will honor Joe Riley, former mayor of Charleston, with the 2017 McNair Award for his dedication in ensuring that the arts continue to play a vital role in our communities. The McNair Award will be presented at a luncheon showcasing the South Carolina Arts Awards, which also honor recipients of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts and the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards. The luncheon takes place in Columbia May 2, beginning with an art sale at 11 a.m. at the USC Alumni Center, 900 Senate St.. The luncheon follows at 12:30 p.m. Established in 2007, the McNair Award is named for the late Governor Robert E. McNair, who signed legislation to create the Arts Commission in 1967 to “ensure that the arts continue to grow and play an ever more significant part in the welfare and educational experiences of our citizens." Originally presented posthumously to Governor McNair, the award continues to honor outstanding leaders who have built on the legacy of the award's namesake: working diligently to make South Carolina a place where the arts thrive for the benefit of all South Carolinians. Luncheon tickets are $50. Reserve tickets online or by calling (803) 734-8696. (Verner Awards and Folk Heritage Awards will be presented May 2 at 11:30 at the Statehouse. The awards ceremony is open to the public.)  

Former Charleston mayor among recipients of inaugural Anthony Aston Honor

Joe RileyFormer longtime Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley and Charleston theater veterans Patricia and Emmett Robinson are the inaugural honorees of the Anthony Aston Honor established by The Footlight Players of Charleston, S.C. Riley, along with the Robinsons (posthumous award), will be recognized at the first Anthony Aston Gala on Tuesday, May 17 at Hibernian Hall, 105 Meeting St. in Charleston. The Footlight Players board of directors voted in 2015 to create this award to recognize individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to the arts or cultural life of Charleston. The award is named for Anthony Aston, a British actor, playwright and poet, who landed in Charles Towne in 1702 after being shipwrecked on the Carolina coast near Port Royal. In 1703, Aston wrote and performed “The Country,” thought to be the first play ever produced in America. “The Aston Honors is another first in a great city of firsts,” said Jim Gooden, board president for The Footlight Players. “We are excited to formally recognize the United States’ first playwright and at the same time, others who have contributed mightily to advancing the performing arts in Charleston.” Joe Riley was first elected mayor of Charleston in December 1975, and went on to serve an unprecedented 10 terms. During Riley's tenure, the City of Charleston saw a substantial decrease in crime, a revitalization of the historic downtown business district, the creation and growth of Spoleto Festival USA, an expansion of the city's park system, and the development of affordable housing. Among the numerous awards given to Riley over the years, he received the 1982 Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Award from the S.C. Arts Commission for outstanding contributions to the arts. In January, Riley joined the faculty of The Citadel as the first occupant of an endowed Professorship of American Government & Public Policy created in his honor with the mission of documenting and teaching lessons of principled, bipartisan and effective leadership in pursuit of excellence for the public good. Patricia and Emmett Robinson were synonymous with theater in Charleston for almost 30 years. Actor, stage designer, writer, artist and director Emmett Robinson moved to Charleston in 1931. He became the managing director of The Footlight Players in 1935. In 1937, a 22-year-old Emmett produced, directed and designed a production of “The Recruiting Officer” for the grand re-opening of the Dock Street Theatre. In addition to producing and directing hundreds of plays and musicals, he also designed and built the set for the 1970 production of “Porgy and Bess.” He also was responsible for several exhibits and other civic projects with the Charleston Museum, the Exchange Building and several churches and schools. He died Dec. 25, 1988. Patricia Robinson was a well-known and beloved Charleston author, poet, playwright and actress. She moved to Charleston shortly after graduating from Cornell University in 1944. She then began writing plays that reflected the unique character of her adopted city. In 1950 she married Emmett and they had two daughters, Jennet Robinson Alterman and Alix Robinson Tew. In the following years, she wrote both plays and musicals and on many occasions performed herself. She wrote or co-authored seven novels, setting many of her stories in Charleston. She died in 1998. The mistress of ceremonies for the gala is Charleston native Lauren Hutton. Considered the first supermodel, Hutton has graced 10 covers of European Vogue magazines and 27 covers of American Vogue. In film, she has starred alongside Robert Redford, Richard Gere, Gerard Depardieu and Jim Carrey. As a role model for her generation, she has shown how to successfully age and navigate transitions, maintain a healthy lifestyle and engage in environmental and women’s health issues. Tickets are on sale for the Aston Gala at www.footlightplayers.net or by calling the box office at 843-722-7521. This black-tie optional gala includes a seated dinner. Individual tickets are $150 each. Individual benefactor tickets are $275 each and include a pre-event VIP reception with Joe Riley and other distinguished guests. Proceeds from the event will benefit The Footlight Players in its preservation, education and operations endeavors, which include maintaining a historic theater and producing multiple shows annually. About The Footlight Players The Footlight Players was founded in March 1931 by leaders of the Charleston Renaissance, including Alfred Hutty, DuBose Heyward, Selma Tharin Furtwangler Dotterer and Eola Willis. The Footlight Players launched with a series of one-act plays directed by Lt. Commander Charles Russell Price at the Charleston Navy yard. Now in its 84th season, The Footlight Players continues to provide professional quality, affordable community theater for the Lowcountry at the historic Footlight Players Theatre, 20 Queen St. in Charleston. For more information, visit footlightplayers.net or call 843-722-4487. Via: The Footlight Players