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Arts Center of Fountain Park names first director

Non-profit veteran to start Aug. 1

The Arts Center at Fountain Park announced yesterday that it is appointing Todd Leahy as its first executive director.

Leahy’s appointment marks the conclusion of a "thoughtful" search conducted by the ACFP board of directors. ACFP aims to be the home for performing arts across York, Lancaster, and Chester counties in South Carolina. A news release said Leahy brings more than 16 years of major fundraising experience to ACFP and a deep passion for arts and community building.
"It was imperative for us to find someone who not only understood the job requirements but who also embodies the heart of our mission. Todd shares our vision to put The Arts Center truly at the center of the performing arts in our region both physically and metaphorically," Matthew Dosch, chairman of the ACFP board, said.
Most recently, Leahy was the major gifts officer for United Way of Central Carolinas. There he raised more than $2 million annually while managing a robust portfolio of donors at all levels. Since 2011—and across multiple roles—he not only raised record numbers but also forged lasting community relationships that continue forward. His passion for the performing arts was passed down to Leahy as a child, and it’s something he’s doing for his children today. "As a kid, I went to shows in Spartanburg, and just recently, we gave my daughter a season pass to [the] Blumenthal [Performing Arts Center]. I’m passing it down. That’s what I want to build within the region—a love of the arts that outlives us all,” he said. Leahy is tasked with leading ACFP in its mission to connect, educate, and inspire through shared celebration of the arts. “We met with many candidates who could do the role’s tasks, but it was Todd who truly grasped the need to connect an active, engaged, and inclusive community of performing artists and arts organizations, while touching the lives, passions, and imagination of those who share a love for the performing arts,” ACFP Board Secretary Melanie Jones said.
"I want every part of the community to feel like they can participate. Whether taking a class, attending a concert, listening to the symphony, or going to a school play, art should be accessible and enjoyed widely. I am immensely grateful to the ACFP board, the search committee, and the community for giving me this opportunity," Leahy said.

For more information about The Arts Center at Fountain Park, and how you can become involved, visit www.theartscenterfp.org.

Jason Rapp

Lancaster County Council of the Arts opens two positions

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, July 15, 2022


Word came in late yesterday that the Lancaster County Council of the Arts has just begun taking applications for two arts jobs. Here's what we know...

Community Development and Operations Administrator Responsibilities include resource development, organizational management, program oversight, and advocacy initiatives. This full-time position will work closely with the E.D. to achieve arts organizational and development goals (set forth in the Strategic Plan). Incumbent must believe in our core values and be driven by the LCCA arts and culture mission and a commitment to quality, performance, and outcomes. Bachelor's Degree and/or proven development/operational experience in a similar role. Marketing and Promotion Coordinator This full-time position is responsible for supporting programs and operations to forward the educational, economic, and social mission of the arts in Lancaster County via effective and current marketing and promotion strategies (branding, social media), and program execution. Business degree preferred and/or proven marketing and communications experience in a similar role.
Applicants are instructed to forward a letter of introduction and résumé to: Executive Director Lancaster County Council of the Arts PO Box 613 Lancaster, SC 29721 Or click here to email your materials.

Jason Rapp

‘Springing into the Arts’ in Lancaster

With mural debut, fun events


Lancaster County Council of the Arts is partnering with Lindsay Pettus Greenway and the City of Lancaster for "Spring into the Arts" celebrating public art with the reveal of the greenway's first mural as the event centerpiece.

The Saturday, April 24th event will feature art by children from each of the Lancaster County schools in a Youth Art Month outdoor exhibition on the greenway, an inclusive participatory project titled "Be the Art" for everyone who wishes to participate, a drone video project, live music and a poetry reading, a morning run, a rain barrel workshop, a bird count, arts and crafts for kids, food trucks, and the mural unveiling with an artist talk—all designed to bring attention to and support for Lancaster County Council of the Arts and the Lindsay Pettus Greenway's commitment to public art in the environment. [caption id="attachment_43762" align="alignright" width="150"] Amiri Farris[/caption] Artist Amiri Farris designed the Woodland Drive underpass mural, and it will be painted under his direction by teams composed mostly of UofSC Lancaster students and other interested participants. The mural will reflect the environmental mission and beauty of the Greenway. Teams will paint throughout the week beginning on April 19 and ending with an unveiling and artist’s talk by Farris on Saturday, April 24 at noon. Anyone interested in viewing the work in progress is welcome to visit the Woodland Drive underpass during Greenway open hours from dawn to dusk and at the unveiling on Saturday April 24 at noon. "Be the Art" is an interactive “Spring into the Arts” exhibition in which anyone can participate. At 11 a.m., beginning at the Founders Federal access at Barr Street School, participants will carry umbrellas on the short, 7/10 of a mile walk from Barr Street to the Woodland Drive underpass. Anyone who wishes to "Be the Art" will walk single file, wearing masks and socially distanced, along the greenway with umbrellas open while a drone films the moving line of umbrellas. Borrowing from the New Orleans umbrella tradition, this is an interactive and visually bold art piece that highlights inclusivity, movement, color, and the beautiful setting of the greenway. The drone video of this project will be used to highlight the Lancaster County Council of the Arts and the Lindsay Pettus Greenway in various media and on the LCCA’s YouTube channel. Umbrellas will be given away to the first 250 people who wish to participate. “Youth Art Month,” normally displayed at the Historic Springs House Galleries, features art by Lancaster County School District K-12 students. This year the exhibit will be a one-day event on the greenway. The exhibit will open at 10 a.m. and remain on view until 2 p.m. and take place in various greenway locations between Founders Federal access at Barr Street and Constitution Park (at the intersection of Woodland Drive and Main Street). Spring into the Arts events to celebrate the mural unveiling are as follows:
  • Katawba Valley Land Trust bird count and walk (8 a.m., Nature Pavilion, Comporium access on Colonial Drive)
  • Lancaster Runs (9 a.m., Nature Pavilion, Comporium access on Colonial Drive)
  • Keep Lancaster Beautiful litter pick up (9:30 a.m., Founders Federal access at Barr Street)
  • Nature Crafts for Kids (1-3 p.m., Pier Overlook near Comporium access on Colonial Drive)
  • Catawba Riverkeepers Foundation Rain Barrel Workshop (1-3 p.m., Nature Pavilion at the Comporium access on Colonial Drive. Please sign up at https://catawbariverkeeper.dm.networkforgood.com/forms/april-24-lpg-rain-barrel-workshop)
  • Lancaster County Council of the Arts Lemonade Stand (12-1 p.m., Woodland Drive Underpass)
  • Poetry Reading by Lisa Hammond, USC Lancaster faculty and guest poet (Noon, Woodland Drive Underpass)
  • Artist Talk by Amiri Farris, guest muralist (Noon, Woodland Drive Underpass)
  • Music on the Greenway with guest musician Bo Beaumont (11 a.m. until noon at the Almetta Street access; 1-2 pm. at Constitution Park)
Parking for “Spring into the Arts” April 24 events is available at the Founders Federal access at Barr Street, Lancaster High School Stadium, Parking Lot at 800 North White St. (former Arras Foundation building), and First Presbyterian Church at 700 North Main St. All events are free and open to the public. Donations to the Lancaster County Council of the Arts and the Lindsay Pettus Greenway are encouraged and welcome by both organizations. Food Trucks Kona Ice and Wilber’s Last Ride will have food available for purchase from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Lancaster High School Stadium lot.

Jason Rapp

Fourth time a charm for new S.C. Poetry Out Loud champion

Persistence rewarded in final attempt

for immediate release 22 May 2020

COLUMBIA, S.C. – She earned her way to the state finals every year of her high school career and in the fourth and final attempt, the payoff finally arrived for a Lancaster student.

Judges selected Andrew Jackson High School senior Taylor Wade as state finals competition champion in the national recitation contest Poetry Out Loud, administered in South Carolina by the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC). Seven other South Carolina high school students competed with Wade in a virtual state finals. The annual competition was scheduled to be held in Columbia on March 14, but was canceled by the SCAC to conform with guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bonita Peeples, Poetry Out Loud coordinator for the SCAC, arranged for a virtual competition. The eight finalists sent videos to be reviewed by the judges: Paul Kaufmann, Darion McCloud, Kimberly Simms, and Dr. Nancy D. Tolson. Wade recited “Dead Butterfly” by Ellen Bass and Edgar Allan Poe’s “Israfel” in preliminary rounds. She and two other students advanced to the final round, where she recited “Adam’s Curse” by William Butler Years and received the four judges’ highest score. In a typical year, Wade would have joined finalists from the other 49 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico in Washington to compete for a $20,000 cash prize at the national finals. In lieu of that competition, the champion of each state that held or will hold a state finals will receive a $1,000 prize. In states where the finals were canceled, the state arts agency will receive $1,000 to either award to a state champion named at a later date or divide among the students who advanced to the state finals.

About Poetry Out Loud

Now in its 14th year, Poetry Out Loud helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation in 2005, Poetry Out Loud is administered in partnership with the State arts agencies of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Poetry Out Loud offers more than $100,000 is prizes and school stipends each year. It provides free teacher resources and a comprehensive website with a large anthology of classic and contemporary poems, audio and video clips, as well as complete contest information. Since its establishment in 2005, Poetry Out Loud has grown to reach nearly 3.8 million students and 60,000 teachers from 16,000 schools in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more information, visit PoetryOutLoud.org.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

With a commitment to excellence across the spectrum of our state’s cultures and forms of expression, the South Carolina Arts Commission pursues its public charge to develop a thriving arts environment, which is essential to quality of life, education, and economic vitality for all South Carolinians. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas:
  • arts education,
  • community arts development,
  • and artist development.
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696.

Jason Rapp

Artists, artisans sought for Gay St. Arts Crawl in Lancaster

The Lancaster County Council of the Arts is seeking handcrafted artists, artisans, and craftspeople interested in setting up a ‘Pop Up’ Artists Market Friday, Nov. 1 in the upcoming Gay Street Arts Crawl in the center of the downtown Cultural Arts District. No entry fee or charge for participation (artists are required to pay all applicable taxes and gain any licenses required to sell their work).  Local/downtown businesses are encouraged to take part, as well. Artists, artisans, and craftspeople selected to participate need to bring all necessary display items, tables and chairs to set up your assigned space (in and around Gay Street). If you bring a tent, please bring your own lighting and weights for the tent. The Gay Street Arts Crawl is from 6-9 p.m. Artists must be set up by 5:30 p.m. and may not remove displays before 9 p.m.  At 5 p.m., sections of Gay Street will close. Artists may need to walk their artwork to their location, and are advised to take a wagon or a tote for this. In addition to the Arts Crawl and Artists Market, food and drink will be available in certain locations and for purchase. For an application, contact the Lancaster County Council of the Arts at arts.takepart@gmail.com or 803.285.7451. Completed and signed applications are due as soon as possible. This event is rain or shine, and you will be alerted to your approval as your form can be processed.  All artisans and artists must preregister. If there is inclement weather, any registered artists and artisans will have a spot waiting indoors. The Gay Street Arts Crawl is being sponsored and hosted by the Lancaster County Council of the Arts, See Lancaster - City of Lancaster, the Craft Stand, and local businesses.

Submitted material

Time to make hay

The first weekend in June is just days away, and that means it’s time for another arts festival in South Carolina. More low-key than its larger brethren, the Ag + Art Tour (Ag and Art Tour) continues to grow and in 2018 is spread throughout 12 counties. Ag + Art Tour is a free, self-guided tour of designated farms in South Carolina featuring local artisans and farmer's markets.  During this tour you will have the opportunity to see first-hand where your food comes from, watch artists in action and purchase their works, dance to the melodies of bluegrass and folksongs, and learn more about rural life. It’s the largest free farm and art tour in the nation with more 30,000 visitors participating since it began in 2012. And it’s ready to, ahem, make hay for the next four weekends in the counties of:

  1. Chesterfield County (June 2-3)
  2. Darlington County
  3. Florence County
  4. Horry County
  5. Kershaw County
  6. Chester County (June 9-10)
  7. Lancaster County
  8. York County
  9. Fairfield County (June 16-17)
  10. Newberry County (June 23-24)
  11. Union County
  12. Spartanburg County
2018 Tour Times
  • Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sundays 1-5 p.m.
Once again, yes, admission is free, but there will likely be a charge to purchase food, beverages and a farmer’s and/or artisan’s products. Some activities may also have a cost. Head to the Ag + Art Tour website to begin plotting the course that works for you. (And do them a solid: don’t forget to use the hashtag #agandarttour in your social media posts.)

Development/operations position open in Lancaster

The Lancaster County Council of the Arts is seeking a development & operations administrator. Excellent learning and growth opportunity for a development and operations professional in established nonprofit organization in Lancaster, S.C. The position is 20-25 hours per week initially but will expand as development initiatives are realized. Successful applicant will have proven experience in grant-writing and reporting; development strategies to ensure long-term stability and growth; excellent research and communication skills. Candidate will work closely with executive director to manage operations to enrich the quality of life in Lancaster by building a vibrant community connecting the arts, culture and economic vitality. Bachelor's degree or equivalent experience in similar role required. No phone calls, please. Send cover letter, resume, and references by May 25 to: Lancaster County Council of the Arts PO Box 613 Lancaster, S.C. 29721


Position Description

The development & operations administrator will report to the executive director, assisting with resource development, organizational management, program oversight, and advocacy initiatives. This position will work closely with the executive director to achieve the organizational and development goals set forth in the strategic plan. Incumbent must believe in our core values and be driven by the LCCA mission and a commitment to quality, performance and outcomes.

Primary Tasks and Responsibilities

  1. Expand current development program, identifying additional resources; grant applications and reporting; donor cultivation and stewardship and other development initiatives as assigned
  2. Provide support and integration of operations and programming to adhere to the strategic plan, mission and budget
  3. Implement and maintain donor management system; publish accurate donor reports as needed
  4. Work closely with Executive Director on programmatic and operational plan and provide leadership in development area and community initiatives

Qualifications

  1. Excellent (written and verbal) communicator who creates and nurtures an interconnection in the community with corporate sponsors, business and education partners, foundations, artists, patrons, staff
  2. Demonstrated grant-writing and research skills
  3. Experience in relevant development strategies for a small non profit
  4. Critical thinking skills for the ability to make recommendations to maximize resources for efficient operations
  5. Ability to interact with members, staff, guests in fast-paced environment while remaining flexible, proactive, resourceful and efficient
  6. Belief in the value of the arts and a healthy, vibrant community and proven commitment to ‘arts for all’ mission
  7. Demonstrated computer literacy, and working knowledge of current technology
  8. Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent experience in similar role

Submitted material

Ag + Art Tour of Lancaster County seeks artisans for June 9-10

The South Carolina Ag + Art Tour is the nation’s largest free, self-guided farm tour featuring local artisans and farmers markets. During this month-long event that takes place in 12 counties, visitors will have the opportunity to see first-hand from where their food comes, watch artists in action, purchase something special, and learn more about rural life. Founded in York County in 2012, the tour expanded to include Lancaster County in 2013, and the Ag + Art Tour of Lancaster County is seeking artisans to participate in this year's event – for free! Ag + Art Tour of Lancaster County will be held June 9 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and June 10 from 1-5 p.m.  The tour is seeking artisans to show and sell handcrafted items.  There is no fee for artisans to participate.


In Lancaster County, artisans can choose to be located at these participating farm sites and should indicate that choice when applying:
  • Benford Brewing Company,
  • Dixie Bee Supply & Country Store,
  • Lancaster County Farmers Market (Saturday, June 9 only),
  • The Ivy Place (Sunday, June 10 only),
  • Howell Specialty Farmz,
  • Fox Trot Farms,
  • Rich Hill Farms.
There are other locations included on the tour, but they are coordinating artisans independently. Ancillary locations are Dianne Mahaffee’s Fine Art & Clay Studio and Landscape Carolina. A host of Mahaffee’s students will be on hand demonstrating, along with artist/owner Dianne Mahaffee. Landscape Carolina is encouraging artisans to set up and those wishing to participate at this location should contact Lancaster County Council of the Arts at arts.takepart@gmail.com. Interested artisans should visit AgAndArtTour.com/artisans for more information and to apply. Each of the 12 participating counties that make up the SC Ag + Art Tour has its own artisan application linked from that page.  The deadline to apply is Friday, April 27, 2018. For artisan information, please contact Lancaster County Council of the Arts Program Coordinator at 803-285-7451 or arts.takepart@gmail.com.  For general information regarding the Ag + Art Tour of Lancaster County, call 803.289.1492, email cdoster@lancastercitysc.com, or visit AgAndArtTour.com.

State to honor five with 2018 Folk Heritage Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 19 March 2018

  • Four artists and one advocate selected
  • Program managed jointly by McKissick Museum at USC and South Carolina Arts Commission
  • Awards to be presented May 2 at South Carolina Arts Awards Day
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Five South Carolina recipients are to be honored by the General Assembly with the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, presented annually to recognize work that keeps the state’s traditional art forms alive. The following five recipients – four artists and one advocate – are being recognized as practitioners and advocates of traditional arts significant to communities throughout the state. Their traditions embody folklife’s dynamic, multigenerational nature, and its fusion of artistic and utilitarian ideals. The 2018 recipients are:
  • The Blackville Community Choir (Blackville): A Capella Spiritual and Gospel Singing
  • Michael King (Greenville): Piedmont blues
  • Henrietta Snype (Mount Pleasant): Sweetgrass basketry
  • Deacon James Garfield Smalls (St. Helena Island): Traditional spirituals
  • Dr. Stephen Criswell (Lancaster): Folklife & Traditional Arts Advocacy
“The work of proliferating our state’s unique cultural heritage is an important one in an age of constant change,” South Carolina Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May said. “The intrinsic value of these treasured art forms is the story each tells of where and who we’ve been, and are, as a culture. We should all be grateful for the work these award recipients do on our behalf.” [caption id="attachment_2612" align="alignright" width="150"]Jean Laney Harris Jean Laney Harris[/caption] The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award is named for the late State Rep. Jean Laney Harris of Cheraw, respected as an outspoken advocate and ardent supporter of the arts and cultural resources of the state. Up to four artists or organizations and one advocate may receive awards each year. The program is managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at USC. Community members make nominations to recognize exemplary artistic achievement/advocacy. An independent advisory panel appointed by the lieutenant governor and house speaker selects the recipients, who must be living and practicing in the state. The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage and Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s awards, sponsored by Colonial Life, are presented at South Carolina Arts Awards Day on Wednesday, May 2 in a morning ceremony at the State House. The S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients afterward during a fundraising luncheon at the USC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). South Carolina artists’ work will be on sale to support the programs of the S.C. Arts Commission. Luncheon tickets are $50 per person and available for purchase through SouthCarolinaArts.com or by calling 803.734.8696. For more information about the Folk Heritage Awards, visit the McKissick Museum website at http://artsandsciences.sc.edu/mckissickmuseum or the S.C. Arts Commission website, SouthCarolinaArts.com.
ABOUT THE FOLK HERITAGE AWARD RECIPIENTS
  • Blackville Community Choir (Artist Category) was formed in 1965 as the Macedonia Tabernacle Choir. In 1976, the choir changed its name to The Blackville Community Choir. The group expanded to include members from different congregations and continued to sing at churches, festivals, funerals, weddings, banquets, public schools, and college graduations. Choir members have been advocates for the arts, organizing an annual program featuring visual and performing artists, collectors, crafters, entrepreneurs, culinary artists, and storytellers.
  • J. Michael King (Artist Category) is a composer, writer, teacher, and accomplished Piedmont blues musician with an insatiable love of traditional South Carolina music. The Piedmont blues, a unique regional distillation of the blues, blossomed in Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia near the beginning of the 20th century. Influenced by ragtime music and early banjo techniques, Piedmont blues involves a light, finger-picking style and steady rhythms. A popular instructor, King teaches the Piedmont blues throughout the region. For over 30 years, he has mentored musicians of all ages in and around upstate South Carolina.
  • Even at 98, Deacon James Garfield Smalls (Artist Category) sings songs dating back to the mid-19th century and stands as one the most important active Gullah singers and cultural ambassadors. Smalls received musical training from B.H. Washington, a member of the St. Helena Quartet and music director at St. Joseph Baptist Church. Smalls sang in Washington’s renowned community choir The Hundred Voices, and later led the ensemble. He also served for many years as director of the senior choir at St. Joseph Baptist Church. Beyond his early musical career, Smalls served in the Pacific with the U.S. Navy’s Seabees during World War II. Over the past three decades, Deacon Smalls has led the singing at Penn Center Community Sings, various island churches, and music festivals.
  • Henrietta Snype (Artist Category) is a Mount Pleasant native and third generation sweetgrass basket maker. Snype’s work has been featured at venues in the Lowcountry and in museums throughout the U.S., including the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Art. Schools, museum shops, business owners, and private art collectors have commissioned works from her. She conducts workshops for public and private schools throughout Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties and does countless demonstrations for all ages.
  • Dr. Stephen Criswell (Advocacy Category) has worked in folklore and anthropology for more than 20 years. His most prominent contribution is his advocacy work for Native American culture, focusing on Catawba potters and contemporary expressive traditions. In 2005, the University of South Carolina Lancaster hired Criswell and challenged him to build and direct its Native American Studies program. After 13 years, the Native American Studies Center (NASC) houses the largest fully intact collection of Catawba pottery in existence and an extensive archival collection. Its new facility has welcomed 30,000 visitors from all over the world since 2012, raising awareness of the history, culture and traditions of Native people of the South.

ABOUT THE FOLKLIFE AND TRADITIONAL ARTS PROGRAM The Folklife and Traditional Arts Program is designed to encourage, promote, conserve and honor the diverse community-based art forms that make South Carolina distinct. The major initiatives of the program serve both established and emerging cultural groups that call South Carolina home. ABOUT MCKISSICK MUSEUM The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum tells the story of southern life: community, culture, and the environment. The Museum is located on the University of South Carolina’s historic Horseshoe with available parking in the garage at the corner of Pendleton and Bull streets. All exhibitions are free and open to the public. The Museum is open from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturdays. The Museum is closed Sundays and university holidays. For more information, please call at 803.777.7251 or visit http://www.sc.edu/study/colleges_schools/artsandsciences/mckissick_museum/. ABOUT THE SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS COMMISSION The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants, and leadership initiatives in three areas:
  • arts education,
  • community arts development,
  • and artist development.
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696.

Another win at Poetry Out Loud; repeat champ makes Charleston proud

It's a South Carolina first. [caption id="attachment_34461" align="alignright" width="242"] State Poetry Out Loud winner Janae Claxton (center) receives her trophy from South Carolina Arts Commission representatives Zuri Wilson-Seymore, program coordinator (left), and Ashley Kerns Brown, arts education director (right).[/caption] This past weekend, Janae Claxton of Charleston became the first back-to-back champion of the statewide Poetry Out Loud competition, which is organized by the South Carolina Arts Commission. A senior at First Baptist Church School in Charleston, Claxton was judged the winner after three rounds against five other South Carolina finalists Saturday afternoon at Richland Library Main Branch in Columbia. She won an all-expenses-paid trip for herself and a chaperone as she represents the state in the Poetry Out Loud national finals April 23-25, 2018 in Washington. She also won $200. The national winner receives a $20,000 cash prize.

  • Taylor Elisse Wade of Andrew Jackson High School in Lancaster was first runner up, winning a $100 prize for herself and a $200 stipend for her school to spend on poetry books.
  • Alyssa Stone of Wando High School in Mt. Pleasant was second runner up.
Four first-time judges were part of the Poetry Out Loud state finals: Al Black, Dr. Ray McManus, Dr. Charlene Spearen, and Dr. Ernest Williamson III. SCETV's Beryl Dakers served as event host. Claxton recited three poems from memory on her way to the victory: “The Gaffe” by C.K. Williams in the first round and “A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late, Famous General” by Jonathan Swift in the second. Her judges’ score advanced her to the third and final round, where she recited Sharon Olds' “I Go Back to May 1937