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SCAC names FY2023 fellowship recipients

Program changes reinforce the arts’ influence in the creative economy


COLUMBIA, S.C. –  A diverse group of four South Carolina artists working in different artistic disciplines are the latest recipients of new-look $10,000 fellowship awards from the South Carolina Arts Commission.

The SCAC Board of Directors approved four artists who exhibit hard work, exceptional ability, and dedication to their discipline for the agency’s first $10,000 fellowships. The artists receiving awards in FY23 are:
  • Eunjung Choi, DMA of Orangeburg County for performance in music,
  • Michael Smallwood of Charleston County for playwriting/screenwriting,
  • Rebecca T. Godwin of Georgetown County for prose, and
  • Marlanda Dekine of Georgetown County for spoken word/slam poetry.
Awards were $5,000 for most of the program’s history before increased funding for the SCAC allowed a jump to $8,500 in the previous fiscal year. The new $10,000 awards are a program high. “Artistic excellence of the caliber these artists demonstrate should be rewarded. Each of the four are deserving of the financial benefit and prestige that comes with a fellowship. The South Carolina Arts Commission is excited to support their creative pursuits, and we cannot wait to see what comes next from them,” SCAC Executive Director David Platts said. “The fellowship program is one of the arts commission’s signature programs. It directly impacts artist development, one of the agency’s three core functions,” SCAC Deputy Director Ce Scott-Fitts said. “Increasing the award makes the program more prestigious, but better serves the recipients. They receive financial resources so that they may focus on developing and creating art.” Last autumn, artists residing in South Carolina full-time were invited to apply for fellowships in the four disciplines represented in the current cycle. Out-of-state panelists who work in those disciplines were recruited to review applications and make recommendations to the SCAC board of directors. Applicants are not anonymous, and panelists consider work samples, artistic merit, achievements, and commitment to the discipline in which artists apply. Artists may apply in multiple categories with separate applications. The FY23 panelists were Andrew Lindsay Cohen (Pownal, Vermont), Dennis Rubin Green (New York, New York), and Antonio Douthit-Boyd (St. Louis, Missouri) for performance (dance, music, or theatre/film acting); Amy Palmo (Woodland Hills, California) for playwriting/screenwriting; Abigail DeWitt (Burnsville, North Carolina) for prose; and Brennan DeFrisco (Beaverton, Oregon) and Wendy Jones (Durham, North Carolina) for spoken word/slam poetry. Further changes to the program include the addition of more modern, inclusive categories that increase accessibility to the awards’ benefits. The categories, being phased in over the course of four years, include:
  • spoken word and slam poetry;
  • time-based art, which includes installation, sound, experimental film, video art, computer-generated art, technology, or performance art;
  • choreography and directing in film, theatre, and opera;
  • and the design arts, which include architecture, fashion, graphic, industrial, or interior.
“Adding disciplines allows for more inclusion while demonstrating how many aspects of the creative economy are touched by the arts,” Scott-Fitts said. The SCAC awards four fellowships per year to artists working in rotating disciplines. One artist from each of these fields: visual art, craft, time-based art (installation, sound, experimental film, video art, computer-generated art, technology, or performance art) and music composition will be honored in fiscal year 2024. To be eligible, artists must be at least 18 years old and a legal U.S. resident with permanent residence in the state for two years prior to the application date and throughout the fellowship period. Applications will be accepted later this summer following announcement by the SCAC. For more on discipline rotation, eligibility requirements, and the application process, please visit https://www.southcarolinaarts.com/grant/fel/. Correction, 8 July 2022, 11:05 ET: A previous version of this release listed Rebecca T. Godwin as a Colleton County resident. The SCAC was unaware of a recent move to Georgetown County. The Hub apologizes for the error.

About the FY23 Individual Artist Fellowship Recipients

Eunjung Choi, DMA | Performance (Dance, Music, or Theatre/Film Acting) | Orangeburg County Dr. Eunjung Choi, a native of Seoul, South Korea, currently serves as associate professor of piano and coordinator of keyboard studies at Claflin University in Orangeburg, teaching applied piano, class piano, piano pedagogy and literature, and music appreciation. Dr. Choi has presented numerous performances, lectures, and workshops to international, national, and regional music audiences in the U.S. and South Korea. Her articles have been published in major national and international journals. Choi earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Dongduk Women’s University in Seoul, Master of Music from Ball State University, Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of South Carolina, and completed a management development program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Michael Smallwood | Playwriting/Screenwriting | Charleston County Michael Smallwood is an actor, writer, director, and teacher. He is originally from Baltimore, Maryland, but currently resides in Charleston. A College of Charleston alumnus, Smallwood has also studied theatre, acting, and writing at the Kennedy Center in Washington and Horizon Theatre Company in Atlanta. He is a core ensemble member of PURE Theatre in Charleston, having joined in 2011. His theatre credits include The AgitatorsThe RoyaleMarie Antoinette, and The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, among many others. He is a two-time KCACTF award-winning playwright. His screenplays and short films have won awards from GenreBlast Film Festival, Crimson Screen Horror Film Festival, and many others. His film/television credits include the Emmy-winning CBS series “The Inspectors,” the Netflix original movie Naked, HBO's The Righteous Gemstones and Halloween Kills (2021). He is also arts editor for the Charleston City Paper and host of the podcast “Welcome to Greendale.” Rebecca T. Godwin | Prose | Colleton County Native South Carolinian Rebecca T. Godwin has published two novels, Keeper of the House (St. Martin’s, 1994) and Private Parts (Longstreet, 1992). Her stories and essays have appeared in The Paris ReviewOxford American’s Best of the South issue, The SunEpochSouth Carolina Review, and elsewhere, and she has received MacDowell and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships. One of Godwin's first stories won the South Carolina Fiction Project and was included in the anthology, Inheritance (Hub City Press, 2001). For 13 years she taught literature and writing at Bennington College, during which time she conceived and was faculty editor for plain china, an online journal showcasing undergraduate writing from around the country. She has served as judge for the S.C. Fiction Project and as screening judge for the Drue Heinz Prize and The Atlantic’s Student Writing prizes. Godwin earned a bachelor’s from Coastal Carolina University and a master’s from Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English. She is currently at work on two novels and a story collection. Marlanda Dekine | Spoken Word/Slam Poetry | Georgetown County Marlanda Dekine (they/she) is a poet, a voice, and a presence. Their collection of poems, Thresh & Hold, won the 2021 New Southern Voices Poetry Prize at Hub City Press. Dekine is the creator of i am from a punch & a kiss, a multimedia book/mixtape project, and the founder of Speaking Down Barriers, a nonprofit working towards equity and justice. They are a Castle of Our Skins' Shirley Graham Du Bois Creative-in-Residence, a Palm Beach Poetry Festival Langston Hughes Fellow, Tin House Own Path Scholar, Emrys Keller Cushing Freeman Scholar, Watering Hole Fellow, and the recipient of many awards, including the SC Humanities Fresh Voice Award and Say What! Queen of the South. Their work has been published in Root Work Journal, Oxford American, POETRY Magazine, Emergence Magazine, Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere. Currently, Dekine serves as Healing Justice Fellow with Gender Benders, a transgender advocacy group in the South, and as a guest poet with the composer/performer collective, counter)induction.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences. A state agency created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in four areas: arts learning, community and traditional arts, artist development, and arts industry. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the SCAC is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts, and other sources. Visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696, and follow @scartscomm on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for #Arts4SC and #SCartists content.
South Carolina Arts Commission News Release, Media Contact: Jason L. Rapp, Communications Director. jrapp@arts.sc.gov or 803.734.8899

Jason Rapp

Pair of #SCartists get good news

A hot summer continues for a South Carolina poet and one of the S.C. Arts Commission's inaugural Emerging Artist Grant recipients will exhibit in a prominent location this fall.

[caption id="attachment_45489" align="alignright" width="150"]Close up facial image of Marlanda Dekine, Sapient Soul Marlanda Dekine, Sapient Soul[/caption] First, Marlanda Dekine is having quite a summer. In July, The Hub shared the news that she won the 2021 New Southern Voices Poetry Prize. We are pleased to share now that Dekine is included in the current Poetry Out Loud anthology. Whatever will the next announcement bring? Second, it's going to be an exciting fall for Kimberly Washburn Motte. You might remember her as one of the inaugural recipients of the SCAC's new Emerging Artist Grant. Because you know we love seeing #SCACGrantsAtWork, we were thrilled when she let our team know that five sculptures created as a result of her grant are going on exhibit, just down the road from her Florence home. TRAX Visual Art Center in Lake City is set to include Motte in an upcoming exhibition from Sept. 10 to Nov. 13.

Jason Rapp

Marlanda Dekine wins 2021 New Southern Voices Poetry Prize

SCAC earns publication, cash prize

Hub City Press just announced that Marlanda Dekine is the winner of the fifth New Southern Voices Poetry Prize.

Marlanda Dekine (she/they) is a poet obsessed with ancestry, memory, and the process of staying within one's own body. Their work manifest as books, audio projects, and workshops, leaving spells and incantations for others to follow for themselves. The prize for Dekine's unpublished manuscript, Thresh & Hold, is $1,000 and publication by Hub City Press in spring 2022. Their manuscript was selected as the winner of the prize by award-winning poet Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Dekine's work has been published or is forthcoming in Southern Humanities Review, POETRY Magazine, Emergence Magazine, Juke Joint Magazine, OROBORO, Screen Door Review, Root Work Journal, and elsewhere. They are the founder and former executive director of Speaking Down Barriers, Spoken Word Spartanburg, and other organizations that make space for all beings. Currently, she serves as a Healing Justice Fellow with Gender Benders and the 2021/2022 creative-in-residence with Castle of our Skins. Dekine is the recipient of many awards, including a Tin House Own Path Scholarship (2021), an SC Humanities Award for Fresh Voices in Humanities (2019), Emrys' Keller Cushing Freeman Fellowship (2019), and grants from the S.C. Arts Commission, Alternate Roots, The Map Fund, and other organizations. She holds a bachelor's degree from Furman University, University of South Carolina, and is a third-year master of fine arts candidate (Poetry) at Converse College. Of the collection, Calvocoressi wrote,

"I cannot and will not put Marlanda Dekine’s, Thresh & Hold down. The world it builds, celebrates, and reclaims is a reckoning and a symphony. From the brutality of the rice plantations of South Carolina to the specific privacy found inside one’s Saturn Vue, the breadth of human experience that unfold in these poems cover histories that, we too often forget, are all intimate stories. Dekine reminds us that every moment we read about is a moment some body has fought or celebrated or been unable to live through. The effect of this is that we are brought into the vast music of a world that is endlessly unfolding, It’s fairly common to read poems that speak about community but there are only a handful of poets alive; Nikky Finney, Destiny Hemphill, CA Conrad come to mind, whose poems truly make community as the work blooms before us. This is a poet of that order and ability. I am so blown away by the gift and the challenge of this book. A book that not for one moment looks away from the brutality and beauty of this world. A book that says, 'I am listening to Spirit. I am not dying today.'"

Calvocoressi is the author of the poetry collections Rocket Fantastic; Apocalyptic Swing, which was a finalist for the 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart, which was shortlisted for the Northern California Book Award and winner of the Connecticut Book Award in Poetry. They are the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including a Stegner Fellowship and Jones Lectureship from Stanford University, a Rona Jaffe Woman Writer's Award, a Lannan Foundation residency in Marfa, Texas, the Bernard F. Conners Prize from The Paris Review, and a residency from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation. Calvocoressi teaches at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and lives in Carrboro, North Carolina. The other finalists are Reyes Ramirez for Answers Without Questions and Andy Young for Museum of the Soon Departed. The biennial New Southern Voices Prize is sponsored by Hub City Press of Spartanburg. It is open to all poets who have either never published a full-length collection of poetry, or who have only published one full-length collection, and who currently reside in and have had residency in one or more of the following states for a minimum of 24 consecutive months: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. The previous winner of this prize was Megan Denton Ray for her collection, Mustard, Milk and Gin which was released by Hub City Press in March 2020.

Jason Rapp