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Solid gold: 50 years of the S.C. Arts Foundation

October is National Arts and Humanities month, and this commemoration of the arts' importance to our nation is an opportunity to recognize a milestone that the South Carolina Arts Foundation is celebrating: fifty years of supporting the arts in South Carolina.

The SCAF is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to recognizing, encouraging, and supporting the arts and artists of South Carolina. From its inception in 1972, the SCAF has pursued its goals through a strategic partnership with the South Carolina Arts Commission. For example, the SCAF recognizes the state's artists, arts organizations, and individuals and businesses who innovate, support, and advocate for the arts through procuring the bronze statuettes that the SCAC presents to recipients of the Governor's Awards for the Arts each year. As the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered businesses and arts venues in South Carolina, the SCAF responded to unfolding events by establishing the South Carolina Artist Relief Fund. This online campaign made it easy for individuals and businesses to contribute to a central fund in response to the crisis.  In turn, the SCAF gave the funds it had raised to the SCAC, supplementing other funding. Through SCARF and other funding sources, SCAC issued 168 grants totaling more than $125,000 to individual artists who had lost income due to the cancellation of exhibitions and performances or through other pandemic-related disruptions. More recently, the SCAF has been working to ensure that the arts in South Carolina will enjoy support in perpetuity by establishing endowments for that purpose. The SCAF Board of Directors engaged donors to endow the Nina Liu South Carolina Arts Commission State Art Collection Fund in 2019. That endowment supports the acquisition of art and the maintenance, conservation, and storage of the SCAC's important collection of South Carolina art. Though the endowment is young, it already has provided funding for the acquisition of a piece for the collection on the secondary market. As the SCAF embarked upon its fiftieth anniversary this past summer, it established the South Carolina Arts Foundation Fund.  As it matures, proceeds from this new endowment will allow the SCAF to benefit the arts that are so important to South Carolina’s citizens and communities. “Fifty years is a tremendous accomplishment for any organization to celebrate,” says Steve Bygott, president of the South Carolina Arts Foundation, “and launching these funds will ensure that the SCAF will be able to support the arts in South Carolina for the next 50 years, and more." For five decades, the South Carolina Arts Foundation has partnered with the South Carolina Arts Commission to strengthen artist development, arts education, and community development through the arts across the state. Speaking of the relationship between the two organizations, David Platts, executive director of the SCAC, says, "The South Carolina Arts Commission is grateful for a willing partner like the SCAF as we work together to further the arts in the Palmetto State. We congratulate them on 50 years of strategic support in this effort.”
To learn more about the South Carolina Arts Foundation, visit https://www.southcarolinaarts.com/foundation/.

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New McKissick exhibition shows off artistry of sweetgrass basketmaking

Basketmakers have sewn baskets in the South Carolina Lowcountry since the 17th century.

[caption id="attachment_50861" align="alignright" width="300"] Four Corners of Justice by Georgette Wright Sanders. Provided photo. Click image to enlarge.[/caption] The tradition has been preserved at the hands of the Gullah-Geechee people, descendants of enslaved West Africans trafficked to North America. For over 300 years, basketmakers have transformed baskets from a plantation tool into an art form. Today, basketmakers continue to leverage heritage tourism to make a living, to advocate for the preservation of the ecosystem vital to the tradition, and to experiment with scale, form, and materials. Sewn Through Time: Sweetgrass Basketmakers Reimagine a Tradition traces the evolution of sweetgrass baskets in South Carolina, highlighting the innovative work of contemporary makers. The lens brought to the baskets in this exhibit by Guest Curator Kennedy Bennett is that of an insider to the basketmaking community. A recent Yale graduate, Bennett explains

Growing up in Mount Pleasant as the daughter and granddaughter of basketmakers, I was enveloped in a community that kept Gullah-Geechee traditions alive. My grandmother, Thelma Bennett, other family members, and neighbors sewed sweetgrass baskets on their porch, at their basket stand, and at local businesses appealing to tourists. I am fortunate to have immersed myself in Gullah-Geechee culture—first as a descendant, and now in academic and curatorial contexts. 

Among the makers whose work will be featured are Antwon Ford, Georgette Wright Sanders, and Adell Swinton. Ford draws inspiration from gestalt psychology and the idea of a 4th dimension to conjure sculptural forms that represent “grass in motion.” With vessels like Four Corners of Justice that invoke both South Carolina’s sweetgrass basket and 19th century face vessel traditions, Sanders redeems the past to envision a better future. Swinton’s miniature versions of classic basket forms like the ring tray and purse with lid demonstrate technical virtuosity in the service of memorializing the imaginative reservoir and entrepreneurial spirit of past makers. The opening reception for Sewn Through Time will be Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022, 5:30-7 p.m. It is free and open to the public. Visitors are invited to meet Bennett as she shares how she came to study and write about sweetgrass baskets.
Front page image: Basket by Antwon Ford. Click here to view enlarged.

McKissick Museum and the SCAC are partners for the agency's Folklife & Traditional Arts program. Sewn Through Time: Sweetgrass Basketmakers Reimagine a Tradition is open from Aug. 11 to Dec. 10, 2022 at McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina (816 Bull St., Columbia, at the east end of the historic Horseshoe). Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free.

Jason Rapp

Hispanic Alliance launches ‘Noches de Cine’

A film festival for Hispanic Heritage Month


Groundbreaking film can serve many purposes: entertaining, inspiring, and broadening our view of the world.

Its highest achievement might be the generation of empathy. The camera’s lens bypasses our conscious defenses by placing us within the story and allowing us to experience it on a nearly visceral level--forcing us to reconcile this experience with our current views. It reorients us to greater truths. In Honor of Hispanic Heritage Month 2020, Hispanic Alliance and the South Carolina Arts Commission invite you to experience the stories, values, and struggles of Hispanic people through movies and documentaries curated by the Hispanic students of HOLA at Furman University. We include movies in Spanish and English, including docudramas, fantastical tales, and untold histories. The Noches de Cine Top 10 were chosen for their superior ability to elevate the perception of Hispanic and Latin art, and to inspire constructive dialogue on relevant issues. These films sculpt a three-dimensional model to replace our flat stereotypes of diverse Hispanic and Latin cultures, and the immigrant experience, in particular.​ Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. To learn more, GVL Today has an excellent overview of events in that community written by The Hub's new friend Lindsey Tabor of Hispanic Alliance. Use "Noches de Cine" to guide your community’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, as part of an educational curriculum, or for your own journey towards greater compassion and understanding through art.

Noches de Cine Top 10

Movies to watch during Hispanic Heritage Month
  • Immigration Nation (Netflix)
  • Street Food Latin America (Netflix)
  • McFarland, USA (Hulu)
  • The 33 (Netflix)
  • César Chávez (YouTube)
  • The Book of Life (Amazon Prime)
  • Underwater Dreams (Amazon Prime)
  • La Jaula De Oro/The Golden Dream (DVD on Amazon)
  • Underdogs (Netflix)
  • Frida (Netflix)
Subscriptions are required for most streaming services except YouTube. Click here to visit the Hispanic Alliance's Noches de Cine page for additional information on each film. (The Hub has already picked out a few. - Ed.) There is even a printable viewing guide available.

A new strategic partnership forged

South Carolina Arts Commission welcomes the Hispanic Alliance, based in Greenville, as a new strategic partner to enable better service for and outreach to the Latinx community in the Upstate and beyond. We similarly work with Art Pot in Hanahan for similar ventures in the Lowcountry. Collaborations like "Noches de Cine" increase our ability to work with underrepresented groups and artists.
Main page photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Jason Rapp

The arts: the private sector’s secret weapon

In a recent Huffington Post blog post, Americans for the Arts CEO Robert Lynch weighed in on why companies seeking new ways to build their competitive advantage are increasingly finding that the arts are the key to driving true innovation and ultimately reaching business goals.

The Conference Board recently released their 2013 CEO Challenge Report, which outlined the top five global challenges for CEOs:
    1. Human Capital
    2. Operational Excellence
    3. Innovation
    4. Customer Relationships, and
    5. Global Political Economic Risk.
As a CEO, these challenges obviously resonated with me. But they also struck a chord with the arts advocate in me. I know that the arts industry can feel very foreign to the business community. But as companies seek new ways to build their competitive advantage, they are increasingly finding that the arts are the key to driving true innovation, ultimately reaching their business goals. So in fact, the arts can play a tremendously important role in helping CEOs address each of the challenges outlined in the CEO Challenge Report. Human Capital The way we do business is rapidly changing every day. With the advent of new technologies and younger generations' tendency to be more on the move in their professional lives, the squeeze is on from all sides to actively engage and retain top talent. Here, the arts can be a secret weapon. In my conversations with business executives across the country they have told me that the arts are an effective tool. Further, the arts play a significant role in attracting and retaining a skilled and educated workforce by ensuring that employees have a vibrant life outside the office. In fact, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas recently conceded that Dallas lost its bid for relocation of the Boeing Headquarters to Chicago because it could not compete culturally--a high priority for Boeing in attracting executives and their families. At the end of the day, if we want the best employees, we have to provide them with the best opportunities to become artistically and culturally involved in and out of the office. Operational Excellence The ability to work across boundaries is an enormously significant skill that will allow organizations and businesses to better operate in an increasingly interconnected world. By embracing the arts, businesses can produce exciting new methods of achieving goals institutionally and affect the output of work in a positive, growth-oriented manner. According to Americans for the Arts' BCA National Survey of Business Support for the Arts, business leaders believe that the arts promote team-building and better collaboration across departments and disciplines, teach different ways of seeing the same issue, and allow for new kinds of strategies to be embraced. Innovation Innovation and creativity are among the top five applied skills sought by business leaders according to Americans for the Arts' and The Conference Board's "Ready to Innovate" report. Likewise, IBM's Global Leadership Survey also says that creativity is the number one quality of successful leaders. So how can we best develop creativity in our workforce? According to "Ready to Innovate," study of the arts is at the top of the list for both business leaders and school superintendents. Innovation, creativity, business--all require a level of fearlessness and a desire to push beyond the walls. And the arts can be a powerful tool for acquiring the confidence, skills, and mindset to transform seemingly impossible ideas into reality. Customer Relationships Engaged, creative employees who are encouraged to think in new, innovative ways are likely to be both productive and actively improve both the company and their own business skills. Business leaders have told me they have seen the arts help facilitate their employee's engagement and fuel their creative juices. It is not just an indirect result, either: the arts build empathy, observation, and problem-identification and problem-solving skills, which translates to better customer service and a deeper understanding of the constituency. Global Political Economic Risk Cultural diplomacy is increasingly being used as a strategy to promote mutual understanding across cultures. On a practical level, arts exchanges build markets and strengthen economic relationships between cultures through sharing of artistic goods--something that is beneficial both financially and culturally. The arts also help us to grasp cultural realities in places where language, religion, politics--and, perhaps more apropos, business practices--may be completely unfamiliar. Many companies have already recognized the value the arts can bring to their bottom line and started strategic partnerships with the arts. And according to Americans for the Arts' BCA Survey, more are cluing in to the valuable contribution a strong arts partnership brings to their sector. Still, there is a strong need to make the case for how partnering with the arts can benefit the business sector. The survey shows that 73 percent of companies that actually support the arts consider them to be a moderate to low priority. To ensure more businesses understand the value of partnering with the arts, Americans for the Arts launched the pARTnership Movement in January 2012. The arts are connectors. They help us connect to our own potential by igniting a creative, bold, and innovative mindset. They help us connect to others by encouraging engagement, empathy, and the understanding that there are many ways of seeing the same thing. The arts connect people to the communities in which they live, the businesses at which they work, and the people with whom they interact. Without the arts, these five issues are challenges, indeed. But with the arts, I believe we can make a difference in our businesses and in our lives.
Via: The Huffington Post

Union County Arts Council’s mission includes community partnerships

[caption id="attachment_6915" align="alignnone" width="600"]Union County Arts Council Union County Arts Council member/artist Nanette Jenkins explains watercolor techniques to summer campers at the Union County Recreation Center.[/caption] There are gallery shows, art classes, art groups, literary groups and music programs, but a primary focus for the Union County Arts Council is on community partnerships. It’s through these partnerships that UCAC can give back to the people who support the regular events in the gallery. “Partnerships are very important to us,” said UCAC president Bennie Giles. “Our community deserves to have the best events and programs that we can provide. Sometimes this means that we have to partner with another organization to realize that goal.” The most recent partnership was formed when Jessica Gallman, the Union County Recreation Department’s program director, contacted UCAC about the possibility of furnishing an instructor for their Summer Camp Program. “We wanted to do an arts and crafts week, and I didn’t know anything about it,” said Gallman. “So, naturally, we decided to contact the Arts Council and see what they could offer. It’s worked out so well for us that we would love to do it again.” UCAC also works with USC-Union during the annual Juried Art Show in September. All of the works are on display at USC-Union, and the awards reception is also held there. “This arrangement benefits the college by making art available to students who might not be exposed to it in other settings,” added Giles.  “And there are a couple of benefits to us. The first is that we are able to hold our reception away from our main gallery where there is more space. The second benefit is that we can use our gallery for another show that runs concurrently with our Juried Art Show, giving Union’s residents two art shows during that time.” The Union County School District is also on UCAC’s partner list. Each year a Youth Art Show hangs on the Arts Council’s gallery walls. Each art teacher in the district chooses a number of works by students to be displayed at UCAC, with those pieces being judged by a local artist and cash awards given to the winners. “We really appreciate our partnership with the Arts Council,” said Union County School District Superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall. “We know that encouraging all talents in our students is important for a well-rounded education. UCAC promotes our student artists’ works, and we look forward each year to seeing their work displayed in the gallery. And, I know their parents enjoy this recognition of their children’s efforts as well.” UCAC is looking to expand its partnership program by making member artists available for outside projects. “We’re very proud of our community partnerships and hope that any organization in need of help with any of the arts will contact us," said Giles. "We have a wonderful group of artists working in a variety of media, and we are happy to help out whenever we can." For more information about UCAC’s programs or partnerships, call (864) 429-2817 or email ucac@bellsouth.net. Via: Union County Arts Council

Wm. Harold Senn

Arts Advocacy Post-Election To Do List

Americans for the Arts has put together a list of post-election-day suggestions for arts professionals to reach out to the newly elected and reconnect with incumbents, including congratulating the winners through multiple channels, asking for meetings, inviting them to share in holiday socializing, keeping them informed about the issues affecting the arts, and welcoming them as they begin their new year in office. Hopefully, by making use of the time between Election Day and when the session starts, new elected officials will become familiar (and supportive) of you, your organization and your issues. Get the details at blog.arts.org. Via: Americans for the Arts ARTSblog

Start, build and strengthen arts/business partnerships

Americans for the Arts has compiled information and resources about starting, building and strengthening partnerships between the arts world and the business world. This blog post offers their "top 4 lists of lists (AKA the top 33 reasons/ideas/ways) to create meaningful relationships between arts and business," including:

  • specific reasons for businesses to partner with the arts
  • ideas for creating authentic, productive connections between arts professionals and business professionals
  • ways to combat declining or static charitable giving from the corporate world.
Via: Americans for the Arts, a national nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America.