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South Arts awards $27,000 among seven S.C. arts groups

South Arts, a nonprofit regional arts organization, has awarded 68 grants totaling $276,949 to arts organization throughout the South. South ArtsThese funds, made possible through partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, support the presentation of touring performing and literary artists in public performances and readings along with educational activities throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

“These funds represent a major step for our organization in pursuit of our newly revised mission statement and strategic plan,” said executive director Susie Surkamer (former executive director of the S.C. Arts Commission. - Ed.) “We have refocused our grantmaking guidelines to primarily support Southern artists on tour throughout our communities. The talent and artistry created within our nine states is immense, and deserves to be shared.”

Organizations applied for consideration, making cases for the artistic merit of the proposed artists and the ability to develop audiences. An external panel of arts professionals reviewed each application for funding consideration. The grants must be matched at least dollar for dollar by the recipient organization. These grants represent multiple initiatives by South Arts. Performing Arts Touring grants support engagements of guest Southern artists (theatre, music, opera, musical theatre, and dance) from outside of the presenter’s state. Literary Arts Touring grants support engagements of guest Southern writers (fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry) from outside the presenter’s state. Launchpad grants are part of a year-long professional development program for presenters new to the field, and include the opportunity to present artists from an adjudicated roster. Dance Touring Initiative funds are part of an ongoing capacity-building program developing audiences for modern dance and contemporary ballet throughout the region. “We are so proud to support tours of diverse, talented artists representing the breadth of our region,” continued Surkamer. “Some of the highlights this year include Ranky Tanky, based in coastal South Carolina, blending their Gullah heritage with influences of jazz and funk. Rosie Herrera Dance Theater of Miami is one of the nation’s leading contemporary ballet companies, effortlessly working across genres including hip hop, dance theater, and cabaret. Poet Jericho Brown, an associate professor Emory University in Atlanta, is a leading voice with verses exploring race, masculinity, and community.” Applications for South Arts touring grants for nonprofit and governmental organizations in the nine-state region open in the fall each year with deadlines in March and May. Additional information and a full listing of grant recipients is available at www.southarts.org.

About South Arts

South Arts advances Southern vitality through the arts. The nonprofit regional arts organization was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to support the success of artists and arts providers in the South, address the needs of Southern communities through impactful arts-based programs, and celebrate the excellence, innovation, value and power of the arts of the South. For more information, visit www.southarts.org.

South Carolina's recipients

  • City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs (Charleston) received a $5,800 grant as part of the Dance Touring Initiative.
  • City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs (Charleston) received a $2,354 Literary Arts Touring grant to present P. Scott Cunningham in October 2018.
  • Midlands Technical College (Columbia) received a $5,800 grant as part of the Dance Touring Initiative.
  • Southern Guitar Festival and Competition (Columbia) received a $878 Performing Arts Touring grant to present Jay Kacherski in June 2019.
  • Coker College (Hartsville) received a $5,800 grant as part of the Dance Touring Initiative.
  • Arts Center of Coastal Carolina (Hilton Head) received a $5,569 Performing Arts Touring grant to present Ballet Memphis in January 2019.
  • Wits End Poetry (Greenville) received a $890 Literary Arts Touring grant to present Asia Samson & Daryl Funn in September 2018.

Columbia’s dedicated piano and guitar festivals stand as testament to classical music gravitas

From The Free Times Article by Kyle Peterson Southeastern Piano Festival, June 12 - 19, various locations sepf.music.sc.edu Southern Guitar Festival & Competition, June 11-12, Columbia Museum of Art southernguitarfest.com

[caption id="attachment_26735" align="alignright" width="200"]Sergei Babayan Sergei Babayan is among the top performers at the Southeastern Piano Festival.[/caption] This weekend, two of Columbia’s most remarkable and unlikely cultural offerings return: the 14th annual Southeastern Piano Festival and the 5th annual Southern Guitar Festival & Competition. That these two classical music celebrations exist here at all, let alone on the same weekend, is quite curious, particularly given how they both bring in world-class talents that regularly fill the biggest concert halls in the larger cultural meccas of the world. And while the SEPF has the advantages of an older, more assured history and the infrastructural support that comes from existing within the University of South Carolina’s large system, the story of these two festivals is remarkably similar. “What we found from the very beginning is that there is an incredible amount of support for music in Columbia,” says Joseph Rackers, Program Director of SEPF and a USC School of Music faculty member. “When we started it and it was in its first year, so many community members came forward with financial support, moral support, overall encouragement, that it really motivated us and convinced us that this is the place [for the festival].” Older, But Still Growing SEPF has grown every year since its first in 2003, bringing, Rackers says, “as much world-class talent to Columbia in one week” as they possibly can. There’s also a strong educational component to the festival, which functions as a high-level training program for teenage pianists as well as a showcase for classical piano’s leading lights. “The festival was always designed with a goal in mind that the new generation of pianists need to have world-class role models,” offers Marina Lomazov, the festival’s artistic director, also on the USC School of Music faculty. “We bring these amazing artists in, and they are communicating and living side-by-side with the students. It creates a sort of symbiosis of inspiration, of training, of big-brother kind of relationships. It’s been like that from the beginning. And that part is one of the bedrocks of the festival.” The prestigious Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition takes place all day Friday, June 17 at the USC School of Music Recital Hall and features the 20 talented young pianists taking part in this year’s festival, but there are other performance highlights. Sergei Babayan of The Juilliard School and Cleveland School of Music will perform twice on Tuesday, June 14 at the Columbia Museum of Art, offering the entirety of Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, a collection of two series of preludes and fugues in all major and minor keys. Ann Schein, whose storied career includes stints at the Peabody Conservatory and the Aspen Music Festival and School, will also play. Schein, celebrated for her performances of Chopin, will be perform selections from Schumann, Chopin and Beethoven’s oeuvres for her Thursday, June 16 performance at Trinity Cathedral. But the festival is about more than just bringing in top talent. “It’s also about how the different artists complement each other as you place them one night after another,” Rackers explains. “You’re not going to put five Bach specialists in a row.” Beyond that, the curation is mainly about each pianist’s innate talents. “We look for people that have an individual voice, who we really feel like have a sincere approach in how they communicate with the audience,” Lomazov explains. “Everybody senses that communication.” Younger, But Equally Ambitious [caption id="attachment_26736" align="alignright" width="200"]Amaral Duo Duo Amaral is among the top performers at the Southern Guitar Festival & Competition[/caption] For all the surface-level differences between the more independent weekend affair that is the Southern Guitar Festival and the growing behemoth that is the SEPF, there are strong commonalities — down to another Marina, guitarist Marina Alexandra, leading the way. Alexandra started the festival five years ago, though she says she had been thinking about the project for a decade. “You have a huge amount of guitar players who are released from USC every year, plus we have this big major festival going on in Charleston,” she explains, alluding to the the coastal city’s Spoleto Festival, a world-renowned 17-day arts celebration. “I thought that would be a great start for us and a big audience draw, since participants would travel through Columbia.” Like SEPF, the Southern Guitar Festival sought to draw international talent while also serving local audiences. Organizers didn’t have the same kind of university support, so they relied on patrons and an annual Guitar Gala fundraiser along with assistance, in various years, from the South Carolina Arts Commission, the City of Columbia and the National Endowment for the Arts to accumulate their budget. Alexandra’s ideas for the festival didn’t start with the level of ambition that her piano counterpart did, but the event’s star quickly rose in the world of classical guitar. “When we started it was more targeting the local audience and serving the local community, just because we had so many guitarists. We had like maybe two classical guitar concerts a year,” Alexandra points out. “It started local, I did not have many ambitions, and it just kind of started growing on its own,” she continues. “The first year I hesitated to call it the ‘Southern International Guitar Festival.’ ... But as the years were passing, we’re not only producing the international winners, but our festival is in all major national guitar magazines, we’re advertised by the Guitar Foundation of America, we are on the map. And I only really realized this after we started getting these contestants from other countries. Every year the winner has been from another country [outside the United States].” This year’s Guitar Festival headliners include Duo Amaral, a group that comes out of the Peabody Conservatory of Music with a prestigious international performance background, and Janet Grohovac, who recently completed a performance doctorate at the University of Texas in Austin and won first place as a soloist in last year’s festival. Alexandra echoes Lomazov and Rackers in how the event chooses its performers. “They have to be great entertainers,” she says. “Playing the right notes at the right time, so many people can do it, so many of them extremely well. I’m looking for a true artist that really can inspire somebody, really engage the audience. And I always look for ensembles and soloists.” Like SEPF, a big part of the Southern Guitar Festival is the competition, as well as the educational component, with multiple workshops occurring over the course of the weekend. Openness Is Key The final key to both festivals is inviting newer, younger audience members and performers into their ranks. For SEPF, this takes the shape of an opening Piano Extravaganza that takes place in the Johnson Performance Hall at the Darla Moore School of Business on Sunday, June 12. The multimedia performance features 16 hands, eight performers, and four pianos charging through a commissioned work that bridges medleys of 2015 pop hits. Four of the pianists will be professionals, and four will be young musicians under the age of 13 who won their slots through an open audition that drew contenders from North Carolina and Georgia. “We’ve found that more and more people who attend the Piano Extravaganza are new listeners, people who maybe have been to a classical music concert before but maybe haven’t,” Rackers says. Alexandra has similar designs for Saturday’s new Guitar Idol SC event, a competition aimed at non-classical guitarists ages 10 to 18. Performers are invited to play acoustic or electric, in any genre they choose. “Classical guitarists can sometimes be very snobby in what we do,” Alexandra admits. “Most of the musicians who are trying to make a living as concert players, we realize that if we’re going to continue with the old traditions and be very strict to what we’ve been taught, we will just not survive.”

Southern Guitar Festival invites visual artists to display work

The 2015 Southern Guitar Festival and Competition is marking its fourth year by adding a visual arts component in the weeks leading up to the main event. Visual artists are invited to apply for a chance to display their works in the street-level windows at Tapp's Arts Center in Columbia, S.C., during the month of May. Works must adhere to the 2015 festival theme: classical and/or flamenco guitar. To apply, or for more information, visit the Southern Guitar Festival website. Submission deadline is Jan. 5, 2015. Southern Guitar FestivalThe Southern Guitar Festival and Competition is an annual event that brings world-caliber guitarists to Columbia, S.C. The three-day festival runs June 5-7, 2015, and includes concerts, master classes, lectures, and an international competition with divisions for elementary/middle school, high school, and college/professional. All concerts will be held at the Tapp's Arts Center. The concert schedule and ticket information are available on the festival website. Image: Festival director Marina Alexandra interviews Ivan Resendiz at a previous event. Via: Southern Guitar Festival and Competition