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Columbia holds free teaching artist workshop next week

From Amplify Columbia: Teaching artists, also known as artist educators or community artists, are professional artists who teach and integrate their art form, perspectives, and skills into a wide range of settings. Teaching artists work with schools, after school programs, community organizations, and social service agencies to encourage increased public participation in the arts for residents of all ages and cultural backgrounds. Join us Monday, Aug. 27 from 6-8:30 p.m. (Eau Claire Print Building, 3907 Ensor Ave, Columbia, SC 29203) for a free professional development workshop for teaching artists. Participants will be given structure, guidance, and tools to implement clear goals in their residencies and lessons and to improve their work. For both emerging and master teaching artists, this workshop is open to faculty of midlands universities, classroom teachers, artists, staff working with any area arts organization, museum docents and parks and recreation staff who work directly with young people. This session is free however preregistration is required. Register by emailing your name and a contact number to hello@amplifycolumbia.com.


About Amplify

Amplify is the capital city's new long-range cultural plan: a community conversation that identifies opportunities for broadening public participation in arts and cultural activities. The City of Columbia and One Columbia for Arts and History are collaborating to oversee the cultural planning process. Facilitated community conversations involving a  broad cross sector of our community will focus on four core areas:
  1. Economic prosperity for the Columbia region
  2. Cultural vitality
  3. Social and cultural equity
  4. Ways to embed arts and culture across the city’s Comprehensive Plan
AMPLIFY is the name given to the planning process and helps make visible its progress. As the name implies, the planning process will highlight existing arts, cultural and heritage resources of Columbia and recommend ways to strengthen these valuable assets in our community. The leader or Amplify's consulting team is Margie Johnson Reese, who served on the SCAC's panel that reviewed General Operating Support grant applications this past May. Go here for more information about Amplify.

The man of steel: Lancaster artist shaping heavy metal and young artistic minds

Tell us what you think about the Roster of Approved Artists!

The South Carolina Roster of Approved Artists was originally created as a list of artists qualified to offer school residencies. The Roster has been around a long time, and we think it's time for a reboot. Our goal is to create an even stronger resource to help connect artists, schools and communities. Help us revamp the Roster by taking a quick survey. We want to hear from artists, arts organizations, non-arts organizations, businesses, educators and anyone interested in an online arts directory - whether or not you've ever used the Roster. The survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete. (Note: All questions are required. If you encounter a question for which you have no answer, please enter N/A or check "Never" if that's an option.) We appreciate your feedback! Take the Roster survey. Image: Roster artists Patz Fowle and Mike Fowle

Glenis Redmond: a passion for poetry

From The Greenville News Article by Paul Hyde

Glenis Redmond laughs when she talks about it. But, yes, the Ku Klux Klan gave the acclaimed poet a considerable career boost. In 1999, the group marched in Asheville, North Carolina, where Redmond lived. A group of Asheville citizens responded with a multiracial unity rally where Redmond, then a struggling poet, read some of her inspirational writings. Booking agents happened to be present at the anti-KKK meeting, and they offered Redmond a contract on the spot. “I literally signed up that next week to speak at schools and universities,” Redmond said. “And I was pretty much booked solid for two years straight.” Redmond relishes the poetic irony — and poetic justice — of the experience. “People ask me, ‘How did you get your start?’ and I facetiously say, ‘It was the Ku Klux Klan,’” she said with a laugh. “It’s an odd intersection but that’s what motivated me to be at that venue,” she said. “It was where my life shifted from being below the poverty level to being able to pay the bills and buy a house.” Redmond’s subsequent career as a poet has taken her everywhere from schools and Ivy League universities to women’s centers, prisons and homeless shelters. “I walk into a lot of doors of people who don’t necessarily know they need poetry,” she said. “Many have never even considered poetry before.” Redmond, whose uplifting work often focuses on the black experience, doesn’t justread her poetry. She performs her poems with an emotive, stirring voice and gestures that reflect both grace and strength. (Several of her poetic performances can be seen on YouTube.) Redmond also teaches students, young and old, how to put their feelings into concentrated, rhythmic and powerful verse. “They’re learning how to reflect deeply as a human being and how to write about that experience,” Redmond said. Redmond believes in the transformative power of poetry as an antidote to a fast-paced, competitive society that seems to have little time for self-reflection. “We don’t take time to listen to the world and to ourselves,” Redmond said. “That’s the role of the poet, to say, ‘Yes, there’s struggle here but there’s also beauty.’” Most recently, she mentored five young people from around the country who had been chosen, from among 20,000 entrants, to recite their poetry at the White House for an audience of dignitaries that included first lady Michelle Obama. Redmond held workshops with the young writers online before meeting them in Washington, D.C. and taking them to the White House. “It was exciting,” Redmond said. “In addition to Michelle Obama, there were representatives of the top poetry organizations in the world. These five students were reading for the elite even though they had never done a reading before. Michelle Obama is such a supporter of the arts and was a wonderful host for our young people. She really put them at their ease.” Redmond encourages young talent but cautions aspiring poets that it’s not an easy life. “I tell them that if you can be anything else, do that,” Redmond said. “When you work for yourself, the work is 24-7.” Poetic entrepreneur As a poet, Redmond is also an entrepreneur. Like any contractor, she often has to juggle several jobs at the same time. Right now, she has at least four. She’s poet-in-residence at Greenville’s Peace Center and at the New Jersey State Theatre. She’s a teaching artist at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center. She also maintains a lively free-lance career that keeps her booked a year in advance. All of her affiliations involve performing her own work and mentoring young people. At the Peace Center, where Redmond spends about five months every year, she conducts poetry workshops and public readings with young people and adults. The sessions are free and open to any aspiring poet. She also hosts a series called Poetic Conversations in the Peace Center’s Ramsaur Studio. On Jan. 27, as a part of events honoring the life of Martin Luther King Jr., Redmond and blues musician Scott Ainslie will perform their piece “Southern Voices: Black, White and Blues,” followed by a conversation with the audience. (The 7 p.m. event is free and open to the public but reservations are required by emailing Taryn Zira at tzira@peacecenter.org.) On Feb. 18, Redmond hosts a Black History Month Conversation with performance poet Joshua Bennett in the Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre. (Tickets are free and reservations can be made by calling 864-467-3000 or visiting the Peace Center website at www.peacecenter.org.) Redmond, 52, has had to grapple with some of the usual challenges that an entrepreneur faces: dealing with contracts and taxes, purchasing health insurance, identifying her niche and then marketing her product, which happens to be herself. “The poetry is always the thing I’ve focused on, but at the same time I’ve had to make a living doing this, so I’ve had to figure out the business side of it,” Redmond said. “Even before I signed with an agent, I thought about how I might fashion myself so that a school district would be interested in me as a teaching artist,” Redmond said. There’s considerable travel involved in being a performance poet as well. She calls herself a “road warrior for poetry,” alternating between homes in three cities: Greenville, Charlotte and New Brunswick, New Jersey. “My present car, which I just put out to pasture, had 360,000 miles on it,” Redmond said. “All of those are poetry miles.” Redmond had an office manager for 14 years to help with scheduling and other administrative matters. Now, the Peace Center and New Jersey State Theatre assist her on many of those responsibilities. “They keep my calendar straight because I’m in so many places during the year,” she said. Early on, Redmond embraced entrepreneurial risk. She gave up a job as a counselor in the early 1990s to take what she called “a vow of poetry”: She would make her living only by poetry. Or bust. “I poured my life into poetry,” Redmond said. “I took that vow seriously. There were a couple of years where I was living below the poverty level but I was dedicated to being a poet. The work was volatile. It was often feast or famine.” Learning the business of poetry involved mostly on-the-job training. “I’ve had a lot of mentors and good fortune in terms of people who believed in what I do,” Redmond said. A love of words Redmond, who was born in Sumter, knew by age 11 that she wanted to be a poet. “I knew in middle school that I loved poetry and loved writing,” Redmond said. “But now that I look back in hindsight, I think I was a poet all along, even before I could write because I was cataloging. I was taking snapshots of memories. I was holding on to them. I was also a voracious reader and I loved words and I loved story.” Redmond came from an artistic family. Her father, who was in the Air Force, was a blues, jazz and gospel pianist. Her siblings sang in choirs. During her teen years, Redmond wrote occasional poetry for her Baptist church. “If someone died, I wrote the obituary poem,” she said. “If someone got married, I wrote a marriage poem.” Later, Redmond graduated from Erskine College with a degree in psychology and worked as a drug and alcohol abuse counselor in Greenville for seven years. It was in 1993 that Redmond took her “vow of poetry.” In some ways, it was merely an extension of her work as a counselor. “I don’t see poetry as therapy but I do see it as therapeutic,” Redmond said. In 1994, she created the first Poetry Slam in Greenville, featuring dynamic performance poetry. Later, she was appointed a teaching artist with the South Carolina Arts Commission. She traveled the country also with “Poetry Alive!” — taking classic and contemporary poetry into schools. She became a teaching artist with the Peace Center before being appointed poet-in-residence at the performing arts venue three years ago. Along the way, Redmond got married, had twin girls, got divorced and earned her master’s degree of fine arts in poetry from Warren Wilson College. “It was an unconventional life,” Redmond said. “I was a single mom with twin girls who made her living by being on the road. In order to survive, I had to leave home.” Her girls, now 26, “were raised on poetry,” she said, “and they’re doing really well.” For the latest in local arts news and reviews, follow Paul Hyde on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7. YOU CAN GO What: Poet Glenis Redmond and blues musician Scott Ainslie perform “Southern Voices: Black, White and Blues,” followed by a conversation with the audience; the event honors the life of Martin Luther King Jr. When: 7 p.m. Jan. 27 Where: Peace Center’s Ramsaur Studio Tickets: Admission-free but reservations should be made by emailing Taryn Zira at tzira@peacecenter.org Information: 864-467-3000  

Beaufort Arts Council opens Mather Academy, seeks teaching artists

From the Beaufort Gazette Article by Mindy Lucas (Note: The Beaufort Arts Council accepts teaching artists applications on a rolling basis in these areas: visual and craft (painting, drawing, glass work, metal work, wood work, chalk and oil pastel, photography), Lowcountry art, and culinary arts. Find out more online.)

The Beaufort Arts Council has opened an arts and crafts school designed for "people of all ages and skill levels." Called the Mather Academy, the school is housed within the nonprofit's Boundary Street office in Beaufort where it currently has four classrooms though the council is working to "refine" those spaces and has plans to expand into a space it is renting next door, executive director Kim Sullivan said by phone recently. The opening of the school comes after the arts council, which rebranded itself in September, changed the scope of its mission to focus more on educational offerings. Sullivan, who has more than 25 years of combined experience in arts education and studio work, was brought on board in August to help with the restructuring efforts. An artist herself, Sullivan is charged with expanding the academy's program offerings, recruiting area artists to lead the classes, designing curriculums and seeking out donors to "sponsor" or fund courses and scholarships. Both Sullivan and council board president Dick Stewart pointed to the successes of similar arts and crafts schools that have capitalized on their region's offerings -- schools such as the Penland School of Crafts in Asheville, N.C., and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tenn. -- and hope to use those programs as the model for the Mather Academy. Beaufort's unique blend of history and culture and pre-existing arts community, they say, is a "natural draw" for those interested in attending such a school. "... Not just for visual arts but for the performing arts and media arts as well," Sullivan said. "Artists like to study from other artists, so providing an area where people can come in and learn from these instructors is what we want to do." Already, Sullivan has designed curriculums for such coursework as drawing and painting, but said the council is "working in phases" to create additional programming for both children and adults and aims to offer advance programs of study that build on introductory coursework. "As we hire teachers, we will be adding additional classes," she said. A website for the academy listed eleven classes including "Beginner Figure Drawing" taught by Janet Horton to "Paintin de Gullah Story," an acrylic painting course led by Dianne Britton-Dunham. Class costs range from $40 to $60 for a one-day course to $120 to $170 for a three-day course.Other areas Sullivan said the academy would eventually like to offer include glass, metal working, pottery and culinary arts. "And our goal is that eventually we would have these classes accredited," she said. In addition to receiving accreditation, the council is working to build partnerships with the University of South Carolina Beaufort and the Technical College of the Lowcountry with the hopes of offering "support classes" or classes the colleges do not currently offer. The council is already working with the technical college to collect and archive memories and materials related to the Mather School, for which the academy is named. Founded in 1867 to educate the daughters of liberated slaves, the Mather School taught reading and writing as well as domestic arts such as sewing and cooking. Over the next half century, the school grew and eventually became Mather Industrial School in the 1930s and a junior college in the 1950s. Eventually, the trade school was absorbed into the state's technical college system where it found new life as Beaufort Technical College and then the Technical College of the Lowcountry. As part of its "Mather Memories" initiative, the arts council is working to videotape interviews with anyone affiliated with the school -- whether alumni, former faculty or a relation to someone -- and to collect photos and items such as journals. In fact, an exhibit on Mather School, which the council hopes to add to, is currently on display at its Boundary Street location. "This is a story that needs to be told," Sullivan said. The new Mather Academy, she said, will work to build on the legacy of the Mather School and highlight the arts and crafts traditions of the Lowcountry. "We wanted to continue the name but with those same core values -- that everyone deserves an education," Sullivan said,

Fine Arts Center: inspiring young talent for 40 years

From The Greenville News Story by Paul Hyde Photos by Mykal McEldowney

The Fine Arts Center has nurtured the artistic interests and ambitions of generations of students. More than that, the Greenville school district's magnet arts program may have actually saved a life or two. "I really can't overstate the effect the Fine Arts Center had on my life," said Daniel Sollinger, a successful Hollywood producer with more than 350 commercials, music videos and short films to his credit. Thirty years ago, however, Sollinger was a struggling student, hanging onto school by his fingertips. His future didn't look very promising. Then he found the Fine Arts Center. "I was a lost teen who had been kicked out of Eastside High School and Riverside High School," Sollinger recalled recently. "I was attending night school and I met someone who had been studying filmmaking at the Fine Arts Center. "That moment changed my life." As students, faculty and supporters of the Fine Arts Center celebrate the 40th anniversary of the program, the first-ever of its type in South Carolina, they can look back on hundreds of graduates like Sollinger who've gone on to achieve success in the arts and other fields. Sollinger's struggles, in some ways, mirror those of the Fine Arts Center itself. There were times in the past when the program also hung by a thread but was successfully defended by its legion of passionate supporters. Coming together The Fine Arts Center got its start in 1974 as then-Superintendent J. Floyd Hall searched for ways to bring communities together during desegregation, said Roy Fluhrer, the center's longtime director. One of the answers that emerged, Fluhrer said, was a high school magnet arts program, free to all Greenville County high school students, regardless of race and socioeconomic background. "The arts have always been at the vanguard of change," Fluhrer said. With start-up money from a federal grant, district officials Virginia Uldrick, Margaret Gilliam and Ray Thigpen designed a curriculum for the Fine Arts Center, which would open at the renovated Hattie Duckett Elementary School on Washington Street. Uldrick became the Fine Arts Center's first director and would later create the Governor's School summer arts program and finally the South Carolina's Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities, a residential school open to students statewide. The Fine Arts Center eventually outgrew its 22,000-square-foot building, and a new 65,000-square-foot facility opened in 2008 next to Wade Hampton High School. When Fluhrer was appointed director in September, 1989, there were just 168 students in the program — compared to today's 420 students, who take classes in seven art areas. Under those basic categories are 19 artistic subsets, ranging from chamber music to photography, ballet, modern dance and music history. Recently, the program became the first in the U.S. to offer architecture among its basic art areas, Fluhrer said. Students attend one of Greenville County's 14 high schools but also spend about two hours each day in classes at the Fine Arts Center. They not only have to audition to be admitted to the Fine Arts Center but have to re-audition every subsequent year they wish to attend.
Not everyone makes the cut. Some get placed on a waiting list. "Our teachers are constantly reminding students that they're capable of more," Fluhrer said. Last year, 88 students graduated from the program, earning $10.8 million in college scholarships. That represents about 2 percent of the graduates in Greenville County schools garnering almost 10 percent of the scholarship money awarded that year. "The Fine Arts Center is an outstanding example of the life-enhancing and, in some cases, life-altering opportunities for growth available to students in our schools," said Greenville County Schools Superintendent W. Burke Royster. The program challenges students to test their limits but also appeals to young people who already are highly motivated. A recent dance graduate, Mireille Fehler, was valedictorian at Eastside High School and now attends Case Western Reserve University, majoring in dance — and aeronautical engineering. Such success comes as no surprise to Fluhrer, who sees arts education as vital not only for overall educational achievement but national economic prosperity as well. "Our future will belong to those with the creative imagination to solve problems," Fluhrer said. "The arts have a signicant role to play." Surviving the cut The past four decades, however, have not always been easy ones for the Fine Arts Center. The school at one time faced possible closure. Several years ago, in fact, a top Greenville Schools official delivered a sobering message at the school: Due to budget difficulties, the Fine Arts Center would probably have to shut down. "An immensely talented group of kids would have educational opportunities ripped out from under them," Fluhrer said. The students, however, were not going to take the news sitting down. "They mounted a respectful and passionate defense of the arts and of what the Fine Arts Center meant to them as students," Fluhrer said. Efforts to close the center were defeated. The program's future now seems secure. "When you think of the trials and tribulations that the Fine Arts Center has gone through, it's very special to have reached 40 years and to have the support we have in the district and community," said Fluhrer. "I think we've made a contribution to the community as well and we continue to have a significant role to play." Kimilee Bryant attended the program for only one year but believes it contributed greatly to her later success as a Broadway actress. "The Fine Arts Center was the highlight of my senior year," said Bryant, best known for playing Christine in the Broadway production of "The Phantom of the Opera." "I wish I had been able to attend all four years and all day my senior year," Bryant added. "I knew I was going to be a performer and I really felt at home at the Fine Arts Center." Sollinger, the producer, echoed Bryant, saying that the Fine Arts Center provided an avenue for him to express his energy and ambition. "Part of the reason I had gotten kicked out of the other schools was that I didn't really fit in," Sollinger said. "I was an artistic person but had no place to focus that artistic energy. The Fine Arts Center gave me the ability to find myself as a creative person and gave me the confidence and the curiosity to see how far I could take my talent." After first hearing about the Fine Arts Center, Sollinger was able to get back into Eastside High School and then successfully applied to the Fine Arts Center. "I never realized that film was something you could study, let alone make a living doing," Sollinger said. "I can pretty much guarantee I would not be living in Hollywood and producing movies had the Fine Arts Center not been there." Young artists are surrounded by "other students with a passion for their craft," said Rory Scovel, a comedian, actor and writer who attended the Fine Arts Center in 1998-99 and went on to do standup on Comedy Central and network talk shows hosted by Jimmy Fallon and Craig Ferguson. "The Fine Arts Center did more than just educate me in film and filmmaking, courtesy of the great Eric Rogers," said Scovel, who also played the character of Harvard on the TBS sitcom "Ground Floor" and guest-starred on such shows as "Modern Family." "The school actually made me understand the overall need for every kind of art and the respect all of it deserves," Scovel said. "I think receiving an education about respecting art matures not just a student but a person. That's what the Fine Arts Center gave to me." Artists who teach Scovel and Bryant believe a big part of the Fine Arts Center's success is its top-notch faculty of teaching artists. For Bryant, the late voice teacher Michael Rice particularly left a lasting impression. "I was so lucky, as were many other voice students, to have had Mr. Rice as a teacher," Bryant said. "He was world class, more than a teacher — a real mentor and friend." Bryant would parlay her Fine Arts Center experience into a career that encompasses not only Broadway but opera and concert appearances worldwide. She's the only actress to play all three leading female roles — Christine, Carlotta and Madame Giry — in "The Phantom of the Opera." The talented, enthusiastic student body makes the Fine Arts Center a coveted place for teachers, Fluhrer said. "I think the faculty will tell you it's an absolute thrill to go into your classroom," Fluhrer said. "It's a very rewarding environment for teachers. Why would you not want to help a student release their inner Van Gogh?" When an teaching opening comes up, searches are conducted nationwide. A recent position for a painting teacher generated 90 applicants from across the nation. "We have incredible teachers," Fluhrer said. "You could put us in an open field and the teachers would still find a way to make everything work." Fluhrer recently announced that he would retire in June, 2016. The center's assistance director, Charles Ratterree, is Fluhrer's designated successor. At 26 years, Fluhrer has been, by far, the longest director of the center, following the leadership of Uldrick, James B. Senn, Charles W. Welch, Thomas Drake, Jesse Beck and Gene Wenner. "The leadership of the Fine Arts Center has been so completely devoted to the students, and the success rate of its graduates has been remarkable," said Alan Ethridge, executive director of Greenville's Metropolitan Arts Council, an umbrella arts organization that has provided modest funding for some Fine Arts Center projects. For Fluhrer, who has a doctorate in theater history and criticism, part of the Fine Arts Center's success is that it gives students ample room to indulge their creativity — even if they come up short before finding their way. Fluhrer likes to quote playwright Samuel Becket: "Fail. Fail again. Fail better." "We have to have the arts and give students the freedom to experiment and try new things and even fail," Fluhrer said. As he looks toward retiring in 2016, Fluhrer said his long tenure at the Fine Arts Center has been a labor of love. "I get to see kids who are engaged and loving every moment that they're with us," Fluhrer said. "This place is a jewel."

Milly

S.C. teaching artists highlighted on Americans for the Arts blog

The South Carolina Arts Commission was honored to be asked to contribute to an Americans for the Arts blog salon on teaching artists. Many thanks to the four artists highlighted: Bob Doster of Lancaster, Patz Fowle of Hartsville, Francee Levin of Columbia, and Glenis Redmond of Greenville. (Image: Glenis Redmond with student)

Rich in Rewards: Why Teaching Artists Teach Glenis Redmond with studentWhy do some artists decide to teach? For many, the attraction is a desire to connect students to a creative process and to the larger arts community. For others, teaching fuels their work as artists. The South Carolina Arts Commission’s Roster of Approved Artists includes more than 900 artists who have been approved to conduct residencies and performances in schools. Many have been teaching for as long as they’ve been artists. We wanted to know more, so we asked four Roster artists about their experiences. Read the artist interviews here: http://blog.artsusa.org/2014/03/13/rich-in-rewards-why-teaching-artists-teach/