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Jason Rapp

Koger Center’s art competition evolves in Year Two

The Project: A 2020 Call for Art

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: June 30, 2021

The Koger Center is delighted to continue our support of South Carolina artists through The Project: A 2021 Call for Art.

The Project: A 2021 Call for Art is the Koger Center’s annual artistic competition that supports the work of South Carolina visual artists. Each year, one chosen artist will receive a $500 stipend, gallery space, and staff support resulting in a free public display in the Upstairs Gallery of the Koger Center. Submissions for this year’s project will be accepted through June 30, 2021.

Requirements

  • Artist must be over 18 years old
  • Submissions must be your own work
  • Must have been created in the past 2 years
  • Artists cannot submit any art that has previously been submitted to the Koger Center’s 1593 Project
  • Previous winners of the 1593 Project may not submit artwork for up to 5 years

Submission Form

https://forms.gle/Mr35hfNNYQA1gzKZ9 Please submit your artwork to the link above. If you have any issues submitting your work or questions about the form, please call 803.777.7500 or email KogerCenter@sc.edu.

History of The Project

The Project began as The 1593 Project: A Call for Art from the Koger Center during the national lockdowns due to COVID-19 in 2020. Inspired by the theatre closures that London faced during the bubonic plague in the year 1593, the Koger Center’s call for art was created to support artists as they endured the devastating effect of the COVID-19 shutdowns. In 2020, we encouraged submissions from South Carolina visual artists and received a diverse array of pieces reflective of the state’s vibrant arts and cultural talent from over 55 entrants.

Jason Rapp

S.C. Arts Awards: Dr. Tayloe Harding

2021 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is focusing on this year's recipients: seven receiving the South Carolina Governor's Awards for the Arts and two receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina.

Dr. Tayloe Harding

Arts in Education Category | Governor's Awards for the Arts

Tayloe Harding is a composer and music administrator, serves as the dean of the School of Music, and in the 2019/2020 academic year served as interim provost of the University of South Carolina. A passionate advocate for advancing the impact of higher education music study and experience on American communities and national society, Harding is devoted to an array of organizations whose missions are consistent with this advocacy. As president of the College Music Society (CMS) from 2005-2006, he led the creation of the Engagement and Outreach Initiative where the efforts of the music professoriate are articulated with a variety of national constituencies, including other higher education disciplines and populations, music businesses and industries, and general audiences in an effort to meet common musical and civic goals. He also served as national secretary of the National Association for Schools of Music, the accreditation, advocacy, and professional development association for collegiate music schools. Tayloe Harding’s interest in the power of music and the arts to transform communities’ and individual’s lives by contributing to the health, happiness, safety, fulfillment, and hopefulness has been evident in his work with both local and state arts education and advocacy organizations. In addition to keynote speeches on this subject at each of the international summits he has produced at UofSC, he has participated in and led efforts locally and statewide as diverse as invited membership on the S.C. Arts in Basic Curriculum Steering Committee (2006-2018); consultant for the city of Columbia’s One Columbia initiative/office and the recent Amplify Columbia cultural plan for the city; service on the board and arts granting panels of the Richland/Lexington County Cultural Council (2008-2014); and in his regular engagement with the South Carolin Arts Alliance for Arts Advocacy Week (2007-2015). He teaches a unique course for young musicians, Introduction to Music and Arts Advocacy: Understanding the Power of Your Music and Art, to approximately 100 freshman arts majors at UofSC each year—an outcome of this course has been table tents and broader participation at the Arts Advocacy Week events for state legislators each February. An active consultant for many organizations regarding music and arts education policy, and advocacy, he is a frequent presenter on issues facing the future of university music units and their leadership, and remains active as a composer earning commissions, performances, and recordings for his works around the world.

Quotable

As an advocate of the arts, Dr. Harding has provided meaningful advice and support to many local, state and national arts councils. He has been an outstanding community advocate, promoting diversity and access to a wide range of performances and performers. He has worked tirelessly to promote music appreciation and education across our state at the elementary and high school levels, as well as through undergraduate and graduate education.

Harris Pastides, Ph.D. Distinguished President Emeritus University of South Carolina Columbia


The South Carolina Arts Awards stream live Monday, May 24, 2021. The festivities begin at 6 p.m. on SouthCarolinaArts.com. There is no in-person event in 2021. The virtual ceremony will be available on demand from the S.C. Arts Commission YouTube Channel after the livestream presentation.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.
  • I. ColaJazz Foundation
  • II. Dr. Tayloe Harding
  • III. Jugnu Verma
  • IV. Jennifer Clark Evins
  • V. Colonial Life
  • VI. Charlton Singleton
  • VII. Robert W. Hill III
  • VIII. Marjory Wentworth
  • IX. Tom Flowers

Jason Rapp

S.C. Governor’s School for Arts recognized for arts ed research

Link uncovered between drama curriculum and reading success


The Arts Schools Network Board of Directors has awarded the Research Initiative-Institution Award to the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities.

The award honors an organization for its commitment to ongoing research and the dissemination of knowledge in research in arts education. The Governor's School's research initiative, implemented by the Office of Outreach in partnership with the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) and University of South Carolina Department of Theatre and Dance, examines the potential impact that drama curriculum has on reading motivation and success for young children. Melissa Brookes, managing director for ASN, said, “Each year the Arts Schools Network board of directors take great pride in honoring and recognizing schools and individuals for their extraordinary efforts and impact throughout arts education. This year, we are thrilled to recognize the Governor’s School as the winner of our Research Initiative Award.” In the Spark! outreach program that this research is based on, at-risk third-grade readers attending the state mandated Read-To-Succeed summer program are exposed to drama principles in addition to their reading requirements. Now in its third year, Spark! participants are showing increased gains in creativity measures like fluency and originality, along with critical reading measures required by MAP testing, when compared to similar students not exposed to the drama component. “While we are only three years into this five-year initiative, the combination of creativity gains and reading gains together are what draws us further into this research, and we’re very excited to see these promising trends,” said Carol Baker, outreach director at the Governor’s School. “We’re grateful for this acknowledgement from the Arts Schools Network and for the ongoing support and participation of our partners, the South Carolina Arts Commission, who is funding this project, and the USC Department of Theatre and Dance, who is compiling and analyzing the data.”

About the Research

Dr. Peter Duffy, who heads the Master of Arts in Teaching program in theatre education at the University of South Carolina is leading this research which combines the qualitative measures of theatre making and creativity with quantitative methods of reading and motivation. “This research matters because it examines how story, motivation, and embodied learning through drama can impact a child’s desire to read, and how this component can affect the way young readers interact with their reading materials,” said Duffy. “We are studying how more creative teaching methods can motivate readers to really know the story inside and out. “Our research suggests that students who engage in the drama work make small but important improvements in their overall reading scores. Gathering five years of data will help us see whether these trends hold overtime, giving us a stronger impression of the real impact these programs can make.” The Spark! program was initiated at Kenneth Gardner Elementary in Williamsburg County School District, and thanks to two years of early positive findings, received increased funding to expand to Hardeeville Elementary in Jasper County School District. Both districts serve high poverty, rural, under-resourced populations and neither has a certified drama teacher at any level. Each school offers a multi-week summer remedial reading camp for rising fourth-grade students at risk of retention due to low test scores. The summer camp is part of the Read-to-Succeed program and is the last possible opportunity for these young students to increase their scores enough to move on to the next grade. How this research impacts arts education funding priorities “The Spark! outreach program’s research into the relationship between drama and reading in young, at-risk readers, provides compelling evidence of the correlation between creativity and reading retention,” said David Platts, executive director of the SCAC. “Working with Dr. Duffy and his team at the University of South Carolina and the SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities has demonstrated how these types of programs, while specifically designed to help students, also provide vital information for agencies such as ours as we analyze and prioritize our programming decisions. Good decisions and responsible stewardship of public funds are possible only with the availability of solid and meaningful research and data.” Getting students back on track “Ultimately, this is about improving reading skills and reading motivation of young students in South Carolina,” said Dr. Cedric Adderley, Governor’s School president. “We know that early reading comprehension is the key to success, and in this day and time, when we’re seeing reading regression in elementary school students due to pandemic-imposed virtual learning, we hope that programs like Spark! will be part of the solution to getting these students back on track.” “At the Governor’s School, we see first-hand how incorporating the arts into education can help improve student engagement, academic success, motivation, and hope for the future,” continued Adderley. “Now our challenge, as an arts resource and research center for teachers and students throughout the state, is to expand these proven programs to impact more students in need.”

About SC Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities

Located in Greenville, the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities cultivates young artists from across the state through pre-professional training in the areas of creative writing, dance, drama, music and visual arts. In the public, residential high school, students refine their talents in an arts-centered community while receiving a nationally recognized academic education. Summer programs are available to rising 7th-12th grade students. The Governor’s School serves as a resource to all teachers and students in South Carolina, offering comprehensive outreach programs designed to bring together artists, educators, community organizations and schools. SCGSAH.org

About the Arts Schools Network

Dedicated to excellence and leadership in arts education, Arts Schools Network, a non-profit association founded in 1981, provides arts school leaders, innovative partners and members of arts education institutions with quality resources, support and networking opportunities. Visit www.artsschoolsnetwork.org to learn more.
Image by Amberrose Nelson from Pixabay

Jason Rapp

Podcast features SCAC’s ‘Art of Community: Rural SC’

Rural shines in podcast series from UofSC

Growing Rural Podcast logo
A rural-focused podcast sat down recently to chat with the South Carolina Arts Commission's Susan DuPlessis, program director of "The Art of Community: Rural SC." "Growing Rural" is a podcast devoted to rural produced by the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and its SC Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare. DuPlessis raved to The Hub about it. "I want to say a big thanks to Dr. Kevin Bennett and Alanti McGill for their interest in this initiative and the great way this series of podcasts is casting rural in a new light," DuPlessis said. DuPlessis would know; her work has been shining light on rural since the program launched in 2016. Originally in six "Promise Zone" counties in lower South Carolina, the program has spread to 15 counties total and creates a way to support new leadership, generates energy, and motivates action in our state’s rural communities by addressing long-standing challenges using arts and culture. It unites communities by giving more people a platform. One of those new leaders, Dr. Yvette McDaniel, was featured in an earlier "Growing Rural" episode. You can learn more about "Art of Community: Rural SC" on SouthCarolinaArts.com and by reading its new brochure. To listen to the podcast, visit the "Growing Rural" page.

McKissick Museum seeking folklife program director

Application deadline: Friday, Oct. 4, 2019


The University of South Carolina McKissick Museum is looking for a folklife program director to implement folklife-related public programs and research. The position is funded by a renewable folklife partnership grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC). That grant enhances McKissick Museum’s ability to document for archival purposes the cultural practices of tradition bearers in South Carolina and to raise public awareness and appreciation of these practices through a variety of public program formats. The new folklife program coordinator collaborates both with McKissick’s chief curator of folklife & fieldwork and the SCAC’s program specialist in community arts & folklife to conduct fieldwork related to the SC Tradition Bearers Survey Project and SCAC’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Initiative. The role will also involve coordinating major annual public programs, including:
  1. the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards (FHA) ceremony:
  2. a McKissick Mixer featuring Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award (FHA) recipients:
  3. FOLKFabulous, a 12-day public program series organized in partnership with the South Carolina State Fair in conjunction with the Museum’s year-long folklife exhibition(s).
The person in this position also is responsible for developing 2-3 programs annually (besides FOLKFabulous) that integrate tradition bearers statewide to enhance the impact of the year-long folklife exhibit. Conducts in-depth fieldwork with tradition bearers identified in the Tradition Bearers Survey Project, logs audio/visual materials for deposit in the Folklife Resource Center (FRC) and makes research available through Digital Traditions and other digital media Platforms. Learn more about the position by visiting the official posting here.

2020 S.C. Arts Commission fellowships announced

Four honored for achievement in visual art, craft, and music


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina artists in Darlington, Pickens, and Richland counties representing four arts disciplines received individual artist fellowships for fiscal year 2020 after approval by the S.C. Arts Commission board of directors. Individual artists residing in South Carolina full-time whose work covers visual arts, craft, music composition and music performance were invited to apply for fiscal year 2020 awards. Applications were up 25% over last year. Out-of-state panelists from each discipline review the applications and, based solely on their blind review of anonymous work samples, recommend recipients of each $5,000 fellowship. At its June meeting, the S.C. Arts Commission board of directors approved the following recommendations:
  • Adrian Rhodes of Darlington County for visual art,
  • Valerie Zimany of Pickens County for craft,
  • Fang Man of Richland County for music composition, and
  • Craig Butterfield of Richland County for music performance.
Fellowships recognize and reward the artistic achievements of exceptional South Carolina individual artists. Recognition from fellowship awards lends artistic prestige and often opens doors to other resources and employment opportunities. “These awards can be transformative; they lift artists’ spirits and self-perception while allowing them to focus on their art. Past fellows talk about how it can be a life-changing event,” S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May said. “South Carolina’s artists are at the core of our creative economy and serve as indispensable contributors to quality of life in our communities. Our agency is proud to deliver these tokens of gratitude on behalf of those most affected by the work being honored: the people of South Carolina.” The diverse panelists (above) who judged each discipline’s nominees work in those disciplines. Reviewing the visual art and craft applicants were Wendy Earle, curator of contemporary art at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Bruce Pepich, executive director and curator of collections of the Racine Art Museum and Wustum Museum of Fine Arts in Racine, Michigan; and Marilyn Zapf, the assistant director and curator at the Center for Craft, a national arts nonprofit headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina. Brent Milam, instructor of music theory and composition at Georgia State University; and Dr. Robert Tanner, associate professor of music at Morehouse College, reviewed the music composition applicants. Verena Lucía Anders, a conductor, pianist, vocalist, composer, music educator, and winner of multiple Grammy Awards; and Tami Lee Hughes, a concert violinist, recording artist, and music educator reviewed applicants in music performance. Four fellowships per year are awarded to artists working in rotating disciplines. One artist from each of these fields: prose, poetry, dance choreography and dance performance, will be honored in fiscal year 2021. 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 S.C. Arts Commission. For more on discipline rotation, eligibility requirements, and the application process, please visit https://www.southcarolinaarts.com/grant/fel/

About the FY20 S.C. Arts Commission Fellows

VISUAL ART | ADRIAN RHODES | Darlington County Adrian Rhodes, a Hartsville, South Carolina native, received her Master of Fine Arts in painting and printmaking from Winthrop University in 2011. Printmaking forms the core of her mixed media practice, resulting in installation, paintings, editioned prints, collage, and sculptural paper pieces. Her work has shown throughout the Carolinas, including select solo exhibitions at the UNC Charlotte, City Art in Columbia, the Dalton Gallery at the Center for the Arts in Rock Hill, and the Rebecca Randall Bryan gallery at Coastal Carolina University. Her work has frequently received awards in juried competitions, including taking the top prize at VAE Raleigh’s Contemporary South 2017 and Best of Show at the York County Juried Exhibition in 2013. Her work was recently featured in the Paper Worlds exhibition at the Spartanburg Art Museum. She currently teaches printmaking at the University of South Carolina. Her work can be seen at www.adrianrhodes.com, and you can follow her studio practice on Instagram: @adrian_rhodes. CRAFT | VALERIE ZIMANY | Pickens County Extensive time in Japan fostered Valerie Zimany’s examinations of complex relationships, to include East and West. She spent several years there after earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia—first as a Fulbright Fellow, then completing a Master of Fine Arts at Kanazawa College of Art as a Japanese Government Scholar, and three more years in residency at the Utatsuyama Craft Workshop in Kanazawa. Her work has been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions and competitions in Japan; Korea; Billings, Montana; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh; Columbia; and more and it appears in multiple public and private collections. She was named an American Craft Council Searchlight Artist for 2007, a Ceramics Monthly Emerging Artist for 2008, and was a finalist for the Niche Award (2011) and the Society for Contemporary Craft’s Founder’s Prize 2013).  She is department chair and associate professor of art (ceramics) at Clemson University. MUSIC: COMPOSITION | FANG MAN | Richland County Hailed as “inventive and breathtaking” by the New York Times, Fang Man’s original concert music has been performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra New Music Group under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen, American Composers Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, National Orchestre de Lorraine (France), Minnesota Orchestra, Music from China, and others. She is the recipient of Guggenheim and other fellowships and grants and the National Endowment for the Arts, Music from China, and Toru Takemitsu (Japan) awards. She has received commissions from around the world and has multiple recordings. Fang served as a resident composer in Italy, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. and has degrees from Cornell (MFA, DMA) and Beijing Central Conservatory of Music. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina. MUSIC: PERFORMANCE | CRAIG BUTTERFIELD | Richland County Craig Butterfield is professor of double bass and jazz studies at the University of South Carolina, where he directs one of the largest double bass programs in the Southeast. He has composed, performed, and recorded in genres as diverse as classical, jazz, American folk, and World music. Notable collaborations include touring and recording with jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, three albums of original music with multi-instrumentalist Jesse Jones as the Jones/Butterfield duo, three albums with classical guitarist Matthew Slotkin as Dez Cordas, a collaboration with classical pianist Charles Fugo, and a current recording project of original folk-inspired music with Boomtown Trio. Butterfield’s YouTube channel featuring original performances in multiple genres has more than a quarter of a million views.

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.

SC Arts Alliance to host Creative Pillars forums

“What are some of the pillars needed in a community for a creative professional to have a high quality of life?” That’s the question the South Carolina Arts Alliance is asking as it hosts Creative Pillars forums this summer in Greenville and Charleston. Forum dates and locations:

An additional forum is being planned in the Pee Dee area. All forums are free to attend and will run from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Beer and wine will be available for purchase. Advance registration is requested and is available on the Arts Alliance’s website, www.scartsalliance.net. The forums, which are open to any creative professional or those with an interest in a creative field, will include group activities meant to identify key amenities that help attract and retain creative professionals and targeted discussions to dive deeper into specific topics. The Arts Alliance is interested in hearing from every kind of creative professional, from the freelance graphic designer to the touring musician to the nonprofit fundraising professional. “We wanted to create a way to gather insight into areas other than pure arts and culture and how they play a role in the quality of life for a creative professional," said GP McLeer, SCAA’s executive director. "We know that a high value on arts and culture is important, but what about access to healthcare, public safety, recreation, or even trash pick up - where do these kinds of issues lie in the hierarchy for the creative professional? Whether you’re an architect, designer, actor, musician, nonprofit arts manager, or even a board member, this is an important discussion to have as people look for ways to effectively make a difference in their community." Creative Pillars is also serving as a pilot for a new statewide leadership development program, CreativeSC, being planned by the South Carolina Arts Alliance in partnership with the South Carolina Arts Commission, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the University of South Carolina, and Together SC, with additional partners expected to join in the coming months. The comprehensive program will include networking, workshops/forums, and a selective leadership program. The Arts Alliance is targeting an early fall 2017 launch of CreativeSC. The series is supported by a grant by the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. About the South Carolina Arts Alliance The South Carolina Arts Alliance is the only statewide nonprofit dedicated to advancing the arts for all South Carolinians through advocacy, leadership development, and public awareness. The SCAA is housed at the Younts Center for Performing Arts in Fountain Inn, SC.

USC student wins $5,000 in 2015 Ignite! Ideas Contest

From ColaDaily.com Article by Rachel Ham; photo by Kelly Petty

An idea launched in 2013 at the University of South Carolina took home the top prize at Wednesday's Ignite! Ideas Contest. University of South Carolina student Vincent Felix won $5,000 to support his startup, Mr. Penguin Designs, over two other finalists. The big reveal was made Wednesday night during the annual celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation at the new USC Alumni Center. Local business and education leaders attended, tweeted about the startups' presentations and voted for their favorite throughout the evening. Mr. Penguin Designs gives cellphone users a unique way to express themselves with one-of-a-kind protective cases. Felix partners with local artists who create fresh designs, and he found a retail partner in Comporium. "We've been working incredibly hard for the last two and a half years," Felix said. "This shows if you don't give up ... something good will happen." Felix said the concept of Mr. Penguin Designs — to help student artists gain exposure to their work while also providing them with residual income — began in 2013. Felix was a sophomore at USC and noticed the lack of different and individualized options for phone cases. After seeing the creative potential in his artistic friends, Felix got to work on his startup. Ten percent of the proceeds from each case sold now go back to the artist. "It's about giving back to them," Felix said of the artists. Felix plans to use the $5,000 Ignite! award to boost his marketing campaign. The company will collaborate with USC student media to reach more students and people beyond the Midlands. Though not everyone went home with a novelty-size check, people were inspired by the story of another Columbia entrepreneur. Ramone Dickerson and Corey Simmons of 2 Fat 2 Fly were among the guest speakers and shared their story from the first stuffed chicken wing to the restaurant they now own. Simmons and Dickerson said support from the community played a significant role in their success. Simmons recalled the early days were tough but said "as long as we had wings in the cooler, we were OK." EngenuitySC Executive Director Meghan Hickman said businesses like those represented at Ignite! are what makes the Midlands a force in economic competitiveness. "We have incredible things to come ahead of us," she said. The next Midlands Regional Competitiveness Report from EngenuitySC is due out soon.

Columbia high schoolers find their voices at Project Opera Camp

From The State Article by Sarah Ellis, photos by Tracy Glantz

COLUMBIA, SC “The most important thing is don’t stop singing.”
It’s OK to make mistakes, Brenton O’Hara assured the performance cast. But they can’t let the audience see it in their faces, and they must not stop singing. https://youtu.be/vgPFAfA6q9E   Sure, there would be mistakes for the dozen high schoolers who, in the span of just two weeks, had learned to sing and choreograph a 15-minute opera. It’s been a steep learning curve for the teens, most of whom had never even seen an opera, much less performed on a public stage, before attending Project Opera Camp. A first-year program co-founded by University of South Carolina graduates O’Hara and Kate McKinney, the two-week Project Opera Camp has given campers a crash course not only in the arts of opera and on-stage performance, but in self-esteem and life skills. “Within the opera performance itself, there’s just intrinsic value. Music, it warms your heart,” McKinney said. “You have to be assertive in your presentation when you’re on stage in front of people. You’re making yourself vulnerable. You’re putting yourself out there.” The camp was born from McKinney and O’Hara’s $20,000 prize-winning pitch in USC’s Proving Ground entrepreneurship competition last fall. The pair had witnessed the benefits musical performance can instill in children while directing an opera during McKinney’s senior year at USC. Both voice-performance majors in college, they wanted to continue spreading the good of the art form, particularly to young people who might not ordinarily be exposed to it. As a result, Project Opera Camp was offered for free to all of its students, many of whom come from schools with large populations of students receiving free and reduced lunches, traditional indicators of poverty. Augmented by life skills workshops on topics such as college readiness, money management and entrepreneurship, the bulk of the camp focused on voice lessons and rehearsing songs and choreography. “People throw the word ‘opera’ around, and you immediately have the idea in your head of, like, the fat lady in the viking hat or something that’s elitist and unapproachable,” McKinney said. “But for the most part, when you really delve into the art form, it’s very accessible. It tells stories. Storytelling is inherently human, and opera does a wonderful job of telling the story through music.” On Thursday, a day before their culminating public performance, 13 campers started rehearsal with a full run-through, punctuated by occasionally forgotten lyrics and fumbling dance steps. But the progress they had made in just under two weeks was evident, and their confidence grew visibly with every repetition. The campers’ rendition of “Inner Light,” an abbreviated performance of the children’s opera by composer Roger Ames, features a loose story reflecting the nature of love and relationships. The music, “takes you into a whole other world,” said Xavier Thompson, an 18-year-old who was encouraged by his Columbia High School music teacher to participate in the camp. “You shall be simple, you shall be right, if only you follow your inner light,” the chorus sang in harmony, somewhat timidly in an early trial then with more boldness as the rehearsal wore on. “I think it sort of encapsulated what we were trying to do (through the camp),” O’Hara said of the opera selection. “Your inner voice has value, and learning how to share it – not just singing, but all these other (skills), too.” The camp has been a self-esteem-building experience for a number of the campers. “My confidence has gone from a ‘one’ to a solid ‘nine,’” 17-year-old Haley Brown said. At the end of the week, 17-year-old soloist Maria Streater was still not entirely comfortable being in the spotlight, she said. Her voice, though, wowed her peers. “I don’t know what you have to be nervous about,” 16-year-old Quest Morris told her in between rehearsals Thursday. Stepping forward during a run-through, Streater fixed her eyes ahead of her and took a confident breath. “I used to dream I was a bird flying high above the earth,” she sang out loudly, clearly, not a quiver in her voice. “And with my wings I’d catch the air and fill it with my song.
IF YOU GO
Project Opera Camp will perform “Inner Light” Friday (July 31) at 7 p.m. at the Columbia Music Festival Association, 914 Pulaski St., Columbia. The performance is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and seats are first come, first served. Donations will be accepted at the door from anyone wishing to support the camp’s future programming. For more information, visit www.projectoperacamp.org. Image: Camp director Kate McKinney, left, and choreographer Anna Dragoni, offer suggestions during a rehearsal at Project Opera Camp. The camp, in its first year, was started by two USC graduates to offer a music camp that also focuses on life skills, for students who might not otherwise be able to attend such a camp.

The arts are key components in Burning of Columbia commemoration

burningofcolumbiaAlthough often overshadowed in the popular imagination by the burning of Atlanta, Ga., the burning of Columbia, S.C. on the evening of February 17, 1865, was a major event in American history and a defining moment in the history of the state, city and the Civil War. Through a multi-disciplinary coalition of organizations and agencies, Columbia is launching a two-month-long initiative to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the burning through lectures, tours, films, exhibits, literature, public discussions and visual and performing arts. “Sherman’s march through South Carolina, which culminated with the burning of Columbia on February 17, 1865, was the most traumatic event in the history of much of the state, and for 150 years it has shaped how South Carolinians viewed the past and their place in it,” said Eric Emerson, director of the South Carolina Department of Archives & History. “This commemoration provides us with an opportunity to look at history through a different lens and to seek out the voices of those whose stories have been left untold for one and a half centuries.” “This commemoration is an opportunity for all of us not only to mark this important moment in our history but also to take stock in how far we’ve come as a city and as a people,” said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin. “Columbia has literally risen from ashes over the past 150 years to become a model progressive city of the new South, and we want everyone to come out and help us celebrate.” Columbia, the site of the original Secession Convention and capital of the first seceding state, was seen by the Union army as a special political target to encourage the surrender of the remaining Confederate forces. Columbia surrendered to the Union Army under the command of General William Tecumseh Sherman on February 17, 1865, and while the soldiers’ arrival signaled the imminent emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the city, the city suffered widespread destruction. The legacy of this physical loss is a pillar of the city’s common folklore and memories of the Civil War, and it remains hotly debated today. With funding from the South Carolina Arts Commission and The Humanities CouncilSC, commemoration organizers are receiving direction from a group of historians representing the South Carolina Department of Archives & History, South Carolina African American Heritage Foundation, University of South Carolina, Richland Library, Historic Columbia, South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, and the South Carolina State Museum. "This commemoration presents a special opportunity for Columbia's cultural organizations to collaborate and create a wide-ranging, diverse series of events that explore our City's identity," said One Columbia for Arts & History Executive Director Lee Snelgrove. "It's wonderful that academics and artists, historians and visionaries have come together to explore the complexity of Columbia and its past through artistic expression." Tuesday, February 17, 2015—the 150th anniversary of the burning of Columbia—will offer a full day of events. The University of South Carolina’s History Center, Institute for Southern Studies and Graduate School will present a symposium from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Columbia Museum of Art featuring prominent scholars who will shed fresh light on the meaning of the events 150 years ago. The symposium will also include a presentation on foodways of the 1860s, accompanied by a period-appropriate meal. At 4 p.m. that day, the S.C. Department of Archives & History will unveil an historical marker to commemorate the burning at the corner of Main and Gervais streets, and at 5 p.m., the official commemoration ceremony will begin in Boyd Plaza on the 1500 block of Main Street. The ceremony will feature music from the Benedict College Concert Choir and the Sandlapper Singers, presentations by community leaders and historians, and the world premieres of two performance art pieces created for this commemoration. Following the ceremony, attendees are encouraged to explore exhibits, performances, tours, music, readings and more at venues along Columbia’s Main Street. More details about all commemoration events, as well as an overview of the history and significance of Columbia’s burning, are available on a new website, BurningofColumbia.com. “We hope to encourage open dialogue with this project,” said Historic Columbia Executive Director Robin Waites. “The legacy of the burning is one of rebirth and reinvention. By reflecting on it, we can see how far we’ve come as a city and recognize how far we have still to go.” About Columbia Commemorates: Columbia Commemorates is a multi-disciplinary coalition comprised of Midlands and statewide organizations formed to plan and implement a citywide commemoration of this pivotal event.  Through lectures; tours; film; visual, literary and performing arts; exhibits; public discussion; and large public gatherings, Columbia Commemorates will explore the events of February 17, 1865, as well as the immediate and long-term ramifications of the burning of South Carolina’s capital city. For more information about the commemoration and a calendar of events, please visit BurningofColumbia.com and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @BurningofCola. Image: Photographer George N. Barnard captured the desolation of Columbia, South Carolina’s Richardson (Main) Street shortly after the city’s burning in February 1865. Image courtesy National Archives and Records Administration.