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Jason Rapp

‘The show can’t go on’

P&C  reviews hard times in the arts


Hub readers know the devastation felt in South Carolina's arts community because of the pandemic's economic effects.

Know, though, the story is reaching broader audiences. Today, the Greenville outpost of the Post & Courier published a story that paints a bleak picture throughout the state. From the story:

“You know the old adage, ‘The show must go on.’ Well, this is one of those times when the show can’t go on,” said Graham Shaffer, technical director at the Greenville Theatre. “We just have to sit here until we can.”

Some hoped for salvation via a federal coronavirus relief package that hasn’t materialized. Now, the South Carolina Arts Commission has asked the state General Assembly to approve $3.8 million in nonrecurring funds to prop up the ailing industry until it can recover. Originally, the arts commission asked for that amount to help venues make repairs to aging buildings.

Now it just hopes to keep the buildings open.

Read Nate Cary's full story here. Subscription possibly required.

Jason Rapp

Tuning Up: Update on relief funding awards to S.C. arts orgs

Good morning!  "Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers curated, quick-hit arts stories of interest to readers. Sometimes there will be one story, sometimes there will be several. Get in tune now, and have a masterpiece of a day. And now, in no particular order...


Columbia

The Columbia Museum of Art announces it has been selected as a recipient of a CARES Act economic stabilization grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The $150,000 award will support public programming associated with the upcoming major exhibition Visions from India: 21st-Century Art from the Pizzuti Collection. “I am pleased that the Columbia Museum of Art has received funding allocated through the CARES Act,” says Congressman James E. Clyburn. “The museum serves as a community center, art studio and entertainment venue. We must continue to support them as they strive to provide safe opportunities to participate in meaningful cultural experiences and connect with others.” From Oct. 17, 2020, through Jan. 10, 2021, the CMA will present Visions from India, a breathtaking sweep of 21st-century painting, sculpture, and multimedia works from India and its diaspora. The museum is eager to showcase this exhibition for diverse local and regional audiences and believes it will make an important impact on the community. The NEH is generously providing support for exhibition-related activities that require retaining humanities staff to maintain and adapt critical public programs.

Greenville

Local arts organizations have received another infusion of COVID-19 relief funds thanks to a $100,000 contribution from Hollingsworth Funds Inc. The funding, which is being distributed by the Metropolitan Arts Council, was awarded to the following groups: Artisphere, Centre Stage, Greenville Chorale, Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville Symphony Orchestra, Greenville Theatre, Metropolitan Arts Council, Peace Center, South Carolina Children’s Theatre and Warehouse Theatre. Each of the 10 organizations will receive $10,000 within the next few days, said Alan Ethridge, executive director of the Metropolitan Arts Council.

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.

What would Greenville be without arts grants?

From The Greenville News

Article by Donna Isbell Walker, photos by Lauren Petracca

Image: Alyson Amato, co-founder of Carolina Dance Collaborative, leads an after-school dance class last week at Chandler Creek Elementary in Greer.

This weekend, Greenville will proudly display its commitment to the arts.

The 13th annual Artisphere festival opens Friday, and for three days, the streets of downtown will overflow with rich color and the sounds of music and the aroma of lamb burgers and caramel popcorn.

Last year, Artisphere had an economic impact of $6.4 million, as 100,000 visitors packed the streets, purchasing original art, checking out the local merchants, sampling the cuisine.

But, what would the festival look like if it didn’t receive funding from the South Carolina Arts Commission?

Kerry Murphy, the festival’s executive director, said putting on the festival would be a lot tougher without a $21,000 general operating support grant from SCAC, which in turn receives a large portion of its funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The NEA has been under fire this year, as President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would have eliminated the NEA, as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Those agencies were spared by the House Appropriation Committee’s appropriations bill for the 2017 fiscal year, which actually increased NEA and NEH funding.

Across the Upstate, arts grants make a difference. At Chandler Creek Elementary School in Greer one recent afternoon, students showed off the jazz and African dance moves they spent the previous six weeks mastering in an after-school program operated by Communities in Schools through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

At the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, teachers have the chance to attend workshops and other professional development opportunities, and they share that knowledge with other teachers, as well as the students The Greenville Symphony Orchestra targets elementary and middle school students with its educational outreach programs, and Warehouse Theatre takes Shakespeare to middle and high schools around the Carolinas, in a program that offers a mini-course in the Bard, complete with a live production of one of his plays.

It may be easy to take for granted that Greenville’s local theaters will continue to stage productions each year, that festivals will brighten the streets of downtown, that students can learn painting and music and creative writing in school.

But all of those programs require funding, in most cases more money than an arts entity can generate on its own, said Mike Sablone, producing artistic director for Warehouse Theatre.

“All of that funding is incredibly important to every aspect of the theater,” Sablone said. “We’re a non-profit. We rely on ticket sales, we rely on donations, we rely on grants. And all those allow us to do the work that we do. And without that money, we’d have to take a harder look at how we produce, what we produce, and the quality that we’ve come to expect with a Warehouse Theatre production.”

Greenville is blessed to have a vibrant arts scene, one that contributes to the city’s overall popularity as a place to visit and as a place where people are moving, said Dr. Braxton Ballew, education director for Greenville Symphony Orchestra.

“We’ve got a tremendous arts community here, and I think it’s no accident that you see Greenville on these top 10 best places to live, top 10 places to retire (lists), all the accolades that we get, and we just happen to have this great arts community here, that’s not a coincidence,” Ballew said. “It cannot be understated what a big part the Arts Commission is to that success.”

Learning new things

The Chandler Creek dance program offers third- through fifth-graders at the Title I school a chance to learn dances that they might not otherwise have an opportunity to practice, said Alyson Amato, co-founder and director of education for Carolina Dance Collaborative.

For six weeks, Amato and Kelsey Crum, Carolina Dance Collaborative’s other co-founder, taught the students the moves for three dances, and on the seventh week, they demonstrated their new skills for parents and friends.

They rolled their arms, snapped their fingers, did the “smush the bug” step, showed off their best jazz hands, and performed a celebratory African dance called yankadi, to songs like the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and “Blackbird” from the Broadway show “Fosse.”

The program isn’t just a chance to have fun, Amato said.

“The process of learning something, practicing it and then performing it is a massive self-esteem booster,” Amato said. “Seeing how they work hard at something, they can achieve in just six weeks. And also, having fun doing it at the same time. It’s also a way to really enhance what they get in their physical education during school time. Because you will see, we sweat. … But I really do want them to get their heart rate up, also their minds to be challenged.”

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding includes enrichment opportunities such as the dance program. Without that funding, the program might be merely homework-based, or it might be cut entirely, Amato said.

More than entertainment

A community’s support of the arts means more in the long run than an evening of entertainment at the theater or the ballet, said Julie Allen, vice president of arts and academics at South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities.

“Many people see arts-based funding as something which is nice,” Allen said. “It’s something that a community does when it’s nice, when there’s extra money. But I think when you delve a little bit deeper into that, you recognize that the arts, while there certainly is an aesthetic value, and there’s an intrinsic human value, there’s also a real economic value. The arts are a significant part of South Carolina’s economy; they’re an incredible part of Greenville’s economy. And so I do think anything we can do to help people see the arts as an intrinsic part of a vibrant economy is really important.”

But even beyond that, a talent and affinity for the arts can go a long way toward helping a teenager find his or her voice, a purpose in life, a profession.

“Particularly for arts students, who often see themselves as perhaps a little bit different than their typical peer, this is a place that they feel is home,” Allen said. “It’s a place they feel safe, it’s a place they’re willing to take risks. And a lot of students do come back talk about (how) ‘I found my voice here because it gave me the confidence to continue to grow and figure out who I was.’”

Dozens of grants

For the 2017 fiscal year, the South Carolina Arts Commission awarded 28 grants totaling more than $400,000 to Greenville County organizations and individuals. Those grants ranged from $625 to Foothills Philharmonic Orchestra for general operating support, to $2,057 for Sweet Adelines International Greenville in Harmony for operating support for small organizations, to general operating support grants of more than $25,000 each to the Peace Center Foundation, Greenville Symphony Association, and South Carolina Arts Alliance.

Warehouse Theatre receives funding from South Carolina Arts Commission, as well as a direct NEA grant for the Shakespeare program, now in its third year.

Shakespeare in American Communities, a national program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, offers a $25,000 matching grant, and Warehouse must raise an equal amount of money through corporate sponsorships and other donations.

The aim of the program is “to increase Shakespeare performance in different communities across the nation,” said Mallory Pellegrino, director of education for Warehouse Theatre. “We are one of the very few companies in the Southeast.”

Through the grant, Warehouse is able to present Shakespeare to middle- and high-school students in the Carolinas, using a company of six or seven actors who travel to schools and offer an introductory workshop on the play to be presented, as well as a follow-up class after students have seen the play.

If the grant money disappeared, Pellegrino said, the program wouldn’t necessarily disappear. It would, however, require substantial changes to the way it operates, perhaps by soliciting more local sponsorships and donors.

But the biggest change would to be make the program “revenue-driven,” Pellegrino said. “We would have to make sure that we had enough venues to be able to go out, that there were enough people interested in it. And you would begin to limit your reach and your impact.”

Making an impact

The Greenville Symphony Orchestra seeks to make much of its educational impact on elementary and middle school students.

This year, GSO received a $10,000 grant from the NEA to fund its free concert for middle-school band and strings students, said Linda Grandy, Greenville Symphony Orchestra development director.

In addition, the GSO received a general operating support grant of $25,391 from SCAC this year, which helps to fund other educational programs, including the concerts available to all of Greenville County’s elementary schools.

One important aspect of the GSO’s educational programs is the opportunity for students to see the symphony in concert at no charge, which is especiallyimportant for students at less-affluent schools, said the GSO’s Ballew.

Losing that funding would have an impact on several programs, including GSO partnerships with SC Children’s Theatre and Greenville County Library.

“Maybe we wouldn’t offer as many, or maybe we would start charging $5 at the door,” Ballew said.

Sharing the wealth

Education is, of course, the mission of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, whose operational budget comes from the state. But continuing education is important to the teachers who share their knowledge and skills in visual arts, drama, creative writing and music.

And an SCAC grant for Arts in Basic Curriculum Advancement allows Governor’s School teachers to participate in continuing education programs that help both students and other teachers, Allen said.

When SCAC’s funding was increased two years ago, the commission passed on the increase, which allowed the Governor’s School to add a couple of components to its continuing education focus. One way was to share the knowledge, to offer professional development opportunities to teachers in other areas.

“We identified drama as an area where there seemed to be a real need for drama teachers in the state to have professional development experiences,” Allen said. “Typically, there’s one drama teacher in a school, maybe there’s two or three in a district. But to get content-level, really high-level training, those opportunities are often few and far between for them. So what we’ve been able to do is essentially share that wealth.

“For the last two years, we’ve brought a group of drama teachers here, we’ve let that group identify what their particular needs are, and the nice pairing there is the person that’s led those workshops for the last two years is someone who had elevated her own training by virtue of having taken advantage of the professional development funding earlier from the Arts Commission. So it was kind of a way of paying back what she had gained.”

Important source of funding

Artisphere depends on the SCAC funding for a large part of its budget; other revenue sources include vendor fees, corporate sponsorships, merchandise sales and other grants, Murphy said.

“That’s a very healthy mix, and is a huge part of why we’ve been able to grow the festival and its impact over the years,” Murphy said.

If the government grants were no longer available, Artisphere would survive, but other organizations might not be able to weather the loss, she said.

“We have spent a lot of time diversifying our funding model so that if we lose any single funder we can mitigate the loss of that funding, either through a focused effort to replace the money, or by trimming expenses here and there,” Murphy said. “That isn’t the case for smaller organizations, where SCAC funding could represent an entire marketing budget, or fees for artists for a performance.

“We think it is important to have public arts funding because it makes a statement about what we care about as a community.”

Alyson Amato, co-founder of Carolina Dance Collaborative, teaches an after-school dance class at Chandler Creek Elementary in Greer last week.

Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council marks new fundraising record

From The Greenville News Article by Paul Hyde

[caption id="attachment_25924" align="alignright" width="300"]greenvilleMACawards Lorraine Goldstein and Hal Weiss accept the 2015 MAC Lifelong Support of the Arts Award at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Metropolitan Arts Council in Gunter Theatre on Tuesday, March 29, 2016.[/caption] Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council raised a record of more than $2 million in 2015, MAC board chairman Charles Ratterree announced Tuesday. Most of the money generated helps to support dozens of Greenville arts groups and artists. “This allows us to provide record high grants to individuals, arts organizations and arts education programs,” said MAC executive director Alan Ethridge. Among MAC's grants recipients, eight local arts groups received $25,000 each in operating support. Those organizations are Artisphere, Centre Stage, Greenville Chorale, Greenville Little Theatre, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, the Peace Center, the South Carolina Children’s Theatre and the Warehouse Theatre. MAC also committed $10,000 to the Greenville County Museum of Art to purchase works by Greenville-area artists for its permanent collection. To support its grants, MAC receives donations from a variety of sources: individuals, corporations, foundations, the city of Greenville’s accommodations tax, the South Carolina Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Greenville’s arts scene has never been more vibrant and prosperous, Ratterree said, speaking at MAC’s annual meeting at the Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre. “We are in the midst of an arts renaissance in Greenville, with over 60 arts nonprofits that display not only the incredible talent in our community but an enthusiasm for sharing with others,” Ratterree said. “One of the great things about Greenville is the idea that the arts are for everybody. Many arts events are free and open to the public.” Now in its 43rd year, MAC also provided $111,336 for specific programs or projects to 60 schools, individual artists and local arts organizations, Ratterree said. Ratterree announced that last year’s Open Studios, a weekend MAC event that spotlights Greenville’s visual arts community, involved 132 artists, generated a record $277,548 in sales and was attended by 41,284 people. Before announcing MAC’s annual awards, Ethridge remembered Sherwood Mobley, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra’s executive director who passed away Feb. 26. MAC honored several Greenville arts leaders. The MAC Visionary Award went to Sally Potosky and Caroline McIntyre, sisters who lead the Greenville Chautauqua Society. The MAC Lifelong Support of the Arts Award was presented to local arts philanthropists Lorraine Goldstein and Hal Weiss. The Carl R. Blair Award for Commitment to Arts Education went to Dr. Gary Robinson, a faculty member of the Fine Arts Center and longtime director of the Young Artist Orchestra, one of the ensembles of the Greenville County Youth Orchestras. The Young Supporter of the Arts Award was presented to Elizabeth and Michael Fletcher. Elizabeth Fletcher is the vice president for strategy and business development for Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. Michael Fletcher is a real estate broker and attorney. The TD Bank Business and the Arts Partnership awards went to: McKinney Dodge Ram Chrysler Jeep & Mazda (businesses under 100 employees) and BMW Manufacturing Company, LLC (businesses with 100 or more employees). The Put Your Heart in the Arts Volunteer of the Year Award went to Carl Sykes.

Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council marks new fundraising record

From The Greenville News Story by Paul Hyde

Greenville's Metropolitan Arts Council raised a record of $2 million in 2014, MAC executive director Alan Ethridge announced this week. Most of that money helps support dozens of Greenville arts groups and artists. "This allows us to provide record high grants to individuals, arts organizations and arts education programs," Ethridge said. "It's groundbreaking." At its annual meeting, MAC recognized several Greenville leaders for their support for the arts. Steve Brandt, who retired last fall after a long career as publisher of The Greenville News, received the Lifelong Support of the Arts Award. Since arriving in Greenville in 1978, Brandt has served on the boards of several Greenville arts organizations — including stints as chairman of Artisphere and the Peace Center. Brandt, as publisher of The Greenville News, supported extensive arts coverage by the newspaper. "Steve is an eloquent, wildly intelligent, thoughtful leader who is tremendously good at building consensus," said Peace Center president Megan Riegel. "He was the perfect executive to chair the Peace Center's board during its $23 million capital campaign." Thanks to increases in fundraising, MAC is providing more financial support to local arts organization than ever before, Ethridge said. Nine local arts organizations will receive $25,000 each in operating support. Those organizations are Artisphere, Carolina Ballet Theatre, Centre Stage, Greenville Chorale, Greenville Little Theatre, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, the Peace Center, the South Carolina Children's Theatre and the Warehouse Theatre. Those grants were $10,000 per organization in 2006. They've steadily increased to the current $25,000 per organization, thanks to MAC's fundraising, Ethridge said. Now in its 42nd year, MAC also provided a record-high of $193,321 in project support grants for specific programs. Those grants went to 19 schools, 20 individual artists and 53 arts organizations. Ethridge announced that last year's Open Studios, a weekend MAC event that spotlights Greenville's visual arts community, involved 121 artists, generated $215,880 in sales and was attended by 44,801 people. "It was a great year," Ethridge said. Ethridge announced also that MAC's endowment had raised $768,117. MAC plans to use income from the endowment to provide additional financial support to Greenville arts organizations. The endowment made its debut last year with an eventual goal of $25 million. Such a hefty endowment could produce an income of $1 million in annual support for Greenville arts organizations. The endowment is a long-term project but MAC plans to embrace ambitious fundraising goals every year — including a goal of $1 million in 2015. Most of that is expected to come from individual and corporate sources. Only a small portion is likely to be raised from government contributions, Ethridge said. "It's going to ensure the sustainability of the artists and arts organizations that make Greenville a truly fabulous city," Ethridge said. For its general budget, MAC receives donations from a variety of sources: individuals, corporations, foundations, the city of Greenville's accommodations tax, the South Carolina Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. MAC recognized several arts leaders at its annual meeting. Kerry Murphy, executive director of Artisphere, received the MAC Visionary Award. Shirely Sarlin, a veteran Greenville stage actress, was recognized with the Put Your Heart in the Arts Volunteer of the Year Award. The TD Bank Business and the Arts Partnership awards went to: Productions Unlimited, Inc. (businesses under 100 employees) and Greenville Heath System (businesses with 100 or more employees). The Carl R. Blair Award for Commitment to Arts Education went to Jon Jeffrey Grier, instructor of advanced placement music theory, advanced topics in music and honors music history at the Fine Arts Center, the magnet school for young students in the arts. Kacee Lominack, development assistant for the Greenville Symphony, received the Young Supporter of the Arts Award.