Three artists to develop businesses with new SCAC grants

12 July 2018

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Commission continues its commitment to helping the state’s artists build or bolster sustainable arts careers by awarding three Artists’ Ventures Initiative (AVI) grants for FY2019.

AVI grants encourage and enable the creation of new artist-driven, arts-based business ventures that will provide career satisfaction and sustainability for S.C. artists. Grants can be used to launch a new venture or significantly alter an existing venture. A total of $15,000 will be distributed evenly to three artists who were among 21 who applied for the grants:

  • Serwah Armah-Koranteng, Richland County;
  • Shauna Cooper, Orangeburg County;
  • Darin Gehrke, Greenville County.

Armah-Koranteng, a fashion designer, plans to use her grant to purchase a truck that will be turned into a sewing training center and mobile boutique – “the first authentic African clothing boutique on wheels in the Carolinas,” she said. “This has been my dream for the past four years of being in business, and I am just steps away from achieving it. Africstyle mobile boutique will be able to continue with its event planning activities, increase its pop-up store opportunities in major cities, and help teach basic sewing skills to customers who visit our boutique.”

Cooper, who specializes in hand-molded, artisan-style candles, is owner and creative director of home fragrance and body care products company Wicks + Scents. She plans to use her award to build brand awareness with a mobile-responsive and navigation-friendly website with SEO optimization and purchase of commercial-grade equipment to increase the business’ scalability.

Gehrke, a potter, will use grant funds to purchase a pug mill, a piece of equipment that will increase studio efficiency by recycling clay more quickly and thoroughly. It will also improve his studio environment by reducing dust and minimizing the physical stress of preparing clay.

“The South Carolina Arts Commission commends these artist entrepreneurs on excellent pitches to our panel that sold their ideas. They contribute to an arts-related economic cluster which adds $9.7 billion to our state economy annually, and these transformative grants are to promote sustainability of these businesses,” said Executive Director Ken May of the arts commission.

Beginning this fall, the S.C. Arts Commission will make a call for applicants for the next year’s grant awards. More information is available at or by calling 803.734.8696.


The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants, and leadership initiatives in three 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 or call 803.734.8696.