Verner Award highlights: Joye in Aiken and Phifer-Johnson Foundation/The Johnson Collection

Joye in Aiken and the Phifer-Johnson Foundation/The Johnson Collection of Spartanburg are excellent examples of organizations maximizing their roles as innovators, supporters and advocates of the arts for their local communities and beyond. Read more about these recipients of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts below, and find out more about all of the activities taking place as part of the South Carolina Arts Awards on May 11.

Joye in Aiken – Arts in Education

Joye in AikenSince its founding in 2009, Joye in Aiken (originally Juilliard in Aiken) has leveraged its one-of-a-kind partnership with the Juilliard School in New York to bring more than 200 Juilliard students, faculty and alumni to present arts education programs and events for South Carolina children in Aiken and surrounding counties, typically reaching between 3,000 and 4,000 students per year. While serving a cross-section of children from all backgrounds, the outreach program pays particular attention to underserved neighborhoods, selecting schools on the basis of need. All outreach activities are provided free of charge, including transporting groups of students from their schools to centralized events.

Although the centerpiece of Joye in Aiken’s education outreach is its annual weeklong music festival that incorporates in-school performances, centralized programs and master classes for area students, its education programs continue throughout the year to include extended artist residencies and summer camps. It has formed a partnership with the Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities in Greenville to provide individual instruction for its students in master classes with Juilliard artists. It has a long-standing partnership with East Aiken School of the Arts, Aiken County’s only Arts in Basic Curriculum School, where Joye in Aiken has contributed to that school’s successful integration of the arts across all areas of instruction, and where arts integration is proving to produce impressive outcomes in student achievement.

In all of its activities, Joye in Aiken continues to uphold the standards of excellence established by The Juilliard School, as well as Juilliard’s commitment to public service.

The Phifer-Johnson Foundation/The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg – Business/Foundation

Phifer-Johnson FoundationWhen Susu and George Johnson’s personal art collection outgrew their home and office space, they decided to share it. What began as an interest in paintings by Carolina artists in 2002 has grown to encompass over 1,200 objects that chronicle the cultural evolution of the American South. Three scholarly books have been published around the Johnson Collection’s holdings. Each of the books is accompanied by a touring exhibition that travels to leading museums in South Carolina and across the South for two to four years. In contrast to most touring shows, the Johnsons share these exhibitions with all participating museums at no cost. These efforts to provide broad access to the arts for free have attracted national attention from such prominent publications asAmerican Art Review, The Magazine Antiques and Garden & Gun. A website for the collection features images and notes on hundreds of Southern artists and a searchable catalog of the collection’s library of over 4,000 volumes. The collection’s curator serves as a visiting scholar and lecturer at local colleges, and students are invited to apply for curatorial internships. A gallery in downtown Spartanburg presents regular exhibitions from the collection and loans artwork to a variety of public and educational institutions, making the collection highly accessible to the public.

The Johnsons’ philanthropic commitment to community, arts and culture extends beyond the Johnson Collection to support local and statewide arts programs and initiatives. The Phifer-Johnson Foundation is a major benefactor of the South Carolina First Novel Prize, which is establishing a national profile for South Carolina’s most promising writers. They have been important to the success of Spartanburg’s Chapman Cultural Center, a centerpiece in Spartanburg’s active cultural scene. They are key supporters of arts organizations and activities that add vibrancy and attract youth and talent to their community, including the Hub-Bub Artist in Residence Program, Ballet Spartanburg, the Music Foundation of Spartanburg, Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Brookgreen Gardens, and more.

Equally dedicated to arts advancement and arts accessibility, the Johnsons generously share their vision, energy, passion and resources to benefit the arts in South Carolina.


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