Museum gets $1,000 grant | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | December 1, 2016 5:00 pm
Last Updated: November 30, 2016 at 1:33 pm
The South Carolina Arts Commission officials were back at the Colleton Museum and Farmers Market recently to provide a $1,000 grant that will help enable a local group to cook up an community and economic development initiative.
For several months, Colleton County Museum and Farmers Market Director Gary Brightwell has led a team of individuals to consider important issues local citizens face and how arts and culture might be incorporated to address one or more of those challenges under an arts commussion pilot program. “The Art of Community: Rural S.C.”
Brightwell’s “Art of Community” team includes Michelle Strickland, Sophia Henderson, Susan Snow, Caroline Hooker, Brenda Hughes, Morrison Payne, Karla Daddieco and Jill Chadwick.
“We are also building partnerships with the local community and are happy to include anyone interested in being part of this effort. The project itself is community building,” Brightwell added.
“When you make a sauce or a soup, you look for that ingredient that holds it together,” Brightwell said. “Through this new initiative, we’re seeing more clearly how arts and culture is that ingredient in our community. It’s a great connecting force,” she said.
As part of the Art of Community initiative, she and her team are exploring the most relevant ways to connect local citizens with issues related to food, health and agriculture and adding a dose of arts and culture as a binder.
To aid in the development of the arts and culture ingredients, the South Carolina Arts Commission made a $1,000 award during its visit.
“We’re working together to create a video that will be useful in the schools as well as at a number of sites in Walterboro,” Brightwell she said.
“This experience as part of the Art of Community has resulted in new ideas about what home and belonging mean. We’ve talked about how we tell the stories of place, how we celebrate what we have, and build from there,” Brightwell explained.
“In Colleton County, we have a remarkable story about food and agriculture — we want that to be our starting place. We’ll be working with educators to make this project as meaningful and useful as possible,” she added.
“We are so happy to have gotten to know more citizens of Colleton County through this initiative,” South Carolina Arts Commission Program Director Susan DuPlessis said. “Not only have we built new relationships within the county, we are also building a regional network of citizens who are community builders. We are exploring ways that arts and culture can be used to engage people, to rediscover each community’s assets, and to build on those assets.”
Part of the strength of the Art of Community is its connectivity both within the state and beyond. The initiative is informed by a committee of 24 advisors who hail from around the country and from within South Carolina. Dr. Ann Carmichael, dean of USC Salkehatchie, and John Robert “Bob” Reeder, co-chair the advisory committee.
“This initiative is an example of how a state arts commission re-imagines arts and culture within the communities they serve,” said Reeder, a native of Rock Hill, and program director for Rural LISC, a national community development intermediary working in 44 states. “This effort is being recognized nationally as innovative. Its unique approach — starting with the partnership between a state arts agency and a Promise Zone — is getting well-deserved attention and building new relationships and engagement within small communities.”
Dr. Carmichael has hosted two of the three regional meetings for the initiative — one on the USC-Salkehatchie campus in Allendale, the other in Walterboro.
“It has been our pleasure to work with the Arts Commission on this innovative project. We get to highlight one of the region’s assets — this branch of USC — and learn more about the people leading change in our local communities. It is a win-win,” she said. Dr. Carmichael also sits on the board for South Carolina’s Promise Zone in connection with Southern Carolina Alliance.
Seeing some of the efforts in Colleton County take hold is exciting to see, DuPlessis added. How Colleton County is on the map nationally now speaks to leadership within county and municipal government as well as a respect for the role of arts and culture among local citizens.