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SC Arts Commission 40th Anniversary

Tell Your Story!

Individuals have submitted stories based on their experiences. The Arts Commission has not verified all facts.



Susan Schatz

Executive Director, Florence Little Theatre

Florence, S.C.


History of the Florence Little Theatre


“All the World is a Stage” was not just a metaphor for those responsible for the organization of the Florence Little Theatre.  Driven by their desire to perform and without a building to call home, these tireless individuals performed anywhere and everywhere they could to bring live theatre to Florence.  What they started 84 seasons ago remains an inspiration to all of us today as we strive to bring to life the magic that is live theatre. Read complete story...



Eddie Summer
Chappells, S.C.


I'm a quadriplegic, but I finished writing a novel with my eye-controlled computer to enter into the S.C. Arts Commission's First Novel Contest. I'm currently working on a story to enter into South Carolina Fiction Project. I don't know if I have a chance to win either contest, but that's unimportant. The important thing is that the arts are giving me the opportunity to become more than I could ever be without them. If we'd only realize it, that's what the arts do for all of us.



Gloria Barr Ford
Discipline: Theatre & Storytelling

Georgetown, S.C.


While lingering behind my great-grandmother at the age of five, and adhering to her perfect instructions such as, “Mik haste, gal, com on yah les we guh,” which simply meant, “Come on girl, hurry up let’s go,” I had no idea that the Gullah language would become such a profound part of my life.  I understood my great-grandmother perfectly.  Unfortunately, she died before I reached my sixth birthday, but my memories of her have been preserved. Read complete story...



English Morris

Founder, Carolina Music Academy

Columbia, S.C.


The High Calling to Inspire and Encourage

Music teachers who teach private instrumental or vocal lessons are seed sowers. Their influence on the students they teach for weekly lessons is unknown for many years. Whether a student becomes a professional musician, plays or sings non-vocationally, develops a lifelong appreciation for music, or sees the value of music lessons for future family members, the training and impact of the private music teacher often bears fruit later. Read complete story...



Karen Burton

Violin Instructor, Carolina Music Academy
Columbia, S.C


My early experiences with the arts owe much to my mother, Jane Bader. She was a student at the USC School of Music from the mid 1980s until she graduated with her doctorate in 2001. As a student, she was required to go to many recitals, and I went with her to most of them. I was treated to performances by many of the faculty members at USC, as well as guest artists. While most children went around humming children's songs or the pop music of the week, I hummed Beethoven piano concertos, and Mozart sonatas. Even now, 20 years later, I still recognize and remember many of the pieces I listened to her practice for so many hours. Read complete story...



Jeff Harris

Guitar Instructor, Carolina Music Academy
Columbia, S.C.

It was with the support of the South Carolina Arts Commission that I was able to realize my first real success as an artist. As a member of the Harris/Knight Guitar Duo, I was encouraged to apply for the Artists' Roster, and eventually for the Community Tour. When the duo was accepted on the tour in the mid 1990s, I had a great feeling of accomplishment that my performing was not only to be taken seriously, but it was in fact enjoyed and approved by other professional artists. Read complete story...



Timothea Hurtt

Piano Teacher, Carolina Music Academy

Columbia, S.C.

Maria Spanos was my piano teacher. She represents a generation of piano teachers who were disciplined, structured, a bit strict, challenging and very caring. I was 9 years old when I began my piano lessons with Mrs. Spanos and 22 years old when I received my last piano lesson from her, at the National Conservatory of Athens. My piano lessons were one hour each, a typical schedule for Greeks. My piano practice was one hour a day, and not because I liked to practice. As a matter of fact, my father would make me practice every day. Read complete story...



Debbie R. Cooke
Photography Instructor, The Fine Arts Center
Greenville, S.C.


The Florence Museum

As a young girl growing up in a small Southern town in the 1950s and 1960s, my knowledge of the world was limited to a 1922 set of Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia, and this tiny museum.


Although very loving, my parents viewed art as an unsuitable pursuit for a young girl. The museum became my support and sanctuary. I would pack scrap paper gleaned from restroom paper towel dispensers, mount my bike, and ride the eight blocks to the museum to sit in front of artwork and draw. Read complete story...



Norma Hughes-Smith
Belton, S.C.


My greatest moment as a first grader at Reid School in Taylors, S.C., was when my teacher played the piano for us to sing “I'm A Little Teapot.” I went home that day and sat down at the piano and began picking out the tune. From that day on I discovered I could play any tune I heard. As I grew up, the gift that my first grade teacher, Mrs. Barton, helped me develop has been passed on to my children, my grandchildren and my students that I have taught over the past 30 years. Read complete story...



Jeannie Simpson

Greenville, S.C.


How The Arts Have Influenced My Life!

As a child growing up in the mid 1960s, I became very interested in art; as a matter of fact I loved to draw, paint, do anything that was creative. But my main art was literature. I loved to write, and even as a small child on up into my teenage years, I started drawing much more than I did when I was a child. But when I got older, I lost interest; but I started writing, writing, and writing. That was also my best subject in elementary on up into my years of college. Read complete story...



Dave Sennema

Columbia, S.C.


The South Carolina Arts Commission – The Beginnings


Wednesday, August 16, 1967, was an exciting day for me and a significant day for the state of South Carolina. The state legislature had passed legislation creating the South Carolina Arts Commission (in June 1967). I had been hired as its first executive director, and this was my first day on the job.


The late Marvin Trapp, who had been appointed chairman of the SCAC, had driven over to Columbia from his home in Sumter just to give me a pat on the back and hand me a key, along with a 3 x 5 card that had an address and office number scribbled on it. I drove to the office building on South Main Street, just a couple of blocks south of the State House, walked up to the second floor, put the key in the lock, stepped into the two-room suite, and found an unconnected phone on the floor of two completely empty offices. That's how it all began. Read complete story...



Cherry Doster

Van Wyck, S. C.


The Impact of the Arts

Growing up in the 1950s in a small S.C. textile town, arts opportunities, while not overly-abundant, were very much appreciated. Participation in local productions and visual arts exhibits were greatly encouraged in our schools and communities. (The "up side" to rural life is being able to march in the band, sing in the choir, have a part in a play, and compete in visual arts contests beginning at a very young age!) The early exposure led to an awareness and appreciation of the impact all art forms can have – on all members of a society. Read complete story...



Dee Dee Sandt

Executive Director, Beaufort Performing Arts

Beaufort, S.C


Beaufort Performing Arts, Inc — The Beginning


I will relate a story having to deal with the life-changing events of a child and a community who participated in theatre, and this time it is from the musical theatre camp that I created, produce, direct and choreograph each summer.


When I interviewed for the position of executive director of Beaufort Performing Arts, and when I arrived in Beaufort, S.C. on March 2, 2004, I was told and shown a financial balance sheet by the newly formed board of directors that there was $145,000 waiting in the bank for the daunting task of the start up for Beaufort Performing Arts, Inc. On March 8, 2004, I went to the accountant to find that there was only $2,500 in the bank, and the rest remained in hopeful grants from the Hospitality Association of Beaufort and the A-Tax Fund from the City of Beaufort. You can only imagine! Read complete story...



Submit your story by e-mailing Milly Hough.

40th Anniversary background

For more information, contact Milly Hough, Communications Director (803-734-8698).