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S.C. Arts Commission Press Releases

Survey of Tradition Bearers Launched in Eight S.C. Counties


Jan. 16, 2014

Media Contact:

Milly Hough
(803) 734-8698


COLUMBIA, S.C. –The South Carolina Arts Commission’s Folklife and Traditional Arts Program, in collaboration with the University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum, has launched the fourth phase of the Survey of South Carolina’s Tradition Bearers. Tradition bearers practice traditional arts handed down from generation to generation through community-specific practices.

Maria Arroyo has been contracted to identify tradition bearers in four South Carolina counties: Beaufort, Colleton, Dorchester and Jasper. Arroyo has a doctorate degree in school psychology (Quito-Ecuador, South America) and is a graduate of the S.C. Arts Commission’s Institute for Community Scholars. She has presented at conferences around the state and the U.S. about the advantages of biculturalism in an ever-changing society. In addition to her daily work as a parent educator with Lexington School District One, Maria compiles traditions in El Recado newsletter from the first generation of Spanish-speaking families that have settled in the Lexington County area.


Sarah Bryan has been contracted to identify tradition bearers in these four counties: Berkeley, Charleston, Georgetown and Horry. Bryan is a folklorist and fiddle player and a native of Myrtle Beach. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill's Curriculum in folklore (MA, 2003), she has been a fieldworker and writer for the North Carolina Folklife Institute, based in Durham, since 2005; is the editor of the Old-Time Herald, a magazine about traditional Southern string band music; and has done extensive oral history research in Myrtle Beach and Horry County for Chapin Memorial Library and the Chapin Foundation.


"The Folklife and Traditional Arts Program aims to support tradition bearers throughout South Carolina," said Doug Peach, program coordinator. "This survey provides vital and up-to-date information on the breadth of living traditions in our state, many of which have never been documented. This stage of the survey will be focused on coastal areas of South Carolina – a vibrant region for music, storytelling, and foodways, just to name a few.


"By surveying artists and learning about their work, we can better understand how to assist them with our programs, such as the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards, the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Initiative, and Traditional Arts grants for nonprofit organizations."


One hundred artists have been identified in 20 counties since the survey launched in October 2009. Traditions practiced by these artists include chair caning, instrument making, basket weaving and quilt making. (Download a PDF of the survey results for the first 18 counties.)


This phase of the survey began in November 2013 and will be completed by June 2014.  With support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities CouncilSC, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities, it is expected that tradition bearer identification will have been conducted in all of S.C.’s counties by the end of 2014.


Individuals or organizations who know of tradition bearers should contact Doug Peach at PeachD@mailbox.sc.edu or (803)734-8764.


About the Folklife and Traditional Arts program

The Folklife and Traditional Arts Program is designed to encourage, promote, conserve and honor the diverse community-based art forms that make South Carolina distinct. The major initiatives of the program serve both established and emerging cultural groups that call South Carolina home.


About McKissick Museum

The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum fosters awareness and appreciation of the diversity of the American South's culture and geography, attending particularly to the importance of enduring folkways and traditions. It accomplishes these aims through original research about southern life, material culture, natural science, and decorative and fine arts by holding exhibitions, issuing publications and by public programming.


About the S.C. Arts Commission

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.