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S.C. Arts Commission Announces 2010 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Awards Recipients



March 11, 2010

Media Contacts:

Milly Hough
(803) 734-8698


Misty Moore

(803) 734-8620

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Commission Board announces the 2010 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts, the highest honor the state presents in the arts. Established in 1972, the annual awards recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina.


This year’s recipients are:
Lifetime Achievement – Pat Conroy, Fripp Island
Lifetime Achievement – Jonathan Green, Daniel Island
Individual Artist – Julian Wiles, Charleston
Arts in Education – Larry Barnfield, Summerville
Government – City of Rock Hill, with special recognition for its public/private partnership with Comporium, Rock Hill
Individual – Robert (Bob) E. Howard, Greenville
Organization – Newberry Opera House, Newberry
Business – Williams & Fudge, Inc., Rock Hill


 “South Carolina is filled with awe-inspiring artists, astounding arts professionals and arts supporters,” said S.C. Arts Commission Board Chairman Bud Ferillo. “This year’s recipients are an excellent representation of this reality, and we are honored to recognize these top arts achievers for their outstanding commitment to the arts and dedication to our state.”


Awards will be presented May 6 at the Statehouse upon adjournment of the House of Representatives. To celebrate this year’s recipients and South Carolina’s entire arts community, the S.C. Arts Foundation is presenting the S.C. Arts Gala at 7 p.m. that evening at the Columbia Museum of Art. Tickets are available online. For more about the Verner Awards, call (803) 734-8696.


About SCAC:
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 www.SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.




2010 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award Recipients Biographies


Lifetime Achievement


Pat Conroy
Pat Conroy, whose South Carolina roots clearly show in all his work, is a New York Times bestselling author who has written several acclaimed novels and memoirs, including “The Great Santini,” “The Prince of Tides,” and most recently “South of Broad.” Born in Atlanta, Ga., he was the eldest of seven children born to a young career military officer from Chicago and a Southern beauty from Alabama, whom Pat often credits for his love of language. Conroy's stories, many of which use the familiar backdrop of Charleston, have been heavily influenced by his military upbringing. Conroy’s association with Beaufort, S.C., began at age 15, when he moved to the city to attend high school. He later graduated from The Citadel. Two of his best-known works, the novel “The Lords of Discipline” and the memoir “My Losing Season” are based on his life there. After graduating from the Citadel, Conroy taught English on remote Daufuskie Island, where he was exposed to experiences that laid the groundwork for “The Water Is Wide,” which won Conroy a humanitarian award from the National Education Association. Conroy currently lives on Fripp Island, S.C., with his wife, Cassandra. He frequently travels throughout the United States speaking to students about his career as a writer and the similarity between his stories and his real life.

Jonathan Green
Jonathan Green was born in 1955 in Gardens Corner, S.C., and graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1982. Green has traveled widely – throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, the West Indies, Switzerland, Germany, England and France. While his appeal and perspective are truly modern and cosmopolitan, Green looks to the familiar images of his ancestral home for the subjects of his paintings. As a result of his tremendous and prolific talent, Green’s work has been embraced by collectors and critics throughout the world. His paintings can be found in major museum collections throughout the nation and in Japan and Germany. But the power of his work cannot be contained in museums and collections alone. In its appreciation of the simple, essential tasks of life, Green's art has also served as catalyst for the arts. His work has been used as inspiration for arts, healthcare, civic, education and reading programs everywhere. Today his art continues to inspire people throughout the world. Currently, Green serves on educational, civic, and museum boards in Florida and S.C. He is president/CEO of Jonathan Green Studios, Inc., and the Jonathan Green Art Collection Gallery, LLC in Naples, Fla., and is the chairman of Jonathan Green Living Designs, LLP in Charleston, S.C.



Julian Wiles
Founder and producing artistic director of Charleston Stage, Julian Wiles is a director, playwright, set and sound designer, educator, arts promoter and businessman. Under his direction for more than 30 years, Charleston Stage Company has grown to be the largest professional theatre in South Carolina. Wiles has written or adapted 27 original plays and musicals, and has directed and designed more than 200 productions for more than a million patrons—nearly half of whom were students attending at special discounted school matinees. He has created several youth theatre programs, including a free high school technical apprentice program. Wiles serves on numerous boards and the Charleston County Schools Superintendent’s Arts Round Table, and has received many awards for his artistic and playwriting achievements, including the Governor’s Award for Excellence.


Arts in Education

Larry Barnfield
As fine arts coordinator for Dorchester District II Schools, Larry Barnfield continuously works to increase the number of outstanding arts opportunities and arts faculty in South Carolina schools. During the past eight years, he has expanded the district’s arts program, earning the district national recognition. The Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education recognized a school in his district as one of the “Creative Ticket National Schools of Distinction.” During Barnfield’s tenure, granting organizations have awarded the district more than $2.5 million in funds for arts programs, and the district earned a U.S. Department of Education grant to create a neighborhood arts-focused middle school. He has received several recognitions for his work in arts education, including the distinction of Teacher of the Year from two school districts and a Disney American Teacher Award.




Williams & Fudge, Inc.
Williams & Fudge, Inc. founders Gary and Peggy Williams have made support of the arts a part of their corporate culture. The accounts receivable management company and its employees lend professional expertise by serving on local boards and work to make local arts initiatives possible through personal and corporate funding. The company recently made significant contributions totaling $14 million to restore a historic former textile mill for its headquarters, and sponsored an art competition to design an art piece that now spans its main entrance. The company provided cash gifts of $88,000 to local arts organizations in 2009. It has been a major donor to many local art and arts education programs, performances, festivals and exhibitions. Williams & Fudge, Inc. has been recognized by organizations such as the Americans for the Arts and Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation for its dedication to the arts and revitalization efforts.



City of Rock Hill, with special recognition for its public/private partnership with Comporium
Located approximately 20 miles south of Charlotte, the city of Rock Hill is a growing community of 64,000 residents that boasts arts centers, galleries, studios, museums and performance venues. Actions taken by city leaders throughout the past 20 years have contributed to Rock Hill’s vibrant arts community, which annually attracts more than 150,000 arts event attendees from 103 cities, 22 states and six countries. They city’s visionary efforts to revitalize its downtown, also known as Old Town, using arts as its chief economic driver, has made the city a superior partner for arts organizations, corporations, schools and residents. One major effort made by the city in partnership with the Arts Council of York County and Comporium, a local business that donated a facility rent-free, was the new Community Performance Center, which includes a new stage, a 155-seat auditorium and two dance studios. In 2009, the city’s investment in the arts exceeded $975,000 and more than $50,000 in-kind donations. The Arts Council of York County acknowledged Rock Hill’s dedication to the arts in 2008 by presenting the city the Business & the Arts Award.



Robert (Bob) Howard
Bob Howard has dedicated more than 25 years to serving as a volunteer and board member with arts organizations throughout the state by mentoring, leading fundraising campaigns, and fostering collaborations among arts organizations. During his tenure as Greenville Symphony Association’s executive director from 1999-2008, ticket sales tripled, and annual giving by individuals, grant amounts and endowment funds and pledges all grew dramatically. Howard has served on numerous boards, including the Metropolitan Arts Council of Greenville and S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts, and has received many honors and awards for his efforts, including the Metropolitan Arts Council’s Spirit of Collaboration Award and the Order of the Palmetto to name a few.




Newberry Opera House Foundation
Under the leadership of Dr. James E. Wiseman, the Newberry Opera House Foundation raised nearly $6 million to restore the 1882 Newberry Opera House and ultimately revitalize the historic town of Newberry. Since reopening in 1998, the Newberry Opera House has been the driving force for countywide progress and a national example of the power of the arts. Volunteers, audiences and its breadth of programming set the Newberry Opera House apart from others. In a community of 10,000, the venue has a donor base of more than 9,000, an active volunteer core of more than 400, and a 100-member guild that raises $50,000 annually. Newberry Opera House has received economic, preservation and artistic awards, including recognition from the S.C. Secretary of the State for being one of the best fiscally managed nonprofits in South Carolina. The venue has also been honored by national foundations and funding sources, such as the National Endowment for the Arts.