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S.C. Arts Commission Press Releases

Susie Surkamer to Receive McNair Award for Dedication to the Arts



April 6, 2011

Media Contact:

Milly Hough
(803) 734-8698

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The S.C. Arts Foundation is honoring Susie Surkamer, former executive director of the S.C. Arts Commission, with the McNair Award at this year’s S.C. Arts Gala. The event is at 7:30 p.m. May 4 in the Grand Hall at 701 Whaley in Columbia and includes an art auction and sale of original artworks by some of the state’s most recognized artists. Tickets are available online.


“For more than 30 years, Susie Surkamer has dedicated her career to the development of a thriving arts environment where all South Carolinians enjoy and benefit from the arts,” says Michel Moore, president of the S.C. Arts Foundation. “Under her leadership at the S.C. Arts Commission, the Palmetto State earned a national reputation as a leader in the arts for its work in K-12 arts curriculum reform, rural arts development and many other initiatives.


“The members of the S.C. Arts Foundation join me in honoring Susie for dedicating more than three decades to ensuring that the arts continue to play a vital role in our nation’s schools and communities,” said Moore.


Surkamer began her career with the Arts Commission as a dancer in residence in 1974. She moved into the areas of arts development and administration and was named executive director in 1994. She retired in 2009.


Surkamer has served on numerous state, regional and national boards and alliances.  She is currently president of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, past board chair of the Southern Arts Federation, past vice president of the board of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, past member of the Arts Education Partnership Steering Committee, and past member of the South Carolina Rural Development Council.


She received a master’s degree in dance education from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in dance from the University of Maryland. She is a recipient of the 2006 Winthrop University Medal of the Arts and NASAA's 2008 Gary Young Award.


Established in 2007, the McNair Award is named for the late Governor Robert E. McNair, who signed legislation to create the Arts Commission in 1967 to “ensure that the arts continue to grow and play an ever more significant part in the welfare and educational experiences of our citizens."


The May 4 gala will also recognize the 2011 Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts recipients, including Lifetime Achievement Award recipients Mary Jackson of Johns Island and C. Thomas "Tommy" Wyche of Greenville. Reserve tickets to the South Carolina Arts Gala online or by calling (803) 734-8696. 


About the S.C. Arts Foundation

Established in 1972, the S.C. Arts Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to recognizing, encouraging and supporting the art and artists of South Carolina. Throughout its history, the SCAF has pursued creative ways to help the business community and private citizens contribute to a thriving arts community across the state. The organization is led by a diverse board of directors comprised of statewide business and civic leaders, artists, educators and others interested in supporting the rich variety of artistic expression found in the Palmetto State.


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.