South Carolina Arts Commission

Governor’s Awards

The South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts

To recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina, the Arts Commission annually presents the Governor’s Awards for the Arts, the highest honor the state gives in the arts.

These awards honor South Carolina arts organizations, patrons, artists, members of the business community, and government entities who maximize their roles as innovators, supporters and advocates of the arts. In 1980, the awards took on a special significance with their designation as the official “Governor’s Awards for the Arts.”

A diverse committee, appointed by the S.C. Arts Commission Board and made up of members of the South Carolina community at large, reviews all nominations and makes recommendations to the Board for final approval.

An iconic statue

The symbol of the awards is a hand-crafted bronze statue (above) designed by Columbia-based artist Jean McWhorter and presented to each recipient. The South Carolina Arts Foundation supports the awards program by sponsoring the annual creation and procurement of these iconic statues.

50 years

To mark 50 years of the Governor’s Awards for the Arts in 2022, the SCAC initiated a video documentation project with Renderhouse Films telling the story of the awards. The result was nine vignettes that look at South Carolina arts, culture, and history through the eyes of living, high-profile South Carolina artists who have received the award through the past 50 years:

  • John Acorn
  • Wilfred Delphin
  • Mary Jackson
  • Glenis Redmond
  • Tom Stanley
  • William Starrett
  • Leo Twiggs
  • Sam Wang
  • Cecil Williams

Their stories cross diverse lines—racial, ethnic, gender, and artistic disciplines—and are individual works of art themselves, notable for their high production quality. South Carolina ETV wove them together and premiered the feature with host Jackie Adams on Jan. 5, 2023. You can watch it here on Subsequent re-airings of the production are to occur on other SCETV channels, including Jan. 9 at 8 p.m. on the South Carolina Channel and Jan. 23 at 2 p.m. on ETV World.

About the Governor's Awards

  • Nominations for the South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts are now closed for the 2023 cycle. The 2024 nomination cycle is expected to open Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023.

Governor's Award Recipients

  • WATCH: the 2022 Governor’s Awards recipients revealed!

    Artist | Columbia

    Individual | Columbia

    Arts in Education | Aiken

    Organization | Columbia

I’m here to help!

For additional information and advisement, please contact Communications Director Jason Rapp (803.734.8899 |