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Six Emerging Artists to Receive Inaugural S.C. Arts Commission Grant

Press Release

Visual artists working in ceramics, sculpture, and photography and performing artists working in dance and music are inaugural recipients of the South Carolina Arts Commission’s new Emerging Artist Grant.

For the purpose of the grant, emerging artists were defined as being at an early stage in their artistic career development with no basis in age. The six South Carolina artists each receive a $1,500 Emerging Artist grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) in the current fiscal year (2021). They are:

  • Luke Hodges of Columbia (photography)
  • Chris Jenkins of Irmo (performing musician)
  • Kimberly Washburn Motte of Florence (visual artist, sculpture)
  • Kela Portee of Ravenel (film photography and multimedia artist)
  • Sonny Sisan of North Charleston (craft artist, ceramics)
  • Ashlea Sovetts of Myrtle Beach (performing dance and choreographer)

In addition to financial support, the artists will benefit from mentorship and professional support facilitated by the SCAC and Artist Services Director Ce Scott-Fitts. The combined benefits are intended to deepen artistic practice and foster artistic excellence; encourage career growth, advancement, and sustainability; and provide professional development and opportunities for collaboration.

“It means a lot to be recognized as an artist in your state. Programs like this will not only propel our next generation of artists, but also provide the fuel for them to keep the legacy alive for years to come,” Jenkins said.

“As a full-time professional and mother of two children, my own art making is often pushed to the back burner. To have the opportunity to build community with a group of talented artists and to meet regularly with a mentor allows me to prioritize my own artistic process,” Motte said.

While the mentorship and networking components of the program begin next month and run through June 2021, several of the artists expect the benefits to last well beyond that. Sovetts is eager for the additional insight from the group to help her grow, and Hodges points to the validation the program provides.

“This opportunity is so much more than a confidence booster—it's an affirmation that my creative work matters,” he said. Portee foresees the opportunity to be challenged, while Jenkins added that he hopes other South Carolina artists will see they no longer have to travel or leave altogether for the knowledge he hopes to gain.

The application period for the next round of the Emerging Artist Grant is to begin in Fall 2021. The SCAC will announce it on The Hub (http://www.scartshub.com/), on its social media at @scartscomm (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) and other channels.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued, and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences.

Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key 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 SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803-734-8696.

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