Past Comments

September Issue 2007
by Tom Starland

Dream Days

Back in the 1970's when I was attending Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI, there was a point during my first winter semester when I wasn't sure I would live through that time. My dorm was situated on the middle of a hill. Up the hill was the Business School. I was studying accounting at the time - go figure. No, really, that's what we did - figure numbers. (It's a lifetime ago!) The bus that would take me up the hill came from down below - well below my dorm.

On days when the windchill was 10 below - that was a mild day - I could huddle in a doorway at the end of the dorm and spot my bus coming up the hill in time to run like mad to catch it - provided I didn't slip too many times on the icy sidewalks. That was my life then - where your biggest decision each day was which sweater you were going to wear - or which two you were going to wear.

While working on this September's issue, during the month of August, I found myself dreaming fondly of those times in Kalamazoo. It was so cooooool!

But, it's only a day dream. I don't want to go back, as I know that when I'm walking out of my doorway in January - sometimes in T-Shirt and shorts - some poor guy will be huddled in that doorway - waiting for a bus on its way to Tundraville, USA. They might even find him in April - frozen in a snowdrift along that sidewalk. It's not really that hot and some people have to pay to take a sauna.

Trickle Down Communications

On Aug. 8, 2007, I received a copy of a notice from the SC Arts Commission about a "convening" of artists from SC in Columbia, SC, on Aug. 28, 2007. The notice was about the fact that SC had been selected to participate in a national initiative known as Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC) - a program to improve conditions for artists in South Carolina. LINC is a ten-year project, based in New York, with major funding from the Ford Foundation.

Although I hadn't received this notice directly from the Arts Commission I posted the notice on our website in our Art News section, under Dated Opportunities. This wasn't the first time that we, the only visual arts publication in the Carolinas, had to hear about some opportunity for artists from a third party. And, I doubt it will be the last.

The next day I received an e-mail from the Arts Commission about the program. I return e-mailed Misty Moore, SCAC Communications contact and commented about how I had received this notice a day earlier from an artist - with my usual sarcasm.

After all, this wasn't the first time I've received notices from a third party and I've been dealing with the Arts Commission for over 20 years. The sarcasm is well earned.

Moore sent the following e-mail: "In this case, Ken May got a head start in contacting artists directly - and having them contact artists who they thought might also be interested - to inform them about the Aug. 28 meeting in Columbia. We then distributed the press release to try to reach those who we might have missed otherwise."

Ken May also posted this little notice at the end of his invitation to attend this "convening": "One final note: If you have received this invitation several times from different friends and colleagues, please don't be annoyed. It just means that you are a well-connected SC artist - the kind of person we need at this convening!"

So this is how a statewide agency communicates with the artists of our state - by using trickle down communications. I guess this is better than their usual method of posting a notice on their website and if you don't see it - too bad.

Are you a well connected artist? Did you receive this notice from several different people? Do you trust other artists to tell you about another funding opportunity? Do you wonder how many of those "special" artists who are directly connected to Ken May, Deputy Director at the SC Arts Commission will end up receiving some of this new funding?

I'm not! I saw how the revamping of the Arts Commission/Art Foundation's Fellowship Awards went and the "special" people in that case got changes made that benefited them - not all artists in SC.

But then again, if you didn't go to that "convening" in Columbia - that you had to pre-register for by Aug. 20 - you'll never be part of the program to "improve conditions for artists in South Carolina".

Makes you wonder how SC got selected to be the first state to participate in this program - did the (LINC) people know what I've been telling readers for years? Something is wrong in SC. Starting with our state arts agency.


If you wait until the day of our deadline (the 12th of the month prior to our next issue) to e-mail us, you're going to find your press release stacked behind a bunch of people who came in earlier. There's only so much room.


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