Friday, February 4, 2011

Major arts award trio named

“Combining this triumvirate of highly accomplished persons as namesakes for the Summey Barkley Rucker Medallion has great potential for elevating the work of mentoring young lowcountry artists,” said Mary Gould, director of the South of Broadway Theatre Company (SOBTC), announcing a new arts award named after North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts Founding Chair Nella Barkley and Hootie & the Blowfish lead singer Darius Rucker. The award, sponsored by SOBTC and presented annually, will recognize group or individual efforts at training and developing young artists. A selection committee will name the award’s first recipient by early-March as other plans take shape for a longstanding SOBTC youth arts project.  

Since 2005 SOBTC has sponsored Summer In The City (SITC), a month-long artististic residency program for aspiring Lowcountry actors, dancers and musicians ages 14-19. SITC participants reside at The Juilliard School in New York City while taking masterclasses with teachers from various performing arts institutions. According to Gould averages of ten students make the trip each year, however, the increased student turnout at SITC auditions held last month is expected to boost this year’s June 5 – July 2 residency to its highest enrollment. Gould will announce SITC participants later this month.

Mayor Summey and Youth Endowment for the Arts along with Mayors Joseph P. Riley, Jr. and the late Harry Hallman, Jr. were instrumental in launching the first year of SITC. “Mayor Summey is leading a transformation in North Charleston’s commercial and cultural appeal which impacts our work everyday,” Gould said. After taking office in 1994, Mayor Summey restored the city’s previously disbanded Cultural Arts Department to a full stand alone department which now has 13 employees and in 1999 established The Coliseum and Convention Center Complex, the lowcountry’s largest events arena.

Nella Barkley is a former Spoleto Festival USA General Manager, Founding Chair of the SCETV Endowment and of the Crystal-Barkley Corporation’s pioneering strategies for human resources management and author of The Crystal-Barkley Guide To Taking Charge of Your Career. “Nella is a towering force in many local, state and national endeavors and especially in the arts, education and the humanities,” said Gould. As board chair of the Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts since 2006, Barkley’s reach in helping arts organizations is much sought after.

From his world-wide success as the lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish to his solo delve into R&B, to his current meteoric rise to the top of the Country Music scene, Darius Rucker has sustained a successful music career spanning a quarter of a century. Songs from their debut album earned the group two Grammy’s along with a multitude of other awards, countless television appearances, and a fan base that crosses continents.  Rucker’s release of his solo record, Charleston, SC 1966, has reached #1 on the country chart as well as climbing to #2 on the Billboard Top 200. Gould cited Rucker’s “commitment to philanthropy, hard work, quality songwriting and energizing performances” as key elements in defining the purpose of the new arts award, the Summey Barkley Rucker Medallion.

“Indeed the life-works of these three persons is an inspiration to young artists and to the groups and individuals who help shape the lives of young artists” Gould said.

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