[image-1] The South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) says its Art of Community: Rural SC program functions as a way of advancing rural development through arts, culture and “creative placemaking.” Last year, the pilot program expanded to include 15 rural S.C. counties

Local partners in each rural and tribal community (which includes Berkeley County) naturally had to pivot some of their programming as the coronavirus pandemic took over the state earlier this year.

Community arts development director Susan DuPlessis said, “We all had to shift in how we were engaging with one another and ask what our roles are in this moment of quarantine and separation.”

Since March, SCAC has convened mavens (the folks who serve as bridges to help the initiative thrive in local communities) for weekly meetings to continue sharing, listening and learning.

Each of the rural Art of Community teams received a $7,500 grant award to engage and build community in ways that use arts and culture strategically. While some plans have had to change due to the coronavirus, teams were able to retrofit projects to respond to the current context.

For example, in Berkeley County, which is represented by local maven Lydia Cotton, a Spanish-language video was created to remind the community of best practices for reducing infection rates.

SCAC has also created a rural networking program, CREATE: Rural SC, which engages rural creative professionals. “These new networks and learning opportunities are bridging gaps and connecting us in ways we need to be connected in rural communities and across the state,” Hampton County Maven Audrey Hopkins-Williams of Estill said.

“We’re a state rich in creativity and ingenuity — and this initiative showcases some of that in our smallest communities,” said SCAC executive director David Platts.

Learn more about The Art of Community: Rural SC online and “meet the mavens” in this YouTube video.

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