Celebrating 30 years…
Since securing federal funds through the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1972 and awarding its first grant, the Humanities Council has offered the riches of the humanities to diverse audiences across the state.
Perspectives have been broadened over the last 30 years as membership on the statewide board of directors has grown to include business people, librarians, academics, lawyers, educators and government officials. Such diversity in insights and skills has contributed to defining the public humanities in South Carolina.
Programming itself has changed dramatically since 1972. Beginning with an emphasis on public policy issues, projects range now from major exhibits and documentary films to lectures and conferences, from reading and discussion programs to public forums and festivals
By creating its own programs, the Council has raised its visibility, created new working relationships with several state organizations and reached new audiences. Activities such as the South Carolina Humanities Festival, the “Friends of SCHC,” the Governor’s Awards in the Humanities, and the South Carolina Book Festival have helped the Council expand its outreach and impact. The South Carolina Encyclopedia project, which should be completed by 2005, is the largest initiative undertaken by the Council to date.
The Council feels the urgency to become a more visible statewide organization, to move into areas of development and fundraising, to target desired markets, and to educate and inspire the public about the value of the public humanities.
The Humanities Council will continue support of its regrant program. Changes will be made to shape the grants program through solicitation of proposals on special themes. We will strive to be flexible, to fund programs of quality from the small town museum to a major university campus.
The Humanities Council faces the future with specific goals: (1) greater visibility and name recognition, (2) increased status as a leading organization in South Carolina’s cultural infrastructure, and (3) increased productivity and resource utilization
Already the Council’s web site has helped promote programs statewide and increased accessibility to grant guidelines and application forms. Complimenting the web presence over the past two years has been Council sponsorship of statewide public radio.
Recently, the Council authorized the creation of a new, more distinctive and consistent look for materials. The design, motto and color scheme are intended to capture the essence of the Council’s purpose and to give us a recognizable brand identity
The Council will continue to do what it does best, awarding grants; but imaginative thinking is necessary to encourage even larger numbers of people to participate in humanities programs. Underserved communities and constituencies must be targeted. Technology should be used to expand and reach audiences.
The humanities can help bridge education and state government. Collaboration with other organizations with shared objectives will help as well. Ideally the Council’s efforts will cultivate interest in lifelong learning and improve relations among diverse groups in the state.
The Humanities Council will continue to work with our current cultural and educational partners while seeking new partners. You are in our circle of friends. Please join your voice with ours to expand the impact of the humanities throughout South Carolina.
Randy L. Akers | executive director