Survey of South Carolina Tradition Bearers

The South Carolina Arts Commission is starting the third phase of their Survey of South Carolina Tradition Bearers in August 2012, and it will continue through June 2013. The survey is designed to identify traditional artists who still practice the diverse community-based art forms that make South Carolina unique. The results of the survey will be used for documentation and to provide support and programming to traditional artists and their communities. SC Humanities has supported the Survey of South Carolina Tradition Bearers for several years.

Thus far, the survey has identified 120 traditional artists from around the state. The second phase of the survey specifically sought refugees living in South Carolina that continued art forms unique to their culture, and “tradition bearers” from 9 countries were identified, including cloth weavers from Burma and basket weavers from Burundi. Other countries from which refugee artists were identified include: Bhutan, Bosnia, Cambodia, Congo, Iraq, Laos, and South Sudan.

The South Carolina Arts Commission has already used these findings for positive work. They partnered with the Richland County Public Library to hold a World Refugee Day in June 2012, and they hope to partner with an English as a Second Language teacher from Richland School District 2 to bring traditional arts into the classroom.

The third phase of the Survey of South Carolina Tradition Bearers will work on identifying tradition bearers in the counties of Aiken, Bamberg, Barnwell, and Orangeburg. The McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina will partner with the South Carolina Arts Commission by conducting fieldwork in the counties of Allendale, Clarendon, Colleton, Dillon, Hampton, Marion, and Williamsburg. If you would like to contribute to the survey by identifying tradition bearers in one of these counties or for more information about the survey, please contact Julianne Carroll at the South Carolina Arts Commission at 803-734-8764.

The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. SC Humanities programs and initiatives are balanced, reflecting sensitivity to the diversity of ideas, encourage open dialogue, demonstrate integrity and are ethical in operations.

Image: Weaving done by Burmese women in Columbia