South Carolina Humanities Honored With Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award

SC Humanities is pleased to be a recipient of the 2017 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts, the highest honor the state presents in the arts. Established in 1972, the annual awards recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina. SC Humanities is being honored in the category of Organization for our four-plus decades of enhancing and enriching the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians.

Since 1973, SC Humanities has presented and sponsored many projects, exhibits and festivals that showcased artists or included arts-related components. In 2016 alone, SC Humanities  supported the exhibit “Daufuskie Memories: Photographs by Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe” at the Columbia Museum of Art, the film festival “Daughters: Celebrating Emerging Female Filmmakers of Color” at the Nickelodeon, the exhibit “Back Where I Come From: The Upcountry’s Piedmont Blues” at the Upcountry History Museum, a major exhibit on Catawba pottery at the USC Lancaster Native American Studies Center, and a series of programs in Atlantic Beach featuring the social and cultural importance of South Carolina’s state dance, the shag.

Dr. Randy Akers, Executive Director of SC Humanities, said: “It is an honor for SC Humanities to be recognized by our peers and partners from the South Carolina Arts Commission. SC Humanities has supported the literary arts for many years through the South Carolina Book Festival and our new literary initiatives and Fast Track Literary Grants, as well as other arts-based projects and activities. The creative activity of the arts and the interpretive methodology of the humanities combine to enhance and enrich the lives of South Carolinians.”

Other recipients of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts in 2017 include:

  • Lifetime Achievement:
    • Laura Spong, Columbia
    • Leo Twiggs, Orangeburg
  • Artist: Quentin Baxter, Charleston
  • Individual: Betsy Teter, Spartanburg
  • Arts in Education: Brenda P. McCutchen, Columbia
  • Business/Foundation: The Stringer & Rainey Foundations, Anderson
  • Government: The City of Beaufort/USC Beaufort Center for the Arts, South Carolina
  • Organization: South Carolina Humanities, Columbia

“Each of these Verner Award recipients has contributed greatly to the arts community as an outstanding ambassador for our state,” said S.C. Arts Commission Chairman Henry Horowitz. “Their dedication to the arts benefits South Carolinians and materially enhances our state’s economic vitality. As the Arts Commission marks its 50th anniversary, we are honored to recognize these organizations and individuals who embody the service, commitment and passion that helped build our state’s half century of leadership in the arts.”

The awards were presented on Tuesday, May 2 in Columbia at the State House followed by a celebratory luncheon.

Dr. Randy Akers (center) accepts the 2017 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts from Governor Henry McMaster (right) and Henry Horowitz (left), Chair of the South Carolina Arts Commission Board.

The 2017 award recipients pose at the South Carolina Statehouse.

SC Humanities Board, staff, and friends at the May 2017 luncheon

For more about the Verner Awards or the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon, call (803) 734-8696 or visit

The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c) 3 organization is governed by a volunteer 21-member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.