Self Foundation Among 6 State Award Recipients
February 19, 2012
By ST. CLAIRE DONAGHY
Greenwood, SC - The South Carolina Arts Commission Board has announced the Self Family Foundation of Greenwood is one of six recipients of the 2012 Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Award for the Arts - the highest honor the state bestows in the arts.
Recipients will be presented their awards at the Statehouse on May 3.
"While health care and education have been a primary focus for us, arts and culture have always been an interest for us, and the arts are important to education as well," Wideman said.
Established in 1972, the annual Verner Awards recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina.
Frank Wideman III, president of the Self Family Foundation, said the foundation's staff, officers and trustees are "really excited and pleased" about the award.
Arts Center at the Federal Building
"Arts and culture play an important part of community wellness, too. Really, credit belongs to arts organizations we've supported over the years and the great job they do."
Greenwood is fortunate to have a thriving arts community, Wideman said.
"The major grant we made, toward repurposing the Federal Building as the Arts Center, has had a great return on investment," Wideman said. "It's been a catalyst for revitalization of Greenwood's town center. Other funding ad private dollars have come forth to help The Museum and Greenwood Community Theatre.
The city also has obtained federal and state grants for streetscape and facade improvements for the town's center."
Anne Craig, executive director of the Arts Council of Greenwood County, nominated the Self Family Foundation for the Verner Award category recognizing businesses and foundations. In 2008, the Arts Council of Greenwood County was a recipient of the Verner Award for an arts organization.
Craig said she nominated the Self Family Foundation because recognition of its support of the arts is "long over due, especially at the state level."
In her narrative nominating the foundation for the award, Craig wrote: "The foundation provided the seed money to establish the Greenwood Arts Council in 1995 and provided additional sustainability funding to enable the hiring of a full-time director and part-time support staff in January of 1997. During the early years of the council, the foundation continued to fund programs, especially for youth and underserved youth."
Additionally, Craig's narrative said the Self Family Foundation funded assessments, studies and planning grants focused on development of a new arts center, in what was at the time the vacated Federal Building at 120 Main St. in Greenwood. Craig noted the foundation also has an office in the Arts Center at the Federal Building.
"This is another benefit for the arts," Craig wrote in her narrative. "They pay a market rate lease to support operations of the Federal Building."
In 2004, the foundation granted $1,750,000 to fund renovations to the Federal Building, The Museum, and Greenwood Community Theatre. Plus, a capital campaign raised an equal amount.
Bess Park, executive/artistic director of Greenwood Community Theatre, said the Self Family Foundation has been instrumental in encouraging, maintaining and supporting the community theatre through the years.
"Through their support, over the past six years, we have become self-reliant, firmly rooted in sound business practices," Park said. "We are able to consistently produce excellent theater and theater education for our community."
Through the years, the foundation has supported programming with Abbeville Opera House, Dorn Historical Association, South Carolina Educational Television, Greenwood-Lander Performing Arts, Lander University, McCormick Arts Council, the Humanities of SC, the National Heritage Corridor and the Benjamin Mays Historic Site.
The foundation also donated land to build the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina on Hilton Head Island, formerly known as the Self Family Arts Center.
The Self Family Foundation was established in 1942, by James C. Self, founder of Greenwood Mills.
The humanitarian organization was established to equip the Greenwood community with a modern hospital, what is now Self Regional Medical Center. Too, James C. Self's only child, Jim Self, who continued the work of the foundation, was a driving force in establishing the Greenwood Genetic Center.
Officers and trustees including several members of the Self Family, carry out the Self Family Foundation's work today.
Through the years, the foundation's mission has expanded to include education, arts and culture. In total, the Self Family Foundation has distributed more than $60 million in grants to improve the quality of life for residents of Greenwood and South Carolina, since its establishment in 1942.
Mamie Nicholson, the foundation's program officer, said since the mid-1990s, the foundation has granted more than $2.8 million to support arts and culture in South Carolina.
"The foundation views arts and culture as an important piece of economic development, as well as a key piece of personal development for the entire community," Nicholson said. "It's a piece of the whole, to make our community better."