ArtsGrowSC News

Arts Grow SC Expands, Executive Director Named

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Commission and the South Carolina Department of Education announce the expansion of Arts Grow SC as a permanent fixture in the state’s arts learning landscape.

An arts-based initiative created to address COVID-related learning loss will expand to add statewide hubs and full-time staffing including incoming executive director, S.C. Arts Commission (SCAC) deputy director Ashley Brown. Arts Grow SC is set to become an anchor in the state’s arts learning field and will follow a collective impact model with the SCAC serving as the backbone support organization.

The program will activate existing education consortiums and shared-resource school districts as well as develop new hubs in areas not currently being served. This approach will bring further sustainability — building on the strengths of the S.C. Department of Education (SCDE), the SCAC, partnering organizations, schools, and districts.

Arts Grow SC began in July 2021 as a three-year partnership between the SCDE and the SCAC utilizing ARP ESSER funds for public schools to address pandemic-related learning loss with proven, arts-based learning initiatives. This $20 million investment allows a professional team and a network of partners to help schools fill these learning gaps, use arts integration to remediate core subjects,​ and provide summer and afterschool learning.

In addition to new programming and support in hubs across the state, Arts Grow SC will take root with a flagship location, the Spearman Center for Arts Innovation. To be located at 1026 Sumter Street in Columbia and named for former music teacher and current S.C. Superintendent of Education, Molly Spearman, the intention is to break ground on the new Center in the coming year. It will provide:

  • direct programs
  • professional learning
  • events
  • resource distribution
  • exhibitions

Incoming Arts Grow SC and Spearman Center executive director, Ashley Brown, has served throughout the Southeast as a nonprofit and higher education administrator, public school teacher, stage manager, teaching artist, and director. She received her Bachelor of Arts in theatre from Winthrop University and her Master of Fine Art in theatre management from Florida State University.

Current Arts Grow SC partners include Arts in Basic Curriculum Institute; Engaging Creative Minds; S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities; ArtsNOW; Boys and Girls Club of the Crescent Region; S.C. Educational Television; S.C. Arts Alliance; Palmetto State Arts Education; Education Commission of the States/Arts Education Partnerships; and the Research, Evaluation, and Measurement Center at the University of South Carolina.

“In just a year we have rallied a statewide network to use the arts to address COVID-19 related learning loss. Using a collective impact model, Arts Grow SC and the Spearman Center for Arts Innovation will work to ensure every student in South Carolina has access to quality arts education and experiences,” said incoming Arts Grow SC Executive Director Ashley Brown. “I can’t think of a better way to honor the legacy of Superintendent Spearman and all she has done for the arts in South Carolina.”

“I have seen firsthand the tremendous impact that the arts can have on student engagement and academic achievement,” Superintendent Molly Spearman remarked. “Throughout my career in public education, I have strived to bring these opportunities to all students across our state and am so honored that the S.C. Arts Commission has chosen to name this Center after me. I look forward to seeing the innovative practices and programs that this Center will grow and support.”

“This is an exciting time for the arts in South Carolina,” said SCAC Executive Director David Platts.  “Building on the strong foundation of existing partnerships across the state, Arts Grow SC stands as a model of how we, as state agencies, can work together with local consortia, organizations and school districts to help students most directly impacted by COVID recover and position themselves for future academic success.  I can think of no more fitting tribute to Superintendent Spearman, whose life and career have been dedicated to turning challenges into opportunities in order to better serve students from all over South Carolina.”

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences.

A state agency created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in four areas: arts learning, community and traditional arts, artist development, and arts industry. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the SCAC is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts, and other sources. Visit or call 803.734.8696, and follow @SCArtsComm on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


View this and other SCAC news on The Hub by clicking here.

Media Contact
Jason L. Rapp, Communications Director
South Carolina Arts Commission | 803.734.8899 (direct)