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South Carolina Arts Foundation

McNair Award


Joe RileyThe South Carolina Arts Foundation will honor Joe Riley, former mayor of Charleston, with the 2017 McNair Award for his dedication in ensuring that the arts continue to play a vital role in our communities. The McNair Award will be presented at a luncheon showcasing the South Carolina Arts Awards, which also honor recipients of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts and the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards. The luncheon takes place in Columbia May 2, beginning with an art sale at 11 a.m. at the USC Alumni Center, 900 Senate St.. The luncheon follows at 12:30 p.m.


Reserve luncheon tickets online or by calling (803) 734-8696.


Established in 2007, the McNair Award is named for the late Governor Robert E. McNair, who signed legislation to create the Arts Commission in 1967 to “ensure that the arts continue to grow and play an ever more significant part in the welfare and educational experiences of our citizens." Originally presented posthumously to Governor McNair, the award continues to honor outstanding leaders who have built on the legacy of the award's namesake: working diligently to make South Carolina a place where the arts thrive for the benefit of all South Carolinians.


Signing of legislation creating the South Carolina Arts Commission. Pictured are Nick Zeigler, Governor Robert McNair, and Marvin Trapp.Gov. Robert E. McNair signing legislation creating the South Carolina Arts Commission, on June 7, 1967. Nick Zeigler, left, chaired the S. C. Inter-Agency Council on the Arts and Humanities, which conducted a study of the arts in preparation for launching the Arts Commission. Marvin Trapp, right, served as the Arts Commission's first chairman.







Governor Robert E. McNairThe South Carolina Arts Foundation paid tribute to the late Gov. Robert E. McNair during the Arts Commission's 40th anniversary celebration in May 2007 honoring his role in creating the agency. Former board members and others who shaped the agency's history participated in the celebration.




Former S.C. Governor Richard W. Riley 2010 McNair Award

Richard W. Riley

Former S.C. Governor and U.S. Secretary of Education


For leadership and dedication to the arts and arts education in S.C.




2011 McNair Award

Susie Surkamer

Former S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director


For her visionary leadership and advocacy for a strong arts community in the Palmetto State and her affirmation of public support to guarantee arts opportunities and accessibility for all South Carolinians.


Former S.C. Governor Richard W. Riley 2013 McNair Award

Patrick R. VanHuss

Former Chairman, S.C. Arts Commission and S.C. Arts Foundation


In recognition of his leadership and advocacy for the arts and arts education as integral to the lives of every South Carolinian.


Former S.C. Governor Richard W. Riley 2015 McNair Award

Robert "Wes" Wesley Hayes

Former Senator and Arts Caucus Co-chairman

S.C. Senate


For dedicating more than three decades to ensuring that the arts continue to play a vital role in our nation’s schools and communities.