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Beaufort, USCB Center for the Arts win state award

The state’s highest honor for contributions to the arts has been awarded to the city of Beaufort and the University of South Carolina Beaufort’s Center for the Arts.

The city and university were announced last week as recipients of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award, which was established in 1972 by the S.C. Arts Commission to recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts.

“We have worked very hard for quite some time to support and enhance the arts in Beaufort, because they are an essential element of what makes us special,” Mayor Billy Keyserling said. “To receive this recognition along with our partner, the USCB Center for the Arts, is quite an honor.”

Bonnie Hargrove, director of the center, said the award is validation that years of hard work are paying dividends across the state.

“This is a prestigious award in the arts world,” she said. “This recognition affirms our work and our intentions to keep the arts and culture in the forefront of everything we do as a community. The arts make us a desirable place to live and to visit, but they also play a role in our economy.”

Beaufort and the USCB Center for the Arts cited in their application how they have formed a partnership and committed to enhancing the arts scene and cultural diversity in Beaufort.

“Beaufort has been chartered for more than 300 years, and I think you can make a case that the arts have been a key component for all those 300 years,” Keyserling said. “Our work now is to help showcase the arts, to highlight their contributions to our community, and to find new ways to support the arts.”

Another element of the application was documentation about the newly-appointed Beaufort Cultural District advisory board. The members board are:

• Bonnie Hargrove, USCB Center for the Arts, chair.

• Robb Wells, Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce.

• Jacque Wedler, Historic Beaufort Foundation.

• Megan Meyer, Santa Elena History Center.

• Carol Lauvray, Beaufort History Museum.

• Deborah Johnson, city of Beaufort liaison.

The board’s mission is to increase tourism, foster a supportive environment for arts and cultural development, and celebrate and strengthen local culture.

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