Community Arts Development Director for South Carolina Arts Commission (Columbia, South Carolina)
Sessions: The Power of Listening and Learning through practice, story and documentation (Friday, 11am – 12:15pm)
Rural Prosperity through the Arts and Creative Sector (Friday, 1:30 – 3:15pm)
Community Arts Development Director for the South Carolina Arts Commission, Susan DuPlessis has worked at the intersection of arts, culture, business and community development for more than 25 years. As an artist whose background is documentary photography, her approach is grounded in respect for people, place and shared story. Developing and leading the new initiative called The Art of Community: Rural SC and its corresponding program, CREATE: Rural SC, she continues to practice listening, learning and connecting in rural and urban settings as more local constituents organize themselves to address community challenges using arts and culture as tools for change. Community mavens are asked what’s compelling and urgent, who tells their community stories and how can those stories be set within the assets of place rather than what’s broken. Including those scheduled for 2019, The Art of Community: Rural SC initiative will have been featured in almost 25 national and regional conferences and webinars since its inception in 2016. In addition to this initiative, she is particularly proud of the creation of a partnership with the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor which runs the coast from North Carolina to upper Florida. Through this initiative, more artists of Gullah descent have had access to grant funding and technical assistance from the South Carolina Arts Commission.
Currently, she sits on the boards of the South Carolina Artisans Center, The Journal of Appalachian Health and The Charleston Rhizome Circle of Advisors. Active in the field of creative placemaking, she served on the 2019 conference planning committees for Rural Generation Conference in Jackson, MS, and the 2018 and 2019 Southeastern Creative Placemaking Leadership summits, in Columbia, South Carolina, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. As well, she has served as a grant reviewer for organizations including ArtPlace America and serves on the planning committee for the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street program.
A native South Carolinian, Susan is driven by opportunities to showcase the rich diversity of South Carolina through its people, places and stories.