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Highlighting the Research and Expertise of College of Charleston Professors

Professor Patrick Harwood
Department of Communication


Professor Scott Shanklin-Peterson
Arts Management

Scott S-P Prof. Scott Shanklin-Peterson

Fostering the Art of Excellence
By Lynda DuTart

With the dedication and insight of Program Director Scott Shanklin-Peterson, the Arts Management and Administration Program celebrates its 10th anniversary.

However, getting to this point was not easy. Arts management programs were rare when she was growing up. That was an obstacle she faced and defeated while growing up in Clemson.

Shanklin-Peterson would ascend to the highest levels of education and the arts in America.

Education-wise, you can't do much better than Harvard University's Institute of Arts Administration of which Shanklin-Peterson is a graduate. She has held high-level positions at the National Endowment for the Arts and has sat on the boards of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and the American Council for the Arts.

But something keeps pulling her back to the Palmetto State. Shanklin-Peterson was executive director of the South Carolina Arts Commission. She has also served as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Southern Arts Federation.

Today, she leads one of the nation's premiere arts management college programs which nicely complements and enhances Charleston's growing reputation as a (not just Southern) cultural and arts center.

Her contributions to the arts in South Carolina have not gone unnoticed. She is a recipient of the 2005 Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Award, the official Governor's Awards for the Arts. Winthrop University bestowed on her its Medal of Honor in the Arts which recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the arts.

As a little girl, Shanklin-Peterson had the wonderful opportunity to see all of the performing arts shows presented at Clemson University.

Her aunt was the secretary to five of Clemson's presidents over a period of years and she was also in charge of booking the shows. She made sure that her niece got a season pass to all the shows. This sparked Shanklin-Peterson's interest in the arts.

"When I went to college I said 'I want to study art AND study business,' I was told, 'People don't do that. You're either an artist or your into business.' I was sent to the school psychologist to take several tests!" Shanklin-Peterson proved to them that she had the aptitude to do both.

Prior to building the Arts Management program at the College of Charleston, Shanklin-Peterson's expertise and ability to coordinate are reflections of her past experiences.

Living on an Indian reservation with her husband in South Dakota, she started an Indian Crafts Cooperative so that the Indians could buy and sell their supplies outside of the reservation store. She also made contacts for them to be able to sell their work and traveled with samples to promote their work in other areas. "So that was the beginning of arts administration, but not really knowing if it was or wasn't a career," she says.

That question was answered later after her son was born and her family returned to Columbia. Shanklin-Peterson went by the employment office to visit an old friend who asked if she was still interested in the arts. Her friend explained that there was an agency that was looking for someone to start an arts education program. She applied and got the job which started as a part-time 20 hour a week job but quickly turned to full-time.

"I would call on schools all over the state to promote the concept of bringing artists into the schools," Shanklin-Peterson says, "A lot of schools didn't have art teachers, music teachers or poetry teachers, so it was a way for them to involve the arts by having an artist come in for a week to three weeks to give them a more well-rounded exposure to the arts."

In addition to her passion for the education and management of art and arts administration, Shanklin-Peterson holds a couple of spectacular pieces near and dear to her heart. One is a compilation of highschool students' draft papers sewn together like a quilt with a fabric backing.

Artist Ellen Kochansky created this piece while doing a residency at Daniel High School, Shanklin-Peterson's alma-mater. After the piece was complete, she generously gave it to Shanklin-Peterson. It now hangs framed in her home as a focal point.

Another more personal piece called "14 Days" consists of her own hair that Shanklin-Peterson lost each day for 14 days during her battle with breast cancer. The 14 hair pieces were weaved together with a red ribbon, mounted on silk, and framed. "14 Days" was created by local artist and College of Charleston graduate Adrienne Antonson.

"Working with Scott Shanklin-Peterson has truly been an inspiring experience," student Crystal Ford says. "I have learned and continue to learn a great deal about myself through her leadership and guidance.  I admire her lifelong efforts in arts advocacy and passion for students, our future arts advocates and administrators.  I am most blessed to have her wisdom and support as I continue my graduate level education in arts management."

Shanklin-Peterson is a supportive leader to the College of Charleston students and faculty. She has influenced not only students but her own children who are both successfully working in the arts. Her daughter, a graduate of the College of Charleston, is the Director of Young Audiences of Maryland. Her son, a composer of music for film, was recently nominated for an Academy Award.

The College of Charleston is currently the only school in the South Carolina that offers a major and minor in Arts Management and Administration.

"It's all about moving the arts agenda forward in a very positive way," Shanklin-Peterson says, "It's my passion."