Greenville, SC l July 6, 2021 — After taking off a year due to the Global Pandemic, the 2021 grant period for the Hughes Investments Elevate Upstate Grants is currently open. On July 14th, Ten at the Top will host a workshop to guide applicants through the process and parameters of the grants. The workshop is from 1:30-3:00 p.m. at their event space at Park 37, 250 Executive Center Drive in Greenville.
Since 2013, Hughes Investments has provided nearly $100,000 in funds to 30 local communities as part of the Elevate Upstate Community Vibrancy Grant program. The purpose of the Elevate Upstate Grants is to identify and provide initial funding support for community-based programs that promote community and economic vibrancy in local areas across the Upstate.
“The Elevate Upstate Grants are for those wishing to bring new life to their communities—a spark, a fresh idea, a new tradition—something that will excite the public and bring people together from all walks of life in a new way,” said Phil Hughes, President of Hughes Investments, Inc.
The workshop will include an overview of the program by Dean Hybl, Phil Hughes and three-time Elevate Upstate grant recipient Jonathan Irick from the City of Laurens Main Street Program.
“The last year has definitely been different and especially challenging for creating community vibrancy,” said Dean Hybl, Executive Director of Ten at the Top. “Phil Hughes and Hughes Investments has long been a local champion around encouraging community vibrancy and we are pleased that the Elevate Upstate Grants will again be available for communities and organizations in 2021.”
The grant period opened June 1st with an initial interest form due by August 13th and the completed applications due by September 17th. Two grants of $5,000 each will be awarded at Ten at the Top’s Annual Celebrating Successes event on November 17th, where finalists will have the opportunity to present their proposed project before a final judgment is made.
The Elevate Upstate Grant Workshop is free and open to the public, but advance registration is requested. You can learn more about the workshop and register through this link.
Quick—who was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in physics? If you came up with Greenville native and Furman graduate Charles Townes (extra points if you also came up with Nikolay Basov and Alexander Prokhorov, who received the award with him), then you’re going to love the Charles Townes Art and Technology Experience this Friday night in Travelers Rest. And if you didn’t come up with his name, you should definitely go see (and experience) the interactive art installation that uses light and sound to inspire curiosity and experimentation in viewers of all ages.
Created by multimedia artists Jeff Sumerel and Goda Rupeikaitė-Sumerel, the project was funded in part by a Hughes Investments Elevate Upstate grant, awarded last year at Ten at the Top’s Celebrate Successes event.
The husband-and-wife team were not, in fact, husband and wife when they began collaborating, but Goda’s work as a documentary director and producer as well as post-production specialist meshed with Jeff’s work as a documentary filmmaker—and they have become collaborators in life as well as in work.
According to a press release about this installation, “Jeff Sumerel and Goda Rupeikaitė-Sumerel create notable, one-of-a-kind stage and film works using traditional and non-traditional methods of production and collaboration to create entertaining, thought-provoking and memorable experiences for diverse audiences.”
Sumeral hopes that the curiosity sparked by this event will turn it into an annual event, bringing others in to create something new each year.
Asked what drew him to Townes, he says he was looking for a well-known Greenville native to celebrate, much like the town of Cheraw, SC has done with native son Dizzie Gillespie. He landed on Townes because “his spirit of curiosity, exploration, and risk-taking resonated not only with those working in science and technology but also those in the arts,” Sumeral says.
Photo credit: Alfred Eisenstaedt
So what exactly is an art and technology experience, and what can visitors expect? It’s not a laser show, nor a grand presentation or in-depth narrative about Townes, Sumeral explains. Rather, he says, it’s “an outdoor abstract multimedia installation that runs every 5 minutes,” with “a minimalistic film projection and audio soundtrack that incorporates quotes from Townes.”
Just bring your curiosity to the football field at Gateway Park in Travelers Rest on Friday, October 11th, between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m., to experience it for yourself! And if you find yourself wanting to know more about Townes, you can read about him here.
In 2018, Union’s Piedmont Physic Garden applied for an Elevate Upstate grant to help pay for a unique kind of festival: an art and music festival, but one that focuses on conservation and environmental awareness. For the first time in the five years that Hughes Investments had been awarding the grants, in addition to the winning projects, the PCC was awarded a matching grant of $3000 for the festival—and that was the impetus for raising the remaining funds ($1500 each from Union City Council and Union County Council) and getting the community behind the project.
Coie Switzer, director of the Piedmont Physic Garden, says, “We want to thank Ten at the Top and Hughes Investments for giving The Environmental Art and Music Festival its start. The $3,000 matching grant gave us the boost we needed to start this positive community vibrancy initiative in Union.”
In addition to the Piedmont Physic Garden, six other groups have come alongside to partner in this endeavor: USC-Union, Union County Tourism, Union County Arts Council, Union County Historical Society, Union Carnegie Library, and Union County Chamber of Commerce. The fruits of their labor will be realized this weekend, with the first-ever Environmental Art and Music Festival.
The festival celebrates Union County’s natural beauty and culture. It will take place in the heart of historic downtown Union, SC. The Vendor Village will take place on the campus of USC-Union’s Patrons Park, including food trucks and a mix of craftsmen, artists, and others whose works are based on sustaining natural products and resources. Click here to read more about it, from Linda Wilburn Weber of the PCC.
The festival will also include art exhibits at USC-Union’s Main Building, the Union County Museum, the Piedmont Physic Garden, the Union County Arts Council gallery and the Union Carnegie Library in addition to a Main Street Arts Stroll.
FREE outdoor music concerts will be held on Friday and Saturday nights at USC-Union’s Patron’s Park.
Schedule of Events
THURSDAY, SEPT. 26th Union County Arts Council 2019 Annual Art Exhibition Award Ceremony & Opening Reception @USC-Union Main Building 6 PM
FRIDAY, SEPT. 27th (All-DAY W/ EVENING CONCERT) Vendor Village @ USC-Union’s Patrons Park 10 AM – 5 PM UCAC 2019 Annual Art Exhibition @ USC-Union’s Main Building 10 AM – 5 PM Sculpture Exhibit @ Piedmont Physic Garden 10 AM – 5 PM Children and Teen Art Exhibit @ Union Carnegie Library 10 AM – 5 PM Art Exhibit featuring Eola Dent at Union County Museum 10 AM – 5 PM Art Exhibit featuring Thomas A. Tucker at UCAC Gallery 10 AM – 5 PM Main Street Art Stroll 10 AM – 5 PM Free Family-Friendly Bluegrass Concert featuring Tri County Express @ USC-Union’s Patrons Park 5 PM – 7 PM Free Rock Concert featuring Dazed Renegade @USC-Union’s Patrons Park 7 PM – 9 PM
SATURDAY, SEPT. 28th (ALL-DAY W/ EVENING CONCERT) Vendor Village @ USC-Union’s Patrons Park 10 AM – 5 PM UCAC 2019 Annual Art Exhibition @ USC-Union’s Main Building 10 AM – 5 PM Sculpture Exhibit @ Piedmont Physic Garden 10 AM – 5 PM Children and Teen Art Exhibit @ Union Carnegie Library 10 AM – 5 PM Art Exhibit featuring Eola Dent at Union County Museum 10 AM – 5 PM Art Exhibit featuring Thomas A. Tucker at UCAC Gallery 10 AM – 5 PM Main Street Art Stroll 10 AM – 5 PM Live Music featuring Jordan Lawson 12 PM – 2 PM Free concert featuring Nashville musician and Grammy nominated songwriter, Robert Arthur and Union band, QUEST @ USC-Union’s Patrons Park 7 PM – 9 PM
One of last year’s winners was the 96 Mill Village Association’s Movie in the Park series.
Every year in June, Ten at the Top opens the application period for $5000 Elevate Upstate grants, given out every year for programs, projects, and initiatives that promote community vibrancy.
Since 2013, Hughes Investments, Inc. has provided $80,000 in funds to 24 local communities as part of the Elevate Upstate Community Vibrancy Grant program.
What is community vibrancy, anyway? Think of the things in your own community that make you proud to live where you live, that get you out of your house and interacting with your neighbors. Things that make your streets more attractive and celebrate what makes your community unique. Those are things that make your community vibrant.
Phil Hughes, president of Hughes Investments, says, “The Elevate Upstate Grants are for those wishing to bring new life to their communities—a spark, a fresh idea, a new tradition—something that will excite the public and bring people together from all walks of life in a new way.”
One of the winners from 2013, the first year the grants were awarded, has become a popular annual event in Greer.
Past Elevate Upstate grant winners include public art projects, interactive outdoor education, downtown music, a food truck plaza, and more. The key element is that the proposed initiative will increase community vibrancy and sense of place and benefit the community as a whole. Take a look at the list of past winners here, with some video clips that explain the projects.
Do you have a community vibrancy project that could use some funds to get off the ground? Do you want to find out more about how to navigate the process of applying for an Elevate Upstate grant? On July 16th, we’ll be hosting an Elevate Upstate Grant Workshop here at our event facility, and we’d love to see you there.
The town of West Pelzer capitalized on its designation as a bird sanctuary and created an educational art installation of bird houses along Main Street.
You’ll hear from Mary Anne Goodman from the Ninety Six Mill Village Association, who successfully applied for a grant to fund a community movie night. You’ll also hear from Coie Switzer and Curtiss Hunter from the Union Environmental Art and Music Festival, who were runners up and received a matching grant—and how they got the support they needed to launch their event a year ahead of schedule.
For those interested in applying, an interest form is due by August 1st and the completed applications due by September 16th. Two grants of $5,000 each will be awarded at Ten at the Top’s annual Celebrating Successes event in November, where finalists will have the opportunity to present their proposed project before a final judgment is made.
Jonathan Irick, Director of Main Street Laurens since 2006, has worked hard to make downtown Laurens a place that locals can be proud of and that visitors will want to return to, and he was recently awarded the Main Street America Revitalization Professional Credential. Congratulations, Jonathan!
A press release from Main Street America said of Irick and Main Street Laurens, “During his tenure as the Director of Main Street Laurens, Jonathan has continued to lead the program and its many volunteers to become a model program both across the state and nationally. Main Street Laurens is a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote, improve and preserve the unique character and economic vitality of downtown Laurens.”
In 2014, Main Street Laurens won a Hughes Investment Elevate Upstate grant, presented by Ten at the Top, for the Finally Friday on the Square program. It was billed as a “celebration of all things Laurens,” with live music to bring people into the historic downtown area from April through September. The $5000 grant allowed Laurens to pay for the music artists for all of 2015, but the music was just the beginning—other attractions include free trolley rides, extended business hours, and special treats like an ice cream social.
Main Street Laurens’ Facebook page lists events, including the upcoming Sip ‘n’ Stroll Wine Tasting on April 25, and promotes local businesses. If you haven’t visited downtown Laurens recently, check out one of their events, visit their businesses, and be sure to tag any photos you take with #upstatevibe365!
This week, Ten at the Top hosted its annual Celebrating Successes event, in which companies and organizations celebrating milestone anniversaries are recognized, service awards are presented, and Elevate Upstate grant finalists make their presentation and winners are announced.
More than 200 people gathered at the Greenville Marriott for the event; attendees included representatives from the milestone organizations and Elevate Upstate finalists, along with Ten at the Top funding partners and other supporters.
More than 100 milestone entities were recognized, including Oconee and Pickens Counties and Park Seed Company celebrating 150 years in the Upstate. Next year’s celebration will include Ten at the Top’s 10thanniversary, and executive director Dean Hybl promises an extra special celebration. (If you know of a landmark anniversary that should be included next year, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The Burdette Leadership Award, named for Ten at the Top founding board member Carol Burdette, recognizes a woman in leadership who has made a significant contribution to our region, went to South Carolina state legislator Chandra Dillard, who had previously served for several years on the Greenville City Council.
The Welling Award for Regional Collaboration, named for founding board member Irv Welling, went to two other founding board members, Terence Roberts and Rick Danner, mayors of Anderson and Greer, respectively. The two men have supported the collaborative efforts of Ten at the Top since its inception and continue to look outward from their towns to embrace a more regional outlook.
Last year was the fifth year in Phil Hughes’ 5-year commitment to fund the Hughes Investment Elevate Upstate Grants, and after last year’s grants were awarded, he committed to another five years. In those five years, 21 grants were awarded for a total of $67,000—exceeding Hughes’ original commitment of $10,000 per year.
As in past years, the five Elevate Upstate grant finalists each gave a four-minute presentation about their proposed community vibrancy projects. Out of 26 applications, the grant committee selected the following five finalists:
Centuries of Gaffney: A Walking Tour (City of Gaffney)—signage to indicate historically significant sites from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries in Gaffney
1st Annual Charles Townes Art & Technology Experiment (Jeff Sumerel of Spontaneous Productions, in partnership with the Town of Travelers Rest)—laser-based light and audio installations celebrating Charles Townes, Greenville native, Furman University graduate, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics
IDEAS Festival: Increase Dialog about Engagement in Arts and Social justice initiatives (The Arts Center of Clemson/City of Clemson Arts& Culture Commission)—an interactive, community-based arts festival that increases engagement with the arts and social justice
Ninety Six Movie Night at the Park (Ninety Six Mill Village Neighborhood Association)—in a town with no movie theater, a community initiative that brings residents together to increase use of Ninety Six Mill Park
Environmental Art Festival (Piedmont Physic Garden, in partnership with Union County Arts Council, USC-Union, and Union County Tourism Commission)—an arts festival with the theme of “Imagine a Sustainable World,”highlighting the rich natural resources in Union County
The two grant winners were Jeff Sumerel (who gave his presentation with the aid of a ventriloquist puppet) and the Charles Townes Art and Technology Experiment, and the Ninety Six Mill Village Neighborhood Association’s Movie Night at the Park—after project coordinator Mary Ann Goodman charmed the audience with her comedic timing in her presentation. The Union Physic Garden was runner up, receiving a $3,000 matching grant.
As always, Ten at the Top thanks Phil Hughes and Hughes Investments, the grant finalists, and all of the other applicants for their contributions to community vibrancy all over the Upstate.