Our mission of preparing dedicated students for 21st-century careers through rigorous, pre-professional arts training has propelled many of our students into notable positions in the arts. 

For generations, our center has nurtured the talents of countless artists, writers, musicians, and performers who have gone on to make a profound impact on the world of arts and culture. The FAC is honored to play a part in shaping budding artists to find success in their field. 

Our alumni continue to make us proud. GRAMMY® Award-nominated artist, performer, and songwriter Marcus King, TONY and Grammy Award nominated performer Phillip Boykin, producer and host of a national television show Dr. Shaniece Criss, and many more got their start at FAC.



Our board is a committed community of passionate professionals. Their commitment to our students help the Fine Arts Center continue to bring arts education to the Upstate. 

Katy Bergman Cassell earned an MFA from Kent State University and a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art. She worked as an archaeological illustrator in India and as a museum educator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cloisters, in New York. She taught metals, enameling, and drawing at colleges in Ohio until moving to Greenville, SC to teach at the Fine Arts Center. She was awarded a National Artists Teachers Fellowship to travel to England in 2015. She teaches workshops nationally, has been a South Carolina State Parks Artist-in-Residence, and was on the board of the Center for Enamel Art in Oakland, CA.

She exhibits her work extensively. Recent exhibitions include the Blaze International Enameling Exhibition in Taipei, Taiwan. She has had eight solo exhibitions, the most recently at the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum in Mesa, AZ in 2017 and Riverworks Gallery in Greenville, SC in 2018. Her artwork has been selected to promote the Society of North American Goldsmith’s Exhibition in Motion, and the Richmond Art Center’s Place as Landscape exhibition, and other publications include The Art of Enameling, 500 Enameled Objects, Metalsmith magazine, Cleveland Scene, At Home in the Upstate, and The Greenville News.

Her website is

Jess Abbott is the CEO for Greenville Center for Creative Arts with over 16 years of experience in nonprofit arts administration. She has a proven track record of start-up to growth-phase organizational leadership and development. From formulating strategic fundraising plans to preparing annual budgets and implementing sound strategies, her background has consistently been characterized by a steadfast dedication to managing fiscal responsibility and achieving organizational growth objectives. She has dedicated her career to diligently diversifying income streams and building lasting relationships to secure financial stability for arts organizations that will ensure all programming emphasizes diversity, equity, inclusion, and access. Art should be a fundamental right, not a privilege.

Jess currently serves on the Board of Directors for Palmetto State Arts Education in addition to joining the Board of Directors for the Fine Arts Center in Greenville. She received Bachelor of Arts degrees (Magna Cum Laude) in both Dance and Communications from James Madison University and a Professional Certificate in Fund Development from the University of Richmond. In a panel review by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, jurors commented that “Jess is a strong and active advocate for the arts at every level.” She is excited to serve for such an exemplary institution such as FAC!

Racquel “Rocky” Collier is the President of Caliber Real Estate, a development firm specializing in developing multifamily communities and residential subdivisions.

She graduated from Clemson University, where she studied English with an Emphasis on Writing + Publication Studies and Real Estate Development.

Racquel serves on the Board of Commissioners for The Greenville Housing Authority and Ten At The Top.

West Hyler (He/Him) is the Executive Artistic Director of the South Carolina New Play Festival and co-Artistic Director of the socially-distanced theater company Artistic Stamp. Prior to COVID, West was the Producing Artistic Director of the New York Musical Festival, the largest Musical Theater Festival in the World.

West was the supervising director of Jersey Boys on Broadway and around the world (including South Africa, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, London, and Canada), the associate director on the Broadway premiere of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and he directed Vanessa Carlton into Beautiful on Broadway and assisted David Hyde Pierce on It Shoulda Been You.

He received his MFA in Directing from University of California at San Diego where he studied with Darko Tresnjak, Anne Bogart, Des McAnuff, Ivo Van Hove, and Tina Landau and directed Measure for Measure and A Dream Play by Strindberg. He has been a Drama League Fall Directing Fellow as well as a Drama League Resident Artist, a recipient of two South Carolina Arts Commission Grants, and a hosts a weekly Dungeons and Dragon campaign on youtube called “Broadway Hit Points”.

West has a 20 year career as a theater director, recent projects include:

  • Cirque Du Soleil’s Paramour (Broadway),
  • Shrek! The Musical by Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire (National Opera House of Bulgaria),
  • Piff the Magic Dragon by Jon Van Der Put (Flamingo Casino Showroom in Vegas),
  • Air Play by Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone (International Tour),
  • Djembe! by Doug Manuel (Apollo Theater, Chicago),
  • Avenue Q by Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and by Jeff Whitty (National Puppet Theater of Bulgaria, IKAR award),
  • Panda! (Beijing State Theater, Palazzo Hotel and Casino)
  • Getting My Act Together… by Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford (York Theater Company),
  • NYC premiere of H2O by Jane Martin (59E59),
  • Tempest, Love’s Labours Lost, Merry Wives of Windsor (Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival),
  • Georama by Hyler, Matt Schatz, and Jack Herrick (St Louis Rep, St Louis Critics Circle Award and at NYMF, Festival award for Outstanding Direction),
  • Legendarium, Metamorphosis (Big Apple Circus, Lincoln Center),


His writing credits include:

  • Paramour (Broadway),
  • Georama (St Louis Rep, Great River Shakespeare Festival),
  • Inspector Shell and the Eggcellent Mystery (Artistic Stamp),
  • Electra’s Diary (Artistic Stamp),
  • Acorn-ucopia Mystery (Artistic Stamp),
  • the Short film A Jake and A Tom (Hollywood International Film Festival, Charleston International Film Festival),
  • Legendarium, Metamorphosis (Big Apple Circus, Lincoln Center)
  • and the novel Circus of the Gods.

Katie Howell grew up in Greenville, SC. She’s a graduate of Christ Church Episcopal School, SC Governor’s School for the Arts (creative writing), and Furman University. After living/working in Atlanta for 10 years and receiving a degree from The Art Institute of Atlanta (culinary arts), she and her family moved back to Greenville. She is married to Rob Howell, and they have three children, the oldest of whom is a junior in the Voice program at FAC. Katie has a background in public relations and sales, specifically in the technology and hospitality worlds.

After moving back to Greenville over a decade ago, Katie became and continues to be a trustee of The Daniel-Mickel Foundation, which supports local nonprofit organizations that strengthen the Upstate socially and economically. Over the years, she’s had the opportunity to serve on boards and committees for several Greenville nonprofits. She is currently a trustee on the boards of Christ Church Episcopal School, Community Foundation of Greenville, Artisphere, and Greenville Tech Foundation. She looks forward to helping The Partners continue to promote the excellence of the FAC.

Qena is an educator of over 25 years and a mom of three. Her background includes serving as a classroom teacher, reading specialist and instructional coach. Currently, Qena is a Program Director for Public Education Partners (PEP) where she leads strategic initiatives that elevate teachers and engage the local community in support of public education.

Stephanie Knobel has been involved with the Fine Arts Center for over 5 years. Both of her children participated in the ARMES program and her daughter, Anna Knobel, is currently a Junior in the Theater program. Stephanie is the Executive Director of the YMCA Judson Community Center. She serves on several local nonprofit boards and is active in community initiatives that support youth services. She is very excited and honored to be part of the newly formed Fine Arts Center Partners Board.

Stephanie Knobel has been involved with the Fine Arts Center for over 5 years. Both of her children participated in the ARMES program and her daughter, Anna Knobel, is currently a Junior in the Theater program.

Stephanie is the Executive Director of the YMCA Judson Community Center. She serves on several local nonprofit boards and is active in community initiatives that support youth services. She is very excited and honored to be part of the newly formed Fine Arts Center Partners Board.

Brock Koonce is a ’95 graduate of the Fine Arts Center concentrating in Theatre under Christina Keefe. The FAC not only offered him and excellent arts education, but also provided him with the necessary skills to move forward to toward his college career and eventual calling as a part-time stage actor and lover of the arts. “My experience at FAC was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. Without my time at FAC, I feel I would not have developed the many skills I carry with me today. I am very proud and honored to call myself an FAC Graduate.”

Brock graduated from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville with a degree in Communications and a minor in Political Science. Since moving back to Greenville, he has been very involved in the community through several boards and commissions, continually working to help move Greenville forward to a more inclusive and vibrant place.

Brock currently works with Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina as their Marketing and Public Relations Manager.

Nicole Michel has almost two decades of experience as an educator in Greenville County Schools. From 2005-2016 she taught English at Mauldin High School, before entering the administrative ranks as sixth-grade Assistant Principal at Greer Middle School. From there she went on to be Assistant Principal at Carolina High School and Academy and in 2019 was named Assistant Director at the Fine Arts Center. She believes the unique educational opportunities the FAC afforded to students are surpassed only by the incomparable experiences the students have to create and perform their art, helping them become their best selves. Ms. Michel is a cum laude graduate of Furman University. She has a Master’s Degree in English Language and Literature from Middlebury College and a Master’s of Education Administration from Clemson University.

Anita Pacylowski-Justo the co-artistic director of DanceArts Greenville and a part-time Ballet Instructor at the Fine Arts Center. Her formal ballet training came from the Washington School of Ballet in Washington, D.C. She is a Princess Grace Award winner in Dance, National Young Arts Level 1 winner, and a recipient of the Presidential Scholar in the Arts in Dance award by the White House Commission in the Arts. Anita was a finalist at the New York International Ballet Competition and semi-finalist at the Prix de Lausanne competition in Lausanne, Switzerland. She was a nominee for the coveted Benois de la Danse Award – “the Oscars” of the Ballet world – and as a result, was invited to perform in Moscow.  

Her professional career started in The Washington Ballet under the direction of Mary Day. While there, her international touring took her to Russia, Thailand, Singapore, France, England, and Spain. Highlights include performing the Grand Pas de Deux from The Nutcracker at the Kennedy Center for President Clinton, as well as for the First Lady at the White House Holiday Tea Party. Anita then moved to Charlotte Ballet as a principal dancer, where she met her husband, Hernan Justo. After seven years with that company, she joined her husband as artistic leader of Carolina Ballet Theatre.

 William Pelham is the president and founder of Pelham Architects, LLC (1983) and a Managing Partner of RPM Partnership, LLC (1999). He currently serves on the Christ Church Episcopal School Board, the Camperdown Academy School Board, the Fine Arts Center Partners, the Jean T. & Heyward G. Pelham Foundation, and the Poinsett Club Foundation (vice president). He previously served on other boards including: the Peace Center board (vice chair), the Clemson University Foundation, the Clemson Architectural Foundation (president), the Clemson University Foundation, the Poinsett Club (president), BankGreenville, now HomeTrust Bank (board chair), the Warehouse Theatre (president), the Carolina Music Museum (now the Sigal Music Museum) and the Greenville Museum Association. He co-founded the Fine Arts Center’s Art of Architecture program with Dr. Roy Fluhrer.

Vee Popat is the Director of the Fine Arts Center of the Greenville County Schools. The Fine Arts Center (FAC) is South Carolina’s first public school for the visual, performing, and creative arts, offering pre-professional education in – Architecture, Creative Writing, Concert Dance, Digital Filmmaking, Music (Jazz, Chamber Strings, Percussion, Recording Arts, Winds, and Voice), Theatre (Performance and Design/Production), and Visual Arts. Vee started as Director of the FAC in 2019, and was named as Greenville County Schools’ Administrator of the Year in 2022. Under his leadership, the Fine Arts Center earned Arts in Basic Curriculum Certification in 2020, and was named an Arts School Network Exemplary School in 2023. With 23 years of experience as a public school educator, Vee served as a band director for the first 9 years of his career before moving into the administrative level. He holds a B.A. in Music Education from Virginia Tech, an M.M. in Jazz Education from the University of Miami (FL), and an M.S. in Educational Administration from the University of Scranton.

The bulk of Vee’s career as a music educator was in the award-winning programs of the Randolph Township Schools in Randolph, NJ, where he was twice named “Teacher of the Year.” His tenure as an administrator began as an Arts Supervisor, serving in that role in the Randolph Township Schools and the West Essex Regional School District (North Caldwell, NJ). He then served 6 years as West Essex Middle School Principal before moving to Greenville to become the Fine Arts Center’s Director. Vee currently serves on the Board of the Greenville Center for Creative Arts, Palmetto State Arts Education, South Carolina New Play Festival, and the Arts School Network. He also maintains an active career as a saxophonist and educator, playing jazz gigs in both South and North Carolina, and teaching sax lessons in person and over Zoom.

Jay Sanderson is the CEO of Three Twenty Two Group. A local consulting organization who partners with small and medium businesses specializing in creating programs to improve growth, employee engagement, and leadership development. Most recently, expanding their client base to include independent artists, songwriters, and those in the entertainment industry.

Originally from Massachusetts, Jay dipped his toes into the arts as a performer in several high school drama productions, jazz band, concert band, marching band, and a few garage bands. His experience playing alto saxophone, electric bass, piano, and percussion provided a foundation for his love of music, but unfortunately not the talent to pursue further.

He received his bachelor’s in business from Framingham State University where he was a prime-time DJ for WDJM. He went on to earn his master’s in human resources and development from Clemson University which allows him to work as an adjunct professor and guest lecturer when Clemson has a need.

While a major fan of the Beatles, don’t be surprised to hear anything from Harry Connick Jr. to Will Smith coming from his vehicle when he arrives on campus. When talking about artists, be prepared to hear him say “I saw them in concert” as he has seen nearly a thousand performances.

A Spartanburg, South Carolina native and two time Clemson Graduate, Catherine spent over seven years in New Orleans, Louisiana working with Waggonner & Ball Architects. There her work experience was focused on educational, commercial and institutional projects, several of which won American Institute of Architects’ awards. Post – Katrina, she managed a three year long design/build repair and alteration project on the 1880s era National Historic Monument US Custom House. In October of 2009, Catherine returned home to be closer to family and to open her own residential architectural practice.

Today, Catherine is practicing her craft locally in Greenville as the firm of Catherine Smith Architect, LLC which has also been recognized with AIA awards. The firm focuses on creating residential architecture specific to the individual client with a style that can be described as crafted, simple, and honest. Perhaps the work CSA is most proud of lately is with Allen Temple Community Economic Development Corporation which provides Energy Star homes for low-income families. Follow this link for a story that the Greenville County School District recently did about this work.

Catherine, the Architecture Department Chair, recently completed a term on the Greenville City Planning Commission, is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Professional Leadership, serves on the Metropolitan Arts Council Board, and is living with The Izzy (not quite the best dog, yet).

Lindsay is a life-long Greenville resident. He graduated from Wade Hampton High School in 1970, from Furman University in 1974, and the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1977. While at Furman he served as Junior Class President, was awarded the Wicker Award as a freshman, was a member of the Blue Key honor society, and was inducted into the Quaternion honor society.

He has been married to Julie Simons Smith for 40 years and they are the proud parents of two sons, Alan and Ellison, of whom Alan is a meteorologist in Jackson, Wyoming, and Ellison (a Fine Arts Center graduate in jazz studies who subsequently attended on scholarship and graduated from the University of Miami, FL with a B.A. in jazz guitar performance) is a mechanical engineer in Oconee County, S.C.

Lindsay practices law in Greenville and is a partner in the trans-Atlantic law firm of Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP. He specializes in commercial real estate and real estate finance. He is a past chair of the South Carolina Bar real estate practices section, is a fellow (and past South Carolina chairman) in the American College of Mortgage Attorneys, has been rated as a Band One real estate lawyer (one of only six in S.C.) by Chambers USA, and has been recognized annually for many years in Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers.

Lindsay is an active alumnus of Furman University where, among other things, he was a member of the alumni legal task force that devised and implemented the legal strategy whereby Furman separated from the South Carolina Baptist Convention in the early 1990s. He has served continuously, since its formation in 1997, as the President of The Furman University Foundation, which evaluates, accepts or rejects, and liquidates non-cash gifts for the benefit of the University, and which has become the de facto real estate advisor to the University.

Tom Strange has an extensive background in materials science and is the author of fifty-three patents and numerous papers over the last three decades, covering all aspects of capacitor development. He was a member of a small team of entrepreneurs who developed and produced the pioneering flat medical-grade electrolytic capacitor that made thoracic implantable cardioverter defibrillators possible. Strange has presented numerous lectures/concerts on early piano development in the US and around the world and is a builder and restorer of early keyboard instruments. He now serves as the Executive Director of the Sigal Music Museum in Greenville.

Craig A. Walker, MHA is a Texas native who has lived in Greenville for over 15 years. He is a seasoned healthcare executive who has authored over seven patents in healthcare IT. He is the founder of VidiStar, LLC, an SC Launch graduate company, which he sold to Hitachi Healthcare Americas in 2018. Walker has served as CEO for several hospitals and as an executive and board member at Hitachi Healthcare Americas, a Fortune 500 company. Walker has worked as a registered lobbyist for the Texas rural hospitals and other healthcare and healthcare IT companies, and he was the former Chairman of the American Telemedicine Association’s Industry Advisory Board. Walker served as the Chief of Staff to State Representative Patricia Gray in the Texas Legislature where in the late 1990s he helped draft and pass the first legislation on telemedicine and telehealth. Walker also worked for US Senator Lloyd Bentsen.

Walker obtained his Masters in Health Administration from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, and he completed his undergraduate studies at Millsaps College in Jackson, MS. Additionally, Walker was an Associate in the 2005 Class of Tenet’s Leadership Development Program for CEO/COO. Walker is married with two children.

John has been Executive Director since 2021. Since returning to Greenville in 2008, John has served as VP Finance and Administration at the SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities and Executive Director of the Ray and Joan Kroc Center. John is co-Founder and former President of Selective Micro Technologies, LLC. John also remains active in several local cultural and economic development organizations.

Prior to founding Selective Micro, John held several senior executive positions with large industrial companies. He was Chief Operating Officer at World Minerals, Inc., Vice President and General Manager for Grace Packaging (a division of W. R. Grace & Co), in both Europe, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, and Asia Pacific, based in Hong Kong, and senior management positions in Grace Packaging’s US organization, including Chief Financial Officer.

John is a former US Air Force pilot and was an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the US Air Force Academy. He is now retired from the Air Force Reserve. John is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and holds graduate degrees from North Carolina State University (Applied Mathematics) and Clemson University (Business).

Creative + Innovation leader with 20+years of expertise driving transformation across multiple industries by placing the human experience at the core of the design + development process. Passionate about understanding value systems of individuals, organizations and culture. By understanding where value is placed, interactions take on a stronger purpose. Identifying key actionable insights to use as a springboard for development of future scenarios that are human experience driven and business relevant.

Currently Michele is Director of Global Marketing at Sage Automotive Interiors, based in Greenville, SC. She has been with Sage for 6+ years. She holds a BFA in textile design and a Masters in user centered design & strategy.


From Humble Beginnings to TONY and GRAMMY® Nominee

“The Fine Arts Center played a vital role in my career. It gave me a solid foundation which I was able to build upon and dream of becoming an artist. I honestly believe because of my inspiring time at the FAC,  I - a poor black boy whose brother didn’t get to see his 19th birthday - have now received a TONY and a Grammy Award nomination. I won the Theater World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut.  I’m also very proud to say that I was inducted into the SC Theater Hall of Fame.  Recently, I performed the role of Olin Britt in The Music Man with Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster. I’d like to say thank you to people like you who support the FAC and to the FAC for literally saving my life and making me the Artist that I am today.”


“I was blessed to be apart of the Fine Arts Center for 4 years under the wonderfully talented Teri Parker Lewis in the theatre department. There I gained knowledge about myself as an artist, performer and individual who was equipped with tools to make the stage and more importantly the world a better place. We were educated with the classics from Shakespeare to Greek to contemporary playwrights but was also lucky to learn and respect stage combat, public speaking and voice over. Voice over being how I act mostly now and most recently in the VR BAFTA nominated game Blocks. I am so much of who I am today with the confidence gained as an individual growing alongside the ensemble classes, Teri’s + Karen Parks teachings and Roy Fluhrer’s mentorship.”

FAC Visual Arts Alumna Kephira Davis has been named a Brandon Fellowship Recipient by the Greenville Center for Creative Arts (GCCA)! Her bio on the GCCA website states:

Kephira Davis graduated from Lander University with a BFA in 2D Studio. She also attended The Fine Arts Center throughout high school. Kephira’s artwork explores ideas of memory and the passage of time. She plans to expand upon her work by investigating her family history and finding the intersection of where her ancestry and ideas of memory meet. Kephira is excited to make meaningful connections with other artists in our community.

Learn More about the Brandon Fellowship 

The UT Extraordinary Campus Leadership and Service awards recognize graduating students who are extraordinary campus leaders for their significant service to others. Arden Gillchrest is a first-generation college student who has enjoyed being an active part of the University of Tennessee. Through academic endeavors, student organizations, and community involvement, Arden has loved being a part of the Volunteer community.

Read the Full Article

FAC alumni and UT Architecture Student Combines Design and Entrepreneurialism for UT System Project. Allie Ward Chamberlain, 5th-year Architecture student and small business owner of Reclaim Creative, was approached by the UT Foundation in 2020 with interest for her to create an artistic design for UT System’s “Everywhere You Look, UT” campaign. The campaign seeks to raise awareness of the university’s impact across the state.

Chamberlain, who graduated in May 2021, was commissioned to create an original watercolor painting and from that, 150 prints that include all four UT System campuses. Her role in the project was all-encompassing. Using her design skills and entrepreneurial spirit, she had full creative license on the style, formatting and layout of the project.

Read the Full Article Here

Dr. Shaniece Criss, a 1998 graduate of Southside High School and the Fine Arts Center, is an Assistant Professor of Health Science at Furman University. After receiving her undergraduate degree in communications from Oglethorpe University and a Master of Public Health from Emory University, Criss earned a Doctor of Science degree from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She also earned a Master in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she was awarded a Presidential Public Service Fellowship and a Political Campaign Practicum.​ Dr. Criss served as producer and host for a national television show for the Ministry of Health in Guyana, South America, during her Peace Corps service. She partners with Furman’s Institute for the Advancement of Community Health as an academic lead on projects with Prisma Health-Upstate and LiveWell Greenville. Dr. Criss serves on the Travelers Rest City Council and the board of directors for Prisma Health, Public Education Partners, Dining for Women, and SC YMCA Youth in Government and Teen Achievers.


Greenville County Schools Hall of Fame

Stacy Isenbarger’s creative pursuits include sculpture, installation, mixed-media drawings, student mentorship and supporting community exchange through art. In her studio practice, she works to create dialog by highlighting perceived boundaries built from one’s environment or their perception of it. Through explorations of unexpected material collisions, poetic narratives, and shared iconography, Isenbarger continuously seeks ways to express complex negotiations of place and the desire to feel whole within it.

Isenbarger has worked as a Foundations Educator in some capacity since 2007 and has been involved with FATE since 2010, serving as FATE’s SECAC Representative in 2011-13, President in 2013-2017, & VP of Communications in 2017-18. In the summer of 2020 she co-created the pedological studio art project share website with fellow FATE board alum Assistant Professor Naomi J. Falk. As Foundations Coordinator and Associate Professor of Art + Design at the University of Idaho in Moscow, ID she further celebrates her opportunities to explore creative communication and empowerment. She received her BFA at Clemson University & her MFA from the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia—two places she has tremendous gratitude for especially in regard to how both experiences shaped her approach to teaching. When she’s not teaching or making—and sometimes when she is—she’s usually dancing since the act continuously validates her joy of community acceptance and shaking up space.

Originally from Easley, South Carolina, Allison attended the Greenville Fine Arts Center, and earned her Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy from Florida State University (cum laude). She also served a six-month internship at San Antonio State Hospital (a mental health institution). Allison pursued a career as a singer/songwriter after college, recording three EPs and one full-length album. While touring, she was hired by Mars Music, Inc. to implement the Babies Make Music program in the metro Atlanta area.

Allison Boyd founded Metro Music Makers as a private Atlanta-based music studio offering in-home music lessons. In addition to overseeing a variety of instructors in the Metro Music Makers family, she is a board-certified Music Therapist licensed in the State of Georgia. Allison’s music therapy experience includes working in special needs classes, in private behavioral therapy and research with children diagnosed with autism, in music therapy and research with neonates, as a music therapist at a drug and alcohol rehab for teens, and as a music therapist in mental health settings.

In addition, Allison was a finalist in the Greenville Symphony Orchestra Russian Music Festival Piano Competition in 1990 and a semifinalist in the Young Keyboard Artists Association International Piano Competition in 1990. She toured with the band Life As Mary from 2000-2003, including an exciting showcase with A&R exposure at the 2002 Atlanta Music Conference.

Marcus is a 24-year-old songwriter and guitar phenom who is taking the music scene by storm. The Marcus King Band’s most recent release, “El Dorado,” was nominated for Vintage Guitar Magazine’s Readers Choice Award.

We received more great news when we learned that “El Dorado” was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of “Best Americana Album.” Congratulations, Marcus!


Marcus King Official

Ben Sutherland is a composer, music technologist, performer, and educator whose work and interests span a multitude of media and genres, including classical, popular, and experimental. His contemporary classical works have been performed by renowned ensembles including the Pacifica String Quartet, the Contemporary Chamber Players, and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble.

His compositional, research, and performance interests find a nexus in his work with interactive computer music systems, and in particular, systems of musical gesture acquisition, analysis, and processing. He has presented at conferences including New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME), the Porto International Conference on Musical Gesture as Creative Interface, the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS), and the Symposium of Laptop Ensembles and Orchestras (SLEO), and he is one half of the interactive computer music duo, “The Machine is Neither…,” with Emma Hospelhorn.

Alongside these endeavors, Ben has also been involved with numerous projects in popular, “underground,” and cross-cultural genres, maintaining connections to his “musical roots” as a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, songwriter, and arranger. He holds a B.A. in Music from Oberlin College/ Conservatory and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of Chicago. Ben is currently the Chair of Audio Arts and Acoustics at Columbia College Chicago.

Award-winning furniture designer credits her success to Greenville’s Fine Arts Center. The fledgling furniture designer recently won a Red Dot Award , an international design prize for product, brand and communication design as well as design concepts.

Savannah Ralph is a painte and graduation of the Fine Arts Center whose work prompts discussions around important topics such as gender, beauty standards, and mental illness. It is her goad as an artist to make groups of people who aren’t typically recognized feel seen. She plans to utilize the Brandon Fellowship to strengthen her ties in the community, improve her techniques, and push her art career forward.

About the Brandon Fellowship
The Brandon Fellowship is a 12-month program that aims to develop three emerging artists between the ages of 21-30 who reflect the diversity of the Greenville community by providing a supportive environment, mentorship, and art education.

Acclaimed by the New York Times as “the versatile violinist who makes the music come alive” and for her “tonal mastery” (BBC Music Magazine) and “searing intensity” (American Record Guide), violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins is forging a dynamic career as a soloist and chamber musician. Recently featured on NBC’s Sunday Closer for her work with bringing classical music to homeless shelters.


Kelly Hall-Thompkins Biography

Greenville County Schools Hall of Fame

Rory Scovel, wrote and produced an 8 episode series for Comedy Central called “Those Who Can’t.” He also has a show on Apple TV called, “Physical” and is in the movie “Babylon” with Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie.

He previously starred in the TV shows “Robbie,” “Wrecked,” and “Undateable” and in the feature films, “Dean,” and “The House” with Will Ferrell. His one man special, “ Rory Tries Standup for the First Time,” is currently available on Netflix. His next stand-up special will be streaming on Max (HBO) in the spring of 2024.

American Mezzo-soprano, Betsy Bishop, has sung with leading opera companies all around the world such as The Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Palm Beach Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and Cincinnati Opera. She was recently hired as a professor of voice at The Juilliard School.

Greenville County Schools Hall of Fame

Fostering Artistic Exploration and Empowerment through 'A Room of One's Own'

“Over the three years I spent at Fine Arts Center culminating in my graduation in 2004, I changed my home address five times. Each home unfailingly lacked that singular space, no matter how small, an artist needs to interrogate her own mind. I lived in lack of “A Room of One’s Own” as Virginia Woolf apprised it—a space free from outside oversight and associations the budding artist requires to create. For me, Fine Arts Center became the room of my own in which to finally give my body the ability to make language of itself. The Fine Arts Center was the first space I trusted enough to allow myself to explore. My time in that dance studio provided the space and separation from the ordinary I needed learn, refine and grow. For a lot of kids that attend, FAC is the only place that takes them seriously and trusts the student to take her art seriously also. For a lot kids in the Upstate trying to manifest worlds from within —The Fine Arts Center is their Room of One’s Own.”

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