Suzette Surkamer Receives 2008 Gary Young Award from National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

November 17, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC & COLUMBIA, SC – November 17, 2008 – The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) has named Suzette Surkamer, executive director of the South Carolina Arts Commission, the recipient of its 2008 Gary Young Award. Presented during Assembly 2008, NASAA’s annual conference, September 11-13 in Chattanooga, TN, the award recognizes Surkamer’s exemplary leadership, innovative thinking, enduring commitment to public support for the arts and dedication to diverse artistic expression.

In announcing the award, NASAA Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Katz said, “It is a distinct pleasure to honor Suzette Surkamer with this year’s Gary Young Award. Her creativity, intellect and business sensibilities coupled with her unique regional and national perspectives are invaluable assets not only within her agency, but to the entire state arts agency field. Susie’s commitment to innovation, inclusion and collaboration exemplifies everything for which this leadership award stands.”

Guided by Surkamer’s vision, the S.C. Arts Commission has achieved success and national recognition in areas such as arts education reform, arts advocacy, and public participation. Prior to becoming executive director in 1994, she served as deputy director (1988-1994), arts development division director (1978-1988), arts coordinator (1977-1978), and dancer in residence (1974-1977).

Developing successful statewide partnerships ranks among Surkamer’s many accomplishments. She plays major roles in the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project (with the South Carolina Department of Education and Winthrop University), the Design Arts Partnership (with Clemson University), the Literary Arts Partnership (with the State Library and the Humanities CouncilSC), and a multi-agency partnership to revive the state’s VSA arts chapter (with the Department of Education, the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, and the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind).

Surkamer is esteemed for her regional and national leadership. Among numerous positions, she is past chair and current board member of the Southern Arts Federation, current second vice president of NASAA, former treasurer of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, and on the National Arts Education Partnership Steering Committee.
The Gary Young Award was originally established by the New England Foundation for the Arts to honor the memory of a man who made numerous contributions to the state arts council movement in the United States, and to provide recognition to those who carry on his tradition of leadership in this field.

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) is the membership organization of the nation’s state and jurisdictional arts agencies. The public sector plays a unique and essential role in ensuring that the benefits of the arts accrue to all American communities. State arts agencies broaden citizen access to the arts in every corner of the country, making the cultural, civic, educational and economic benefits of the arts an essential ingredient of state policy and practice. Visit for more information.

About SCAC
The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission is working to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants and leadership initiatives in three areas: arts education, community arts development and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina and by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information, visit or call (803) 734-8696.