The City of Beaufort and USCB’s Center for the Arts earned the state’s highest honor for contributions to the arts March 6 with the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award.

“We have worked very hard for quite some time to support and enhance the arts in Beaufort, because they are an essential element of what makes us special,” Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said. “To receive this recognition along with our partner, the USCB Center for the Arts, is quite an honor.”

The South Carolina Arts Commission’s Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts were established in 1972. The annual awards recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina.

The City of Beaufort and the University of South Carolina Beaufort Center for the Arts won the Government award. The application cited their partnership and commitment to enhancing the vibrant arts scene and cultural diversity in Beaufort.

Bonnie Hargrove, director of the USCB Center for the Arts, said the Verner Award is statewide validation that years of hard work in the Lowcountry are paying dividends across South Carolina.

“This is a prestigious award in the arts world,” she said. “This recognition affirms our work and our intentions to keep the arts and culture in the forefront of everything we do as a community. The arts make us a desirable place to live and to visit, but they also play a role in our economy.

“This award was won thanks to the contributions and support of many organizations and individuals who value the arts,” Hargrove said.

Consistently ranked among American Style Magazine’s Top 25 Small Cities for Art, Beaufort combines southern charm with rich history and a thriving art community. The downtown abounds with opportunities to create, experience, and appreciate all aspects of the cultural arts. More than a dozen art galleries are scattered throughout the district.

“Beaufort has been chartered for more than 300 years, and I think you can make a case that the arts have been a key component for all those 300 years,” Keyserling said. “Our work now is to help showcase the arts, to highlight their contributions to our community, and to find new ways to support the arts.”

One important element of the Verner Award application was documentation about the newly established Beaufort Cultural District Advisory Board.

The small board will work to collaboratively promote the city’s cultural assets found in the downtown area for residents and visitors.

The group will seek to foster more support for the arts, and celebrate and strengthen local culture and the newly-established City of Beaufort cultural district.