Two projects that integrate the arts and the community and involve College of Charleston professors have been named finalists for the national Robert E. Gard Award.

Laura Turner and Mark Sloan were on teams that were among the 10 finalists for the honor given out by Americans for the Arts to celebrate “exemplary work at the intersection of the arts and community life.” According to Americans for the Arts, the award is meant to “raise up projects … working to cross the arts into other aspects of community life in meaningful, measurable ways.”

Turner, program director for the Master’s of Arts in Teaching in Performing Arts and the Theatre for Youth programs at the College of Charleston, is part of The Unified Players, one of the finalists for the award. The organization provides hands-on educational theatre experience for students while providing citizens with disabilities an opportunity for an artistic experience.

Last year they added another organization into the collaboration; The Musical Theater Center, which provides conservatory training to primary and secondary school students in acting, singing and dancing. The organizations came together to produce the musical James and the Giant Peach in the fall and the results were nothing but smiles onstage and off.

Sloan, director of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and the College of Charleston, is with the Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light team, also a finalist.  This project placed temporary multi-disciplinary and LED installations from Erwin Redl into selected areas of Spartanburg, South Carolina, to create more vibrant communities and combat crime.

To learn more about the finalists, visit the Americans for the Arts’ website.