News from Charleston's Art Community 

Arts Driven

These days there's a specialty license plate for every obsession, including fishing, shagging, and anti-abortion (Tennessee's "choose life"). But until now, there hasn't been so much for artsy types. As of August, the DMV hopes to appeal to creative souls with its "Driven by the Arts" license plate.

The plates cost $70 plus the registration fee every two years. That's a little steep when compared to, say, an Endangered Species or a Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry plate ("in reason we trust") — a bargain at $30. But a minimum of $60 from each "Driven" sale goes to the S.C. Arts Commission, which will divvy it up to K-12 arts education programs for schools and communities around the state.

It's unlikely that license plates have any real influence on the people who see them. If so, though, motorists stuck in a jam with nothing better to do than read the plate in front of them might now be suffused with thoughts of art appreciation instead of the urge to hit the gas (there are six NASCAR plates available).

To get "Driven by the Arts," check out www.scdmvonline.com or visit the tenth circle of hell, also known as your local DMV field office. —Nick Smith

Gospel Sound

Charleston Symphony Orchestra's Gospel Choir has a new acting music director, Glenn R. Nixon, who also serves as choral director for Woodland High School and Harleyville-Ridgeville Elementary School. He's a swift replacement for Vivian E. Jones, who recently resigned after a seven-year stint with the choir.

Since it started in 2000, the choir has accompanied the CSO whenever gospel, spirituals, and sacred singing are required. It's also performed a number of independent shows, including Crowns at the Gibbes Museum of Art and concerts in Kiawah, Charlotte, and Europe.

Jones was initially hired to put the choir together. She oversaw its growth from a modest attempt to diversify the CSO's audience to a strong, versatile choir in its own right. But demands on her time have increased, so she's chosen to step down and let the Yale-educated Nixon take the lead.

The new director has his work cut out for him; he's been set to work prepping a free performance of African-American Sacred Songs on Sat., Sept. 22 at Christ Episcopal Church, Mt. Pleasant, then the choir will open for the CSO's Carmina Burana at the Gaillard on Sept. 29. —Nick Smith


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