SmartARTS Program

SmartARTS is MAC’s successful arts education/STEAM initiative founded in 2002 that provides Greenville County Schools with teaching artists, art supplies, professional development, and mentorship to facilitate arts-integrated units of study in science, math, history and language arts classrooms. The mission of SmartARTS is to improve academic achievement through arts-rich experiences in the core curriculum to encourage career-ready creative problem-solving and greater self-awareness.

SmartARTS goals include: (1) training teachers in arts integration pedagogy, (2) pairing SmartARTS teaching artists with teachers to plan and implement rigorous arts-rich residencies and (3) documenting, assessing and collecting data from units. These services will be provided at no cost to the school and funds from this grant will be used to pay for teaching artist fees to work in the schools and supplies to implement the unit in partnership with the classroom teacher. For 2023-2024, we have received requests to work in 40 schools, 85% of which are moderate to high poverty schools. SmartARTS not only helps at-risk students re-engage with learning and find hope despite trauma, but the SmartARTS program helps build the vocabulary and context that students of poverty lack through dialogue, collaborative learning, and reflection as students explore the curriculum through the lens of the arts. In addition, many of these students gain confidence and discover new talents and ways to express themselves. This summer we will train 85 teachers and 20 artists at our 2022 SmartARTS Education Institute from July 17 – 20 at the Fine Arts Center in Greenville, SC.

Counties Served

Greenville County

Annual Cost


Partner Organizations

SmartARTS is primarily a partnership between the Metropolitan Arts Council and the Greenville County School District; however, we also collaborate with local and state arts organizations. Since 2002, SmartARTS has partnered with GCSD to provide arts professional development for teachers at the SmartARTS Education Institute, which is part of the district’s 2023 Summer Academy. SmartARTS and Greenville County Schools are part of the Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education association. Artists from the following organizations are on the SmartARTS teaching artist roster: Wits End Poetry, The Warehouse Theatre, the William Felton School of Crafts, and the South Carolina Children’s Theatre. Since its inception, SmartARTS has helped to sustain Greenville’s arts community by providing ancillary income of well over $1.3 million for SmartARTS teaching artists for their work in GCSD classrooms.

Funding Sources


  • South Carolina Arts Commission ($40,000)
  • TD Bank and TD Charitable Foundation ($40,000)
  • SEW Eurodrive ($12,500) Duke Energy ($20,000)
  • Prisma Health ($10,000), Jolley Foundation ($50,000)
  • John I Smith ($10,000), Pelham Foundation ($7500)
  • Daniel Mickel ($15,000), Wagoner ($3000)
  • Engler (4386), Peabody (2500)
  • Mice on Main (1200)


Metropolitan Arts Council $4,800 (office space, phones, utilities, and printing)


SmartARTS uses data collection, documentation, and participant surveys as well as reflections to measure the success of the program. We evaluate all components of our programs including professional development and the arts integration classroom units. The effectiveness of the SmartARTS program on students and teachers is measured through teacher reflections, surveys and observations by trained administrators. Student learning is assessed through rubrics, checklists, teacher observation, learning artifacts and traditional academic measures such as unit tests. Students, teachers and teaching artists all complete a reflection at the end of each arts-integrated unit. In addition, teachers and teaching artists work collaboratively to create a detailed unit plan which must be signed by the school principal and submitted for review to the SmartARTS program director two-weeks before the unit begins. 99% of students self-reported learning and enjoyment during our SmartARTS units last year. In addition, the number of schools involved with the program continues to grow reaching an all time Last academic year 2022-2023, we served students 370 days with over 1364 contact hours. The number of student who participated in arts integration residencies was 5933. We worked with 172 teachers. The program improves attendance, engagement, and hope for both teachers and students.

According to new SC Gallup data, engaged and hopeful students are twice as likely to report excellent grades and high attendance as their actively disengaged peers. Research shows a direct correlation between the length of time as an arts-rich school and an increase in student engagement and hope. Significantly, students surveyed in high poverty arts-rich schools scored higher than the state and national mean. SmartARTS arts integration methods provide teachers with the skills to connect students to their highest capacities in all curricular areas. Using standards alongside inquiry-based learning, the program helps at-risk students to engage and allows gifted students to excel. Our objective is to create arts-rich schools across Greenville County to increase engagement and hope in order to help students improve academically and increase graduation rates. We will achieve this by training teachers in arts integration and providing them with arts integration residencies.


Since SmartARTS began in 2002 with three US Department of Education grants to work in one struggling, high-poverty middle school, we have partnered with Greenville County Schools to create arts-rich schools across the district. After the federal grants expired in 2007, MAC has raised over $3.4 million thanks to the consistent support of the Greenville area’s philanthropic and business communities. Now, 20 years later, students across 83 Greenville County Schools have benefited from this arts-rich curriculum that helps students become college and career-ready for the 21st century. As demand for the program increases every year, we must continually seek additional funding to reach more Greenville County students, 50% of whom live in poverty. As conditions change, the Metropolitan Arts Council continues to adapt as well as continually seeking out new sources of funding to sustain our programs. We have been at maximum capacity for teachers for the past five years, and unfortunately we must wait-list teachers each year.

Grades Served

  • Early Childhood (Pre-K – 2)
  • Elementary (3-5)
  • Middle School (6-8)
  • High School (9-12)

Related Subjects

  • College/Career Readiness
  • English Language Arts
  • STEM
  • Social Studies
  • Visual & Performing Arts

Contact Information

Kimberly Gibbs,