As we discuss the future of the National Endowment for the Arts and its impact on rural states like South Dakota, it’s encouraging that the New York Times sent Michael Cooper to our state to interview arts organization leaders and citizens to assess that impact.
According to Cooper, “Mostly rural states like South Dakota could have outsize importance in deciding the fate of the endowment… South Dakota, which has fewer than a million people, received the fifth-highest amount of federal arts money per person in the nation last year, and the endowment’s generally small grants can have a bigger impact here than they would at the Metropolitan Operas of the world.”
The story talked about Shakespeare at the Matthews Opera House in Spearfish; discussed the appeal of the Rolling Rez Arts, an airport shuttle bus that has been transformed into a mobile art classroom and art gallery for Pine Ridge and other reservations, and recent exhibitions at the Dahl Arts Center, which logs 35,000 visitors each year. Cooper also visited with the music director of the Black Hills Symphony Orchestra, who pointed out that state arts council grants “supported concerts which drew some 5,700 people last year and school activities which reached more than 2,000 students.” Spotlighting these South Dakota arts organizations, each of which receive funding from the National Endowment through grants from the South Dakota Arts Council, the story clearly illustrates that many arts experiences would hot happen without the support of federal funding.
This kind of national attention for our creative scene is gratifying, and reminds us of the quality of the arts in South Dakota. It also underscores the value of the National Endowment for the Arts to our state. As the state which received the “fifth-highest amount of federal arts money per person in the nation last year,” we get an incredible return on our investment here in South Dakota. In fact, we spend 46¢ per capita—and receive $1.50 per capita back from Washington in the form of NEA grants. That’s sound business—and a resource we can’t afford to lose.
Your advocacy for this critical federal-state partnership that brings the arts and artists to young audiences across South Dakota is needed now! Let our leaders know that the NEA is vital to a creative South Dakota. To read the New York Times complete article, go to our Advocacy page at www.artssouthdakota.org/advocacy.html. To connect with our Congressional delegation or learn more about Arts South Dakota programs, join us online at www.ArtsSouthDakota.org.