By Jim Speirs, Executive Director, Arts South Dakota

There’s an arts advocate in everyone who understands the importance of cultural connections and power of creativity in transforming our society. The first thing to know about advocating for the arts is that the place to start is right in your own neighborhood. 

Your enthusiasm for the arts opportunities in your hometown is the spark that can light up the people around you. By participating in community events through volunteerism, ticket purchases and talking about your experience, you strengthen the local arts scene and lay the groundwork for the next cultural happening in your community. When you become part of a local arts council, you join your energy to the hard work of others in your community who are making things happen and building a brighter tomorrow for our children and ourselves.

Talking to your local elected officials about their commitment to the arts, arts education and cultural opportunities in your region is another way to advocate. Sometimes just letting mayors, county commissioners and state legislators know that you and your family care about the arts in South Dakota opens a dialog that will continue later in council chambers and in Pierre. When you let others know how important the arts industry in South Dakota is to our tax base AND to the next generation, you provide vital information. The arts should be included in the economic and workforce development conversations in our state. Arts South Dakota has great data to share at Check it out—you’ll be surprised at the impact the arts have on our economy!

Arts South Dakota is currently conducting candidate surveys on the arts. We’ll be sharing the results of that research with you next month, to help you understand where our candidates for elected office stand on our state’s cultural future.

Most importantly, recognize that YOUR voice is key to building a stronger creative community in your hometown and all across South Dakota. And you’re not alone—you may be in one of the 33 South Dakota communities with a local arts council. If not, talk to us. We can help you start a grassroots arts group in your community!  Visit us at the Arts South Dakota website,