By Jim Speirs, Executive Director, Arts South Dakota

This time of year, as the harvest is gathered in, we often pause to reflect on the many things we, as South Dakotans, are uniquely thankful for. Among those things that make life worth living here on the prairie is the impressive array of arts and cultural experiences we enjoy.

South Dakota revels in having a vibrant community of working artists who have chosen our state as their home. Their creative drive energizes our classrooms, our theaters and studios in towns across South Dakota. Our state’s artists illustrate, in their daily lives, that success can be achieved in the arts right here. South Dakota can also be proud of the tradition of local volunteerism which is the foundation of the community arts movement. Arts councils are not just organizations; they are vital groups of concerned local residents who understand the value and impact of the arts in their towns and on the people who live there. Without individuals willing to get involved, our state would not have the cultural advantages we share.

We can also be thankful for support of the arts, by companies, by individuals and by our state government. Volunteerism goes a long way toward success, but without funding, appreciation and validation in the form of programs and participation, the arts would suffer in South Dakota. We are still working to widen the circle of support that helps the arts grow in our state, but we should all be grateful for those who are committed to maintaining our cultural growth.

Things are not perfect in the arts. We still have populations underserved by our programs, children who are not learning as well as they might with more arts opportunities, towns that miss out on touring performances and artists who struggle to make a living. There is work to do, but we can be thankful that people involved in the arts in South Dakota care about meeting those challenges and are determined to make things even better for the next generation.  

To learn more about arts opportunities, arts education, community arts support and arts advocacy in South Dakota, visit