By Jim Speirs, Executive Director, Arts South Dakota

What does it take to win a Governor’s Award in the Arts? Funding a music scholarship? Donating your priceless collection of original paintings? Or attending the high school band concert? 

This year, Arts South Dakota and the South Dakota Arts Council, along with Governor Noem, are presenting the biennial Governor’s Awards in the Arts. I hope you’ll get the chance to see the winners’ names and congratulate those outstanding individuals and organizations. But I’m not writing today to only congratulate them. I also want to congratulate so many of YOU who, like our Governor’s Award winners, are major participants in the arts in our state.

The fact is that we could give out dozens of awards every year, to people who make a difference for the arts in their towns, their schools and their state. The panel of judges for the Governor’s Awards looks through so many nominations—and all of those nominated deserve an award. Every day, people are changing their communities for the better through the arts.

Some are donating time, talent and resources to programs that will transform an at-risk young person from a troubled youth to a creative artist—and good citizen. Others are working to save a historic building by baking cookies, buying an auction item or sanding wooden floors. Still others are creating art of their own and serving as an inspiration for a new generation of painters, dancers, actors and musicians.

These participants, for the most part, do not receive awards. But that doesn’t mean they don’t receive rewards. They are rewarded with a more active, vital, dynamic community in which to live, by students who love school and have an enhanced education through the arts, and by a feeling that they’ve achieved something lasting for South Dakota. Making our state a place where the arts flourish is a great long-term strategy for development—and for attracting new families to live and work here.

As you look around your community in this new year and plan for an exciting and vibrant 2019, think about the award-winning arts efforts of your friends and neighbors, teachers and business people, students and citizens. And think about what you’ll do to make this year a reward-winning year for your community and South Dakota! 

For more about the arts in South Dakota—and ways to participate in the arts in YOUR community, visit