By Jim Speirs, Executive Director, Arts South Dakota

In South Dakota, arts advocates include community arts groups, statewide arts organizations and alliances for arts education and artists. As important as these groups of advocates are, real strength for the arts in South Dakota starts with one, single voice. And that voice could be YOURS.

Why does Wessington Springs have a vital, functioning Opera House today? Because one voice said, “Let’s save the Opera House!” and others responded with contributions and volunteer hours. Why do Sisseton audiences continue to experience emotional musical presentations involving the SD Symphony and local musicians? Because one voice said, “Let’s bring professional musicians to town,” and the outpouring of enthusiasm made something wonderful happen. Local arts experiences keep happening all across the state—as long as one voice starts the ball rolling.

Too often we become caught up in the whirlwind of daily life and get the feeling that one person can’t make a difference. But over and over in the communities of South Dakota—and beyond—the single good idea of just one person has captured the imagination of an entire town. The arts are like that—and are so important to our future. Creative thinking enhances our educational systems, working artists build our economy and cultural awareness maintains our heritage and defines who we are as a people. And it all starts on the local level, with your support of the arts.

The power of one voice willing to toss a good idea into the local coffee conversation is incredible, regardless of the size of your community. Remember, for every one person who thinks a new local arts experience would be welcomed, there are dozens of other people who think the same way, but just haven’t said it out loud. Is your community ready to hear one, single voice? Will that voice be yours?

To learn more about being an arts advocate in your community, start with a visit to