By Jim Speirs, Executive Director, Arts South Dakota

The recent federal legislation to stimulate the economy included emergency aid to the National Endowment for the Arts to provide needed support to our national creative industry which has been devastated by the pandemic. The funding will enable states to direct relief allocations to local arts organizations and artists, through time-tested subsidy channels—in our state, the South Dakota Arts Council. This investment in our cultural community is an investment in our future—and a resource that is vitally needed at this time. 

With the recent passage of HB 1169, adding $250,000 in supplementary funding to the South Dakota Arts Council, our state legislators agree that new dollars are necessary to restore our arts industry to the vitality lost during the pandemic shutdown of the past year. State legislative and NEA funding goes a long way in South Dakota and is truly an economic spark for the state’s creative economy. 

We know most Americans, including South Dakotans, overwhelmingly agree that the arts in this country are important to our quality of life (90% agree) and that the arts are important to local businesses and the economy (86% agree). We also know that 81% of Americans agree that the arts are “a positive experience in a troubled world.”  Now, more than ever, we need the arts in our state to be strong and vibrant. 

State and federal funding are only a stopgap to keep the arts alive in South Dakota. This summer, we will all have the opportunity to show our support for arts organizations, artists and creative enterprises in our state. Already we are seeing summer concert venues open, visual arts exhibitions announced and summer theater programs posted to make this summer full of exciting arts opportunities. The return of audiences and the enthusiastic support of South Dakotans everywhere will be the next step in returning our creative industry to its former strength. 

Please visit to learn more about the importance of the arts to all South Dakota communities.