By Jim Speirs, Executive Director, Arts South Dakota

We hear a lot about the importance of lifetime learning—growing our brainpower and appreciation of the world around us by adding knowledge and new skills as we age. Artists are doing that constantly, providing inspiration and a good example for all of us.

As a performing musician, I’m aware of how critical it is for me to be listening and learning from the people I play with. Sharing the stage with other musicians brings different perspectives, backgrounds and creative concepts to material I may be very familiar with, providing new and interesting ways to approach the music. And that willingness to explore new ideas and learn new concepts stays with artists their whole lives, enhancing their careers. 

A friend of mine, an accomplished musician in a variety of genres and a college-level educator, recently began a study of Latin rhythm forms, learning a whole new way of thinking about his music and his instrument by embracing other cultures and their music. Similarly, a recent visit with South Dakota artist laureate Dale Lamphere found him closely examining prairie grasses to discover new visions in form and structure to push the boundaries of his sculpture—learning from nature.

No matter where artists are in their careers, they know there’s more to learn, more to absorb, more to explore. Creative minds are curious minds, always reaching for the next level, knowing that growth is natural and vital to their art form.

We can be inspired by these creative people. Their curiosity leads to great art, great performances and a better world. They challenge us and help us grow through their art by sharing their ideas and their passion.

That’s why we’re hosting the State Arts Conference in Rapid City May 19-21—to bring together creative minds to share great new ideas about art and lifetime learning. Please join me in Rapid City to be inspired and learn from our state’s artists!

To check out the schedules, performances, speakers and learning opportunities, and to register for the 2022 State Arts Conference, visit