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The Arts and the Economy

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About State Funding of the Arts



Got a question? The answer may be in our talking points. If not, let us know, so we can answer it here.




How can we afford to support the arts in hard economic times?

It is when times are bad that every resource must be allocated carefully to get the best results with the smallest investment. The arts are a proven recovery asset that supports jobs, stimulates commerce, revitalizes communities, attracts tourists and provides other economic benefits. 


  • As of February 2011, the allocation for the Arts Commission is 0.04% (four one- hundredths of one percent) of the state budget. Eliminating that small public investment in the arts will not save enough to provide significant relief. However, elimination will threaten the state's capacity to provide sustained, strategic leadership on issues like education, quality of life and our economy, all of which impact citizens statewide.
  • The state's small public investment helps stimulate South Carolina's creative industries, which generate 3% of the state's total economy and account for 78,000 jobs.
  • In 2010, South Carolina’s investment in the arts of a little more than $2.4 million helped to generate more than $91 million in local matching funds. That’s a great return on investment—almost 38 to 1.


Why can't the private sector take over funding of the arts?

Private donations already provide support for many local arts organizations and efforts. In fact, private giving is one way for Arts Commission grantees to leverage additional support from other sources. So why can't that private support just be increased to make up for the loss of government funds?


  • Private support tends to stay local, and in many communities, there is no source of private support. This is especially true in many rural areas with little or no industry, as well as communities challenged by low incomes and high unemployment. In many parts of the state, publicly funded efforts are the only available resource for participation in the arts, and sometimes one of the few low- or no-cost options for family activities and community involvement.
  • Private support does not have the same mandate for equitabilty and accountability that is mandatory for government funding. The Arts Commission is charged with making sure that the benefits of the arts reach all areas of the state, and that the public funds that support that mission are spent responsibly.
  • A government agency working at the state level can accurately assess the state’s cultural needs and assets, then organize efforts to help the state achieve goals that are relevant to its priorities. There is no private equivalent to that kind of strategic planning and implementation.


Why do we need arts in education when so few kids will grow up to be professional artists?

The goals of arts education are not limited to training future artists any more than school sports programs exist solely to produce future professional athletes. In both cases, the benefits extend far beyond a possible career track.


  • Both sports and the arts encourage discipline, teamwork, endurance, critical thinking, and leadership. The arts also help develop communication and social skills, creativity, cultural awareness, and innovative thinking.
  • Both sports and the arts provide students with a chance to excel, which is especially valuable to a child who feels inept or out of place in other areas of study.
  • Research shows that students involved in arts education perform better, have better attendance records, and have parents who are more engaged in the education process.