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The Arts and the Economy
- According to a study by researchers at the Moore School of Business at USC, creative industries (for-profit companies, non-profit organizations, and self-employed individuals) in South Carolina contribute more than $9.7 billion to the state’s economy annually and support 115,000 jobs. An industry of this magnitude is worthy of consistent, focused attention and investment at the state level.
- In order to be competitive in the world economy and to increase our standard of living, South Carolina needs to attract and develop sophisticated industries that rely on highly educated, creative workers. A thriving arts environment is an important part of the quality of life that attracts and retains these industries and workers. In addition, arts education helps students develop the creativity, problem-solving, self-discipline, and collaborative skills that they will need to succeed in these industries.
- Quality arts education contributes to K-12 educational achievement, which is a critical issue for our state. 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. Participation in the arts makes the biggest positive difference in achievement among disadvantaged students.
- Tourism is now South Carolina’s largest industry. Arts attractions—from the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston and the Newberry Opera House to Artisphere in Greenville and the South Carolina Jazz Festival in Cheraw—draw tourists who stay longer and spend more than the average tourist (according to the Travel Industry Association of America).
- The arts frequently are catalysts for neighborhood and downtown revival in our cities. A few examples include downtown Rock Hill, Lancaster, Spartanburg, Columbia's Congaree Vista and downtown Greenwood, all of which are official state-designated cultural districts -- walkable, geographic areas that serve as centers of cultural, artistic and economic activities.
- The arts promote civic engagement and can build bridges across cultures, generations, and geographies. People who participate in the arts are more likely to vote than the average citizen.
- The arts in South Carolina, especially community-based traditions such as sweetgrass basket making, Catawba pottery, and gospel music, express and preserve our state’s unique cultural heritage. The need for conservation extends to our cultural environment as well as our natural environment.
- During the development of the long range plan for the arts in South Carolina, Arts Commission staff and board members talked with community leaders in seven locations around the state. These leaders came from different non-arts sectors: business, education, foundations and United Ways, the faith community, and other civic groups. We heard again and again that many of those leaders are concerned about the image of our state in the national and international arenas. They felt that communicating the quality, diversity, and sophistication of the arts in our state could help counter some of the negative portrayals that the state has received and make our state more attractive to high-value businesses.
Why do we need the Arts Commission?
- One key function of the SC Arts Commission is make sure that all citizens of our state have access to the benefits of the arts in their lives and communities, not just those who are wealthy or who live in large cities. The presence of arts programs in many rural communities and schools in our state is a result of the Commission’s long term investment of staff assistance and grant funds to build and support an arts delivery and education system throughout the state.
- The SC Arts Commission has led long-term, statewide initiatives and partnerships to increase arts opportunities in rural areas, to improve arts education for all students, to help communities large and small address challenges, to help arts organizations build public participation, to preserve our artistic traditions, and to assist artists in small business development. Leadership on strategic, statewide issues is one of the key roles that the Commission plays and is part of the unique public value that it provides. The Commission exercises this leadership through statewide coordination of services, collaboration with other key stakeholders, and targeted support for its initiatives. This is not something that any local arts group can or will do.
- Across all programs, using federal, state and other funds, the Arts Commission awarded more than $3.3 million in grants last year. These awards were spread broadly around the state, with more than 342 grants in 42 counties. The schools and organizations supported by these grants provided thousands of opportunities for the employment of artists, served more than 160,000 students in 440 schools, and delivered over 5,000,000 individual arts experiences during the year.
- Private investment in the arts (by individuals, corporations, foundations, etc.) is almost exclusively local. This means that, in communities lacking significant private wealth, there is little private investment in the arts. The Arts Commission helps to address this inequity. Even in communities with more resources, the Arts Commission’s support helps local arts groups leverage additional contributions, and its staff assistance helps them solve problems and find new opportunities.
- South Carolinians overwhelmingly support state funding for the arts. A fall 2009 statewide poll by the USC Institute for Public Service and Policy Research found that more than 92 percent of adult South Carolinians support state funding for the arts—and more than 50 percent support increased public funding for the arts. Almost 80 percent support increased funding for arts education in our schools.
- The Arts Commission is the only publicly mandated agency in South Carolina to bring access to the arts to all of our citizens and all of our communities. South Carolina's national image will be diminished if it becomes a state that refuses to support statewide access to the educational, economic, and intrinsic benefits of the arts.
What do we get for our investment?
- South Carolina’s investment in the arts of $3.3 million last year helped to generate more than $165 million in local matching funds.
- Grant awards (and selections for participation in other competitive programs offered by the Commission) are made on the basis of rigorous peer-panel reviews that fairly and equitably assess proposals against published criteria. These panels are held in public, and there is a high degree of transparency and accountability throughout the application and award process. The validation that comes from awards made through such processes provides grantees with powerful leverage for attracting additional investment.
- This year the Arts Commission will receive more than $800,000 federal funds through the National Endowment for the Arts, but these funds are contingent on a state match. If South Carolina were to eliminate state funds for the Commission, we would also forfeit all federal funds that the agency receives.
- In order to qualify for federal funds a state arts agency must also
- have its own board, council, or commission
- have a comprehensive statewide plan for the arts that includes input from the public and is responsive to the needs of the state
- make funding and programming decisions based on criteria that take fairness and excellence into account
- demonstrate leadership in providing public access to the arts and addressing the needs of underserved communities
- maintain sound fiscal management, administrative procedures, and accountability reporting.
- The SC Arts Commission consistently receives high rankings in competitive reviews by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and is recognized as one of the most innovative and effective state arts agencies in the country (two-time recipient of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies’ Innovation Award). It has repeatedly been selected to participate in pilot initiatives by major national funders such as the Wallace Foundation and Leveraging Investments in Creativity, as well as the NEA, and has brought the benefits of those connections back to its constituents in South Carolina.
Last update: 1/30/18