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The Arts and the Economy

Answers to Key Questions About the State's Investment in the Arts


These talking points are provided to help answer questions about the Arts Commission's role in the state of South Carolina. The information below briefly addresses the most common issues; for more detail, follow the links provided.


Why are the arts important to South Carolina citizens?

  • Cultural industries generate 115,000 jobs and over $9.7 billion annually, with potential for more. >>
  • Industries want to locate where there are educated, creative workers. Those workers gravitate toward communities with a thriving cultural life. >>
  • Becoming an educated, creative worker requires the skills developed by exposure to and participation in the arts. >>
  • An education that includes the arts produces higher achievement, especially among disadvantaged students. >>
  • Tourism is South Carolina's largest industry, and people who come for the arts stay longer and spend more. >>
  • The arts revitalizes communities, large and small. >>
  • People interested in the arts vote more often and do more for their communities. >>
  • A majority of South Carolinians are already frequent arts participants. >>
  • The state's identity is tied to, represented by, and sustained through the arts. >>
  • Residents are worried about how the state looks to the rest of the world. The arts in South Carolina are a source of pride they want outsiders to know about. >>


Why do we need the Arts Commission?

  • Because it's the only way many citizens have any access or exposure to the arts and the benefits they provide. >>
  • Because someone has to lead, organize, unite, and provide resources for the contributions the arts make to education, quality of life, and economic development across the state. >>
  • Because someone has to be a voice for South Carolina on the national and international stage.
  • Because grants from the Arts Commission result in thousands of jobs, more than 160,000 students served, and more than 5 million individual arts experiences across the state each year. >>
  • Because private sector funding stays local, and in many communities, there is none. And, because private sector funding has no mandate for equality or transparency. >>
  • Because the citizens of the state say we do: 92 percent say the arts should be state-funded, more than 50 percent want funding increased, and almost 80% want more spent on arts education in schools. Learn more about these figures >>
  • Because 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?

  • Return on investment: all Arts Commission grants are matching grants. Data collected from grantees shows that, in general, every grant dollar sent to local communities generates more than $50 in economic activity. Last year's state allocation of just over $3.3 million generated over $165 million in local communities.
  • The knowledge and experience of arts professionals who are available to every citizen for advisement and assistance. Through consulting, facilitation, leadership and training, the Arts Commission provides services in all 46 counties.
  • Rigorous, equitable, public review of state-funded activities, administered with transparency and accountability. >>
  • Leverage for attracting additional investment from public, private, national, and local sources. >>
  • $800,000 in federal funding that will only be awarded to a state arts agency that meets strict criteria for governance, inclusion, vision, fairness, excellence, and accountability. >>


Last update: 1/30/18


More details about these points >>