Advocacy: Why Arts Matter to S.C.

For almost 60 years, South Carolina has made a public investment in the arts through the South Carolina Arts Commission.

Among other things, the results so far include:

  • $114 million in grants going back into our communities since 1967;
  • 35-plus years of the Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Institute in our state, a partnership that provides leadership to achieve quality, comprehensive arts education for all students each year;
  • targeted grants and programs that help artists become entrepreneurs and fuel a $14.1 billion impact on the state’s economy;
  • access to SCAC grants, programs, and services in all 46 counties,
  • and a large and growing network of local arts providers statewide.

Our staff serves South Carolina’s needs in three focus areas:

We help artists and arts providers offer unique arts experiences to residents and visitors. From free poetry readings and gallery crawls to sweetgrass basketry workshops and ticketed dance, music, or theatre performances, they create an environment that contributes to quality of life from three “corner” counties of Oconee, Horry, and Beaufort to the 43 arranged inside.

FY23 impact

Map of SC with colored dots in counties where SCAC grants and programs were active in fiscal year 2023.

In FY23, the S.C. Arts Commission

  • distributed 623 grants totaling $11 million, which includes:
    • The SCAC made 619 annual grants totaling just less than $11 million to in-state artists, organizations, schools, or school districts.
    • Four grants totaling $95,025 went to partners based out of state that helped the SCAC accomplish its work in South Carolina.

See what programs are at work in which communities:


South Carolina’s (Ascendant) Arts-Related Economic Cluster

Research Economist Dr. Joseph C. Von Nessen from the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina compiled a new report released in February 2023.

Dr. Von Nessen analyzed data from the U.S. census and economic analysis bureaus and commerce department and discovered significant gains from the previous study released in 2018. Here are the critical takeaways:

123,550 jobs paying $5.7 billion

The total number of local jobs supported by the arts-related cluster. This level of employment represents 5.5% of the total employment base in South Carolina and also generates $5.7 billion in wages and salaries.

  • A 7.5% increase from the 2018 study.
$360.2 million

The annual total estimated tax revenue generated for the state of South Carolina that arises from the arts-related cluster each year.

  • A 33% increase from the 2018 study.
$14.1 billion

The total economic impact of the South Carolina arts-related cluster, which represents both the direct and indirect demand generated by the local spending activity of all arts-related businesses, their suppliers, and their employees.

  • A 45% increase from the 2018 study.

The analysis reviewed 2021 data from the portions of the state economy associated with the arts, design, crafts and related activities.