SIOUX FALLS, SD - Governor Dennis Daugaard's proposed budget cuts are center stage in Pierre, but funding for the arts in South Dakota appears to have a solid foundation.
A house bill passed almost unanimously Thursday
extending the state's tourism tax. Half a penny of that goes to the South Dakota Arts Council. This weekend, a showcase in Sioux Falls used grant money from the council.
The Artists of The Plains Art Show has been going on for more than three decades. But thanks to funding from the South Dakota Arts Council, these artists actually got to become teachers with 45-minute classroom lectures throughout the weekend.
"It's very nice that we can start educating the public rather than just coming in as observers," glass artist Jon Offutt said. "We can actually interact with them and provide a little more information about what we do."
A $1,000 grant provided the rooms for the workshops. And for a first-time experiment, organizers say it drew well.
"This has brought people down that want to hear an artist talk first and then go look at the art second," Tim Hoheisel of Augustana College said. "We've had a shift in the interest of people who want to come to the art show, so it's been very valuable for us."
But just two years ago, that value was almost lost. Then-Governor Mike Rounds proposed cutting the South Dakota Arts Council, before raising the state's tourism tax to keep it alive. And if state Representatives have their way, that 1.5% tax would stay put.
"The arts in South Dakota are very strong," Hoheisel said. "It's a good sign from the legislature and the population and the people that come to the show are very interested in art."
"We can do a lot with so little," artist Chris Francis said. "And now having the tourism tax increase, the possibilities for South Dakota and the programs that we can do are going to be incredible and great for our state. They're not only going to be great for the arts and culture and the educational side, but also for economic development."
Hoheisel says around 3,000 people came to this year's Artists Of the Plains Art Show, the highest total in five years.
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