The Daily Gamecock

Arts advocates protest Haley’s cuts

Supporters tout economic benefits of creativity in SC


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Protesters in white construction helmets crowded the Statehouse lobby around noon Tuesday, standing up against Gov. Nikki Haley’s proposed cuts to arts funding.

Facing a budget shortfall of more than $800 million, Haley proposed cuts for both ETV and the Commission in her first State of the State address. Legislators are grappling with historic challenges as they attempt to balance the state’s budget and provide essential services for citizens.

But before arts funding is cut, activists want politicians to understand what’s at stake.

Last year, the Commission awarded $2.2 million in grants to 341 organizations, including schools, according to Director of Communications Milly Hough. That money helped generate more than $91 million in matching federal funds and funds spent by municipalities on the arts.

The Commission uses most of its current $2 million in state funding to pay for salaries and operations, while most of its federal funding and donations go to grants. If the state funding goes, the Commission will also, Hough said.

The protesters at the Statehouse did not want to see that happen. They lined the main aisle where lawmakers entered the building to voice their appeals, but Haley entered through another door for an event with another organization.

First-year business student Zoe Sneed and her group of friends, donned in the construction hats representing the arts’ hard work for South Carolina, sang a song to the tune of Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R” with the lyrics, “We’re trying to save the arts, arts, arts, arts, arts, arts.”

“The arts are really important to a lot of people,” Sneed said. “They’re like an outlet for so many people, and they’re important to me because they were my outlet.”

But unlike Sneed, most protesters did not defend the arts as creative outlets or for their own sake. Most, like Betty Plumb, executive director of the S.C. Arts Alliance, said the arts paint the state green.

“The arts bring $9.2 billion to our state and they and they support 79,000 jobs, so we’re about bringing revenue into the state, not just asking,” Plumb said. “But we need to have seed money; we need to have that support from the state to get federal money and to balance 

the local monies that have dwindled.”

A 2006 study from the Moore School of Business found that “the state’s cultural industry overall generates $2.4 billion or more in economic output for the South Carolina economy, including $766,249,688 in salaries and wages from 31,490 jobs.”

Wynell Shows, a quilter and a volunteer with the arts council of Rock Hill, did not attempt to quantify what the loss of the Commission would mean.

“If we cut the arts, we’re cutting our future,” she said.



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