October 25, 2014

Lawmakers protect arts funding (AUDIO)

Wednesday, South Carolina state legislators voted to override a number of Governor Nikki Haley’s vetoes to portions of the state budget, including funding for the state Arts Commission. Rep. Leon Stavrinakis (R-Charleston) took to the House floor to argue for maintaining the funding prior to the vote. Stavrinakis said the arts provide educational and financial opportunities to communities statewide.

He said arts are an integral part of a well-rounded educational experience and data indicates that exposure to the arts stimulate a youngsters drive to achieve in the classroom. Stavrinakis added that the arts provide a $2 billion investment in the state annually creating 78,000 jobs.

AUDIO: Stavrinakis says the arts are beneficial from an educational and economic standpoint (:33)

Haley says, while the arts are important, she believes that taxpayers do not see the funding of the arts as a core function of government.

AUDIO: Haley believes the arts should be privately funded (:22)

The legislature, as a compromise, agreed to change how the agency is funded. Rep. Brain White (R-Anderson) pointed out the new funding structure now allows 74 percent the money to go to local arts programs in each county.

AUDIO: White says about two thirds of funding goes directly to counties (:16)

Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, praised the legislature in a statement:

By restoring $1.9 million in state funds to the the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC), the General Assembly has done what Governor Nikki Haley failed to do: uphold the state’s long tradition of valuing its artists and arts organizations to enrich the lives of all South Carolinians.