The South Carolina Arts Commission skirts elimination


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The South Carolina House of Representatives Wednesday overrode Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto-effort to eliminate the state’s Arts Commission, an autonomous agency governed by a nine-member board of commissioners. The action comes a month after Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback erased public funding for the Kansas Arts Commission, privatizing the agency instead.

Kansas is now the nation’s only state without a public arts agency.


According to a report in the State newspaper, the Republican-controlled House restored $1.9 million for the South Carolina Arts Commission that Haley had penciled out in a line-item veto. Also restored were funds for new school buses; Haley had said she wanted to privatize the bus system as well.

In her State of the State speech earlier this year, Haley had said, ‘[The] reality is the role of South Carolina’s government in the year 2011 can no longer be to fund an Arts Commission....’

According to Americans for the Arts, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group, South Carolina’s arts sector supports more than 78,000 jobs and contributes more than $9.2 billion to the state’s annual economy.

Most state arts commissions were created after the National Endowment for the Arts was founded by Congress in 1965. South Carolina’s was established by its legislature in 1967, a year after Kansas founded its agency. Federal and state arts funding has been a prime target of conservatives since the 1980s, when the Reagan Administration began to advocate for privatizing public services.


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