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Ongoing Draft-IV July 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — jbuttke @ 10:43 pm

This is still rough, but finally over the required word count-yay! Its final section is very incomplete…


            In January of 2008, South Dakota Governor Michael Rounds gave the annual State of the State Address in Pierre South Dakota. While he called upon South Dakotans to be tenacious and unfailing in unstable economic times, he also addressed issues pertaining to the 2009 budget.  By December, revenues had fallen $86 million short of projections, adding to the state’s mounting financial difficulties.[1] To balance the overstretched budget, Rounds proposed an approach that would streamline sales tax, expanding it to those who were previously exempt and bringing in additional funding. He also proposed a $46 million reduction in spending, cutting several programs, including the South Dakota Arts Council[2].  In fiscal year 2008, the Arts Council received $635,988 in state funds supplemented with $608,200 from the National Endowment for the Arts.  In the 2010 budget, the council has been restored but is receiving no state funds.  Instead, the Arts Council Budget consists of federal stimulus dollars amounting to $1,834,371, nearly $300,000 more than was requested. It is important to note that without a state arts council, South Dakota would not be eligible to receive funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, to which a large portion of the stimulus money was allocated. In addition to directing a portion of the stimulus dollars to the Arts council, the state implemented a .05% increase in the tourism tax for the next two years to provide for both the Council and the state’s Archeological Research Center.[3]  

            The funding issues facing the South Dakota Arts Council also faced arts councils in other states. North Carolina and Pennsylvania proposed arts and culture cuts in early 2009, some of which were still being contested into the summer months. In an economic climate that forced California to cut education funding by $40 billion and drove Michigan unemployment to 14%, the arts funding dilemma facing South Dakota appears nominal.  However, the unstable economic conditions provide a rare opportunity to study the role of the Arts Council in South Dakota Communities, specifically the Artists in the Schools Program.  This study ultimately aims to determine the effectiveness of the Artists in the Schools program in South Dakota. In order to understand the role of the Artists in the Schools program, a brief history of the Arts Council is necessary.

History of the Arts Council

            In February of 1966, the South Dakota State Legislature passed an act establishing the South Dakota Arts Council. Later that year, the first federal funding reached the state in the form of a check for $25,000 made possible through the National Endowment for the Arts.[4] Governor Nils Boe was placed in charge of appointing members to the Council. Notable members included Phyllis Kellar of Lead, Jeannette Lusk of Huron, and Warren M. Lee of Vermillion, who was elected chair. The Council later hired an executive director, Charlotte Carver, who had previously been the business manager for the Sioux Falls Symphony. The first few years of the Council marked the beginning of the community arts movement, as local arts councils began springing up across the state.  In 1968, the state of South Dakota contributed its first funding to the Council.  $18,000 in state monies was matched with $43,348 local funds.

Artists in the Schools Program

            In 1971 Dennis Holub joined the Council as program director. Under his guidance, the Artists in the Schools program began and developed.  The program is designed to place a professional local artist in a South Dakota school for a period of time, exposing students to a variety of cultural elements with which they would not otherwise have an opportunity to interact.  Residencies may last anywhere from a day to an entire school year, and aim to benefit the students indefinitely.  In the words of the Arts Council: “Artists can help teachers further develop arts curriculum and creative teaching of the arts…”[5] During fiscal year 2008, the creative arts consisted of visual arts, traditional arts, theater, dance, music, and literature.  The cost of bringing in an artist is split between the participating school and the Arts Council, with matching funds from each entity.  In fiscal year 2008, the council reported grants ranging from $500 to $3,593.28 according to the amount of time spent in the school.  Each amount was then matched by the host school. The South Dakota Arts Council also reported grant amounts for the Artists in the Communities, which has recently been included in the program, but is omitted from this study. These grants ranged from $200 to $1,987.68. Over the course of the year, the combined program held 4,230 events with a reported attendance of 34,288 people. This being said, the average cost per person in attendance was $8.65, and the average grant to an artists was $1,348.


            In order to determine the effectiveness of the South Dakota Arts Council’s Artists in the Schools program, this study aims to measure the social/cultural impact of the program.  Two separate five question surveys were sent out via email with a link to an online survey. Survey A was sent to all twenty-nine artists currently involved in the program and survey B was sent to teachers at twenty-one participating host schools. The five multiple choice questions in each survey were followed by a space for optional additional comment, which nearly half of the participants chose to use. The survey A included questions regarding the artists’ experiences with the program and their opinions about the state funding the arts. Likewise, survey B included questions about the teachers’ experiences with the program and their perceived effectiveness of the program. Artists’ opinions were sought in the study because part of the mission statement of the program is to provide means for South Dakota artists to continue their work while staying in the area. Teachers’ opinions were included in the study because they act as bystanders, not personally participating in the program, but observing its impact on participating students and schools. The survey was available online from June 10th through June 26th of 2009.


            Eighteen of the twenty-nine artists who are currently involved in the program responded to survey A.  The following table shows the first question, which all responded to but one participant.

How long have you been a participant in the Artists in the Schools/Communities program?

Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count










More than 10yrs




Question two asked participants “Which answer best describes your experience in the program?” and provided the following options: very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, and negative.  Seventeen of the participants, or 94.4% described their experience as “very positive,” while one participant described his or her experience as “neutral.” One participant chose not the answer the question.  Question three asked participants “How crucial do you feel the Artists in the Schools program is to arts education in South Dakota?” and provided the answers of “very crucial,” “somewhat crucial,” “neutral,” and “not crucial.”  The responses were as follows: 88.9% described the program as “very crucial,” 5.6% said the program is “somewhat crucial,” 5.6% said they were “neutral,” and one participant did not respond.  Question four asked, “Do you feel the Artists in the Schools program is an effective way to provide art to students who would not otherwise have exposure to the arts?” and provided the answers, “yes,” “no,” and “don’t know.” One hundred percent of the survey participants answered “yes.”  Thirteen of the participants chose to comment at the end of the survey. The content and implications of their comments will be discussed later in this paper.

            Survey B was sent to teachers at twelve schools in “urban” areas of South Dakota, including Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Aberdeen, and Brookings. It was also sent to teachers in nine schools in mid-sized and rural areas. Para-professionals and teaching assistants were included in the sample, producing fifty-seven respondents. Question one is demonstrated in the table below.


Question two asked participants, “Do you feel the Artists in the Schools Program is an efficient use of class time?”  Of the four provided answers, 92.2% or 51 participants said “yes,” one participant said “no,” and five participants said “don’t know.” Question three read as follows: “Do you feel the Artists in the Schools program is an efficient use of state funds?” 52 participants answered “yes,” three participants said “no,” and two participants said “don’t know.” Question four asked “How crucial do you feel the Artists in the Schools program is for arts education in South Dakota?” 37 respondents or 64.9% said “very crucial,” 11 respondents said “somewhat crucial,” eight answered with “neutral,” and one answered “not crucial.” The final multiple choice question on survey B read: “Do you feel Artists in the Schools is an effective way to provide arts to students who would not otherwise be exposed to the arts?”  55 participants or 96.5% responded with “yes,” two said “no,” and one participant answered with “don’t know.”


            Upon reviewing the surveys, it is important to note the errors in the study. Due to the large number of individuals who were invited to participate in the survey B, a large number of participants is required for a acceptable response rate.  Survey A received 19 replies out of 29 recipients producing a 66% response rate.  While survey B was sent to 744 South Dakota teachers, it was sent to state email addresses during the summer months. Only several “out of office” replies were received, but it is possible that many potential respondents did not check their state email during the two-week course of the online survey. Survey B received 57 responses, and was emailed to 744 teachers, producing a 7.6% response rate.  Another necessary consideration is the selection bias which is evident in the survey results. Because the overwhelming majority of answers fell on the positive side of the spectrum, one may conclude that recipients of the survey were more likely to participate if they felt strongly about the topic of the survey. In this instance, teachers that had positive feelings about the Artists in the Schools program filled out the survey. In order to obtain a legitimate sample in the future, all teachers in the state must be placed in database from which a random sample is generated. That sample must be given a password in order to insure that the only participants in the survey are those who are selected in the random sample. It is also important to encourage each member of the sample to participate with follow-up emails and mailings until an acceptable number of respondents is achieved. By following these procedures, any future study may produce valid and meaningful data.

            This study, however, did produce some usable information that suggests that this topic calls for further research. It is clear by the results of survey A that those who are currently participating in the program take is seriously and feel it is going in an agreeable direction.  A large majority of participating artists have been in the program for at least two years, with nearly 28% having been involved for more than 10 years. A comment left by an artist who has been involved in the program for more than 10 years emphasizes what he or she believes are the important benefits of the Artists in the Schools program: “It allows kids from all communities, not just big cities, to take part in the arts. It emphasizes individuality, competence, improvement through work, cooperation, empathy, and self-confidence….The arts prove that there’s a lot more to life than just making a living.” An artist who has been involved in the program from 5-10 years gave a more in depth description of how he or she believes the program caters to the classroom:


“The flexibility of these programs allows for students to concentrate (using the arts) on their primary focus during any given time of the school year. For example, in Buffalo the “science of sound” became a springboard for more hands-on high school physics application….whereas a very established music program in a Sioux Falls middle school was taken to an even higher level through direct contact/study with two professional performers. Parents were greatly impressed and thankful!!”


            Survey B produced some suggestive results as well. The fact alone, that nearly half of the respondents chose to leave a comment at the end of the survey speaks for itself.  Many who filled out the survey were not indifferent to the topic or the questions. These individuals chose to leave personal stories about their experiences with the program, and listed reasons why the program is important to their school.  Several participants in survey B wrote something to the effect that their schools did not otherwise provide access to the arts.  A teacher who said he or she had attended more than 10 Artists in the Schools presentations with students commented: “The quality time artists spend with students is incredibly valuable! For most classroom teachers to present lessons beyond “craft lessons” for students and call it “art” is too frequent of an occurrence. Students need to see and be with real artists to be made more aware of their own individual talents in the art area.” A similar comment reads: “Twenty years ago, we had an elementary art teacher that met with the children once a week. With budget cuts, that was one of the first positions to be eliminated. Art has become a craft time, unless the classroom teacher is talented in art. This is too bad because many children do have a strength in art and art should be an avenue in which to show knowledge.” The previous comment features an argument that was fairly common among the comments, this argument being that some students’ greatest strengths lie in the arts, and without the program, may not otherwise discover them. Another such comment reads: “During last years Artists in Schools program in our school I saw multiple students that struggle academically “shine” artistically. What a wonderful boost for their self-esteem and exposure to the visual arts that they may never of otherwise had.”


[1] Rounds speech

[2] Ben Dunsmoor

© 2009 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved

[3] http://www.state.sd.us/drr2/pressrelease/businesstax/tourism%20tax%20309.pdf

[4] Huseboe, Art

[5] http://www.sdarts.org


One Response to “Ongoing Draft-IV”

  1. mlkreport Says:

    Your project is very interesting! I know it seems that your survey design enabled people to give some self-serving answers to some extent, but I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the subject since then. I think doing a different kind of survey would be interesting to see the differences, but at the same time, I think you will still have predominantly positive responses. For myself, I grew up in a district that didn’t provide art classes after second grade until one was in high school. Once in high school, you couldn’t take art and music, just one and I chose music. I think even the most basic of art instruction allows people an opportunity to express themselves in a way that no other medium allows and that is why people tend to be very supportive of the existence of art programs. Unfortunately, people are also pragmatists in that they don’t see art as a viable career, but more as an enriching hobby, so when the education budget gets tight, it is the first thing to go!

    I hope you will be able to incorporate all you’ve learned from this process and also spend some time thinking about different things you might gain from the new survey. Since you are going through all the work, will you be considering a slightly longer survey that may ask about more tangential parts of the arts experience beyond if they support it and feel it is valuable?

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