On 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. December revenues fell $3 million short of projected revenues, adding to the state’s mounting financial difficulties. To balance the overstretched budget, Rounds proposed an approach which 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. In fiscal year 2008, the Arts Council received $635,988 state funds to support 8,608 events and 530 grants. Two months later, the funding was partially restored, allotting $10,756,506 to the Department of Tourism and Development, which resides over the South Dakota Arts Council. In addition to the partial restoration of funding, the state tourism tax was increased by .05% for the next two years to provide for both the Arts Council and the state’s Archeological Research Center.
The funding issues facing the South Dakota Arts Council were also facing 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 forces California to cut education funding by $40 billion and drives 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. In order to understand this role, a brief history of the South Dakota Arts Council and the Artists in the Schools Program is in order.
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 thousand made possible through the National Endowment for the Arts. State Senator Dan Stuelpnagel of Yankton 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. 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.
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 artist in a South Dakota school for a period of time, working with students and sharing his or her talent. Residencies may last anywhere from a day to an entire school year, and may or may not act in place of a hired art teacher.
 Ben Dunsmoor
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