An e-mail is floating around that is trying to build support for the SC Arts Commission. Its author – Betty Plumb of the South Carolina Arts Alliance – what a surprise. The Arts Alliance is a non-profit created by the Arts Commission to lobby for them in the SC State Legislature. The Alliance is kind of like the SC Arts Foundation – created by the Arts Commission to shelter funds from State oversight.
What’s the big hub-bub about? Why the call for manufactured outrage and action?
A SC State Representative, Dan Cooper (R-Anderson), and Chair of the SC House Ways and Means Committee (the budget writing committee) made the statement – “We could at some point look at zeroing out agencies”, citing higher education, arts and social programs. Then an editorial in The State included the words, “we can’t afford to operate an agency that hands out grants to arts organizations”. These are fightin’ words to South Carolina’s non-profit arts groups. The only thing is, neither were actually suggesting that the State close up the SC Arts Commission. Too bad.
In my opinion, the State could save money by closing down the Arts Commission and taking the money they do give to these arts organizations and give it directly to the States’ counties to distribute to the arts organizations they see fit to get funding. Let local people decide who gets money locally and cut out the middle man. The counties are already distributing funding to these groups. It would just give them a little more to spread around. The State might even be able to give the arts even more money than the Arts Commission does. After all, they are one of the largest state arts agencies in the US. There is a lot of fat overhead in that agency.
So the Arts Alliance is calling on the faithful to write Representative Cooper to tell him he has it all wrong and to write letters to the editors of newspapers to explain how vital the Arts Commission is to the well-being of the South Carolina art community and its citizens.
Are they asking people to lie? Well, I’m sure from the perspective of people who do receive funding from the Arts Commission – their elimination might be a disaster, but I wonder what they would say if the State said – if we close down the Arts Commission you will get the same level of funding you have been getting and maybe a little more. Then what would their opinions be? It’s all about money – loyalty is about money. I know I’ve heard a lot of unflattering talk about the Arts Commission from these same people – when it’s a private conversation. In public – everything is just fine – as long as the money keeps flowing.
So what’s the opinion from the rest of the folks in the art community who never see any funding from the Arts Commission, no service, or not even a kind word of encouragement? We may never know. These people are the silent majority in this case – well, in all cases. But you can change all that by letting Representative Cooper hear from the other side. The Arts Alliance provided all the Representative’s contacts in their e-mail.
The Honorable Dan Cooper
P. O. Box 11867; Columbia, SC 29211
HWM Committee Fax: 803-734-3144
S.C. House Fax: 803-734-2826
Rep. Cooper’s E-mail: (HWM@schouse.org)
Home: 361 Browning Road, Piedmont, SC 29673;
PH: Red: 864-947-1230; Bus: 864-260-4025
Now is a good time to speak up and tell someone what your really think of the Arts Commission. I have. I’m all for public funding of the arts, but not for funding fat State agencies.