SC Arts Commission May have Dodged a Bullet – But More Cuts Are Coming for SC’s Non-Profit Arts Groups

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Yes, the SC State Legislature may have stopped Governor Mark Sanford’s veto of the SC Arts Commission’s budget cut, but more cuts will come to the SC Arts Commission’s budget as our state adjust to shortfalls in revenue that legislators just ignored (after Tue. June 29,2010, that is). It’s easy to override a veto, it makes you look like you’re a friend of the arts to some folks back home, but those legislators know the State will be doing their dirty work for them when adjustments have to be made throughout next year’s budget cycle as projected revenues fall short. It’s SC’s official dance – pass the buck and pass the responsibility.

So, what will we see from our saved Arts Commission under the leadership of Ken May – its newly named director?

Our old friend Jeffrey Day continues in his position as the unofficial press agent for the SC Arts Commission by offering heaps of praise on Ken May in an issue of Columbia, SC’s Freetimes.

According to Day, one of May’s positive attributes is that he can be seen at art events all around Columbia. I bet he can also be seen at Columbia grocery stores, movie theatres, and book stores, but what good does that do the rest of SC’s art community? Yes, the Charleston, SC, community might see him there during the Spoleto Festival, but that’s one of the things wrong with the Arts Commission – it is the poorest form of centralized government. The entire staff sits in Columbia most of the time. And, with more budget cuts – they won’t be going anywhere too soon.

As far as I know – until proven differently – May represents the same old, same old, from the Arts Commission – which is great for the sector of SC’s art community that has been living off the Arts Commission’s funding for decades. Not so good for those who have gotten nothing and not so good for new groups pulling up to the Arts Commission’s trough – only to find no room.

So what’s the future look like? Well with the prospects of a new governor on the way – one who looks like they could prove to be a Sanford style governor on steroids – not too secure.

Non-profit arts groups are going to have to deal with less public funding, the SC Arts Commission will have to deal with less funding and the list of groups who get it will get smaller and smaller. It actually could get very ugly – during the fight over who is more deserving or more connected to get that funding. In fact, I’d be concerned if I was an arts group outside of Columbia. It’s easier to cut funding of groups you don’t attend on a regular basis. Of course May doesn’t determine who gets funding and how much – the Arts Commission Board does that – at least they would if they were really leading the Arts Commission. But, we all know the staff really does.

Again, I haven’t noticed that this current crop of Board Members are less rubbery than former Board groups. It’s so easy to just go along with the staff recommendations – they know what’s best. They know the right people, the deserving – those who will praise them – they’re buddies.

The Who said we won’t get fooled again, but I think we just did.

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