Governor Nikki Haley recently announced additional austerity measures for her state, including cutting $1.9 million in funding for the South Carolina Arts Commission and $500,000 in funding earmarked for grants. Haley called the agency redundant, and said it can receive private funds and apply for funding through grants.
Several lawmakers have vowed to override Haley’s budget vetoes next week. Senator Joel Lourie, D-Richland County said he thinks the legislature will likely see “strong override votes that way surpass” the necessary two-thirds approval.
In response to the proposed cuts, South Carolina art groups plan to hold an “Occupy the Arts” protest next week at the Statehouse, and a Twitter hashtag (#SaveSCArts) is accompanying tweets in support of arts funding.
A core disagreement between the governor and activists is the role of art in society. Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey defended the cuts, saying the Arts Commission was not a core function of the government.
“While the governor loves the arts, she does not believe the Arts Commission, which uses significant taxpayer dollars to fund administrative costs, is a core function of government—and she has been clear about this since her first State of the State address,” Godfrey said. “The arts and Arts Commission are not the same thing, and those who represent that they are, are doing the taxpayers of South Carolina a real disservice.”
Activists, and their Democratic supporters, disagree, noting that a feature of strong societies is a thriving arts community: