Within the secrecy of her chambers on a Friday evening South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed portions of the state budget that included funding for a one time teacher raise, money for victims of sexual assaults as well as funding for the SC Arts Commission. We all know how important education and victims assistance is but the arts also have a significant place and importance within our lives and culture. Art is all around us from the cars we drive to the buildings in which we work, to the clothes we wear as well as the television programs we watch, well you get the message. Art is in every aspect of our lives. What would radio be without music as well as print media? The monetary impact the arts have on Columbia has been written about, however, I want to share the human aspect and impact of Gov. Haley’s decision.
When the news hit about the veto the arts community did not hide and say okay we accept the decision instead they created a grassroots campaign. A campaign orchestrated by Natalie Brown founder and organizer of the Alternacirque located in Columbia, SC simply via a Facebook event, which resulted in artists of all genres attending and performing at “Rally for the Arts-Support the SC Arts Commission” on the grounds of the South Carolina State House. There were canvases set up with oil painting taking place as well as 10 minute poetry classes. Turn left and you might see an impromptu ballet performance, actors reciting ‘Hamlet’ then turn right and you might hear a high school string quartet or see a marionette puppet walk by.
The demographic of those in attendance at the rally was as diverse as the state; all ages, races, genders, economic incomes were present including Columbia, SC Mayor Steve Benjamin, State Rep. Bakari Sellers, and State Rep. Joe McCulloch. In addition there were arts community leaders showing support such as William Starrett, Artistic Director of the Columbia City Ballet, Lynn Forrest Hill, Artistic Director of the Columbia Marrionette Theatre, Al Black, Founder of Mind Gravy Poetry & Music Venue as well as a host of others active in the arts community. I myself being a poet who has benefited from SC Arts Commission funding via the Columbia Cultural Council understand the importance of arts funding, especially when the arts bring in billions, yes billions of dollars in revenue to South Carolina.
Check out the photos of this historic and emotional day when the South Carolina arts community came out even in the rain.
“Some of our best musical artist are products of public school art programs from Elvis Presley to Aretha Franklin and even Michael Jackson” ~Sherri Earle, Singer
“There is no us against them mentality here we [artist/creative people] are in this together. We are just trying to shed light and contrast through our work.” ~Cassie Premo Steele, Poet & Writer
SUPPORT ARTS FUNDING !!!