Educators concerned cuts for the arts could hurt students

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | Twitter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Local educators are saying "Save the Arts" to our state lawmakers. In her State of the State address, Gov. Nikki Haley mentioned putting the South Carolina Arts Commission on the chopping block to help save the state money.

For as long as high school senior Sarah Sutton can remember she's been involved in singing and dancing.

Recently she's been rehearsing for Wando High School's musical "Honk!" a production involving more than 200 students in the arts.

"A lot of people grudgingly talk about school, then as soon as the musical comes up their faces just light up and they get so excited. It's a draw. It brings people to school. They do better in classes," Sutton said.

Wando High School's Fine Arts Director Lori Carroll worries if the state loses the South Carolina Arts Commission important funding for quality arts education will be lost.

"We will have arts programs; they just won't be good arts programs. They will be arts programs that are giving the minimum and not able to allow students to explore new and different things," Carroll said.

The Arts Commission says it provided hundreds of grants to fund and support the arts or related programs statewide. In the tri-county last fiscal year the Commission provided more than $277,000 in Charleston, almost $33,000 in Berkeley, and more than $28,000 in Dorchester.

The Commission helps fund Spoletto Festival, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, and several school art programs. Arts supporters will continue to take their fight to the state house.

"We are writing letters. We want our legislators to know the arts are important to the state of South Carolina. They are not fluff. They are vital to what makes South Carolina the wonderful place it is to live," Carroll said.

The Arts Commission says the arts statewide support more than 78,000 jobs and contribute more than $9.2 billion to the economy, and they say arts attractions bring tourists who stay longer and spend more money in the state.

Cutting the SC Arts Commission would only save the state $2 million for the upcoming fiscal year. The projected state budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year is more than $800 million. In addition to the arts, Governor Haley also proposed cutting South Carolina Education Television.

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