The Issues

Funding for the Arts

South Carolina

Funding for the South Carolina Arts Commission

In FY2016, the SCAC granted 78% of its general fund appropriation to arts organizations, well above its 70% mandated threshold for grants. That year, the agency granted $1.4 million through 153 grants in 31 counties in South Carolina. In total, grant funds supported over 6 million arts experiences for residents and visitors.

For FY2018, being decided this legislative session, the agency requested an additional $750,000 in recurring revenue to expand the reach and impact of their granting programs, provide professional development opportunities for artists and arts leaders, and to increase their focus on rural communities across the state.

An increase of $350,000 was included in the state budget.

Issue Briefs
SC Arts Commission Budget Request Handout


Funding for the National Endowment for the Arts

The NEA is currently funded at $146 million. Efforts to increase the federal agency's appropriation to $148 million were supported during the last budget process, but Congress was able to reach an overall budget deal, resulting in a run of Continuing Resolutions which have pushed any new budget talks into 2017 and will be led by the new Congress and Executive Administration.

Issue Briefs
Americans for the Arts


Arts Education

South Carolina

Education Improvement Act Partnership Funding

For FY2018 an increase was requested of $500,000 through EIA Partnership funding for the expansion of the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project and to empower schools and community organizations to strengthen their education efforts for all children through the arts.

This funding was not placed in the state budget.

Issue Briefs
ABC Project Website


Every Student Succeeds Act Implementation

The federal education reform bill, ESSA, will be implemented at the state level for the 2017/18 school year. The legislation, which includes "the arts" in its definition of the "well-rounded education" required for all students, includes many areas where support for the arts in the classroom can increase.

In the SC Department of Education's plan for ESSA implementation, arts educators and professionals were able to provide insight into school accountability measures, revised arts standards, and other areas. During the 2017 Legislative Session, there will be opportunities for members of the legislature to make education stronger in South Carolina by approving the Department's proposed measures of implementation, and providing appropriate funding.

Abbeville Lawsuit - Education Reform Recommendations

After the 2014 SC Supreme Court ruling in the Abbeville lawsuit, the SC Speaker of the House, Rep. Jay Lucas, commissioned a task force of legislators and education leaders to develop recommendations to improve how South Carolina educates its children, specifically within rural parts of the state.

The Task Force published 47 recommendations for the Legislature to consider in one form or another. To date, only 7 bills directly relating to the Abbeville lawsuit and the recommendations has passed. Many recommendations explicitly support the arts as a tool to improve education, or allow for the arts to be a part of the solution.

Issue Briefs
House Policy & Reform Task Force Recommendations


Funding for Every Student Succeeds Act

ESSA passed with bipartisan support in December of 2015. Implementation at the state level is required by the 2017/18 school year. While the final rules of the federal legislation are due out late 2016, early 2017, federal funding is still an area of focus.

ESSA's full authorization is for up to $1.65 billion, however current proposals only reach around $500 million. Federal funds are distributed to states to help with their implementation of the new federal legislation.

Issue Briefs
Americans for the Arts - Arts Education & Policy


Business of the Arts

Tax Policy
Charitable Deductions

Within the wide conversation of tax reform, charitable deductions are always an item of discussion for national leaders. The arts industry, and the entire nonprofit industry, stands firm that the charitable deduction, to the fullest extent of current law, is one of the best tools to support organizations that provide vital services to communities across America.

As discussions begin again around the topic of tax reform, the SC Arts Alliance will monitor any potential impact to the creative industry in South Carolina.


The Comprehensive Resources for Entrepreneurs in the Arts to Transform the Economy (CREATE) Act aims to more thoroughly serve the people, places, and programs that make our nation’s creative economy prosper in all its cultural, social, and commercial forms.

The CREATE Act focuses on supporting artists and creative entrepreneurs through special expansions or changes to the Small Business Administration, Economic Development Administration, and FEMA. It also addresses needs of communities wishing to support the arts with the creation of an Artists Corps, and developing a model to promote local economic initiatives that include the arts. It also addresses a few tax policy areas to better support the artist, their business, and nonprofits.

Read more about the CREATE Act here.

Arts + Communities

South Carolina

Local Issues to Monitor

While the SC Arts Alliance does not directly work on hyper-local advocacy issues due to each community's unique differences from one another, there are common areas where the arts can play a helpful role in making all of our communities a more vibrant place to live, work, play, and visit.

Cultural Districts

Managed by the SC Arts Commission, the state of South Carolina now provides a process for communities to identify, brand, and maintain a "cultural district". Studies show that by creating a Cultural District, communities can see an uptick in tourism and commercial development around the district, plus create more opportunities to attract and retain artists to thrive in their own backyard.

SCAC Cultural Districts Website
Americans for the Arts - Cultural Districts

Economic Development

Many SC communities have realized the value in using the arts as a tool for economic development. From community festivals, to arts centers, to public art installations, to creative partnerships between planners, artists, and businesses - the arts have the ability to positively impact economic development efforts. People and non-arts industries are attracted to communities that boast a vibrant arts scene. Leveraging the creativity within a community can fill parking spots on Main Street and windows in storefronts.

For a national look at the economic impact of the arts, visit this site from Americans for the Arts.

Local Policy

Local advocates can also grow the arts in their community by encourage leaders to think about the role the arts can play in various public policies such as sign ordinances, zoning, infrastructure, special event permitting, public art ordinances, and more.

Visit our "Resources" section for examples of local policies that may be a good fit for your community.

Arts AND...

The arts have an innate ability to partner with every other industry in a community. Whether it's using the arts to help Veterans after returning home, or working alongside incarcerated youth, or partnering with transportation officials on putting art in buses and on trails, the arts can have a huge impact on a community when partnered with another industry.

For more on the "Arts AND..." movement, visit Americans for the Arts website.