The S.C. House and Senate overturned Gov. Nikki Haley’s arts vetoes, returning more than $2 million back to the South Carolina Arts Commission.
Lawmakers this week overrode Vetoes 1 and 21, which cut $1.9 million and $500,000 to the commission, respectively.
Arts advocates across the state celebrated.
“It’s really wonderful these legislators see the ABC Project’s benefits to students,” said Christine Fisher, director of the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project. “We’re just really excited.”
Fisher added that with the vetoes overturned, she can now continue her project’s assistance to schools.
“We’ll be able to continue in schools and to give them assistance and one-on-one help,” she said. “We really appreciate the support.”
The ABC Project is a collaboration between the SCAC, South Carolina Department of Education, and Winthrop University. The project works with students and schools throughout South Carolina to provide resources for arts education. Fisher said last week that without the SCAC, ABC projects would not exist.
“We’re extremely happy and indebted to advocates and legislators who supported the arts,” said Betty Plumb, executive director of South Carolina Arts Alliance, an arts advocacy organization. “We’re getting congrats from across the country, from statewide and national groups.”
Plumb said that national organizations have been following the arts funding vetoes, and that “nobody wants to be the state without an arts agency.”
The SCAA Facebook page published that the arts commission employees will return to work today, after news of the cuts shut their doors last Monday.
SCAA wrote: “THANK YOU, ADVOCATES AND SENATORS! ARTS COMMISSION BACK IN BUSINESS!” and “ARTS COMMISSION TO GO BACK TO WORK TOMORROW!”
George McLeer, executive director of the Mauldin Cultural Center, said that he is happy to see the bipartisan effort.
“The arts are nonpartisan, but the veto was a bipartisan effort,” he said. “We’re happy with the support we got.”
McLeer said that the cultural center will now receive a grant from SCAC for general operating costs.
“Foundations don’t typically give out that kind of money,” he said. “It can go to help fix something that’s broken. A lot of money [granted] doesn’t go to that. We’re obviously ecstatic.”
He added: “I just talked with the arts commissions folks and they’re trying to get into work as soon as possible. We’re glad to have them back. The arts, at the state level, can now function again.”