Politics & Government

$417K retored to SC Arts Commission with override of gov. veto

The state Senate on Thursday followed the lead of the House by overriding Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto of state Arts Commission funding.

The 33-8 vote restores $417,720 in operating funds to the commission.

If state lawmakers hadn’t overturned the veto, the Arts Commission would have had to shut its doors, according to commission executive director Ken May.

Allen Coleman, executive director of the Pickens County Museum of Art and History, said arts commission grants are particularly important to admission-free museums.

The Pickens County Museum charges no admission for its exhibitions or its musical performances.

“Our concerts and everything we do is free because we want to make sure that everything is available to everyone,” Coleman said.

“Not everyone can afford to pay for a concert. We want to make sure people can come out and hear some blues or bluegrass and see some art. We’re here for everyone.”

Alan Ethridge, executive director of Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council, applauded state lawmakers and admonished Haley.

“I hope that Gov. Haley will realize the significance of the House’s and Senate’s overriding of her veto of the Arts Commission,” Ethridge said.

“Perhaps within the next year she will be willing to become better informed on the vital role of the arts and economic development throughout South Carolina.”

Ethridge added, “A big thank you to the South Carolina Legislature for overriding her veto.”

On Wednesday, House lawmakers voted 94 to 18 to override Haley’s veto.

In vetoing Arts Commission money, Haley didn’t touch more than $1 million in grant money to be used to help support local arts organizations. Haley targeted only the commission’s operational funds.

But May argued that without operational funds, the commission wouldn’t be able review applications, reward grants and administer the grant money.