Help me save South Carolina, the arts, and my mom

Over the weekend, the governor, Nikki Haley, destroyed the South Carolina Commission for the Arts — the cut was such that the 20 people who work there cannot show up to work today, can’t even go into their building, because of liability issues.  The arts in South Carolina brings in $9.2 billion and creates 78,000 jobs at a cost of 1.9 million to the Arts Commission.  It’s a phenomenally stupid cut — our state has one of the two best arts in education programs in the country!  We don’t do a lot well in South Carolina, but this is one of the few we really do.  And now we’re about to be the only state in the country without a public arts agency.

This is political, but I have to let you know it’s deeply personal as well.  I have worked for the Commission, I know everyone who works there, the arts and arts education are extremely important to me, and my mother is the president of the foundation board.  My mother has worked with them for over half of my life — for 15 years she has been on their board and this is her third year as president. Nikki Haley is messing with my mother — that is NOT COOL.

There is good news!  The SC legislature is returning next week to vote on it — the problem is that it is summer vacation and they may not all show.  They also may not get the 2/3rds majority needed to overturn the vetoes.  I need your help.  My mom needs your help.  My state, which is run by idiots but full of wonderful people, needs your help.

Please contact the SC Representatives and Senators and urge them to vote to override Vetoes #1 and #21 – to keep the doors open at the Arts Commission!  Also, let them know that the rest of the vetoes are pretty crappy too — taking money from teachers, schools, important scientific research, and programs to help victims of sexual violence.

Here’s a single contact form to get in touch with:

All the Senators:

All the House Members:

I know many of you aren’t from my state, but I think FtB has the power and this movement has the power to put some pressure on these people, and if you’re from South Carolina, you must do this!  Tell them to show up!  Tell them to override the vetoes!  Help my mom!

Ken May, Executive Director, “The state can’t wrest my cellphone from my grip”

EDIT: Passing the need on and sharing is something that you can do to help even if you don’t contact the politicians, please share. And it is on reddit.

Help me save South Carolina, the arts, and my mom

35 thoughts on “Help me save South Carolina, the arts, and my mom

  1. 1

    As a fellow South Carolinian, I feel your pain. I sent the emails – Perhaps if they receive a deluge it will make a difference. Glad to see you on FTB. I have been following you for a while on Salon.

  2. 2

    Are there any reps we should be looking at? Once with a history of standing up for education programs or who’s platform suggests they would?

    1. 2.1

      The good news is almost every one of them gets pissed when the governor vetoes anything they’ve passed. Arts is fairly popular in SC, even Republicans support it – it’s really pocket change and SC is in the black. I’ll look into it, though, and let you know.

  3. 5

    Sent to both houses, with appropriate modifications:

    “Nikki Haley’s Vetoes #1 and #2 will make South Carolina the only state in the country without a public arts agency. In order to save the $1.9 million dollars budgeted for the Arts Commission, she is willing to risk the $9.2 BILLION that the arts in South Carolina generate.

    Is that something the state Senate is willing to accept? Or will you vote to override this short-sighted and blatantly political move which will only hurt your state both culturally and financially? I hope that you do the right thing and make it clear to the governor that the arts belong in South Carolina.”

    Please let us know how things turn out.

    1. 7.3

      Regarding the reference to $9.2 billion and 78,000 jobs – please see page 4 of “South Carolina’s Creative Cluster: A Catalyst for Economic Development” by Dr. Douglas Woodward dated April 2011. He is the director of the Division of Research and professor of economics at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

  4. 11

    I just told the SC legislators that Gov. Haley’s veto of art funding will benefit my state of California. That should get a rise out of them!

  5. 12

    Best of luck with this. I’m a filmmaker based in Saskatchewan, Canada, and we’re going through a similar battle. Our provincial government just eliminated support for film and television and will be putting measures in motion that will restrict or eliminate public funding of arts and cultural industries. Conservative government, of course.

    Artists everywhere are under siege these days.

  6. 13

    Just received this from Larry Martin, Republican member of the South Carolina Senate, representing the 2nd District (Pickens County).

    Thanks for your email regarding the Arts Commission veto and the importance of the arts in our schools. I am pleased to know of your involvement and appreciation of arts in our schools. The work of the Arts Commission has had a significant impact in my home county and around South Carolina. I am hopeful that we will not become the only state in the country without an arts commission and intend to vote to override the veto when the Legislature returns to Columbia.
    Again, thanks for being in touch with me. Hope you are having an enjoyable summer.
    Larry Martin

  7. 14

    The Arts Commission staff should surely find gainful employment in Virginia, where State Attorney General Ciccinelli has expressed an ardent desire to paint over the naughty bits of the topless depiction of lady Liberty on the state flag, seal and stationary .

  8. 17

    I am Ashley’s mom and I thank her and all of you so much! Support of the arts is so important and it seems to be such an easy target to cut. The Commission serves the entire state and it’s work can not be replaced by private donations. It is very difficult to raise money
    for public schools in poverty stricken counties.

  9. 18

    Thanks for letting me know about this issue, Ashley! As a musician and an arts lover in this state it really angers me that she would do this. Add to that the education spending cuts at a time when we need to be doing a better job educating our population for the future… I just don’t understand how she thought this was a good idea. I’ve sent the emails through the forms, I hope they are received (I got a lot of automated “we aren’t checking e-mail because we’re in recess” responses) and that our representatives do the right thing!

  10. 19

    As a South Carolina resident, I just sent my emails to the members of the House and Senate. I hope it will do us some good.

    I sincerely hope my fellow residents will wake up in a couple of years and show Governor Haley to the Egress.

  11. 20

    Along with gregdavis@13, I also just received a response from Senator Martin:

    Thanks for your email regarding the Arts Commission veto. The work of the Arts Commission has had a significant impact in my home county of Pickens and around South Carolina. I am hopeful that we will not become the only state in the country without an arts commission and intend to vote to override the veto when the Legislature returns to Columbia. I also will vote to override the veto of the Sea Grants Consortium.

    Again, thanks for being in touch with me.

    Larry Martin

    1. 21.1

      Hey, Feel free to fb message me or email me if you want my side of the story, in which wearing a funny piece of kitsch get’s interpreted as “harassment”. Kind of makes me feel bad for all those people experiencing actual harassment.

        1. Oh, sorry to ‘bogart’ your post, love. I read a menacing blog by P-Zed yesterday. ‘Dogeared’ stood up for me, until they were told that I had committed “harassment” at TAM this year. I just wanted to give them a chance to hear me out. I tried posting this in the original blog, but my comment got deleted (instantly deleted). I know that, for the moment at least, Surly and others want to keep my identity anonymous because it’s much more effective to talk about an anonymous “misogynistic harasser” than a sketch comedian doing comedy. And frankly, if it helps her cause, which I support, it’s a small price to pay.

  12. 22


    Oh I got a crap ton of those myself, which is understandable with them not in session, and many saying they will only be checking every couple of days. But, maybe if they see their boxes full when they do check… well I don’t need an actual reply… I just need action! 😀

  13. 23

    Got a reply from Kevin Bryant – he said he was not familiar with these statistics ($9.2 billion v $1.9 million) and asked for a cite. I will send him the link to He also noted “I am impressed that someone in NE knows such detail about the SC economy.” – I left my sig in place when I emailed, I guess they’ll notice out-of-state concern.

  14. 25

    Well I can add another name to the list. Representative Eddie Tallon from my home county.

    Thanks for your email, my intentions are to vote to override the veto.
    Please feel free to call on me at any time.

    By the way, Representative Tallon is also another Republican (from my home county of Spartanburg) who doesn’t plan to go along with Governor Haley. Oh my.

  15. 26

    I don’t know how this one got through the cracks, but Governor Haley has also decided to slash funding for rape crisis centers here in SC, which “distracts from the [Department of Health and Environmental Control’s] broader mission of protecting South Carolina’s public health.”

    However just to show what a kind and caring individual she is, she does say that rape crisis center funding “attempts to serve a portion of our population for which we extend our sympathy and encouragement, but nevertheless, it is only a small portion of South Carolina’s chronically ill or abused.

    The great wad of money saved by slashing this distraction? $453,000.

    Mind you, since 1982 our state (SC) has reported above average rates of rape, and of the over 5000 victims helped in 2011, over half were children.

    Well, folks, if anyone is still reading, I’m off to send more letters. I hope others do the same.

  16. 28

    […] I wrote about the Arts Commission and many of you wrote on my behalf, for which I am immensely grateful.  This other issue, the one of defunding rape crisis centers is less personal to me, but even crueler to people of South Carolina.  Of course, Nikki Haley is the same woman who said, “Women don’t care about contraception”, so perhaps it is unreasonable to be surprised that she is saying that helping victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse is a distraction from *real* health issues. […]

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