Jason Rapp

S.C. Arts Commission grants eclipsed $5.5 million in FY20

Emergency relief assisted 346 artists and arts organizations

Grants distributed in 44 counties


For Immediate Release

COLUMBIA, S.C. – In recently completed FY2020, South Carolina Arts Commission grants totaling $5.59 million went out into state communities to assist 835 artists and providers of arts and arts education.

While this represents a rise of more than $1.1 million and 377 grants over FY2019, it is important to note that extenuating circumstances render comparisons difficult. Fourth-quarter Arts Emergency Relief grants in 2020 pushed its overall numbers up. Additional funding from the state general assembly nudged the non-relief grant totals higher than FY2019 by just less than $685,000 with 489 grants awards versus 458.

A new impact map available on the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) website provides visual representation of the statewide impact of agency grants (and their related programs).

Arts Emergency Relief was a factor

Arts Emergency Relief grants, announced in April, added $506,736 to FY2020 totals. Those provided support funding to arts organizations and artists who could prove losses from shutdowns caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

A portion of CARES Act funding was granted to the National Endowment for the Arts for distribution in part to state arts agencies like the SCAC. The subgranted funding was designated solely to provide relief to arts organizations. The SCAC made 177 grants totaling $381,636 to South Carolina arts organizations as a result, helping those groups to offset losses and help keep them operating.

Additional relief funding was provided by the South Carolina Arts Foundation. A separate entity that supports the SCAC, the foundation raised money through a spring fundraising drive that contributed around $50,000 of the $125,100 the SCAC spread among 168 individual artists.

Both arts organizations and individual artists continue to suffer losses because of the pandemic’s prolonged effects and find themselves in need of additional relief. A recent Brookings Institution study estimated losses in South Carolina’s arts and creative sectors of $1.2 billion.

It was still a big year

The SCAC’s normal grant categories experienced a big year. Grants that provided funding support to the SCAC’s three service areas of arts education, artist development, and community arts development increased to nearly $5.1 million in FY2020. Grants were made in 44 of 46 counties, and one out-of-state grant covered programmatic obligations to South Arts, a regional arts organization and frequent partner in the SCAC’s work.

One big factor was the January introduction of School Art Materials grants. This new grant provided one-time money for arts teachers to purchase supplies and other needed materials to assist them in providing quality arts education. There were 63 grants awarded totaling $396,000.

The largest single grant category remained General Operating Support, which enable arts organizations across the state to provide arts experiences to residents and visitors alike. $1.9 million was distributed among 129 such organizations. Another $112,000 was awarded in operating support to smaller arts organizations.

While the majority of the SCAC’s funding comes from state appropriations, it is grateful for additional generous funding support from the Coastal Community Foundation (CCF) and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of CCF. Funding from those sources is applied to two SCAC grant categories: Subgranting and Arts Project Support.

  • Partnering arts agencies in South Carolina receive grants they may subgrant to artists and arts organizations in the communities they serve. CCF support helped seven awards in the category total $70,000 in FY2020.
  • A grant from the John & Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of CCF helped the SCAC fund arts projects for artists (14) and arts organization (18) in 12 counties totaling around $30,000.

As of the start of FY2021 on July 1, 2020, the state is operating under a continuing resolution that holds its budget at FY2020 levels until January, when lawmakers expect to have a clearer picture of the effect of the pandemic on the state’s finances. The SCAC is working to ensure that state lawmakers are aware of losses suffered by arts providers and practitioners while we wait for the budget to be resolved.


About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued, and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences.

Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas:

  • arts education,
  • community arts development,
  • and artist development.

Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696.



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