A History: Sioux Falls Arts Council
Officially a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization as of August 1969, the Sioux Empire Arts Council’s purpose was to encourage, advise and correlate activities promoting cultural arts in the Sioux Falls area and integrating such activities into the total life of the
- A calendar of arts events began in 1970 with “March is Arts Month” which continued over three decades.
- Sioux Falls/Guthrie Theatre relationship brought in professional theatre and a memorable costume fashion show fundraiser with 324 in attendance.
- Mayor Schirmer’s office requested help in locating Michelangelo’s “David” in Fawick Park, resulting in great controversy.
- Acted as a resource and provided co-chairs for the local Bicentennial committee.
- 42 arts organizations listed including Artists League, Jubal Harp Society, Wa-Mi-Dak Ceramics Association, Sioux Empire Youth Orchestra began
- Folk Arts Center located in East Side Fire Station in Heritage Park sponsored by Park and Recreation Department
- Civic Fine Arts Association assisted in leasing Carnegie Public Library building.
- SEAC at 10 years old had 91 dues-paying members and a bank balance of $1,666.
A decade of growth with involvement in highly visible activities
- Chamber of Commerce Task Force to elevate awareness held Marketing the Arts seminars.
- Proposed downtown convention center – performing arts theatre presented to Council by Mayor Joe Cooper. SEAC unanimously passed resolution in support of the project and it became a major issue as the Council assumed a leadership role.
- SEAC participated in the NEA’s “Community Arts Council Incentive Program” receiving $66,000 over three years to support the center project and hire a part-time executive director for the SEAC with matching funds from City/County governments and Downtown Development Corp
- Publication of Dr. Arthur Huseboe’s “An Illustrated History of the Arts in South Dakota” with a section on Sioux Indian arts by Arthur Amiotte, was jointly commissioned by the SDAC and the SD Committee on the Humanities and published by the Center for Western Studies.
- The anthology and the Incentive Program were part of the South Dakota Centennial and the 20th anniversary of the Sioux Empire Arts Council in 1989.
Arts Council history in the 90’s revolved around Big Projects. When the Coliseum auditorium ceiling collapsed in February 1994, a new facility was needed.
- SEAC became the fiscal officer and established itself as one of the leaders in the campaign for the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Sciences.
- Opening event for the Pavilion’s Great Hall, seating an audience of 1835, was a concert by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Kurt Masur on June 24, 1999.
- The Awards in the Arts formally know as the Mayor’s Awards for the Arts honoring excellence in various arts disciplines and outstanding individuals and organizational advocate began in 1999 – present date.
- The City approached the SEAC as it sought a use for the horse barn located in Falls Park. The unique building was leased in 1996 for three years and became not only headquarters for the SEAC but provided an excellent facility for the programming of classes and events.
- With the help of over 500 volunteers, “The Sioux Empire Cultural Plan: A community arts and cultural plan for greater Sioux Falls” was published. Seven key issues were identified as specific needs for future development. The co-chairs wrote “As we approach the 21st century, the cultural mosaic of our community continues to change, influences make this an exciting time, and should stimulate our visions of what we can become as individuals in the community.”
SEAC continued to be the “go to” resource for the arts.
- “Work in Progress: The Sioux Empire Arts Council. Three Decades to the 21st Century” the Council’s history was presented at the Center for Western Studies’ Dakota Conference on History, Literature, Art and Archeology, May 2000.
- Purpose of the history was to provide an overview of the thirty years accomplishments of the community arts council.
- In 2002 with a part-time staff to assist in implementing Bright Ideas (fiscal sponsorship program), start-up organizations included the Sioux Empire Community Theatre, Sculpture Walk, a youth mosaic wall, a Canaries Baseball Team Challenge, Edison Middle School’s “Community Wonders Driving Tour”, student mentoring projects and summer arts camps.
- Development of an artist database to assist in locating artists for specific projects and a website for those searching for regional arts information.
Reviewing the past and planning for the future of the Arts Council took over in 2010.
- With a Kresge Arts Capacity Grant through the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, a Strategic Planning Session was held in January 2010. Seventeen participants analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of the Sioux Empire Arts Council. Due to the resignation of the Executive Director, the follow-up session was postponed until August and resulted in a plan to be implemented in 2011. Over the next four months the SEAC was renamed Sioux Falls Arts Council under a newly organized Board of Directors and staff.
- In 2013 The World Comes to Whittier became the first large-scale community based mural project in the city of Sioux Falls. Guided by muralist Dave Loewestein this mural project was completed a student/neighborhood driven project funded through a NEA Our Towns Grant and fiscally sponsored by the SFAC.
- July 2014 the City of Sioux Falls adopted the Sioux Falls Imagined, A Cultural Plan for a Vibrant and Prosperous City. The Sioux Falls Arts Council helped organized 7 task forces comprised of 73 cultural and community leaders to generate the plan and a 26 person steering committee of local leaders to approve the plan. Funding for the cultural plan was made possible by the City of Sioux Falls, The Bush Foundation, Sioux falls Area Community Foundation, South Dakota Arts Council through the National Endowment for the Arts.
- Release July 2017 the SFAC working with the Americans for the Arts to conduct the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study. Findings reveal from 33 non-profit arts and culture industry generates $105.4 million in total economic activity in the Sioux Falls area, supports 3,567 full-time equivalent jobs, generates $71.1 million in household income to residents and generates $3.3 million in revenue to local government.
The Arts Council persevered through the global pandemic, while reinforcing the vision of being a connecting point for the arts.
- Creation and Development of Artist Directory
- Arts and Culture Calendar
- Continuation of Fiscal Sponsorship Program including; Our Growth Project, The Watering Can, White Spruce Chamber Players, SF STAGE, SF Photography Collaborative.
- Fiscally sponsored Martin Luther King Jr. Sculpture by Porter Williams in Van Eps Park. Gifted to the City of Sioux Falls and dedicated January 18, 2020.