Hundreds gathered at the South Carolina Statehouse on Monday to protest a recent veto by Gov. Nikki Haley. (WRDW-TV / July 16, 2012)
News 12 at 11 o'clock / Monday, July 16, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Hundreds of performers and artists held a rally at the statehouse in Columbia on Monday, many speaking out about Gov. Nikki Haley's decision to defund the state's Arts Commission.
Haley's vetoes came after the fiscal year started, so the art's agency had to be shut down and more than 20 people are out of jobs right now.
Supporters say the problem with arts is even bigger than that and they are determined to be heard.
They came from across the state, performers who believe the governor is marching to the beat of a different drummer.
The rally's organizer, Natalie Brown, said, "The problem seems to be the governor that vetoes every year."
Last week, Haley did it again. Two of her 81 vetoes left the Arts Commission short of cash to the tune of more than $2 million.
"The South Carolina Arts Commission supports the City of Aiken Arts Commission with resources that we wouldn't have otherwise," said Scott Raines, the chair for the City of Aiken Arts Commission.
He came to Columbia because he says the money is vital.
"We can get the half million dollars in grant funding that goes to arts organizations that benefit Aiken County," Raines said.
Drawing instructor Joseph Tolbert agrees. He works with students from Edgefield and Aiken at Augusta State University.
"Both of those towns. The Arts Commission does a lot to to bring things into the community and just overall increase the level of culture," Tolbert said.
On the steps of the statehouse, you could find culture, canvases, instruments and a lot of umbrellas.
However, the rain didn't keep people from letting their voices be heard.
"Hopefully, it will send a message that we need to come to the table and come to some type of mutual agreement," Raines said.
Haley says supporting the arts is not the same thing as supporting the Arts Commission.
She is concerned too much money is going into overhead.
"Seventy percent of the budget is grants that go out to arts organizations in the state and that's why it's so important we get this commission back," Raines said.
So, whether Haley is out of step with voters or not, lawmakers will ultimately decide.
They will get the chance to do that Tuesday when they take up those vetoes.
Several of our local representatives tell News 12 they will vote to overturn it, however, they are entertaining ideas so that the agency runs more efficiently in the future.
Have information or an opinion about this story? Click here to contact the newsroom.
Copyright WRDW-TV News 12. All rights reserved. This material may not be republished without express written permission.