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$12 for National Ad Buys, $1 for Local Arts—Noem Gets Economic Stimulus and Tourism Promotion Backwards

Governor Kristi Noem needs $5 million from the CARES Act to splash her face across national TV for “tourism promotion.” But the Snow Queen deigns to bless local arts organizations with some coronavirus relief dollars to spend here at home—$422,800, a bit more than half of what the $800K she spent on her first national cable TV ad buy. Here’s a list of all of the South Dakota arts groups on whom Noem has sprinkled of few thousand dollars to tide them through the pandemic:

Emergency Assistance Grants 

  • Aberdeen Area Community Foundation/Aberdeen Community Concerts Assn., Aberdeen: $2,500.
  • Aberdeen Recreation and Cultural Center, Aberdeen: $12,500.
  • ACT 2, Inc., Aberdeen: $12,500.
  • Area Community Theatre, Mitchell: $10,000.
  • Belle Fourche Area Community Theater, Belle Fourche: $2,500.
  • Black Hills Community Theatre, Inc, Rapid City: $12,500.
  • Black Hills Film Festival, Hill City: $2,500.
  • Black Hills Symphony Orchestra Society, Rapid City: $10,000.
  • Brookings Arts Council, Brookings: $2,500.
  • Chamber Music Festival of the Black Hills, Rapid City: $5,000.
  • Cheyenne River Youth Project, Eagle Butte: $12,500.
  • Dakota Players DBA Black Hills Playhouse, Sioux Falls: $2,500.
  • Dakota Sky Foundation, Sioux Falls: $2,500.
  • Fallout Creative Community, Aberdeen: $2,500.
  • Friends of Levitt Shell Sioux Falls Inc, Sioux Falls: $2,500.
  • High Plains Western Heritage Center, Spearfish: $2,500.
  • Historic Deadwood Lead Arts Council, Lead: $5,000.
  • Historic Homestake Opera House, Lead: $12,500.
  •  Lakota Wellness Society, Parmelee: $2,500.
  • Lewis and Clark Theatre Company, Yankton: $2,500.
  • Madison Area Arts Council, Madison: $2,500.
  • makeSPACE: Spearfish Partnership for Arts, Cycling, and Equity, Inc., Spearfish: $2,500.
  • National Music Museum, Vermillion: $12,500.
  • Nis’to Incorporated, Sisseton: $2,500.
  • Northeast South Dakota Celtic Faire and Games, Aberdeen: $2,500.
  • Olde Towne Theatre Co. Inc., Worthing: $10,000.
  • Patricia Locke Foundation, Wakpala: $2,500.
  • Performing Arts Center of Rapid City Inc, Rapid City: $10,000.
  • Pierre Players, Inc., Pierre: $5,000.
  • Pine Ridge Center For Artists And Crafters, Martin: $2,500.
  • Prairie Repertory Theatre, Inc., Brookings: $10,000.
  • Sioux Falls Arts Council, Sioux Falls: $2,500.
  • Sioux Falls Chamber Music Collective, Sioux Falls: $2,500.
  •  Sioux Falls Children’s Choir, Sioux Falls: $2,500.
  • Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues Society, Sioux Falls: $12,500.
  • Sisseton Arts Council, Sisseton: $2,500.
  • South Dakota Art Museum, Brookings: $12,500.
  • South Dakota Ballet Co., Sioux Falls: $2,500.
  • South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Vermillion: $2,500.
  • South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, Sioux Falls: $12,500.
  • Sturgis Center for the Arts, Inc., Sturgis: $2,500.
  • Su Fu Du Inc, Sioux Falls: $2,500.
  • The Carnegie Center for Arts, Culture and Education, Canton: $2,500.
  • The Matthews Opera House and Arts Center, Spearfish: $12,500.
  • The Retreat at Pointer’s Ridge, Baltic: $2,500.
  • Transept, Sioux Falls: $2,500.
  • Vermillion Area Arts Council, Vermillion: $2,500.
  • Vermillion Area Dance Organization, Vermillion: $2,500.
  • Yankton Area Arts Association, Yankton: $10,000.
  • Yankton County Historical Society, Yankton: $2,500.

Residencies for Recovery Grants

  • Aberdeen Area Arts Council, Aberdeen: $5,000.
  • Backroom Productions, Inc., Rapid City: $7,225.
  • Black Hills Film Festival, Hill City: $7,225.
  • Historic Homestake Opera House, Lead: $5,000.
  • The Journey Museum and Learning Center, Rapid City: $7,225.
  • Magpie Creative, Rapid City: $7,225.
  • Red Cloud Indian School, Inc., Pine Ridge: $7,225.
  • Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues Society, Sioux Falls: $7,225.
  • Sisseton Arts Council, Sisseton: $7,225.
  • United Way of Vermillion, Vermillion: $7,225.

That $422,800 will cycle through local economies, providing stimulus right here in South Dakota. The money Noem is throwing at big cable TV corporations doesn’t have any direct stimulatory effect on local business. Noem could have done more for tourism and local businesses by reversing her spending priorities: give local arts organizations $5 million to organize and promote (safe, masked, socially distanced) arts events, then spend $423K on cheaper targeted online advertising to let the national audience know that, if they are thinking about taking a (safe, masked, socially distanced) trip, we have a lot of good arts activities that would make their visit worthwhile.


  1. John Matthius 2020-09-10

    Did Noem at least pay a South Dakota-based video production company to produce her TV ad – aside from the hundreds of thousand$ of dollars she paid to national cable TV companies to air it?

  2. Debbo 2020-09-10

    That’s such a piss poor use of dollars and state advancement. It’s Just. Plain. Stupid.

    There are sound fiscal reason arts are used by very small towns and very large cities as economic drivers. It works so well.

    The arts is a collection of entrepreneurs who work on a shoestring, manufacture goods, hire help, rent spaces, create community, pay all taxes, draw interest and generate significant economic activity.


    Just provide suitable space, some promotion, and get out of the way. No need to mess with TIFs, rezoning, manure lagoons, building new infrastructure, smells or noises bothering neighbors, pollution, etc.

    It is stupid stupid stupid to short change the arts. So of course that’s what Kruel Kristi does. smdh

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-09-11

    Good question, John! We’ll need to check the state contracts and checkbook for that information….

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