Jim Speirs


During the summer, Arts South Dakota co-hosted a number of Arts Happy Hours around the state, from Hill City to Aberdeen and from Yankton to Faulkton. Situated in popular local after-hours gathering spots, the events brought neighbors together in an informal atmosphere to share ideas, concerns, program successes and the spirit of collaboration.

In Hill City, a stronger connection with city government and the local Chamber of Commerce resulted from Happy Hour conversations, while the Yankton gathering brought together local arts advocates and college leadership to plan new collaborative efforts. The Aberdeen Happy Hour introduced interested local educators to the Arts Education Institute thanks to an art exhibition by an AEI participant. In Faulkton, famous for its murals, new ideas for public art came together at a Happy Hour meeting with artist Zach DeBoer.

These meetings, and countless others held in communities throughout the state, have two things in common: leadership by involved, active community volunteers and face-to-face conversation among a diverse group of local citizens who care about the quality of life in their community. By being in the same room, showing hometown support and exchanging viewpoints with neighbors, local residents make things happen.

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Other Arts Happy Hours are planned for this fall and winter, as community arts councils partner with Arts South Dakota to keep the conversations going. If you’d like to open a dialogue about the arts and cultural traditions in your hometown, we’d like to help out. Just contact me at jim@ArtsSouthDakota.org and we’ll get things started.

Even if your community doesn’t host an Arts Happy Hour, there are opportunities for you to add your voice to the creative conversation. Local arts councils need your input — and your participation — to build a better community.

Whether you are a community volunteer, an educator, artist or arts advocate, you can learn more about the arts in South Dakota by visiting www.ArtsSouthDakota.org.

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— Jim Speirs is the executive director of Arts South Dakota, an arts education, service and advocacy organization for the creative community across South Dakota. He can be reached at jim@ArtsSouthDakota.org.

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