Simplified: There's a sense of tension between the City of Sioux Falls a number of local artists. But recent changes to a city arts board and a new full-time employee dedicated to the arts signal an opportunity to create more open communication and a chance for the city to play more of a role in supporting local artists.

Why it matters

  • The Sioux Falls City Council on Tuesday approved amendments to the 2024 budget to include $120,000 for a new full-time city arts coordinator. They also added an additional $150,000 to help support the work of that person in new arts initiatives.
  • Along with those changes, the city also reworked the Visual Arts Commission. It's now expanded as an Arts Commission that encompasses all forms of art.
  • The arts community has been largely supportive of the city arts coordinator position, but several have expressed concern that the new commission is largely made up of business and community leaders without requirements that these people be artists – or as Councilor Greg Neitzert called it earlier this month, a "business board with a token artist."
  • There's also lingering tension surrounding the mural on the downtown parking ramp. Instead of sticking with the established process, the city rejected the visual arts commission recommendation, said there'd be no mural, and then later changed course when artist Walter Portz presented the design now painted on the side of that building.
"We’re trying to just have faith and move forward with (the city-level changes)," said Kellen Boice, executive director of the Sioux Falls Arts Council. "It's hard because we can't see the future ... they say progress happens at the speed of trust."

What happens next?

It'll be up to the city to set the timeline for hiring for the new position, which is included in the budget for next year.

Former visual arts commission member and arts advocate Zach DeBoer said whoever the new hire is, it'll be up to them to set the tone with the arts community.

"I hope that we see them at an opening show at Vishnu Bunny," DeBoer said. "I hope that person is no stranger to Total Drag or the symphony. I think that if whoever’s hired is doing their job the right way, everybody from the top of the arts food chain to the smallest group should know this person."