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Lt. Governor Michels Receives Arts Award


Lieutenant Governor Matt Michels is the newest recipient of the Public Leadership in the Arts Award for State Arts Leadership. The award, presented by Americans for the Arts and the National Lieutenant Governors Association, honors a lieutenant governor who demonstrates outstanding leadership in the advancement of arts at the state level.

Lieutenant Governor Matt Michels says he’s been around a lot of art in his life. His grandmother worked with Native American artist Oscar Howe. As a nurse, Michels says he’s seen the healing power of the arts. Most recently he says he’s worked on a fundraiser for children in behavioral health centers.

“We use those funds for visiting artists so that they can connect,” Michels says. “And individuals with gifts can go ahead and continue to encourage people with sculpting and painting and music and drama and those types of things that really make our whole life come together.”

The Lieutenant Governor’s support for integrating the arts into healthcare programs is one of the reasons Michels is receiving the award. Jay Dick is the Senior Director of State and Local Government Affairs at Americans for the Arts.
“And we’re not just talking about a painting on the wall of a hospital,” Dick says. “But it’s the dedicated arts therapist working with an individual veteran or child or whoever to really, you know, help them to express themselves. Because they can’t always do it orally, but they can do it in other media.”
Dick says Lieutenant Governor Michels also stood out for the award because of his support for using a share of South Dakota’s tourism promotion tax to support the State Arts Council.
“That’s very unique to South Dakota,” Dick says. “I don’t know of any other state that uses a percentage or any of its tourism promotion tax to directly fund the state arts agency. And so one, that’s a very unique and a wonderful thing in South Dakota, but additionally for him to be a strong supporter of this really does help provide that dedicated revenue of funding for the state arts agency which is very unique and stood out very, very well.”
Lieutenant Governor Michels says he’s incredibly honored to receive the award on behalf of everyone who’s worked to promote the arts in South Dakota.