South Dakota Arts Council

South Dakota Arts Council

Established in 1966 and funded by the State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, the South Dakota Arts Council (SDAC) is a state agency serving South Dakotans and their communities through the arts. Recognizing the importance of creativity in the lives of all South Dakotans, the Council makes quality arts accessible throughout the state by providing grants, services and information to artists, arts organizations, schools and the public.


Creative Aging Profile

As an agency, it is our mission to make quality arts programs accessible throughout the state through funds, services and information. We believe universal access to the arts is intrinsic to the well-being of all South Dakotans. It is a priority of the South Dakota Arts Council to provide arts opportunities and programs to all the people of our state, including residents in elder care facilities.

Agency Initiative

The South Dakota Arts Council is currently working in partnership with and through the guidance of the North Dakota Council on the Arts’ staff to launch a pilot program of NDCA’s Art for Life Program. The program, as stated by the NDCA, “seeks to improve the emotional and physical health and wellness of elders in care facilities, as well as those living independently, through intensive art and artist interaction. The program develops community resources and capacity in creative aging and health.  Towards this goal, long-term partnerships between local arts agencies, elder care and service facilities, schools, and artists are fostered.  Both folk and non-folk arts and artists are important to its success as is tapping into social, familial, ethnic, and traditions-based networks. ”

The South Dakota Arts Council is in year one of a two year pilot program. The first step of which is to select an initial location to partner with and test the programming with constituents from our state. In the second year, we will add one to two additional sites and continue to test the programming.

In the future, the state hopes to be able to provide program partners, organizations, and communities with technical assistance and support as needed to grow this program statewide.

Agency Creative Aging Resources & Tools

As stated by the NDCA, to better inform and guide the Art for Life Program partners and assist other organizations and communities in replicating the effort, the NDCA worked with folk and contemporary artists, academics, folklorists, physicians, nurses, gerontologists, and speech therapists to develop a toolkit. In 2017, the SDAC distributed copies of the Art for Life toolkit to all elder care facilities and arts councils throughout South Dakota.

The toolkit consists of (as stated by the NDCA):

Sundogs and Sunflowers: An Art for Life Program Guide for Creative Aging, Health, and Wellness

Sundogs and Sunflowers: Folklore and Folk Art of the Northern Great Plains

Dozens of online articles and activity plans

Take Flight and On the Edge of the Wind, a guided imagery CD set with user manual


Residency and Touring Artist Programs (South Dakota Arts Council)

The South Dakota Arts Council offers two types of touring arts rosters available to school, communities, organizations, and health care facilities across the state. Artists In Schools & Communities (AISC) is a residency program for K-12 schools and community organizations. By working with teachers, parents and the community, an artist will create a residency that can inspire participants to learn more, not just about art, but life itself. These artists share their talents with students of all ages in workshops, demonstrations, seminars and residencies both in and outside the classroom. Within our communities, roster artists have engaged with residents of hospitals, health care campuses, and our state’s Veteran’s Home. The Touring Arts program make the arts available in all regions of the state by providing funds to non-profit sponsor organizations for presenting Touring Arts. Touring Artists perform and engage with members of community senior centers, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.

Additional Creative Aging Resources

Music and Memory Program in South Dakota

On January 12, the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations (SDAHO) announced that nursing homes in South Dakota will have the ability to offer the Music and Memory program through a grant award from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. As stated by the SDAHO, the Music and Memory program brings personalized playlists into the lives of those struggling with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive and physical challenges to help them reconnect with the world. Music can trigger deep memories not lost to dementia and can improve participants abilities to converse, socialize and stay present. The goal is to implement the program at approximately half of the facilities in South Dakota during the first two years of the grant. The remaining facilities would be able to request participation after the initial two-year period.

South Dakota Symphony Orchestra – “Memoirs”

Since 2012, the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra (SDSO) has partnered with Avera and Sanford Health (the state’s two largest healthcare providers) to bring classical music and musicians to both of the care facilities campuses (located in Sioux Falls) through the program Music as Medicine. As stated by the SDSO, “The mission of the Music as Medicine program is to use music to create a positive impact on patient healing; to assist the South Dakota regional healthcare systems in creating a constructive environment in which to heal; and to allow the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra to have a consistent presence in the healthcare systems of Sioux Falls and serve as a resource to its community. The scope of this project and the effect of music as an avenue for healing and comfort will extend to patients, families, staff, and visitors.” Recently, the Music as Medicine program has been relaunched as the “Memoirs” program.



In South Dakota, the elderly population is growing faster than national rates.

By 2025:

  • The number of elders will increase by 92,000 – 105,000;
  • The number of disabled elders will increase by 42,000 – 50,000, reaching over 10 percent of the state’s population;
  • The number of disabled elders living in the community will rise 20,000 – 40,000, depending upon the availability of home and community based care;
  • The population of elders is expected to more than double in the Native American counties, where chronic health problems contribute to higher rates of disability; and
  • In all but nine of the 66 South Dakota counties, elders will make up over 20% of the population. In 11 counties, elders will be over 40% of the local population.

Creative Aging Point Person