Political advocacy and arts education are at the top of the agenda for Henry Horowitz, the newly elected chairman of the South Carolina Arts Commission.
Horowitz, a Greenville businessman and founder of Artisphere, was elected by his fellow members of the commission to serve a two-year term as chairman.
One of his top duties will be to push for more funding for the arts commission, Horowitz said.
“The Legislature has been extraordinarily supportive, but I want to lobby the Legislature for additional funding for the arts commission,” Horowitz said.
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“On an annual basis, we interact with the Legislature to outline what we do and how we plan to allocate state dollars on a cost-effective basis.”
The commission supports the arts in South Carolina through grants, education initiatives and other programs. The agency receives $2.9 million in state appropriations.
Although the Legislature has supported the commission, Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed state funding for the agency for three years in a row. Those vetoes were overturned by the Legislature. This year, however, Haley chose not to veto arts commission funding, citing improvements in the agency’s financial management.
Horowitz said he hopes to press for Haley’s continued support.
He also plans to enlarge the agency’s education initiatives.
“We want to increase our support for arts education throughout the state,” Horowitz said. “A huge portion of our budget is dedicated to arts education especially in the underserved counties of the state.”
In addition, Horowitz hopes to shine a stronger spotlight on the South Carolina Arts Foundation, a privately supported nonprofit that supports the commission.
Horowitz, appointed to the commission six years ago by then-Gov. Mark Sanford, has served as vice chairman of the commission for the past two years.
Horowitz is co-founder, principal and managing partner of Oxford Capital Partners LLC, a real estate investment firm in Greenville and Dallas. He is managing principal of MedProperties Holdings LLC, a private equity firm in Dallas.
Previously, Horowitz served as president of RealtiCorp and in various executive management roles with Insignia Financial Group.
Local arts advocates praised the election of Horowitz, who not only founded Artisphere, Greenville’s big annual celebration of the visual arts, but also served as board president of Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council.
“Henry has a proven track record of arts leadership and advocacy throughout the community, and his involvement in the Metropolitan Arts Council and Artisphere has been a true asset to the local arts landscape,” said Alan Ethridge, executive director of the Metropolitan Arts Council.
“We are confident that he will be a great advocate for the arts and their importance in terms of economic development not only in Greenville but also throughout the state.”
Greenville arts groups will benefit from having a prominent member of the community leading the arts commission, said Kerry Murphy, executive director of Artisphere.
“Having been board president of the Metropolitan Arts Council, Henry is so tapped into the Greenville arts community,” Murphy said.
“That can only bode well for the state as we try to get the Legislature on board with how important an arts commission is to the state for education and tourism. I think he’ll really move the cause of the arts forward.”
As a businessman, Horowitz has been particularly valuable to the arts commission, said commission executive director Ken May.
“Henry has been a really good adviser on budget management and planning,” May said. “He brings great strength in financial management. He’s also got great experience chairing and managing boards. He’s got a real wealth of experience.”