Lt. Gov. Matt Michels (R-SD)

Lieutenant Governors Arts Leadership

The National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) presented South Dakota Lt. Governor Matt Michels with the Public Leadership in the Arts Award for State Arts Leadership at the NLGA’s Annual Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Michels’ exposure to and appreciation of the arts began at an early age. His grandmother was a painter and was a student and close friend of Native American artist Oscar Howe—one of South Dakota’s most valued and influential artists. Before entering politics, Michels obtained degrees in nursing and law. As a nurse, Michels experienced first-hand the healing power of the arts and remains an advocate for integrating the arts into healthcare programs.

Michels represented his legislative district as a member of the South Dakota House of Representatives for eight years from 1999 to 2006. While in the Legislature, he served for two years as Speaker Pro Tempore and then as Speaker of the House for four years. He was the first person to serve two terms as Speaker since the 1950s. As a legislator, Michels was a supporter of the Art for State Buildings program and often points to the art in the Capitol Complex as examples of the importance of public art to the lives of the state’s citizens. 

Michels also served four years as Lieutenant Governor in Governor Dennis Daugaard’s administration. The duo was re-elected to another four-year term in the fall of 2014. The Daugaard/Michels administration was proactive in promoting a permanently dedicated revenue source for the South Dakota Arts Council by advocating that a share of South Dakota’s tourism promotion tax be used to support the activities of the state arts agency. Due to their efforts, the State Arts Council is financially secure for the foreseeable future. 

"This is a humbling honor, and I accept the award with gratitude for all the impactful tireless work of the South Dakota Arts Council and cooperating organizations in our great state,” said Michels. “The arts have and continue to enrich my life and I am very appreciative for those artists who continue to give of their blessed gifts to our citizens."