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Justice signs bill to elevate Department of Arts, Culture and History curator to cabinet secretary

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice has signed a bill to elevate the state Department of Arts, Culture and History curator to cabinet secretary.

Randall Reid-Smith

Randall Reid-Smith currently holds the position. He said he’s honored to be given a new title as a longtime advocate for arts and history.

“I always say it defines who we are. It shows the world who we are as West Virginians. We’re the only state that is completely in Appalachia. So many of the arts that are indigenous to our country happen right here in West Virginia, the heart of Appalachia,” Reid-Smith said during a Thursday appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.”

SB 790 passed the Legislature earlier this month and was signed by the governor last week. It doesn’t change the salary for the position.

Reid-Smith has lived in different parts of the world and said he returned to West Virginia almost two decades ago for a reason — to help inspire future generations about the arts.

“I was there for 14 years in Europe, I lived in Germany, sang all over the world. It was fulfilling, but I love doing this because every day you get to help somebody. You get to make a difference. You get to work together to make something better,” he said.

That’s why he said it’s so important to continue working with state lawmakers to provide enough funding to keep the arts alive in the Mountain State.

“The arts bring out all of our own originality, our own individuality and all of us are artists. When I go to budget hearings and we talk about the importance of funding the arts and they say I don’t know anything about the arts, I say you’re the greatest art collectors we have,” he said.

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