Battle over state arts funding continues

Van Go Jams artist Trianna Elliott, 17, touches up the paint on a container she designed as work ensues Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011, at Van Go Inc., 715 N.J. According to a report released by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, Kansas is the only state to defund its arts commission. Van Go is one of several local arts organizations that previously received some funding from the Kansas Arts Commission. At right is Emily Moreland, 17.

Van Go Jams artist Trianna Elliott, 17, touches up the paint on a container she designed as work ensues Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011, at Van Go Inc., 715 N.J. According to a report released by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, Kansas is the only state to defund its arts commission. Van Go is one of several local arts organizations that previously received some funding from the Kansas Arts Commission. At right is Emily Moreland, 17.

— The fight over state funding of the arts continued Wednesday.

In 2011, Brownback vetoed the Legislature’s $689,000 appropriation to the Kansas Arts Commission, making Kansas the first state in the nation to end state funding of arts programs. He said that arts funding was not a core function of government.

The move also cost Kansas $1.2 million in funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and Mid-American Arts Alliance, and many arts groups had to cancel or limit events and programs.

But after months of political heat, Brownback agreed to establish the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission in the Department of Commerce, and he and the Legislature approved a $700,000 appropriation starting July 1.

But none of that money has been disbursed to arts groups across the state, according to Peter Jasso, who is director the Creative Arts Industries Commission.

That raised the concern of several legislators during a meeting Wednesday of the Legislative Budget Committee.

“The cry to reinstate the arts was the local communities, the rural communities, the ones that suffered the most,” said state Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, who is chairwoman of the committee.

State Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said the money should be used because numerous local arts groups depend on the grants.

“We didn’t expect it (the appropriation) to just sit there,” she said.

But Jasso said grants shouldn’t be allocated until after the commission has completed a new statewide strategic plan for arts funding, which will be submitted to the NEA. He said that should be done in January 2013. In addition, he said, the earliest the state could receive funding from the NEA is July 2013.

Susan Tate, executive director of the Lawrence Arts Center, said the loss of arts funding from the state has been a significant blow to the Kansas arts community.

But Tate agreed that the new Creative Arts Industries Commission should hold off disbursing funds for now.

“It’s a legitimate question, but I don’t think the Creative Arts Industries Commission has the infrastructure in place to receive grant requests, study the applications and distribute the money,” Tate said. “The priority has to be getting the strategic plan in place, then applying to the NEA, and demonstrating to them we have money and infrastructure in place.”

Tate said she would be serving on the steering committee that will provide guidance on the process of putting together a statewide plan.

Comments

msturner1966 2 years ago

If he truly believes that this is not a state function I am ok with it ... only if we cut funding for athletics as well. If the argument is we should push the three Rs with state funding and locally they take on the extra curricular, thats fine. As long as they are consistent.

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Tracy Rogers 2 years ago

This has nothing to do with school funding.

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optimist 2 years ago

I'm not aware of any effect on arts in education. School art classes continue just as school athletics programs (additional fees have been added to families of children that participate in school sponsored sports to help fund them). The money referred to in this story funds programs outside K-12 education. It's not fair to confuse the facts on this matter as I believe many have, especially when you refer to the three R's. As a matter of education it is clearly a state function to fund art but I don't believe the state should fund it outside of that. Just because every other state does doesn't mean that Kansas has too. If the rest of the states jumped off a bridge...

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AverageCitizen 2 years ago

As I read this, it is a matter of commerce, not a frivolous pursuit. So, events/programs bring in people. People spend money. They spend money for art, the artist pay taxes, people mill about and buy food, clothes etc.all good for merchants. They spend money for gas. Merchants make money/pay taxes. What's not to understand about the importance of art from a money stand point?

A civilized society promotes art. All great historical civilizations have had magnificent art and architecture- Greece, the Italian Renaissance, Alexandria, Pompeii, Ancient Egypt etc. This is just one more example of small thinking and the short sighted vision of our current State government.

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Dave Loewenstein 2 years ago

For more information about the struggle to retain support for the arts go to ; http://imaginekansaswithoutart.blogspot.com/

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