Archive for Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Kansas Arts Commission asks National Endowment for the Arts for continued funding

August 2, 2011, 1:00 p.m. Updated August 2, 2011, 2:27 p.m.


— The chairwoman of the reorganized Kansas Arts Commission has asked the National Endowment for the Arts to continue funding programs in the state amid concerns from commission members about how much money will be available for awarding grants in the state.

Linda Browning Weis released a letter on Tuesday that was sent a day earlier to the NEA's director of state and regional partnerships.

The letter states that the arts commission, despite not receiving direct state funding, is the lead agency in Kansas for arts programs. Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed $689,000 in funding for the commission this year. All of the commission's staff was terminated.

"We aren't here to bury the Kansas Arts Commission. We are here to resurrect the Kansas arts Commission," Weis told commissioners Tuesday.

Weis said she received an email from the NEA earlier Tuesday confirming receipt of her letter and that it was being reviewed.

To fund the programs, Brownback created the Kansas Arts Foundation, a private organization charged with raising funds for state arts programs that would distributed by the commission.

Critics argue the changes disqualify Kansas from NEA funding without direct state funding. The Mid America Arts Alliance notified the commission in July that it was putting all grant requests on hold pending further review by the NEA of the state commission's status.

Commission members appeared concerned about what their new role is and how much money the foundation has raised.

"We have seen nothing in writing," said Henry Schwaller, a commission member and former chairman.

Weis declined to say how much money the foundation has been raised, saying it wasn't an agenda item and she wasn't prepared to share the information. Brownback announced in July that he was donating more than $30,000 from his inaugural fund to the foundation, but other amounts raised haven't been disclosed.

The commission voted to ask the foundation to report quarterly to members about how much money has been raised and what is available to distribute in Kansas.

Commissioner Larry Meeker said it was also unclear what the commission's authorities were under the new arrangement, including use of office space donated to the foundation for use by the commission.

"Why do we need office space if we have no money?" Meeker said. "Are we becoming a front for the foundation?"

Weis and others said the commission would continue to award grants and not the foundation. They said it was at least symbolic to have physical presence to show that public support for the art hadn't ended in Kansas.

"It matters to donors. You can't just be in the ether. You can't do that and expect the public to take you serious," said Sandra Hartley, commission secretary-treasurer.

Brownback appointed Weis to serve as chairwoman of the committee, along with six other members. The previous members had been strong critics of the governor's push to reduce the state's role in funding arts programs and have them rely more heavily on private funds.

Senators rejected an executive order that would have moved the arts programs under the State Historical Society, leaving the commission in place. Brownback responded by vetoing the commission's budget, saying it wasn't a "core" function of state government.

The governor has said that having a private foundation raise money for arts programs potentially could raise more money to support the arts than through state tax dollars or federal sources.

But Schwaller and Meeker said foundation funds that may come with stipulations from donors that they be spent on specific programs could limit the commission's ability to support arts statewide, or attract matching NEA funds.

"We don't want strings attached. The NEA doesn't like strings attached," Schwaller said.


usnsnp 6 years, 9 months ago

State does not want to contribute any money to fund the arts, but want the federal government to contribute money, so much for state not relieing on federal government for support.

verity 6 years, 9 months ago

Ironic, isn't it? Of course, one might also call it hypocrisy.

verity 6 years, 9 months ago

Autie, where do the cuzins stand on this?

lawslady 6 years, 9 months ago

Dear NEA; It's not the fault of all the artists and other people in the state of Kansas that the Governor didn't understand (or care) what rules you set for funding state commissions. So could you please ignore the rules that you follow for other states, just this once (until we get a Governor who can represent all the people and not just the ones he agrees with)? Please?!

Kontum1972 6 years, 5 months ago

the governor is spending too much time on his knees asking for divine intervention,,,he truly believes he is Christ...i also understand he flunked art in grade school and high school.

earline james 6 years, 9 months ago

There was an article in yesterday's New York Times. If I was more computer savvy, I'd know how to provide the link; but I'm not, so I can't. I can point you in the right direction, if you're interested:

Arts Outposts Stung by Cuts in State Aid. August 1, 2011

notanota 6 years, 9 months ago

Dear NEA - we're now breaking the rules we were told in advance we shouldn't break, we're losing jobs we were told we'd lose, our foundation was never going to get any true public support, and the governor has replaced our board with people that know nothing about art, but can we suckle off the federal teat anyway?

George Lippencott 6 years, 9 months ago

Wow. If the NEA grants our wish might we expect twenty some other states to cut their funding for the arts in order to suckle at the federal tit?

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 9 months ago

CJOnline -- "KAC is working to continue to partner with the NEA to assure that the public arts mission continues to be supported," she said.

There is no public arts mission, per Governor Sam Brownback. It is not a core function of government and solely a private mission, per Governor Sam Brownback.

scarletbhound 6 years, 9 months ago

I hope those of you beating up on Gov. Brownback saw this week's article in the New York Times focusing on arts cuts in Kansas and elsewhere around the country. It may be breaking news to some critics, but virtually every state is in severe economic straits due to a rotten -- and possibly worsening -- economy. That means less revenue for government; that means government must reduce spending. As the Times reported, states from New Jersey to Wisconsin to California have severely cut arts funding. This trend is almost certain to continue, as states must choose among such "competing goods" as financing art fairs, law enforcement, higher education or supporting poor people. These are not easy decisions; almost every area of government must do more with less. I would love for Kansas to have ample revenues to do it all -- but that is not reality. Reality is what Brownback is doing, asking private individuals to pick up the slack in support for the arts. If you truly love the arts, you will open your wallets and support local organizations. Sadly, I suspect, more people in the arts community will prefer to attack the governor and continue ignoring the economic realities that are causing a dramatic rethinking of government priorities -- and arts funding -- in Kansas and the rest of the country.

beatrice 6 years, 9 months ago

I truly love the war machine. I sure hope they don't make drastic cuts to the military. However, if they do I am stepping up on my own to support the building of more bombs.

Yes, that was sarcasm.

earthenvessel 6 years, 5 months ago

scarletbound..I agree. Sadly the arts are usually the first thing to suffer in any sort of government cuts. The best thing we can do is be proactive and use our creativity as artists to promote ourselves as artists and find new ways to get funding. Sometimes as artists it's very easy to whine and complain, but not use the incredible creativity we have to solve the problem.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 9 months ago

Watching Muscular Sam struggle through the mudpit he's created, priceless.

Thinking_Out_Loud 6 years, 9 months ago

And today the Topeka paper reports that the National Endowment for the Arts declared Kansas ineligible for their grants.

beatrice 6 years, 9 months ago

The arts are a form of education that supports job growth. For one thing, companies do not want to locate to areas with poor cultural outlets. That is just a reality. The arts also encourage tourism, and cutting arts takes a greater amount out of the state.

Everyone should realize that this is an ideological issue, not a budgetary issue. Consider that the state is giving up a greater share of federal funds than the state was set to contribute. Something like that isn't done lightly. The arts teach us about others and helps us think and encourages us to ask questions about basic humanity through time and between cultures. Some politicians really are not comfortable with the idea of the people thinking or asking questions.

earthenvessel 6 years, 5 months ago

Beatrice, you are right, it is an ideological issue..but in politics..many times it's the money that wins out sadly.

phatphilosophy23 6 years, 6 months ago

Studies have shown that students with any involvement with the arts have improved thought processes. It may be hypocritical to ask the federal government for money, but if it helps our work force in the near future, is it not worth the money and time?

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