Archive for Thursday, July 7, 2011

National group asks federal government to pull funding from Kansas arts in wake of state’s decision to cut its funding

July 7, 2011


Gov. Brownback comments on attempts to stop national arts funding for Kansas

Gov. Sam Brownback answers a question about a group's request to have the National Endowment for the Arts pull its funding for Kansas after the state cut its own funding for the Kansas Arts Commission. The president of Americans for the Arts said that allowing Kansas to receive federal arts funding while not providing any of its own would be unfair to other states. Enlarge video

— A national advocacy group is urging the federal government’s arts agency to withhold money from Kansas after Gov. Sam Brownback made it the first U.S. state to eliminate its funding for arts programs.

Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit group based in Washington, wants the National Endowment for the Arts to send a strong message that each state must be “a fair partner” in supporting the arts, the advocacy group’s chief executive, Robert Lynch, said Thursday. He said allowing Kansas to receive federal dollars without putting up any of its own funds would be unfair to other states.

The NEA has already said that Kansas isn’t eligible for federal funds because it no longer finances a state arts agency, but officials in Brownback’s administration don’t view the issue as settled. Arts advocates expect the state to lose up to $1.2 million a year, both from the NEA and the Mid-America Arts Alliance, a regional group based in Kansas City, Mo.

Brownback vetoed the Kansas Arts Commission’s entire appropriation in May as well as a line in the state’s current budget allowing the commission to retain its staff. The commission itself still exists, and Brownback appointed a new chairwoman last month to help set a course without state financial support.

Lynch said adequate support for the arts requires a partnership involving the federal government, states, local groups and private donors. If the NEA still gives Kansas funds, he said, for other states “it just makes it easier to not do the right thing.”

“The right thing is that state government needs to be a fair partner,” Lynch said. “That partnership is how it works in our country, and you can’t take a piece out of that without unraveling or threatening to unravel the structure.”

Brownback has argued Kansas needs to rely on private funding for its arts programs so state government can concentrate on functions such as aid to public schools, social services and public safety.

He gave more than $30,000 left over from fundraising for his January inauguration festivities to the private Kansas Arts Foundation, which formed in February in anticipation of the elimination of the state commission.

“The governor’s very confident of our state’s commitment to the arts and is confident there will be strong private-sector support for funding programs across the state,” said Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag. “At a time when state revenues are tight, Kansas needs to focus on its core responsibilities.”

As a money-saving move, Brownback proposed replacing the commission with the private Arts Foundation, while still preserving a $200,000 state subsidy. Legislators rejected his plan and put all state arts funding in the commission’s budget, setting aside about $689,000 — which was the money Brownback vetoed.

New Arts Commission Chairwoman Linda Browning Weis, a Manhattan real estate broker with an extensive background in music and music education, also is president of the private foundation. The governor appoints the commission’s 12 members and is expected to name six appointees Friday, replacing departing members.

Weis has promised to work to retain NEA funding and draft a revised plan for promoting the arts.

The NEA said in a statement that Kansas was no longer eligible to receive funds as of June 10, when the Arts Commission laid of its staff. The NEA’s guidelines require a state to have an official arts agency with a staff, state dollars for arts programs and a plan for promoting the arts.

If the state can’t comply, its annual NEA allocation, about $710,000, will be redistributed to other states, the NEA said. But, the agency said, if a new or overhauled Kansas arts agency can meet the requirements, “the NEA will work with that entity.”

Lynch said the key is requiring Kansas to put up funds. “It is about fairness to the rest of the nation,” he said.

The six-state Mid-America Arts Alliance has taken a similar position. It says it can’t provide NEA subsidies or grants in Kansas after Brownback’s actions, and Kansas stands to lose about $470,000 in annual support.

“We’re not choosing to create continuing drama,” said Abby Sims Beckloff, the alliance’s director of external affairs. “If one state is allowed to step outside the guidelines, then it raises questions for the other states.”


Casey Miles 6 years, 11 months ago

Headline should be fixed now. Thanks for the catch!

Casey Miles Web producer

kusp8 6 years, 11 months ago

How the heck did Casey Jack get this job!? Just kidding, congrats!

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 11 months ago

A little misleading - the Brownback administration has petitioned for all of the federal money, to maybe be matched with private funds.

That is odd, because the Brownback administration has insisted that the arts are not a core function of government.

Is federal funding not government?

Dan Eyler 6 years, 11 months ago

Common sense would be that if Kansas is denied funding from the federal government for arts that same amount would be removed from the National Endowment of the Arts budget since they are no longer supporting Kansas. That would be win for reducing the federal budget. I'm good with that decision.

Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 11 months ago

I would be interested to know how much of the funding went to KU graduates vs. the general population. When I was at the University, the KU people got all the funding, because they had the connections and the secretaries. We got NOTHING. There have been a lot of promising artists who never went to KU, and many are now dead without their work being recognized.

Henry Schwaller 6 years, 11 months ago

The majority of Kansas Arts Commission funds went to rural arts organizations with no ties to KU. Information about 2010 and 2011 grants (by county) is on the KAC's site.

Don Whiteley 6 years, 11 months ago

We should be prepared for a lot more "blackmail politics" as our federal, state, and local governments attempt to reign in spending to align with income. Americans don't want their taxes raised, but they scream murder when their pet programs are cut or killed. American governments are on a path to bankruptcy, and just like the Greeks, Americans are doing everything within our power to push them there. I see lots more groups like the NEA withholding private and public funding as blackmail when their favorite programs are cut.

And by the way, the National Endowment for the Arts was also the program several years ago to provide $50,000 to two San Francisco Artists who turned the donation into $100 bills, threw it out the window, and called it art. In the following investigation, the NEA supported this as "art".

question4u 6 years, 11 months ago

"Blackmail politics"? The NEA provides matching funds. If Kansas provides 0 then the NEA provides 0. By what extreme stretch of logic can that be called blackmail? The choice to eliminate the Arts Commission was made, and the consequences were clear. There can't have been a rational adult on the planet who expected any other outcome.

The NEA is a federal agency and will continue to receive your federal tax dollars whether Kansas ultimately gets any of those dollars back or not. That's the reality. To eliminate the Kansas Arts Commission and expect that reality to be different is childish.

notanota 6 years, 11 months ago

Huh. I can't find any mention of the art exhibit you referenced. I wanted to read up on it. You should have gone with the standard "But they funded Serrano" objection to the NEA.

Lawrence_Pilot 6 years, 11 months ago

The Chief Redneck is learning that every action has repercussions you might not have considered. A necessary lesson.

notanota 6 years, 11 months ago

Consequences that were brought up before he decided to double and triple down on the mistake.

hedshrinker 6 years, 11 months ago

I find it weird that the Brownback admin keeps saying they're not supporting the arts so as to focus on its core functions of social services and education, while it's cutting school budgets and closing SRS offices. Ultimately, where are the jobs we need ????All I've seen are many state employees being laid off and new state administrators from out of state with 6 figure salaries . This stinks!

notanota 6 years, 11 months ago

I'm sure the new state administrators with the six figure salaries will magically create jobs. Rich people do that, I hear.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

The Arts Commission has no staff and no funding, but a chairperson?

How bizarre is that?

weeslicket 6 years, 11 months ago

Brownback has argued Kansas needs to rely on private funding for its arts programs so state government can concentrate on functions such as gutting aid to public schools, social services and public safety.


geekin_topekan 6 years, 11 months ago

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