Arts ax

Kansans who care about the arts should carefully monitor the impact of the state’s new arts funding strategy.

June 1, 2011


Although it was not unexpected, Gov. Sam Brownback’s line-item veto of funding for the Kansas Arts Commission had a stunning note of finality.

It is possible but unlikely that Brownback’s veto will be overridden by state legislators in their closing session. Barring that action, the KAC will have no staff and no state funding as of July 1. What happens after that is extremely uncertain.

According to the KAC officials and other state arts groups, the first thing that will happen is that 200 local arts organizations and artists will lose state support. The state will lose an estimated $1.2 million from the National Endowment for the Arts, the federal agency that funds state arts agencies and organizations. Kansas, they say, will be the only state in the nation without access to those funds.

Brownback contends that may not be true, but continued federal funding is far from certain. He has created the Kansas Arts Foundation, a private, nonprofit corporation that he says will take over the work of the KAC. However, if that agency does not receive state support, it will not qualify for funding from the NEA or the Mid-America Arts Alliance.

Nonetheless Brownback says he remains convinced that putting support for the arts in the hands of a private, nonprofit group will be a positive move for the state and that any loss of federal funding will be made up through private donations.

That would be great, but it is a daunting goal. In addition to the challenge of raising private dollars, how will the new Arts Foundation operate? Will it continue to support a broad range of arts or will the private money it raises come with strings that restrict its efforts in various ways? Arts advocates point out that the Kansas Arts Foundation hasn’t revealed any plans for fundraising or staffing so it’s hard to know what direction the group plans to take.

It’s a situation that certainly bears watching in the months to come. Although the Kansas Arts Commission will have no staff or funding, it apparently will continue to exist in name only. That presumably would make it possible to restore its standing at some future date — if legislators and the governor choose to take that action.

Based on Brownback’s veto, the state apparently has no choice but to try this bold arts funding experiment. Time will tell whether this strategy will lead to success or failure for the state’s arts community.


Kookamooka 6 years, 6 months ago

Creating an Arts foundation? That's like starting a business, right? Is there a business plan? Will they have to get a loan from the bank? Start competing for grants alongside other, better organized, arts groups? This foundation is destined to FAIL and Brownback knows it. He doesn't care if the arts continue in KS or not.

Maybe hid buddy, David Koch (Who just paid millions for the renovation of the State Theater in Lincoln Center, where the Ballet and NYC Opera are housed) would kick in a few million to float this new foundation. If that happens, be sure it will be called the Koch foundation for arts in KS or something like that.

Kansas is being left high and dry where arts funding is concerned. I can just see Brownback taking his bow before his uber- republican cronies who applaud him for having the audacity to do it. I sometimes think his actions are just driven by a desire to "look good" to his "cut and run" republican friends.

A sad day for Kansas but a party day for Brownback.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

Quit muddying this up with facts, JW editor. This is not about the arts, not about fiscal conservatism. This is all about ideology.

jafs 6 years, 6 months ago

It would be nice if the legislature, which refused to de-fund the commission, would over-ride this veto - anybody think there's a chance of that?

Jillian Andrews 6 years, 6 months ago

That's Kansas! We're all about progress! Creationism anyone? Brownie's heeerrrreeeeee!!!!!!

bolshavik_vw 6 years, 6 months ago

Ok, he has cut funding for all of the Arts Programs in Kansas. Well.............. I read last week in the Topeka Capital Journal that his wife helped raise money for the Senior Citizans in Topeka to have Art Programs, Does this sound like a Governor who does not know his head from a hole in the Ground. And does nothing but say one thing and do another? This guy does not represent the state of Kansas at all. And I hope all of you who were dumb enough to vote for him, do not make the same Mistake in 2012. And vote for someone who is real and knows what is going on in the state of Kansas. Can you say Tom Holland?

Dan Eyler 6 years, 6 months ago

This last post is a killer and clearly points out that our the governor is right on this. It isn't about funding the arts at all. It isn't about helping artists succeed. Now its about funding for seniors to have art classes at their nursing home or retirement centers. No economic development there I'm sure. The one thing that the opposition cannot point out is a single dime of economic gain the taxpayer can expect from continuing the funding. I have a hunch the professional artists and those who really work at this for a living will do just fine. Kansas culture will not change. The art fairs will continue as always and more than ever. Why do I think those who post here, such as myself haven't picked up a crayon in the past 10 years.

Mike Ford 6 years, 6 months ago

Well they can do art. The ones who know how to do art? What about the rest of us, who are artists and do art on a regular basis? What are we susposed to do, suffer, because this Governor is on a Cutting Spree? I mean come on. I love Art and thank gosh I have enough talent to be able to do so. Just wish everyone in this state would come into the 21st Century, and realize you do not have to be at the end of life, to enjoy Art. If we were in a Major City here in the US and Europe, Good Art could bring in more $ and give us a chance to do it more and work less,and not be financially strapped. And if this Governor gets his way, he will cut everything that benefits us with an open and creative mind, and put us back into the 19th Century. Cut Jobs, Cuts Rights of Minorities, and Women, Anyone who is different or unique, well he could cut everythng they know. Do you want to go back in time? Well not me.Governor BrownSack check your watch and Calendar, it is not 1811 or even 1911, NEWS FLASH it is 2011.

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