Archive for Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New Kansas Arts Commission leader upbeat about fundraising

June 8, 2011, 7:34 p.m. Updated June 8, 2011, 11:19 p.m.


— The new leader of the Kansas Arts Commission is confident she and other arts advocates can raise enough private dollars for programs, and she’s choosing to stay out of the debate over actions by Gov. Sam Brownback that made the state the first to eliminate its arts funding.

Arts Commission Chairwoman Linda Browning Weis told The Associated Press during an interview Wednesday that she believes the commission will know by the end of August whether Kansas continues receiving federal funds through the National Endowment for the Arts. She also said she expects announcements this summer about fundraising by the nonprofit Kansas Arts Foundation.

“Because government funding goes away, is art going to die?” she said. “No. Art will live on.”

Weis, a Manhattan real estate broker with an extensive background in music and music education, also is Kansas Arts Foundation president. Brownback had hoped the foundation, which was formed in February, would replace the commission.

Brownback, a Republican who took office in January, used the governor’s power to veto individual budget items to strike all funding for the commission from the state’s $13.8 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. He also eliminated a line that allowed the commission to retain its staff, and its five employees will be laid off Friday.

Former commission Chairman Henry Schwaller IV, the president of a Hays real estate investment firm and a local arts council, questioned whether Weis understands the difficulty Kansas faces in preserving arts programs. He said neither she nor the commission has “a clear idea of where we’re headed.”

“She does have a very friendly, motivated attitude,” said Schwaller, who’ll remain on the commission because his term hasn’t expired. “The problem is that it doesn’t square with reality.”

The governor has defended his veto as a cost-saving move that allows the state to focus on “core” functions, such as education, social services and public safety. But his actions didn’t repeal the state law that establishes the commission or allows him to appoint its members — and he picked Weis last week to fill a vacant spot on the commission and named her chairwoman.

Some arts advocates have strongly criticized Brownback’s actions, arguing they’ll hurt the arts and cost the state jobs linked to the arts. Proposals to dramatically cut arts funding have been pursued this year in other states, but national groups say Kansas is the first place where such efforts eliminated funding.

Schwaller said Weis advocates Brownback’s approach.

She said she doesn’t “have to take sides.” She also said neither Brownback nor anyone in his administration asked whether she agreed with him before she joined the foundation or was appointed to the commission.

“Some people may say, ‘Well, you’re taking sides by doing this,”’ she said. “How can I accomplish anything positive in a better way? My answer to accepting the appointment is so that I could be helpful in working toward solutions.”

In pushing to replace the commission with the Arts Foundation, Brownback wanted to reduce the state’s costs back to a $200,000 subsidy for that private organization, through the state historical society.

Legislators rejected Brownback’s plan in favor of continuing the commission and set aside $689,000 for its operations, including grants to local arts agencies and groups — the money the governor vetoed.

Arts advocates warn that Brownback’s actions could cost the state up to $1.2 million in federal funds. Schwaller said the state won’t qualify for NEA funding because it won’t be putting funds into the Arts Commission.

“This is a crisis created by the administration,” he said.

But the state hasn’t heard officially from the NEA, and Weis isn’t conceding the issue. She said she’ll talk to NEA officials after the commission meets in early July and said commission members will work on updating the NEA-required state plan for promoting the arts.

“I’m not sure what we’re going to have,” she said. Then, she added, “We’ll have a lot of enthusiasm — I can tell you that.”

Weis said her confidence is bolstered by experiences in the early 1990s in leading her church, First Lutheran in Manhattan, in successfully raising money for a multimillion dollar expansion. She said she’d initially doubted some members could afford to help.

“We will find the money,” she said. “We will raise the money.”


pace 6 years, 2 months ago

"Arts Commission Chairwoman Linda Browning Weis told The Associated Press during an interview Wednesday that she believes the commission will know by the end of August. That's because the anti-art Brownback flunky will succeed if art just goes away. So it will limp along and die quietly through artful fraud. By agreeing to head the Brownback rats against art program she has hurt art in Kansas. Any one who thought art was important to Kansas would not of taken the job. I will boycott this xxxxx's little foundation. We need to take Kansas back from Koch bros.

pace 6 years, 2 months ago

I arm sorry you felt the freedom to rephrased what I said , you said nonsense. I was calling Linda Browning an flunky to art hating Governor Brownback. At no point do I say Linda Browning had anything to do with the Kansas budget. If you think Linda Browning has something to do with balancing the budget you are welcome to forward that argument , don't change what I said, just make your argument .
I am concerned with the Bush tax cut fueled economic crisis, I think ending the Bush tax cuts and Bush wars would work better at reducing the debts than replacing the Kansas Arts with this trumped up committee woman and her toady farce.

question4u 6 years, 2 months ago

"The governor has defended his veto as a cost-saving move that allows the state to focus on 'core' functions, such as education, social services and public safety."

So, now that the Arts Commission is gone Brownback will focus on education, social services and public safety? His excuse for thumbing his nose at those so far is that the Arts Commission made him do it? Now we can expect him to actually care about education, social services and public safety, or does "focus on" them just mean that he'll take better aim when he spits?

Bob Burton 6 years, 2 months ago

MAN-UP you two & stop your WHINING.. Again the money is gone.. Move on..

pace 6 years, 2 months ago

well you win, SWk has the most empty of content comment. Thank you for contributing.

Godot 6 years, 2 months ago

I applaud the formation of the Kansas Arts Commission. However, I will continue to give my financial support directly to the art of my choice, Theatre Lawrence. I am very hopeful that now the money I donate will be applied solely to mounting theatrical productions, and will not be diminished by, or completely diverted to, paying someone to write a grant to petition the government for a share of money that was taken from unwilling or apathetic, at best, and resentful, at worst, taxpayers.

Scott Tichenor 6 years, 2 months ago

So, someone stating exactly what the governor WANTED them to say right after they're given the job is somehow news? Pffffft.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm trying to remember, a while back the National Endowment for the Arts sponsored something that wound up being a crucifix in urine. The religious right was deeply offended and this is their payback. This is what happens when the extremes on either side push their agendas.

bcolley 6 years, 2 months ago

The crucifix in urine was TWENTY YEARS AGO. That's a long time to hold a grudge over a single piece of art. Trust me, the Kansas Arts Commission was not funding any controversial art.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 2 months ago

Absolutely correct. I wanted to make my point overly broad and for it to be an over-generalization. The right (and again, I'm being as overly broad as possible) tend to see some of the results of government supported arts as being hostile to their agenda. Whether that's the crucifix or theater productions with pro gay themes or pro choice themes, whether it's at the state level or federal, whatever. The right sees the results of the arts (again, as broadly interpreted as possible) as producing things they are opposed to. But what is the role of the left (broadly) in this. The crucifix wins awards. The left doesn't just tolerate the insult, they heap praise upon it. So yes, the right seeks to cuts spending where it can, eliminate it where it can. I think the cuts to the arts is wrong. It's shortsighted. It's mean. And I don't trust Brownback any further than I can throw him. The chances I would vote for him, or someone like him are zero. But twenty years ago, when I saw the crucifix in urine, and I then heard that government money supported that work of art, I knew the arts would come under funding pressure. Here, we see the end result.

mloburgio 6 years, 2 months ago

Sam Brownback's crusade against the Kansas Arts Commission

Kansas is now the only state in the nation without an arts agency.

tomatogrower 6 years, 2 months ago

"She said she doesn’t “have to take sides.” She also said neither Brownback nor anyone in his administration asked whether she agreed with him before she joined the foundation or was appointed to the commission."

That's probably because he already knew she agreed with him. He isn't going to appoint someone he isn't sure of. He's trying to get a tight fisted control over all state agencies. It's easier to bypass the legislature that way. New and better ways to being a dictator. Smaller government, my behind. And it's not very small.

BigPrune 6 years, 2 months ago

Start finding rich people to give to the arts instead of writing on here complaining the sky is falling. Contact the hated Kochs (but be nice) or the dude who paid $4 million for the Naismith rules - he wears weird looking glasses so maybe he'd be a more willing giver.

BigPrune 6 years, 2 months ago

Ask George Soros. There are more rich democrats than republicans. People who are rich get desensitized and go pinko commie, because they think they are a separate class (the haves) and want to keep their money and have government give to the have nots - so they might be a harder sell to actually "give." Look at Bill Gates, the facebook dudes, the google dudes, Jobs, all the democrats in Congress, Hollywood white trash done good, etc, etc. But start local with all the elitist millionaires. Check the Library pass tax organizers - they're all rich and liberal.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Now that Brownback has killed the Arts Commission, the arts community should have absolutely nothing to do with the sham foundation he's trying to form. Create one that's completely independent instead.

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