Organizers of Lawrence’s Busker Festival are feeling the effects of Gov. Sam Brownback’s decision to eliminate funding for the state’s arts commission.
The decision left a $3,500 hole in the budget for the festival, said Richard Renner, a Lawrence artist and the event’s organizer.
The busker festival is an annual event in Lawrence that brings together and celebrates the art of street performers.
Renner is trying to recoup the $3,500 loss of public funding by starting a pledge drive.
As of Monday afternoon, 12 people had donated a total of $255 on an online pledge site.
Prizes are available for people who pledge at certain levels, Renner said.
“This is what the governor wants us to do,” Renner said. “We’ll see if it works.”
He said that the festival’s total budget is somewhere around $10,000. The money he is trying to raise would pay for things like artist’s fees, shade tents for spectators and production fees.
This year’s festival will include a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County and is scheduled from Aug. 19-21 in downtown Lawrence.
On Monday in Topeka, the Kansas Arts Commission postponed its first meeting since Brownback vetoed its budget and made Kansas the first state to eliminate its arts funding.
The commission had planned to have a telephone conference call meeting, but technical difficulties prevented it. The meeting is now set for Wednesday afternoon.
Brownback wanted a nonprofit foundation to take over financing arts programs, relying heavily on private dollars. Legislators rejected his plan and set aside $689,000 for the commission. The governor vetoed that money as well as a budget line authorizing staff for the commission.
The commission still exists by law, and it’s required to meet at least once every three months. Chairwoman Linda Browning Weis is a recent Brownback appointee who’s promised to come up with a plan for supporting the arts.