Archive for Thursday, March 3, 2011

Statehouse Live: Committee votes to keep Kansas Arts Commission; Lawrence students attend hearing

A group of students from Lawrence went to Topeka to support the Kansas Arts Commission.

March 3, 2011, 2:54 p.m. Updated March 3, 2011, 3:51 p.m.

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— A Senate committee on Thursday rejected Gov. Sam Brownback’s attempt to abolish the Kansas Arts Commission.

The Federal and State Affairs Committee voted against Brownback’s order before a packed hearing room that included about 20 high school students from Lawrence.

Keil Eggers, a senior at Free State High School, said he made the trip to the Capitol because he wanted the Arts Commission funded so that “kids behind me would have the same opportunities” in arts programs that he had.

Jonas Upman, a senior at Lawrence High School, said the students spontaneously decided to come to Topeka to show their support of the Arts Commission.

“Everyone should have an equal opportunity to pursue becoming an artist,” he said.

The students, who arranged with their teachers to make the trip, briefly demonstrated and carried signs outside the Statehouse before the meeting.

Brownback issued an executive reorganization order that would abolish the Arts Commission, transition some of its duties to the Kansas State Historical Society, and have a nonprofit foundation raise money for the arts.

Brownback has said the move is needed to save state funds in the face of a nearly $500 million revenue shortfall in the fiscal year that starts July 1. The Arts Commission receives about $800,000 per year. Brownback has said he believes the nonprofit foundation will be able to raise more money through private donations.

Several people whom Brownback appointed to the foundation agreed with the governor.

Robert Swain, an artist from Topeka, said when the Topeka City Council decided several years ago to stop funding the Arts Council of Topeka, private groups, such as ARTSConnect, stepped in and now Topeka is experiencing an arts renaissance that is getting nationwide buzz.

But moments after his testimony, Kathy Smith, executive director of ARTSConnect, testified that it received a portion of its funding from the Kansas Arts Commission. “Without the support of the Kansas Arts Commission, our work over the past few years would not have been possible,” she said.

Other opponents of disbanding the state Arts Commission said the move would jeopardize more than $1 million in matching funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mid America Arts Alliance.

State Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, said the Arts Commission had proved itself to be able to attract federal dollars to use statewide in arts projects. Brownback’s idea, he said, was unproved.

But Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell, said that while he supported the arts, the state was looking at a substantial budget shortfall. Ostmeyer also said he feared that if the Legislature rejected Brownback’s proposal, Brownback would simply line-item veto funding for the Arts Commission in the budget bill.

When asked if Brownback would do that, Brownback’s policy director, Landon Fulmer, said he didn’t want to comment.

In outlining the governor’s case, Fulmer told the committee that the Arts Commission’s administrative expenses were too high. “Right now, the Arts Commission’s total funding is about 38 percent overhead,” he said. “This isn’t good.”

But Henry Schwaller, chairman of the Kansas Arts Commission, said much of that overhead expense was for professional development and consulting to help other arts organizations.

Brownback’s order will take effect July 1 unless the Legislature rejects it. The committee’s recommendation to keep the Arts Commission will next go to the full Senate.

After the hearing, the Lawrence students said they were pleased with the decision by the committee.

“Art is an essential part of life,” said Hazlett Henderson, a sophomore at Lawrence High School. “I don’t know if private funding will be there.”

Kelly Song, also a sophomore at Lawrence High, said she was concerned about whether the foundation could raise the amount of funds that the Arts Commission does.

Comments

booyalab 4 years, 2 months ago

“Right now, the Arts Commission’s total funding is about 38 percent overhead,”

But...the children!

booyalab 4 years, 2 months ago

“Art is an essential part of life,” said Hazlett Henderson, a sophomore at Lawrence High School. “I don’t know if private funding will be there.”

...the sixteen year old pontificated expertly.

johnnyreb 4 years, 2 months ago

Where's all the hippy artist this morning? You've got to get up early to beg for government money!

Steve Bunch 4 years, 2 months ago

"All the hippy artist?" All one of him (or her)? And what do you know about his (or her) girth? Please try to have your writing make sense.

Dan Thalmann 4 years, 2 months ago

How would those kids Picnik their Facebook photos without government assistance!? Gotta save the arts commission. Need government to help us all create art.

Dan Thalmann 4 years, 2 months ago

Sorry, I was trying to be sarcastic. Kind of like the ridiculous notion that the arts won't exist without government funding. Now that's the real joke.

thepianoman 4 years, 2 months ago

Sorry, it's NOT the government's role to fund the arts, art programs, etc. This isn't a vital service the public needs. Come on folks . Common sense!! There's nothing wrong with converting the KAC to a foundation. I'm an aritist -- a pianist. I support the move to abolish the KAC. Time to restructure government. Do away with agencies that aren't truly needed.

I don't rely on the KAC to fund my part-time buisness. Let them raise their own funds. Does the state fund the United Way and American Cancer Society?

overthemoon 4 years, 2 months ago

I am an artist, too. I do not apply for grants or support from the KAC, however many of the organizations that I do benefit from are grant recipients. Do you tune pianos? Teach? Your clients also benefit either directly or indirectly from KAC funding. Concerts. Music programs for school children. They are all touched by this organization.

Could it be privatized? Sure, but how will the conservative make-up the board Brownback has proposed shape the arts programming in Kansas? I like controversial and edgy work...will that be overlooked because it doesn't fit their ideology?

Remember. Government, funded by taxes, represents the things we choose to do together to make our lives richer, safer, more prosperous. If we throw away all of the programs that add value, how will we ever rebuild our nation into one we want to live in?

Irenaku 4 years, 2 months ago

Brownback's gone too far. JFK was spot on when he said "The arts, far from being a distraction, are close to the heart and center of a civilization; and a true test of that nation's purpose." I don't see any governers suggesting cutting military spending from the budget, now do I? Maybe we should try to abolish murder and destruction before we think about cutting the true purpose of humanity from the budget.

voevoda 4 years, 2 months ago

No, thepianoman, the government doesn't fund the United Way and the American Cancer Society. However, the government does contribute substantial amounts of money to support the same organizations as those organizations do. Without the government moneys, many of the organizations that the United Way and the American Cancer Society support would cease to exist, along with the public services they provide. The state of Kansas already provides only a small percentage of funding for the arts, and this money creates the leverage to gain more grants and yes, more donations. Those moneys in turn keep artists employed, and off the public welfare rolls. So it's a small amount of money well spent, even in strict economic terms.

thepianoman 4 years, 2 months ago

Define the role of government. It seems as though your definition of the role of government goes beyond providing essential services to its citizens. It should involve funding an agency that gives out tax payer dollars for arts programming? Yes, I know the arts bring in money to the state, etc, etc. Yes, if it is converted to a foundation, we miss out on NEA funding. I know that.

Bottom line: This is NOT an essential service citizens need. So would you rather legislators cut SRS programs (example) that some Kansans truly rely on so that we can keep the Kansas Arts Commission...Which could, as they governor said, do its own fundraising. I say cut the KAC. Transfer that money to education, SRS, or wherever the money is needed. It only makes sense.

jafs 4 years, 2 months ago

Except they're not doing that.

They're cutting everything.

If it were a choice between education, social services, and the arts, I'd agree that the first two are more vital than the third.

But the approach of the current politicians in power is to cut all of the above.

beatrice 4 years, 2 months ago

Sorry jafs, but I would argue that the arts is education.

voevoda 4 years, 2 months ago

Governments have been supporting the arts ever since there have been governments, thepianoman.
It's not a matter of not having enough money in the state, thepianoman. The governor could easily use the money that is being wasted on frivolous lawsuits and constitutional amendments to keep the Kansas Arts Commission. There would be plenty of money for education, social services, roads, safety, and every other function of government that you consider "legitimate," if only the state legislature would agree to raise taxes on the megarich by the same 7.5% they intend to cut the salaries of state employees.

overthemoon 4 years, 2 months ago

READ THIS!!! Then say the arts don't matter. Say that the arts are not beneficial. Say the arts don't make us, as a civilized group of people with common goals, a better society worth living in. Government is, after all, the way in which we do things together to make life better for all.

Don't make a single comment about what we should be funding together without first reading this.

http://luminouspage.blogspot.com/2011/02/i-ruined-everything-why-it-was-more.html

mr_right_wing 4 years, 2 months ago

There are things that need to be funded by the government more than the arts.

There are other programs more beneficial to the basic quality of human life in Kansas.

Sometimes a 'civilized group of people with common goals' need to make tough decisions when the money to fund everything just doesn't exist.

Government is not always the best way in which we do things together to make life better for all. Sometimes private citizens need to step up to the plate and help out where to government cannot afford to.

Don't tell me when or what I cannot say...freedom of speech does not take any money out of budget my friend.

Alceste 4 years, 2 months ago

Students prostitued by staff....via photograph no less!!!

Ain't Lawrence education grand?

If it isn't this cut, it'll just be another of the FAT. Good riddance.

Scott Tichenor 4 years, 2 months ago

A big chunk of the arts money goes out to western Kansas for the touring arts programs, specifically bringing in good music to places that are otherwise never going to have access to it. If it's such a bad thing, why is conservative western Kansas so good at sucking in the funds for it?

Cause celeb for conservatives, this and NPR, but the reality is this is nothing more than a favorite target for the Republican party. Typical What's The Matter WIth Kansas fodder. Make big talking points about little issues and pad your Red Wallet with fat cat corporate support. Come on folks. This is such an old game Republicans have played so long that zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz......

bd 4 years, 2 months ago

still waiting for good music at the lied center???????

fund our schools! not art!

Alceste 4 years, 2 months ago

I ain't holding my breath.

Bluntly, Salina seems to be a whole let more better ahead of Lawrence. See:

http://www.stiefeltheatre.org/

What?

Irenaku 4 years, 2 months ago

Have you people no sense? Have you people no mind? Students take a stand for what matters in the world, and you mock the cause as though it were a band of rabble protesting an insignificant issue. You sicken me.

George_Braziller 4 years, 2 months ago

This news gives me hope that there will be some balance and moderation to Brownback's shortsighted slash and burn agenda.

George_Braziller 4 years, 2 months ago

This news gives me hope that there will be some balance and moderation to Brownback's shortsighted slash and burn agenda.

mr_right_wing 4 years, 2 months ago

Ok, this money still needs to be cut somewhere, and you better all hope it's not a more devastating cut than the KAC.

How about Kansas Medicaid? What if they take yet more money from education; kids won't know how to spell or do math, but they can paint, sing and act!

We can keep KAC, but that 'shortfall' doesn't magically disappear, and the reason most of us voted Mr. Brownback into office is because additional taxes are NOT an option.

George_Braziller 4 years, 2 months ago

How about KDOT? It costs more to pave one mile of highway than the entire state allocation for KAC for the entire year.

mr_right_wing 4 years, 2 months ago

Alright then...let's cut KDOTs funding and/or funding for the Kansas Turnpike. Somethings gotta give. Hopefully Mr. Brownback might consider that.

Kansas; great art...neglected roadways!

beatrice 4 years, 2 months ago

"great art ... neglected roadways"

Sounds like Italy. Now, how often do you see Kansas compared to Italy?

George_Braziller 4 years, 2 months ago

Reallocating the expense of replacing or maintaining one single mile of highway in the entire state of Kansas doesn't constitute "neglected roadways."

BigPrune 4 years, 2 months ago

I like how the children are doing the teachers' bidding, being used like pawns.

beatrice 4 years, 2 months ago

"Jonas Upman, a senior at Lawrence High School, said the students spontaneously decided to come to Topeka to show their support of the Arts Commission."

According to the article, the students chose to do this on their own, not on anyone else's bidding.

BigPrune 4 years, 2 months ago

yeah, right. whatever. i don't believe everything i read. i'm sure these students were NOT influenced at all by their teachers - NOT!

slg7 4 years, 2 months ago

How ignorant can you people get? You're acting like students can't think for themselves. They're all 17 or 18 years old, some of them legal adults. Just TRY to tell me that you didn't have your own opinions when you were in high school. Besides, half of the teachers and administrators at those high schools could care less about the arts. 75% of the time, the extra money also goes to sports.

beatrice 4 years, 2 months ago

The arts are part of a well-rounded education. Eliminating arts funding is eliminating education funding.

Regarding this taking money away from others line being used, do we say the same every time a road is paved or pothole filled? What if I walk everywhere -- should I have my taxes taken from me to fix someone else's road? Should people without children, like myself, have our money taken from us to educate other peoples' children? Should conscientious objectors have to pay taxes that go to fight wars? etc...

Sorry, but we as individuals don't get to decide exactly which areas of government our taxes are used for and we certainly won't agree on what will be the proper uses of our taxes. Many of us support a tiny fraction of our taxes going to fund arts education.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 2 months ago

"Many of us support a tiny fraction of our taxes going to fund arts education."

And the way Republicans are squealing over this you'd think that many $millions were on the line here, when it's actually less than a $million-- about 29 cents per person per year.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 2 months ago

Kobach's new voter suppression law will undoubtedly cost many times more than this to implement, (every cent of it for "administration") although they have yet to produce even an estimate of what that will cost.

JustNoticed 4 years, 2 months ago

$500,000 revenue shortfall? $800,000 saved by cutting the Arts Commission? Nonsense. Lets' get real about it and tax the thieves who have made this mess. Time to eat the rich including the Kochs.

Flap Doodle 4 years, 2 months ago

Yes, I'm sure of it now. The Koch brothers has definitely replaced Karl Rove and Dick Cheney as the prime targets of the progressives' Daily Hate.

JustNoticed 4 years, 2 months ago

Hey, good point. Damn that evil Karl Rove and damn that evil Dick Cheney. George Bush too, yes, of course.

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