Archive for Friday, October 28, 2011

Kansas Arts Commission dropped fundraiser in budget fuss

October 28, 2011, 2:36 p.m. Updated October 28, 2011, 7:35 p.m.


— New Kansas Arts Commission members plan to revive a project to raise private dollars for its programs only months after the agency dropped it amid a budget dispute with Gov. Sam Brownback that made Kansas the only state in the nation to eliminate its arts funding.

A plan to sell special license plates to promote the arts, more than two years in development, was close to fruition when the commission scrapped it in May, citing uncertainty about its own future. The move cut off a potential source of money for arts programs as arts advocates worried about losing state funds.

The commission has been controlled by Brownback appointees since July. New member David Lindstrom said Friday that it is pursuing the project, with the goal of raising several hundred thousand dollars.

The commission’s former chairman is skeptical, questioning whether arts advocates upset with Brownback and committed to public funding for arts program will buy the plate. But Lindstrom said the goal is to have the blue, gold and white “State of the Arts” plates, festooned with a sunflower, appearing on Kansas roads next year.

“The challenge, obviously, is to operate under a new set of rules in trying to develop advocacy for the arts,” said Lindstrom, a Johnson County commissioner and former player with professional football’s Kansas City Chiefs. “We’re very ambitious as it relates to the numbers.”

The commission had a final design for the plate to approve when its top staffer told the state Division of Vehicle’s director that the commission was dropping the project. Four days later, Brownback vetoed the commission’s entire budget; in the coming weeks he named a new chairman and replaced seven of the commission’s 12 members.

Brownback’s veto cost arts programs in Kansas nearly $2 million. His action eliminated $689,000 in state funds, and the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mid-America Arts Alliance, based in Kansas City, Mo., have cut Kansas off from nearly $1.3 million more.

Previously, Arts Commission members had seen the special license plate as a way to raise only between $12,500 and $50,000 annually. Yet they were enthusiastic about the idea in talking it up in 2008, and their proposal had broad support when legislators authorized it in 2009.

When the commission dropped the project five months ago, arts advocates had been frustrated and angry with the administration for months. The cancellation became official in a single-page letter May 24 to the Division of Vehicles, obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request.

“We were getting ready to execute it when all of this happened,” said Henry Schwaller IV, the commission’s former chairman, still a member because his term doesn’t expire until 2013. “It’s really unfortunate.”

Lindstrom and new commission Chairwoman Linda Browning Weis aren’t criticizing the old commission for dropping the project, citing the work that its members did in moving the project forward. But House Speaker Mike O’Neal, a Hutchinson Republican who supported Brownback’s efforts to have arts programs rely more heavily on private funding, found the timing “very curious.”

“I’m trying to process that and come up with a reasonable explanation as to why they would do that. I can’t,” O’Neal said. “It’s pretty hypocritical.”

Brownback, a Republican who took office in January, has argued that the arts still can flourish with private dollars and the state needs to concentrate its tax dollars in “core” functions, such as public schools, public safety and social services. Arts advocates argue that state investment is vital and creates jobs.

Schwaller, president of a Hays real estate investment firm and his local arts council, said the commission received nearly $20,000 in private funds to manufacture the plate and pay an artist for a design. He said the commission expected to make $25,000 the first year — from 500 plates at $50 each — and $12,500 in future years.

“It’s not something you fund an agency with,” he said.

However, Lindstrom and Weis believe thousands of plates could be sold. Weis, a Manhattan real estate broker with an extensive background in music and music education, said commissioner members weren’t involved in decisions ending state funding and must be “solution seekers.”

“Kansas is different. We’re inventive,” she said. “We don’t just sit around, complaining and griping about what the government doesn’t do for us.”

Schwaller said amid the budget dispute, donors to the license-plate project, upset with Brownback’s administration, sought refunds. He said about $15,000 was returned, after the plate designer was paid.

He noted the commission’s small staff would have done marketing and handled orders. On May 10, Secretary of Administration Dennis Taylor informed the agency its staff would be laid off a month later.

“We were told to wrap up the agency,” said Schwaller, a vocal critic of Brownback’s actions.


woodscolt 6 years, 7 months ago

"New commission member David Lindstrom said Friday that the goal is to raise several hundred thousand dollars for arts programs."

Or, in other words, this several hundred thousand dollars can be added to the NEA funds lost directly attributable to Beanback's assault on the arts and in so doing, his continued assault on the people of Kansas.

MarcoPogo 6 years, 7 months ago

At least you're a good sport about it.

woodscolt 6 years, 7 months ago

Sure you like it, you look at the world through asphalt colored glasses and have a deep desire for reducing american society to 4th world status. You want to drag the rest of us to the bottom with you. Took the troll along time to show up.

Jonathan Fox 6 years, 7 months ago

I agree, the people who can afford to support luxuries like this and those who participate and enjoy the arts should be the ones funding it; not every struggling Kansan in the state.

By the way, I would love to buy one of those license plates if they ever do get their heads out their a**.

woodscolt 6 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, me to. Now I can spend that penny a day on something I really like. I thank sam everyday I look at that penny. I m really going places now.

coloradoan 6 years, 7 months ago

And I agree also but only if I get to pick and choose. I'm thinking I would like to not have to pay for high school, middle school and college athletic programs, since I don't "participate and enjoy" them. That costs me a whole lot more than the 29 cents per year that the arts do (or did!) Apparently I don't have that choice, because it is deemed to contribute to societal good writ large. Likewise, the arts contribute to the societal good, and should be supported even if only by this marginal amount.

By the way, the arts supported by the program as it existed apparently included performance arts that enriched the lives of students in Kansas towns without the means to put on plays, musical events, etc. without this support. It is hardly a luxury in a world desparately in need of well-rounded education for children. It's not just about badly-thrown pottery or schlock paintings. Open your mind please.

Mike1949 6 years, 7 months ago

We will get over it when we get someone, anyone, even Mickey Mouse to stop making my home state a place that I am ashamed of. Rockchalk, don't get on your high horse, as every Republican I've talked to feels the same as this independent. They keep telling me, we will fix that in the next election for Governor, the problem is we are going to have to practically start over repairing the gross damage done by brownback!

Pretty bad when your fellow republicans are screaming louder than I am, LOL

chootspa 6 years, 7 months ago

Several hundred thousand down. Only 1.2 million to go!

Robert Schehrer 6 years, 7 months ago

The Kansas Arts Commission should contact all the Kansas corporations to obtain the funding they need. They can start with Koch Industries. They can fund the Arts with the many tax breaks they have received in recent years

vuduchyld 6 years, 7 months ago

My state once fought for abolition Now we've got no Arts Commission I live in a red state and that's why I'm so blue!

(the video)

Scott Morgan 6 years, 7 months ago

huh??? Why not raise private funds and give handouts of the money to loser college art grads just like we always do. Anybody up for an independent film short convention?

The successful art grads make money.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 7 months ago

Gotta issue them taxpayer funded license plates to support the arts.

Yup, makes perfect sense. Then we can get them taxpayer funded grants from the NEA back.

That way, we will show Kansans that we were successful in funding the arts without taxpayer support.

chootspa 6 years, 7 months ago

Still need an experienced and qualified staff, but yeah, that was my thought, too.

question4u 6 years, 7 months ago

Q: "State of the Arts" on license plates in the only state or U.S. territory that doesn't support the arts: what do you think about that Mike O'Neal?

A: "I’m trying to process that and come up with a reasonable explanation as to why they would do that. I can’t,” O’Neal said. “It’s pretty hypocritical.”

If anyone knows what it means to be hypocritical, O'Neal does.

Jonathan Becker 6 years, 7 months ago

Gov. Brownback will lead the new fundraising drive with a bake sale at Cedarcrest. His delicious brownies will be sold for $2.00. Chairman Weis expected sales to top the $6.00 range this week.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 7 months ago

“Kansas is different. We’re inventive,” she said. “We don’t just sit around, complaining and griping about what the government doesn’t do for us.”

Indeed, instead we convince ourselves that selling license plates isn't "the government".

Do these people really expect to raise "hundreds of thousands of dollars" each year? A quick google search shows the most popular plate is likely the K-State plate, and it raises maybe $100,000/year.

Funny how an AP reporter wouldn't pick up the phone and call the Dept. of Revenue to get that simple piece of information.

Ceee 6 years, 7 months ago

Governor Brownback over rode the will of the Kansas Legislature and vetoed modest funding for the arts that would have provided additional federal funds and more jobs for the people of Kansas.

When he was governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney provided the model for the new health care law.

President Obama learned how to provide health care from Romney. Now Governor Brownback gave us all a real life lesson in ignoring the legislature. Maybe Governor Brownback is the one who inspired President Obama to do an end around Congress and issue all those "help the people" executive orders. What goes around comes around.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 7 months ago

That first was the part that got me. The Legislators - our elected representatives - overrode the Governor's initial decision...and he simply overrode them back. One guy got to decide that $600,000 was too much for us to spend. Even as he spent more than that on new administrative positions and "offices". (So much for "smaller government".)

Yes. I realize that some of you think spending money on the arts is a waste of money. But our elected representatives knew better. However, the Governor chose to make a penny wise-pound foolish decision that has cost us far more than the $600,000 it saved.

Jan Rolls 6 years, 7 months ago

How about a butthead and beavis plate with the pictures of sam the sham and taylor on them?

bolshavik_vw 6 years, 7 months ago

I like this. I have a lot of friends who are artists. And several Fam Members. I will buy this and let a lot of others out there know about this .We are going to be doing craft shows, so I can get information to take with me to the shows to pass out, so we can get people aware of these, and hopefully they will get one for their car. We need to do something to take it back, He may of cut us off, although he did not totally defeat us. Until you get rid of every artist, you will not get rid of art or ideas for fundraisers to keep art going. There are a lot more artists in the State than they realize. So we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and move ahead.

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