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Opinion

Opinion

Funding falters

Kansans still are waiting to see some positive results from the governor’s private funding model for the arts.

September 25, 2011

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The success of fundraising efforts by the new Kansas Arts Foundation will depend in large part on how confident private donors are in the organization that will be handling and distributing their money.

So far, the foundation and the remaining shell of the Kansas Arts Commission aren’t inspiring much confidence. Concerns voiced by a Lawrence resident who resigned from the commission last week are a reminder of the unsettled state of arts funding in Kansas.

Gov. Sam Brownback created the arts foundation to replace the arts commission, which he abolished by executive order. The Kansas Senate overrode that executive order so the arts commission continues to exist. However, the arts commission funding that legislators had included in the current year’s budget was vetoed by Brownback so the commission has no staff, no money and no direction for the future.

Although the governor had predicted the state would continue to receive a base of $1.2 million in federal matching funds to support arts programs, that funding has been denied by the National Endowment for the Arts because Kansas no longer has a state-funded arts organization — the only such state in the nation. The Kansas Arts Foundation was charged with raising private funds, but has yet to announce any success in that effort. In the meantime, local arts organizations across the state are trying to scrape money together to keep at least some of their programs running.

It’s not surprising that the foundation’s fundraising efforts are lagging. Why would donors give to an organization that appears to be so lacking in organization and direction? Linda Browning Weis of Manhattan has been appointed to lead both the foundation and the commission, but efforts to get organized don’t seem to be making much progress. If the foundation is able to raise some money, how will it be distributed across the state? Will funding processes and program standards be similar to those set by the previous arts commission, or will new policies be adopted? With no staff in place, who will provide oversight for funding and the programs that receive it? These are questions for which artists, arts agencies and donors need answers.

Brownback contends that funding for the arts is not a core function of state government and private fundraising can actually increase funding to the arts in Kansas. Many Kansans don’t accept the governor’s premise about government’s core mission, and nothing that has happened in the state in the last few months seems to confirm that the arts in Kansas are headed toward a better funding situation.

It always seemed unlikely that increased private donations could offset the loss of state and federal funding for the arts. Many private dollars already are going into the arts, and this isn’t the best time to be asking for more. Beyond the money, the Kansas Arts Commission and its staff were an important hub for the arts, connecting groups and stretching public money to provide key support to arts projects across the state. The coordination the commission provided may have been more important than the funds.

A group called Kansas Citizens for the Arts is calling on the Kansas Legislature and Brownback to restore funding to the Kansas Arts Commission. The governor’s actions so far make that unlikely, but if he and his appointees can’t show some evidence that their private-funding model is getting off the ground, Brownback should rethink his strategy.

Comments

Centerville 2 years, 6 months ago

Please explain why a government bureaucracy should be trusted with filtering things creative. Is it because some of the people in Lawrence have become so herd-like that they don't trust thier own experience and instincts? Do they really think that a guy pulling fake razor blades out of his mouth is worth someone else's earnings?

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Orwell 2 years, 6 months ago

I'd contend it's not a core function of government to enhance the profits of your campaign contributors, but that ain't stoppin' $am.

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oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 6 months ago

As if the other "funding' was successful?

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 6 months ago

Independence, MO —

Now it’s official: Englewood is an arts district.

The rezoning of the historic business area in western Independence was made official with a unanimous vote by the Independence City Council Monday night. Several dozen supporters – many of whom have worked toward the effort for at least two-and-a-half years – sat in the council chambers wearing their neon “Where the arts live in Independence” stickers in support of Englewood.

It was an issue that every council member had to have his or her say on before the vote took place. And after the vote took place, those in support clapped and cheered – and some even said “thank you” to their elected officials.

“I’m just really excited to see this coming to fruition,” said District 1 Council Member Marcie Gragg, whose represented area includes Englewood. “I think this is a wonderful example of a lot of fantastic things that are happening in western Independence. It really speaks volumes of how things come together. Sometimes, people scribble ideas on napkins, they share them with staff members, elected officials and community leaders, and then they come together and come to consensus of an idea they want to move forward.”

The official designation of 44 properties within the arts district marks the ending of a nearly three-year process that started with the opening of one art space – Green Dog Gallery – and a subsequent feasibility study. Last week, the district celebrated the second anniversary of the Third Friday Art Walk. District 3 Council Member Myron Paris said the event was so well-attended that parking was limited.

http://www.examiner.net/news/x827643555/Englewood-s-arts-district-designation-will-open-new-avenues-for-businesses

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 6 months ago

The $304,174 Englewood Art District Streetscape project includes widening of the sidewalks on the north side of Winner Road to 17 feet, the relocation of parking, improvement of transit bus stops and bicycle facilities, and corridor beautification.

This project, along with Arts District special purpose zoning classification, will preserve and enhance arts-related uses. Clark said the wider sidewalks will allow the placement of bistro tables and planters. http://www.ci.independence.mo.us/Story.aspx?id=2409

===== The City of Independence will receive $728,131 for two transportation enhancement projects. Independence will use $500,000 for the Delaware Historic Streetscape Restoration project and $228,131 for the Englewood Art District Streetscape Project.

The funds are part of $6.39 million in Transportation Enhancement Funds that were awarded January 25 to cities throughout the region by the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) Board of Directors. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) will distribute the funds.

The first phase of the Delaware Streetscape is estimated to cost $884,055 and is a two-block project on Delaware Street between Truman Road and College Street.

The $349,818 local match is being shared by the Public Works, Water Pollution Control, Power and Light, and Tourism departments. The Midtown Truman Road Corridor Redevelopment Corporation and property owners will also participate in a Neighborhood Improvement District (NID) to assist in the project completion.

The $304,174 Englewood Art District Streetscape project includes widening of the sidewalks on the north side of Winner Road to 17 feet, the relocation of parking, improvement of transit bus stops and bicycle facilities, and corridor beautification.

This project, along with Arts District special purpose zoning classification, will preserve and enhance arts-related uses. Clark said the wider sidewalks will allow the placement of bistro tables and planters.

“We are ecstatic to have one more component that moves Englewood to the walkable Arts and Entertainment District envisioned by the membership,” Monte Short, Arts District chair, said. “This project will create a healthy and safe pedestrian experience resulting in new opportunities for businesses, artists, entertainers and visitors. We are very fortunate to enjoy the collaborative work and support of our city’s staff with MARC and the Englewood Business Association.”

For more information, contact Clark at 816-325-7415 or jclark@indepmo.org. http://www.ci.independence.mo.us/Story.aspx?id=2409

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BornAgainAmerican 2 years, 6 months ago

Did Scott Rothschild write this editorial? Time for all of you Larryville Libs to reach deep into your pockets and support the arts. After all, according to this editorial, it's a vital, core mission of government.

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lunacydetector 2 years, 6 months ago

after reading 'brownback this and brownback that,' 'brownbackistan,' and 'Christian taliban' comments, it keeps my checkbook closed. you can't bite the hand that could feed you....time for some more suffering.

since the arts supposedly brought jobs, then the artists should be able to survive on their wonderful art. the days of.......a hunk of rebar jammed through a tree trunk and call it art, are over.

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mloburgio 2 years, 6 months ago

Brownbackistan

a pseudo-Christian fascist state where the arts are not publicly funded, women's reproductive rights are relentlessly attacked, public school funding is drastically cut, voter suppression laws make it nearly impossible for new voters to register to vote, and social services are turned over to evangelical "Christian" groups, all done with the backing of the Koch brothers.

Brownbackistan is a place where civil responsibility takes a back seat to religious intolerance and corporate greed.

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Gandalf 2 years, 6 months ago

"brownback should rethink his strategy." With what?

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