Archive for Sunday, January 15, 2012

Arts move

January 15, 2012


There is a little good news for Kansas arts advocates in the state budget proposed by Gov. Sam Brownback.

It’s not great news, but it’s something.

Brownback’s budget includes $200,000 for a new entity that would merge the Kansas Arts Commission and the Kansas Film Commission under the Department of Commerce. The $200,000 is the same amount Brownback proposed last year when he signed an executive order to abolish the Arts Commission. However, under the new proposal, that money will be shared with the Kansas Film Commission, which is receiving $105,000 in the current year’s budget, so that’s only an additional $95,000 to support Arts Commission activities. The new Creative Industries Commission also would have to continue to justify its funding based on the number of jobs it creates in the state. That’s why it’s in the Department of Commerce, but it doesn’t seem like a natural way to measure the success of “creative” ventures in the state.

The governor’s initial plan last year was to allocate $200,000 to the Kansas State Historical Society to facilitate the Arts Commission’s transition from being a state agency. The Kansas Legislature sought to override that plan with a budget that allocated about $700,000 to preserve the Arts Commission as a state agency. When the governor vetoed that funding, it left the Arts Commission intact but without any funding or staff to carry out its mission.

That move made Kansas the only state in the country without a publicly funded arts agency and cost the state about $1.3 million in matching federal arts money. Efforts to raise private funds to support arts in the state never got off the ground, and Brownback drew considerable criticism throughout the state.

The governor acknowledged during a recent visit to the Journal-World that the arts funding situation hadn’t worked out as he had planned. He still is allowing only $200,000 in his budget for both film and arts, but is pursuing a different strategy that will preserve a state-funded arts agency and presumably restore the state’s eligibility for federal matching funds. Making sure the state will qualify for matching funds is essential. The governor assumed the state would get those funds this year but later learned Kansas would not qualify, which had a devastating effect on art organizations across the state.

The $200,000 won’t go very far in supporting arts and film efforts across the state, but perhaps it at least will pay for minimal staffing to administer the state funds and additional funds raised from private sources. The Kansas Arts Foundation, created by Brownback last year to raise private money, will need to get to work. Those in favor of more support for the arts also may need to step up by giving more time and money to local efforts.

Brownback Budget Director Steve Anderson, who presented the funding proposal to the House Appropriations Committee, said the governor had listened to complaints about the decision to veto arts funding. Perhaps the governor also learned a few things about how arts funding works and how important it is to communities, large and small, across the state.

This year’s budget proposal is far less than most arts advocates would like, but may be a step in the right direction.


Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

There is no guarantee one dime will be in the budget for any of this. Brownback wants to turn over all of our tax dollars to private industry so he is greasing the wheel aka manipulating the public.

Ken Lassman 6 years, 4 months ago

Brownback says that he has listened, which we must assume is true. But after listening, he has not restored the funding that he vetoed, so we must assume that the NEA will not match the funds and the lack of support will continue in this state. He must know this. Actions speak louder than words, Mr. Brownback. The criticism will not diminish.

P Allen Macfarlane 6 years, 4 months ago

The only good news would be for him to no longer be governor!

overthemoon 6 years, 4 months ago

Its time to take a page from the GOP congress play book and say NO compromise. ALL of the funding must be restored. And a transparent accounting of any money his foundation of cronies raised must be made. If he hedges on either demand, raise the amount of funding required to pass ANY legislation in the coming year using the tacked on rider amendment game. Any time it doesn't make it into the budget, raise the amount again. We can all play that game, you know Gov.

artmaker 6 years, 4 months ago

I've heard friends suggest that Brownback be banned from any cultural events in the state. I agree with overthemoon. And I'm worried that the federal gov. and the states are following Milton Friedman economics theory with devastating results. (Read Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.) See what's happening in Detroit. What happened in Russia, South America, pretty much everywhere the International Monetary Fund paid a visit. When the funding for KAC was cut, Facebook had run comments by Kansas citizens that the T-shirt for KS should now be "Welcome to Browbackistan". (How about Occupy Kansas?) Rather than be negative, I'd like to be positive.
So I make art. So far that's not forbidden.

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