Archive for Thursday, March 15, 2012

Visiting Kansas, National Endowment for the Arts chairman says arts are a core government function

Rocco Landesman, National Endowment for the Arts Chairman, left, takes a tour of the Lawrence Arts Center with director Susan Tate. After the tour, Landesman met with members of the LAC staff and area arts supporters as part of his nationwide Art Works tour.

Rocco Landesman, National Endowment for the Arts Chairman, left, takes a tour of the Lawrence Arts Center with director Susan Tate. After the tour, Landesman met with members of the LAC staff and area arts supporters as part of his nationwide Art Works tour.

March 15, 2012


The chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts, in a visit to Lawrence on Thursday, made the case that the arts should be publicly funded, taking the opposite position of Kansas’ governor, who vetoed the state’s entire arts budget last May.

Rocco Landesman, the NEA chairman, said making that case to policymakers in Washington, D.C., was an essential part of his job.

“The arts are integral to the real problems we’re facing today,” he said at a forum at the Spencer Museum of Art on the Kansas University campus.

Economic development, urban renewal, education and many other areas can be bolstered by the arts, he said.

He also addressed issues Kansas was facing after the state government removed funding for the Kansas Arts Commission.

Gov. Sam Brownback removed the commission’s entire budget last May, and Kansas became the only state in the country to eliminate its arts funding. Brownback at the time argued that the state should focus on “core” functions like education, social services and public policy, and rely on private funding to support the arts.

The NEA then told Kansas it wasn’t eligible for federal funding because it could not demonstrate that it was supported financially by the state. Kansas then lost $1.3 million in federal and regional matching funds as a result.

“It’s mandated by law that there be a state match,” Landesman said in response to a question about the situation. “We don’t have any discretion in that.”

Landesman said he was working with other government agencies to look at possible connections to the arts. In the Health and Human Services Department, for example, he said the arts could play a role in early-childhood development, particularly with music. They also could have a role in the geriatrics and mental health fields, he said.

“The arts are as important as anything else that our federal government — or any government — deals with,” Landesman said. “That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.”

He works with departments like transportation and agriculture, too, he said. It’s not just about road-building anymore.

“It’s about quality of life,” he said. “And when you’re talking about quality of life, you’re talking about the arts.”

He joined with other panelists to discuss “creative placemaking,” the joining together of public, private, nonprofit and community groups to connect a neighborhood or city to the arts and cultural activities.

“I think it’s safe to say that other states don’t want to be in the position Kansas is in now,” he said. “Everybody wants support and funding.”

But, after visiting Topeka on Wednesday and the Arts Center and the Percolator in Lawrence, he said he was impressed with the way people came together in support of the arts.

Susan Tate, director of the Lawrence Arts Center, said Landesman reminded several community stakeholders at a Thursday morning meeting about the importance of community buy-in.

“We saw this in Topeka,” Landesman said. “And we’ve seen it in Lawrence, squared.”

Mary Kennedy, executive director of the Mid-America Arts Alliance, helped plan the visit.

“We wanted him to see the best of Kansas and see how things were working,” she said.

Kevin Willmott, a KU film professor, asked Landesman if he was concerned about what Willmott called “corporate censorship” of the arts, saying if a movie he created wasn’t perceived as being able to make money it wouldn’t get seen.

Landesman replied with a line that drew applause from the audience.

“The reason we have public funding of the arts, and the reason we have the NEA at all, is so the marketplace is not the sole determinant of what is seen and what is excellent,” he said.


Kontum1972 2 years ago

did he go visit our governor too?


Calijhawk 2 years, 1 month ago

I love the arts as much as anyone, and I support them. But I would not walk across the street and ask my neighbor to subsidize my love for the arts. Therefore, I do not believe it is right for me to ask the government to make that walk and request in my stead.


63BC 2 years, 1 month ago

A government employee travelled on the taxpayer dime so he could say that that government should keep sending taxpayer money to his agency.



patkindle 2 years, 1 month ago

not everybody appreciates what the govt supports we have no choice but to vote them out of office however The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are out numbered by the people that vote for a living y


voevoda 2 years, 1 month ago

Not everybody appreciates national parks. Why should the government support them? Not everybody appreciates public monuments. Why should the government support them? Not everybody appreciates eduation. Why should the government support it? Not everybody appreciates libraries. Why should the government support them? Not everybody appreciates scientific research. Why should the government support it? Not everybody appreciates giving humanitarian aid. Why should the government support it? Not everybody appreciates subsidizing agriculture. Why should the government support it? Answer: All those things, and many more, contribute greatly to our quality of life overall, and that is a legitimate function of government: to provide things of general value that none of us would be able to provide individually. Through our elected representatives, we the people decide what to fund. It is irrelevant that you individually may not like this or that specific work of art. For every single thing that government does, from military decisions to laws to roads to court cases, someone doesn't like it. However, as citizens of this republic, we all share in the costs. So if you don't like your money going towards art, just imagine it paying for something you like better. For myself, I'd rather pay for art than for subsidies for wealthy corporations.


patkindle 2 years, 1 month ago

i think anyone that enjoys art, and would like to support it should have that right i think everyone else should be able to support what they enjoy not sure about the big deal? why should people that enjoy art and want to support it be forced to support something they do not want to??


SirReal 2 years, 1 month ago

If anyone knows the person (five foot 6, brown scraggly beard) living out of a school bus in brook creek park area.... you should tell them they he be turned in to local authorities as the first step in removing them if they do not heed the following message:

It has been well over one month that at least one person has been squatting out of an old beat up school bus with the words 'school' blackened out, in the brook creek park area, with their animals in tow. To be fair, five weeks is a generous amount of time to have been allowed to live out of your vehicle on a public street considering it is illegal. Please find another spot, please go to Mass st. if you want to panhandle, do not do it on our street, people in the neighborhood have witnessed this. You need to pull into a driveway of someone that you know at the very least. There is plenty of rentals available in the area for not a lot of money at all probably a few without security deposits even. I take pride in this neighborhood and it is time for you to move on. You have overstayed your welcome. Five weeks is a generous amount of time.


Gotland 2 years, 1 month ago

As we all know, art does not exist without government money. Comrades, we need government money to create pro-revolution murals.


optimist 2 years, 1 month ago

Support the arts. Cut a check.


mikekt 2 years, 1 month ago

Well , here's another Clownback Created Mess for you!! Just when you think that Kansas might be getting a better reputation as a reasonably sane place where the inhabitants have outlived our old national image of Kansas, as the home of Dorothy, Witches & the Phelps Group......, here comes Rambo Sam Clownback to "take out the arts," as the hero of the wing-nut party (gone wild!, wooo-hooo!!!!). Sic-em,... you Sic-os! Jeeeeeez!!!!!.... You would think that this is an Orthodox Islamic State where art & image making, other than purely geometrical designs, is greatly frowned on & controlled by religious authorities. This is and should be the Midwest of the USA. This is not the Middle East where religion is in control of the State & the Arts.


weiser 2 years, 1 month ago

I like the "works of art" that elephants paint with their truncks. I think we should all pitch in and buy an elephant.


Flap Doodle 2 years, 1 month ago

In other words, "this is my ox, please don't gore it."


Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 1 month ago

Yea... Hookers and naked women in general are considered art. Methinks we should fund naked women on every street corner during the summer months and have the tax payer pay for that too. Why should just those who like to look at rusty metal welded together get all the fun.


lunacydetector 2 years, 1 month ago

rocco should have gone ahead and funded kansas then. amazing how all the blame goes to brownback.


Christine Anderson 2 years, 1 month ago

Dear Stupidhead in Topeka-are you listening?


spiller 2 years, 1 month ago

Yep, she's gorgeous, brainy, classy and is doing a fabulous job! Thanks Susan!


somedude20 2 years, 1 month ago

Heck, I would like to talk with Susan as that is a very flattering picture and she looks rather attractive!


consumer1 2 years, 1 month ago

By looking at the pictures shown that are on display at the LEC. I don't blame Govenor Brownback for defunding the arts in Kansas. The majority of these "pieces" are poor representations of art. Some of them are less than creative. To randomly call anything "art" is a diservice to real artist. If the pieces I've seen are art, then I want my publicly spent money back.


LJ Whirled 2 years, 1 month ago

I love the arts .... where is the constitutional basis for his position? (hint - the isnt' one)

If you want to suppor the arts, then do it. I do.
We have to rein in Government from ALL areas where it has no business operating .... even those areas that we enjoy.


asixbury 2 years, 1 month ago

Now if she could only get through Brownback's thick skull...


DRsmith 2 years, 1 month ago

Now that is earth shattering news right there.


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