Gov. Sam Brownback has signed the legislation creating a new Creative Arts Industry Commission for the state. The next step is to approve the necessary funding to make the new entity viable.
A merger of the Kansas Arts Commission and the Kansas Film Commission was proposed by Brownback at the beginning of the legislative session. The new commission will become part of the Department of Commerce in keeping with the governor’s plan for its funding to be justified by the jobs and economic benefits created by arts and film endeavors.
Brownback included just $200,000 to fund the new agency, but Kansas legislators from both houses and both parties have agreed to include $700,000 in next year’s budget to allow the new agency to hire staff members and renew arts efforts across the state, particularly in rural areas where funding for such projects can be scarce. Re-establishing a functioning state-funded arts agency also is expected to attract more than $1 million in federal matching grants.
The current legislative deadlock concerning tax cuts and the state budget makes it difficult to know whether even basic state services will be funded next year, but if the governor hopes to restore state support for the arts in a meaningful way, this would be a good way to invest $700,000 on behalf of the state.