Topeka The new Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission will apply for federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts in an effort to persuade the endowment to resume arts funding in Kansas.
However, Sen. Jean Schodorf, chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Arts and Cultural Resources, said Tuesday she was skeptical that the state will get much money from the NEA this year because past budget cuts for the arts and future budget constraints could reduce support for programs.
"I just don't see it," said Schodorf, a Wichita Republican.
The move to apply for NEA funding comes as the state continues its transition from having a separate arts commission to having a Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission in the Department of Commerce, The Wichita Eagle reported.
Before Gov. Sam Brownback defunded the arts commission last year, Kansas received about $1.2 million in arts money from the NEA and Mid-American Arts Alliance. It spent about $700,000 a year on the arts.
The application to the NEA is due Oct. 1 and the endowment would likely decide in January. That would potentially provide Kansas with arts money in July 2013.
The legislature approved spending $700,000 on the creative arts commission during the budget year that began July 1. On Tuesday, lawmakers got few answers when they asked commission members how that money was being spent.
Peter Jasso, director of the commission, said most of the funds are being used to get input statewide on a new Kansas arts plan.
Lawmakers became more frustrated when representatives of the Kansas Art Foundation, a private arts group, also declined to give specifics about how they are spending arts money. The foundation, which is not connected to the creative arts commission, was established with Brownback's support when he abolished the state arts commission.
Sandra Hartley, vice president of the foundation, said the organization was disclosing only what was required by the IRS. She said the foundation raised about $105,000 last year, adding that progress was being made in creating artist-in-residency programs and other efforts.
"It has taken a while to develop the grants program and put forth how we want to do things in the future," she said.
"The intent of promoting arts will be continuously downplayed as long as there is such secrecy," Schodorf said. "The more you say you can't answer that, the more people are going to be trying to get that information and your intent to promote the arts will never be heard."
Schodorf asked legislative staff to provide more budget details related to arts funding to the committee members, though the panel isn't scheduled to meet again before the 2013 legislative session begins in January.