Archive for Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lawrence meeting churns ideas for new Arts Industries Commission

April 11, 2013


Surveys online

Couldn’t make the meeting?

An online survey seeking input regarding the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission was expected to go live online Friday at

To find the survey, click Divisions, Commissions, Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, then Strategic Plan.

Summaries from input sessions and, eventually, the commission’s final plan also will be posted online at a later time.

Collecting public input to help draft a strategic plan for the new Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission was the goal of a meeting Thursday night in Lawrence.

Not surprisingly, “Go back to the way things were when Kansas funded the arts” was a common theme.

Commission director Peter Jasso, who attended the meeting, said those comments were to be expected and not necessarily a bad thing.

“It’s important to listen and to let people express those,” he said, “and then get to the task at hand — what is the reality that we exist in now?”

About 20 people, many leaders of Lawrence arts organizations, attended Thursday’s meeting at the Lawrence Arts Center. The meeting was the second of seven such sessions the Commission has scheduled statewide.

Members of Kansas State University’s Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy — which promotes processes that foster an informed citizenry and community-based decision making — facilitated the discussion. In addition to setting ground rules (talk about issues, not personalities, for one), expert moderators helped steer input away from criticism and toward ideas that would help accomplish the task at hand.

Attendees whittled conversation to a handful of major goals for the commission, then used circular stickers to vote for the most important.

The top vote-getter was creating jobs within the arts, rather than using the arts to create jobs in other sectors. The arts create a quality of life that helps attract outside industry and employees.

Second place was improving and simplifying the Commission’s application process for the two grants it now offers, Creative Arts Industry Incentives and a Creative Economy Project Support program — to which the Lawrence Arts Center has already applied for funding to develop a plan for the city’s cultural district. Attendees said the applications seemed overwhelming, and written from a commerce perspective rather than an arts perspective.

Among other suggestions for the Commission:

• Assist in promotion of the arts, possibly acting as a clearinghouse for information on arts organizations statewide.

• Fund apprenticeships for high school graduates to work as assistants to established artists.

• Act as an advocate for the importance of the arts for the economy and education, by showing people why they should donate to and otherwise support the arts.

Lucy McAllister, who is on the Lawrence Chamber Orchestra board, said the orchestra used to have four major concerts a year, with help from grant money from the former Kansas Arts Commission that matched grants and donations from the community.

“We need cash in order to do the kind of programming we did several years ago,” she said. “This year we scraped by with one major concert.”

McAllister said her organization needs government money in some form.

“Just relying on Lawrence donors is insufficient,” she said.

Karen Christilles, associate director of the Lied Center, said she hoped the Commission would partner with social service agencies to discuss ideas, too.

“We know that social services and also education are taking just as large financial hits on their programs as arts are,” she said.

“Unless all boats are raised, none of us has a hope.”

In 2011, Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed funding for the Kansas Arts Commission, making Kansas the first state in the nation to end state funding of arts programs. In its place, he created the Creative Arts Industries Commission, which operates under the Kansas Department of Commerce.

“I think the commission realizes that economic development certainly is not the only role of the arts — it’s not even the priority of the arts,” Jasso said.

But, Jasso said, he hopes the ingenuity of the arts community will help facilitate the relationship that does exist between the arts and economic development.

“It’s a unique challenge,” he said.


Sally Piller 5 years, 2 months ago

The whole concept of the Kansas Creative Arts Industries is wrong. The arts are not and should not be considered an industrial type activity. It is worth supporting only for it's ideals, that it attempts to make life worth living by self expression. Lord knows this state needs to support the arts purely for that reason alone. But the folks at ALEC don't want Kansans to get their ideas from anybody but Fox News. They don't want us to be educated, unless it's by a religious private school, and they certainly don't want us to express ourselves in a creative way unless it appeals to the lowest common denominator. Wake up Kansas! We are being hoodwinked!

chootspa 5 years, 2 months ago

Arts is great as an ideal, but it's also big business. People love to visit and live in cities with lots of pubic art, concerts, and theater performances. Artists are small business owners and should be supported and encouraged as such with both public and private dollars - just as we do for other small businesses. Let's put this notion to bed that the only good artists are starving artists existing on only their pure aesthetic ideals.

The Kansas Creative Arts Industries goes wrong where it dismantled a perfectly good and perfectly grant-getting Kansas Arts Commission because our bull-headed governor vetoed all the funding.

Henry Schwaller 5 years, 2 months ago

Good to see that the "stop taking my 25 cent for the arts" folks are posting, as usual. The arts are about more than jobs - the arts make communities vibrant, livable places that people choose to move to. The arts also teach 21st century work force skills.

So yeah, do all that, but don't make consumer1 or IKU57 pay for it. They sure need that quarter.

chootspa 5 years, 2 months ago

Facts wouldn't change your opinion either.

TalkSense 5 years, 2 months ago

The I-70 corridor from Kansas City to Manhattan has a strong and supportive arts culture that has a significant local economic impact. We are fortunate in that regard and should support the arts even more with our attendance and our donations. It would be good to see the rest of the state follow our lead, and there are a few communities that do. Unfortunately, the elected leadership of Kansas - unlike virtually any other state in the country - is actively anti-arts and is unwillingly to leverage private initiatives with public funding. This approach decreases the economic impact of the arts "industry" and employment in Kansas and is a lose-lose for the state and local communities everywhere. The quality of life in our state is greatly diminished, and the opportunity for sustainable economic growth is squandered.

chootspa 5 years, 2 months ago

Do you expect businesses to build themselves in a new location without the city putting water lines in and roads? Do you accept local initiatives for small business development, including tax incentives, loans, and grants? If you accept the role of government in supporting the development of new businesses and creating a favorable business climate, it's not a giant leap to accept that some of that business may be art.

chootspa 5 years, 2 months ago

You're not bailing them out any more than you're bailing out business majors when you agree to a tax incentive for a new Olive Garden.

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