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 kansascommerce.com.
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.