Shame on Sam Brownback

“Tragic Prelude”, John Steuart Curry, in the Kansas Statehouse

States which are not always able to lure arts organizations and touring companies to stop need to work harder to encourage support for the arts. Bottom line, the arts creates jobs, fosters community, and makes it better to live in Kansas. That’s why I was so disheartened to read that in my home state, the arts are being cut drastically:

Gov. Sam Brownback signed an executive order Monday abolishing the Kansas Arts Commission and replacing it with a private, nonprofit organization.

The move will save the cash-strapped state nearly $600,000 a year, but it has upset some arts advocates who worry about eroding support for the arts and art education.

“Our state faces a nearly $500 million budget shortfall,” Brownback, a Republican, said before signing the order. “Let’s do all we can to protect the core functions of government.”

The Arts Commission funnels state and federal arts grants to local organizations, artists and art education programs. Starting July 1, the nonprofit Arts Foundation will seek private funds.

Brownback wants Kansas to spend $200,000 next year to assist the foundation, and he said additional funding in future years is a possibility. He appointed nine Kansans to lead the foundation.

The executive order takes effect July 1 unless lawmakers vote to overturn it within 60 days.

Other states are considering similar moves. But the worst is that by eliminating the state arts commission, Brownback will cost the state at least $635,000:

Gov. Brownback states that closing the arts commission will save the state $600,000. What he fails to realize is the state will lose $800,000 from the NEA, and around $435,000 in indirect grants from the Mid-America Arts Alliance that is used to provide jobs and spur economic activity. Also, with no arts grants being awarded to the field, the state will lose tax revenues from lost performances and other events from organizations who have to scale back or cancel performances all together.

Either the Governor is too cynical to think anyone will notice, or too incompetent to understand matching contributions. Either way I feel like John Brown.  

Arts Commission is eliminated in Kansas – KansasCity.com

Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

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