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No one in the arts community could quite prepare for the historic 100% funding cut that the Kansas Arts Commission (KAC) received last summer. It is a shocking reminder of the importance of continued arts advocacy. You might remember in February we reported that KAC had adopted an arts license plate program to help raise funds for the coming year. As of March 16th, 192 arts license plates have been sold according to nonprofit arts organization Kansas Citizens for the Arts representative Sarah Fizell.
The battle for Kansan arts advocates has been to keep a states arts agency present and adequately supported in the state budget. Two new pieces of legislation may make that possible: House Bill 2766 reviewed by the Committee on Education Budget (Chair Rep. Lana Gordon) and Senate Bill 440 reviewed by the Committee on Ways and Means (Chair Sen. Carolyn McGinn). For FY 2013, the bills propose a merger of KAC and Kansas Film Commission to create Creative Arts Industries Commission (CAIC). “The Commission would be the official state program for the arts, and would be required to meet at least four times a year. The bill[s] would specify the duties of the Executive Director, who would be appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. The bill[s] would also make a number of technical corrections to laws referring to the Kansas Arts Commission in order to standardize language,” as released by Kansas Director of Budget, Steven J. Anderson.
On Thursday, March 8th, Americans for the Arts Action Fund President and CEO, Bob Lynch submitted testimony to both Committees in favor of the House and Senate Bills. “Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $166.2 billion in economic activity every year – $63.1 billion in spending by organizations and an additional $103.1 billion in event-related spending by their audiences,” he reported from the Americans for the Arts comprehensive study on the arts industry, Arts and Economic Prosperity III. He continued, “The Kansas Economic Impact of the Arts Study, which looked at the economic impact in Kansas alone, indicated that expenditures by arts and culture organizations and audiences total more than $153.5 million…”
Other leading arts advocates made their voices heard as well. Testimonies came from past chair of KAC, Henry Schwaller and Chief Executive Officer of National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, Jonathan Katz. Kansas Citizens for the Arts representative, Sarah Fizell eluded to Governor Brownback’s assumption that the arts could be maintained by private donations. She explained that private donations cannot be matched by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The NEA requires matching funds to come from the state when awarding grants to state arts agencies.
The new CAIC would be under the purview of the Kansas Department of Commerce. In addition, Governor Brownback – who vetoed funding for the KAC – announced a $200,000 grant would be given to the new state agency for next year. The House Committee on Education Budget proposes that CAIC have 13 members who would serve a three-year term, no more than two times. Each congressional district has to be represented. Two members appointed by the President of the Senate; one member appointed by the Minority Leader of the Senate; two members appointed by the Speaker of the House; one member appointed by the Minority Leader of the House; four members appointed by the Governor; one appointed by the Kansas Small Business Development Center; one member appointed by the Kansas Humanities; one member appointed by the Kansas Humanities Council. Congratulations to the state of Kansas!
Chair of the Committee on Education Budget Rep. Lana Gordon Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means (R) Sen. Carolyn McGinn