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If you keep up with arts funding on the national scale, then you are very aware of the attention Gov. Brownback of Kansas has received in the last few months. In short, Gov. Brownback vetoed the Kansas Senate’s request to fund the Kansas Arts Commission (KAC) at $689,000. Consequently, both the NEA and Mid American Arts-Alliance revoked $1.2 million in funding for the fiscal year 2012 for the Sunflower State. As of last summer, Kansas became the first state without a state arts agency. You’ll find Americans for the Arts, President & CEO Bob Lynch’s reaction to the news here.
Thankfully the story is not over yet. Gov. Brownback proposed in his latest state to state address that the Arts Commission and the Film Commission will be merged as the Creative Industries Commission under the purview of the Kansas Department of Commerce and receive a $200,000 grant. Spokeswoman, and SAAN partner, Sarah Carkhuff Fizell of Kansas Citizens for the Arts was grateful for the Governor’s recognition. “However, $200,000 is a long way away from $2 million,” she said referring to the original amount of funding the KAC would have received this year had it not been for the Governor’s veto.
How will the KAC recover from this dramatic 80% funding cut? The answer may lie in license plates. The ‘State of the Arts’ program with the support of the Kansas Arts Foundation will sell newly designed license plates for $100 as a kickstarter to raise funds without increasing taxes. By February 6th the Commission needs the commitment of 500 individual pledges to purchase a license plate in order to initiate the program. According to The Wichita Eagle local arts organizations have the option to sell these plates and retain half the proceeds. The remaining $50 would go to the KAC.
It’s a start; however, if the KAC does not meet the magic number of 500 Gov. Brownback could use that as leverage to completely dismantle the Commission again and site lack of community support for KAC. The Commission’s newly appointed Chair, Linda Browning Weis, remains hopeful that the program will gain traction.
This election cycle stay informed. Have you reviewed the Arts Action Fund Congressional Arts Report Card? Know where your representative stands on the issues you care about.