Kansas arts funding supporters are misinformed, or worse


Supporters of Kansas government arts funding are either misinformed or lying about the facts they use to make their case for continuation of taxpayer support of the arts.

Advocates of Kansas state government funding for arts make the case that if Governor Brownback succeeds in his plan to turn the Kansas Arts Commission into a non-profit organization, Kansas will be the only state without a government arts commission.

A Wichita Eagle editorial referred to Kansas becoming the “only state in the country without at least a quasigovernmental arts agency,” although writer Rhonda Holman qualified her remarks with “according to arts advocates.”

In another Wichita Eagle article, Joan Cole repeated this assertion when she wrote “I believe that it is crucial that the Kansas Arts Commission remain a state agency, as exists in every other state.” Cole is vice-chair of the Kansas arts commissioners.

But Cole and government arts funding advocates are wrong. She and they are either misinformed, or they are lying to advance their cause.

There is one state with a private arts commission or council, not a state agency. It’s listed on the Kansas Arts Commission page, if Commissioner Cole would care to read it: The Vermont Arts Council. On its website, we learn that “The Vermont Arts Council is the only designated state agency for the arts in the United States that is also a private, not-for-profit, 501(c)3, membership organization.”

National Endowment for the Arts funding

While I appreciate the KAC acknowledging what Cole and the Wichita Eagle will not, the KAC is still misinformed. In bold type, it states that if KAC becomes a nonprofit organization, “This entity will not be eligible for funds from The National Endowment of the Arts.”

Bu the Vermont Arts council — not a state agency, but a nonprofit organization — states: “Our funding comes from the State of Vermont, the National Endowment for the Arts, memberships, and private contributions.”

There’s another discrepancy.

Suppose the State of Kansas provides no state funds to an arts agency, which is Brownback’s proposal. Will that rule out receiving NEA funding? Indications are that Kansas officials have asked NEA this question, and NEA hasn’t provided a reason as to why Kansas couldn’t continue to receive funding. Amanda Grosserode, a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, wrote in her newsletter that “enabling legislation for the NEA has also been thoroughly reviewed and no requirement for state funding to match federal funding has been found.”

In the end, the issue of NEA funding may soon become moot. The National Endowment for the Arts is an example of a federal agency that may be eliminated, or very likely have its budget cut. So there may not be much federal arts funding to worry about.

In the meantime, Kansans need to ask why government arts supporters are misinformed about simple facts, or they should ask why they are lying to Kansans. Government funding of the arts is bad for two reasons: economic and artistic. Misinformed or lying supporters aren’t helping their cause.


9 responses to “Kansas arts funding supporters are misinformed, or worse”

  1. OncomingStorm

    To me, this is a simple matter of aesthetic value: anything the state funds, the state can control, and as an occasional artist myself, I prefer my art free of the stench of state control.

  2. toldyaso

    How about the State paying big bucks for the molds and concrete art on the new section of east Kellogg?

  3. Patricia Houser

    I believe in light of our financial crisis, we follow Gov Brownback and other legislators’ lead and drop the ahency and it’s state funding. Like public radio, we need to allow these entities to make good from those who support them. Why should I pay for art or culture that I oppose or can’t afford.

  4. KansasPatriot

    Too many artists, and I use the term loosely, rely on government largess to produce their “visions”. Some how I don’t think cow dung or toilet paper should qualify for government funding but they have and people much smarter[sic] than me have approved government funding for artists using those mediums. Public money should be used for utilities, lights, police, fire departments, etc. and not somebody’s idea of a way to bilk the public treasury though “art”.

  5. Ictator

    The city of Wichita should look at saving property taxpayers the one mill it imposes for arts spending here.

  6. artsbeliever

    You’re right, it looks like the Eagle got some facts wrong. But there’s a difference between “facts” and “truth.” Truth is, if the Kansas Arts Commission is no longer a state agency, they will have a harder time leveraging government resources such as Community Development Block Grants, health & wellness funding, energy efficiency funds and education funding. Arts organizations in other states leverage these national resources to bring additional funds to their states to create vital cultural and community-based programs that provide education opportunities for youth and families, accessible facilities and cultural literacy.

    Kansas only spent $.45 per capita on the arts in 2010, so no tax dollar is going to pay for art you don’t support. Not even a tax half-penny. The organizations who rely heaviest on government arts funding are the small, community- and neighborhood-based nonprofits. These are the ones not driven by a handful of wealthy donors, but rather by the people, for the people. If you look at the KAC website, their funding programs are mainly for “arts-in-education”, “arts partnership” and “arts-in-communities” programs. For a very small cost, they can bring a lot of vitality into your community and they are worth saving.

  7. Alci

    NEA support needs to be ended immediately. Kansas wants to be “free” from the evil tyrannical big government, well then they should refuse any and all government funding in every conceivable instance. Everything. All federal monies should be refused. Even in the case of a natural disaster i.e. Greensburg, KS. All ideologically pure Kansans should immediately return all Social Security, Medicare and disability payments and Veterans Benefits. And, all grants for education, highway, military, research et al monies should immediately be rescinded. For every dollar Kansas sends to Washington it receives $1.15. Which means a full 15% of red state Kansas’ economy is welfare from the blue liberal states which generally receive only about .75% of each dollar they send. So when Kansas does the ‘right’ thing, the ideologically pure thing, and ends all that evil filthy lucre i’m quite sure the sunshine will be blinding from the heavens and life will be truly pure and lovely. Kansas will no longer be living under the horrific oppression of the evil federal American government… Praise God.

  8. G.W.B.

    I agree with the post above. But they failed to specifically mention federal agricultural subsidies. That low hanging fruit needs to be eliminated for sure. Those hypocrites don’t need that money. Ive swear never seen so much stupidity in my entire life. Well I suppose it is Kansas. Has there ever been a land so full of backward knuckle dragging science hating Christian loonies? Why not let them complete their transformation. Those kind of people don’t need art anyway, and when they see it I doubt they even know what it is they are looking at. It’s like a Cro-Magnon looking at something beautiful. “What is it! I don’t understand! Smash! Smash! Kill! Kill!” Good night and good luck. Next stop… fascism. Morons.

  9. Artist

    That evil government! Farmers should give back all those years of government handouts and the highway contractors another big waist of my tax dollars, oil companies,energy companies…. You know what bugs me the most is those people that do nothing and get a monthly paycheck, that’s right republicans elected to office!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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