While most of this blog is dedicated to my own work, I occasionally feel compelled to employ it as a forum for supporting certain causes that are dear to me. The latest such cause is the new Kansas governor’s attempt to eliminate the Kansas Arts Commission. Governor Sam Brownback first proposed dissolving the KAC and making it into a privately funded entity, saving the state around $500,000. Perhaps due to the uproar of Kansas residents invested in the arts, and the knowledge that Kansas would in fact LOSE over 1 million dollars in matching grants and other funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and Mid-America Arts Alliance (for which Kansas would not be eligible with no state support of the arts), the governor today took a different approach. He has now decreed that the Kansas Arts Foundation, a newly formed 501(c)3, will operate under the aegis of the Kansas Historical Society–still eliminating state funding of the arts but attempting to save the possibility of federal funding. Either move would make Kansas 50th in the nation in arts funding, the ONLY state without a state-supported arts commission. Brownback’s executive order may yet be disputed by the legislature, but that’s no sure bet.
In response, artists and arts supporters from around the state will rally in Topeka on February 10. In addition, we propose that Kansas residents attempt to imagine our state without art. Both urban and rural communities benefit from the work of artists, work that over time becomes an expected part of the landscape. This blog posts photos and responses from around the state to a frightening thought: Imagine that tomorrow across the state from Atchison to Liberal and Pittsburg to Atwood all the arts centers, sculpture, community theaters, murals, poets, filmmakers, choirs, quilters, orchestras, and painters that have been supported by the Kansas Arts Commission were shrouded by black coverings, hidden from view, and silenced.
For our small community, which was so transformed last summer by the energy and excitement surrounding the Kansas Mural Project, this post is particularly relevant.
Please, contact your legislators and the office of the governor to make your voice heard.