Kansas has become the first state to have all its state funding for arts programs eliminated.
Over Memorial Day weekend, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback used a line-item veto to cut public funding for the Kansas Arts Commission. The commission has been operating since 1966, a year after Congress set up the National Endowment for the Arts.
The commission's Web site announced the news starkly with the sentence:¬† "All Kansas Arts Commission programs and grant operations for Fiscal Year 2012 have been terminated effective immediately."
Brownback has been outspoken about his desire to make arts funding entirely private.
The conservative leader has pointed to Vermont as a state with a nonprofit arts agency that's privately funded. But Vermont Arts Council Executive Director Alexander L. Aldrich responded by writing an open letter to Brownback, noting that without state appropriations it would be unable to provide "underserved communities" with arts education or "accessibility services to hundreds of historic cultural venues that were built long before the passage of the (Americans With Disabilities Act), and a host of other grants that support our creative sector."
"... (E)very State SHOULD invest in the arts sector simply because it makes good economic sense," the letter also says.