Kansas governor eliminates state funding for arts
The Kansas Arts Commission's website notes that all programs and grant operations have been terminated.
June 2nd, 2011
12:11 PM ET

Kansas governor eliminates state funding for arts

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.

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Filed under: Kansas • Politics
soundoff (159 Responses)
  1. areyoumorons

    The posts I've read here make me ashamed to be an American. Not only are they often incomprehensibly phrased or spelled, (a testament to our school system no doubt), but the substance is so infuriating! Of course there is a major shortage in state and federal budgets–that is no big secret. Of course there are people living off the dole who should be contributing to society–indeed EVERYONE getting money from the government should have to find a way to work for it, unless they are BOTH mentally and physically unfit. However, we are ignoring some very important facts here. 1) Many artists are employed (that's right WORKING) for or through orgs that require public money to survive and employ them, 2) ART is valuable to society as a product in myriad ways and should be made available to even those who cannot afford it, 3) Artistic communities and communities that support local artists succeed economically, (though initial success often requires a boost of public funds for bricks and mortar facilities and/or programming– the folks that provide wood, paint, and lighting for the theatre for instance must get paid!), 4) ART, whether personal valuable or not, is an intrinsic aspect of the American experience and a product of our belief in freedom of expression, freedom of speech, 5) Without public funding, art presentation will be driven by the same forces that took over TV and Radio, i.e. capital 'A' art will become the same low-brow drivel that clogs the airwaves thanks to lobbyists, PR/marketing concerns of private corporations, and the lowest common denominator of the public, commodity driven markets. Art should elevate the spirit, enlighten our faculties and show us what is most unique, beautiful and horrific about ourselves and our nation. Without that service, we might as well give over our souls to money and religion solely. But then again, maybe that is the point here anyhow?

    June 3, 2011 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Sharon Donovan

      Even cave dwellers understood art was important. i wonder if they had trouble getting support for cave drawings, or were censored? Art not only brings joy, it grows your brain, makes you think, teaches you beyond your experiences in life. How unfortunate, and how small minded.

      June 3, 2011 at 7:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. jerk

    It's sad that art is eliminated when clearly sports have no value.

    June 3, 2011 at 4:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. PP

    Here is some hate politics. I hate when republicans say "Ohhh our country is in the whole, we need to make cuts" that's what happens when ignorance settles in. If not that we shouldn't make cuts, is WHERE you make them, TEA BAGERS, let's start cutting the profits of corporations which make BILLIONS of dollars and pay not taxes. Let's cut their profit by taxation, same let's cut the xtremely large income of the top 1% by taxation, let's cut politicians salaries..let's increase the tax in guns purchases!! And then TEA STUPID BAGGERS tell us about cutting arts and education. Why protest you are the result of a educatinal system in decadence, so you would never understand why arts and education is vital to a society. But of course, for you it needs to be related to guns.

    June 3, 2011 at 7:08 am | Report abuse |
  4. PP

    By the way, the kid that brought the Facist politics of Europe in the 30's, right on target. The first things right wingers with facist views cut are arts and education, who needs them?

    June 3, 2011 at 7:13 am | Report abuse |
  5. Isotta-Fraschini

    When I benefited from "art" in public school decades ago, every student–that's what we were then, not "pupils"–learned to read music and sight-sing. "Music" meant serious ("classical") music, or popular music of that time, which was more structured than what sells today. Jazz, Big Band, "semi-classical," and old musicals (Rogers and Hammerstein) required more training, not, "just got that talent."
    If we played in the band, we bought our own instruments. We paid for our own piano and acting lessons.
    Nobody would have dreamed of calling an inappropriately smeared representation of Jesus Christ "art."
    Traditional music has largely been rejected by many young people today, as has the English language, as "elitist" and "racist," often spoken as "raciss" and pluralized as "racist."
    I don't want my taxes wasted of desecration of religious figures of any person's
    faith, or on the "teaching" of Rap, which can be picked up by ear.
    BTW, a guitar is just about the easiest thing to play: many successful rock players don't even know who Segovia was, much less Horowitz or Liszt.
    FUND WHAT?

    June 3, 2011 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. Isotta-Fraschini

    Responsible, cultured parents will continue to educate their children in the arts and see that they can actually speak actual English, as well as other languages.
    As for performing grants, Vladimir Horowitz didn't need to apply for government grants: it was very hard to get a ticket to one of his "long-haired, elitist" recitals.

    June 3, 2011 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. Isotta-Fraschini

    Art is important.
    Food is important.
    I don't go to the government to get my food: I work and buy it myself, because I eat it myself.
    I also buy my own art–and make some professionally._

    June 3, 2011 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
  8. Isotta-Fraschini

    In becoming a pianist, I studied with four world-famous teachers, one of whom was certainly the most famous piano teacher in the world at that time. (BTW–none of them lived on grants from the government.)
    I discussed with one of them, a notably urbane and witty little lady known also for her cigarette holder and fur coats, some obscure compositions by a famous, long-deceased composer.
    She said, "you know, when they talk about all of this forgotten music, there's usually a reason that nobody plays it."

    June 3, 2011 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
  9. Rob near DC

    I think it bears saying that ALL government is, at its base level, income redistribution. Government takes money from people and spends it in ways that [hopefully] the people find meaningful. I find cutting funding for the arts distasteful to approximately the same degree I find my Federal taxes being used for farm subsidies and the Departments of Education and Energy.

    One of the problems with expecting things like the arts (or fill in your favorite government-subsidized activity) to be self-sustaining is that after the government takes its portion by force of taxation, there's often little or nothing left in the hands of the individual to spend in support of these very things.

    Politics aside, the arts have always been shown to create a net positive return by attracting the very things that make a place desirable: jobs, education, culture; those things we term "quality of life". That this governor exercised a line-item veto to cut funding I think shows a distinct lack of awareness of his actions, and I would hope that the good residents of Kansas have a legislative redress through a veto over-ride.

    That said, that arts are almost always among the leaders in innovative ways to attract funding, and should the various members of arts councils in KS rise to the occasion, as I sincerely hope they will, they might just find that they can do quite well without assistance from the State, in which case they will be far better off than they are now. But until that day arrives, I have comapssion for the good people of Kansas whose lives will now be just a little uglier for their loss of art.

    June 3, 2011 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  10. Rob near DC

    I think it bears saying that ALL government is, at its base level, income redistribution. Government takes money from people and spends it in ways that [hopefully] the people find meaningful. I find cutting funding for the arts distasteful to approximately the same degree I find my Federal taxes being used for farm subsidies and the Departments of Education and Energy.

    One of the problems with expecting things like the arts (or fill in your favorite government-subsidized activity) to be self-sustaining is that after the government takes its portion by force of taxation, there's often little or nothing left in the hands of the individual to spend in support of these very things.

    Politics aside, the arts have always been shown to create a net positive return by attracting the very things that make a place desirable: jobs, education, culture; those things we term "quality of life". That this governor exercised a line-item veto to cut funding I think shows a distinct lack of awareness of his actions, and I would hope that the good residents of Kansas have a legislative redress through a veto over-ride.

    That said, that arts are almost always among the leaders in innovative ways to attract funding, and should the various members of arts councils in KS rise to the occasion, as I sincerely hope they will, they might just find that they can do quite well without assistance from the State, in which case they will be far better off than they are now. But until that day arrives, I have compassion for the good people of Kansas whose lives will now be just a little uglier for their loss of art.

    June 3, 2011 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
  11. jim

    @areyoumorons, Before going off about someone else's grammar you should correct your own first. I am not religious but in a representation of Jesus in urine or covered with feces is what passes as "art" these days then perhaps it's time for a little "low brow drival" as you call it.

    June 3, 2011 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  12. jim

    Meant but if not but in, sorry. Wouldn't want you to have a coronary because I miss typed a word.

    June 3, 2011 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  13. becca

    first of all the public schools were already lacking the brains that the government expected of us. the standardized testing along with the massive amount of illiterate people in the US and the failing teachers add up to horrible test scores. the fact that mentally disabled kids are added into the stream of "normal" kids is a sign of who our lawmakers are. the arts increases most students capability of perseverance and other important skills that are attributed to the higher test scores that our government so desires. really? try cutting the millions of dollars going to drunks and people addicted to drugs that so many people spend food stamps on.

    June 3, 2011 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  14. jim

    Well I would say that housing is just as important to humanity as art is, so according to most of you then construction workers should be federally funded also since it is hard to make ends meet as a construction worker. Where would society be without housing-back in the stone age that's where.

    June 3, 2011 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  15. PP

    One question to Mr. Frashini, who do you think paid your music professor back in the days you study music? Now, who is gonna pay that professor to teach kids? THINK

    June 3, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
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