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Posted at 11:56 AM ET, 02/ 9/2011

States start to target arts funding

By Jacqueline Trescott

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, left, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. (AP, Washington Post)

Earlier this week, by executive order, Gov. Sam Brownback abolished the Kansas Arts Commission. He proposed instead a nonprofit to fund the state's arts organizations through private funds.

This is the time of year state governments roll out proposals, cuts and eliminations, so the action in Kansas wasn't encouraging for arts organizations. In Texas Gov. Rick Perry asked the legislature to eliminate the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Texas Historical Commission. The two agencies received a combined $10 million last year. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley also proposed elimination of the state's arts commission.

This strategy isn't going to work, said Jonathan Katz, CEO of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, and a former executive director of the Kansas commission.

"The state's investment in the Kansas Arts Commission generates jobs and tax revenues that would be sorely missed in the current economic environment. The elimination proposal does not take into account the loss of federal funding," Katz said.

Katz said Kansas would lose $778, 200 in federal funds, without the state funds, and other grants.

In New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a 10 percent cut to arts funding.

The Kansas Arts Commission had a budget of $600,000. Brownback said the move was made to help the state's budget shortfall. Brownback suggested the state give $200,000 to the new foundation, which is set to start July 1.

The state lawmakers can overturn the governor's executive order.

Meanwhile the federal arts agencies are waiting for the President's 2012 budget proposal, which could be sent to Congress as early as Monday.

By Jacqueline Trescott  | February 9, 2011; 11:56 AM ET
Categories:  Jacqueline Trescott  | Tags:  Gov. Nikki Haley, Gov. Rick Perry, Gov. Sam Brownback, state arts commissions  
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When dealing with the situation we all must face, hard choices must be made. Things that are not absolutely necessary must be cut or eliminated. If and when we return to a growing economy, these 'luxuries' can again be funded.

Posted by: duffmeister | February 9, 2011 7:21 PM | Report abuse

No surprise here. "Brownshirt", Perry and What's-her-name are all of the same stripe.

Posted by: TOMHERE | February 9, 2011 8:04 PM | Report abuse

The benefits to the larger society for the relative economy of these programs should be used as a model for other wasteful programs in government. Music education is a means of enhancing mathematical understanding and a way to make sensual and experiential the theories and laws of the physical sciences. Artistic expression in visual arts is a means of learning to make critical choices, to synthesize ideas and to learn sign, signifier, icon, semiotics and all of the nuance of communication and argumentation by engaging creation with a critical eye, exhibition with a knowledge of a viewer and critical dialogue between what is meant and what is experienced. The very idea that the skills gained through artistic endeavors are "luxuries" is a contributing factor to the failure of American Students to excel or even compete in the global educational playing field.

The learning opportunities for students (especially home schooled students) who attend museums and cultural heritage institutions in order to complete their education as well as for people outside of organized education who attend these institutions for personal enrichment get an amazing bargain when you consider what image / object / information is made available through this meager funding. An institution that has Maori art in Utah or another Museum that houses a major collection of African Fine Art Ethnographic objects in Minnesota brings the world to people who may otherwise have no contact with people, places, expressions that are unlike their own and their own community.
In all, these programs often account for less than .5% of the budgets that these states are attempting to rectify. It would make no appreciable difference in the bottom line of the budgets of these states by cutting the funding. In fact, it may decrease available matching funding from federal granting agencies! However cutting the programs would make reinstating them a hero's feat should anyone think to take the issue up again at any point in the future.

This is the perfect example of the short-sightedness of people who continually discount the need for and the role of creativity in an educated and vital population. This short-sightedness is precisely why the US is falling so far behind in the worlds of education and creation of new products and services. As long as we think short-term gain, symptomatic treatment rather than systemic wellness, we will short-change our collective futures until we are so creatively, financially, emotionally and intellectually impoverished as a country that we cease to be a super-power and become fit to only serve as the manual labor force for the rest of the world's creative pursuits.

Posted by: KarinHodginJones | February 9, 2011 8:48 PM | Report abuse

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