Arts need sufficient funding


Governor Sam Brownback

It’s no secret that the arts, among other things, are underfunded in Kansas.

This year alone, the state is missing out on more than $800,000 in federal and regional funding to the arts because the state budget does not meet the minimum requirement of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Because the NEA funding requirement was not met, the state will not qualify for partnership in the Mid-America Arts Alliance.

This severe lack of funding negatively affects community art centers, museums, libraries, art programs within schools and universities, as well as local theaters such as the Orpheum in Wichita. It digresses culture and creativity. Not to mention, it brings national criticism to the state as a whole.

But why? Why is funding for the arts so sparse in this, our nation’s 34th state? Herein lies the question.

Since his election in 2011, Gov. Sam Brownback has been cutting funding for the arts without mercy.

Among his first actions as governor was vetoing the budget for the Kansas Arts Commission, eliminating the organization all together. This action made Kansas the only state in the country without a state arts council in 2011.

Although funding for the KAC was reinstated in 2013, the issue of insufficient funding has come up once again this summer.

Arts play a pivotal role to the function of communities and society as a whole. Without the proper funding, the arts cannot possibly have the positive impact that they are intended to.

Programs that offer arts within Kansas schools face serious cuts, keeping exposure to the arts away from those who need it most—children and young adults.

Aforementioned organizations such as the Mid-America Arts Alliance and the NEA have expressed disappointment in Brownback’s decisions regarding funding of the arts. However, the sparse allocation of money to art programs in Kansas continues.

If lack of funding from disgruntled arts organizations is not drawing attention to this crisis, then who will, but the citizens?

Those, like myself, who recognize the importance of the arts—which should be everyone—need to speak out against these repeated injustices if they wish for action to take place.