Kansas Governor Cuts All State Funding for Art Programs

There are budget cuts and then there are ultra-violent chops that effectively remove every remote sign of life. Exploding across the art world this week is the news that the latter has now happened in Kansas. This past weekend, that state’s governor, Sam Brownbeck, eliminated all state funding for arts programs there, “leaving the Kansas Arts Commission without a budget, staff or offices.” The Commission’s site spells it out as bleakly as it gets, stating briefly “All Kansas Arts Commission programs and grant operations for Fiscal Year 2012 have been terminated effective immediately.” As BusinessWeek reports, along with cuts to other programs like public education (“a move that’s likely to force Kansas’ 289 school districts to consider laying off teachers and other employees in the coming weeks”), the conservative Brownbeck stripped the planned arts funding of its nearly $700,000 in state funding, but also removed Kansas from receiving any matching federal funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. Kansas Citizen for the Arts, the group that has been fighting the governor over his seemingly long-held desire to make arts funding an entirely private enterprise matter, has said, in one of many statements on their site, that the decision has now effectively removed $1.2 million off the table for the state’s artists, and make it “the only state in the nation to be denied federal monies because of lack of state investment in the arts.” The LA Times‘ resident critic Christopher Knight shares that, with a state whose unemployment rate is as high as in many other states, and for a governor whose “race for the governorship was based on local job creation,” it seems a bit absurd to cut something that helps employ more than 4,000 people and generates “$95.1 million in household income to local residents” and creates “$15.6 million in local and state government revenue.” Up next in Brownbeck’s sights for cuts for the following year: public broadcasting and “eliminating operating grants for stations.”