June 23, 2011

Video: Supporters gather to restore public arts funding in Kansas

We've been telling you about the recent elimination of the Kansas Arts Commission by Governor Sam Brownback. Here is a video of a public meeting in Lawrence, Kansas held last week that addresses how to restore public funding for the arts in our neighboring state. 

Kansas is now the only state in the entire country that doesn't have a state arts council or commission.

About 30 years ago, I was watching an episode of Family Feud when the late Richard Dawson asked this question: Which state in the United States would you least like to visit? He shouted his famous Survey Says! and the number one answered turned out to be Kansas. I was living in Southeast Kansas at the time, and the survey results were a real bummer.

I graduated from high school in Kansas, and I love that state very much. During my years at CVHS artists who were slated to perform at area community colleges frequently visited our school. I saw acting troupes, dancers and harpists just to name a few. These experiences at a small high school on the rural Kansas prairie were incredible for me. They exposed me to interesting and exotic people from faraway places. They were particularly impactful as there was no local arts programming available in Caney, and our family did not have the resources to travel to big cities and pay to attend these events. Truly, these experiences made me aware of a much larger world beyond the football fields, the wheat fields.

And, these experiences would not have been possible without public funding for the arts.

I wonder, if that survey were taken today, if Kansas would still be the least likely state people would want to visit. Given the fact states like Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska have no oceans or mountains shouldn't it be even more important to exploit the economic potential of our creative industries? How, in the current economic climate, could any state even begin to fathom a reduction in public funding for the arts? The returns are documented, and they are impressive.