In 2011, Kansas became the first state in history to completely eliminate funding for the arts.
That resulted in the loss of more than $1 million in matching funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and other organizations. And, severely impacted hundreds of Kansas arts organizations.
After significant backlash, Gov. Sam Brownback and the Kansas legislature restored some funding to the arts in the 2012 legislative session. Whether or not that will result in a restoration of matching funds remains to be seen.
The new Kansas arts organization, the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission (CAIC) finalized its strategic plan this month. And here are some ways it will be different:
1. It has less money
The Kansas Arts Commission had a budget of nearly $2.5 million in 2010. Currently, the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission is funded at $700,000.
The funds could drop even lower, Gov. Brownback has proposed cutting arts funding in Kansas to $200,000 for FY2014. It is unclear if that would be enough to qualify Kansas for NEA funding.
2. Programs need an economic development focus to get funding
The mission of the KCAIC is to “promote, support and develop the creative arts industries through partnership, innovation, job growth and entrepreneurship as an integral and significant sector of the Kansas economy.” All requests for funding will have show how their project or initiative will grow jobs and the economy.
That is vastly different from the former Kansas Arts Commission mission, which was “to provide opportunities for the people of Kansas to experience, celebrate and value the arts throughout their lives.”
3. It focuses on Kansas’ national reputation and promoting Kansas as an ideal place to live
In line with its economic development focus, the new KCAIC will use the arts to promote Kansas as a great place to work, live and visit. Whether this will be done through direct advertising or other initiatives remains to be seen.
The KAC did not have a focus on creating a state brand or national recognition.
4. It is housed under the Kansas Department of Commerce
The old Kansas Arts Council was essentially a free-standing state agency. It was not subject to the bureaucracies of the larger state departments.
This could mean more paperwork for agencies seeking funds.