(WICHITA, Kan.) —
It's only five thousand dollars, but to Wichita Symphony Director Mitch Berman, losing their grant from the Kansas Arts Commission would mean a lot. It's not in terms of money, he says it's a message about the way the state views the importance of the arts.
"What kind of message does that send to businesses and people looking to re-locate here?", he asked. "That the state doesn't feel a commitment to put its stamp of approval on arts."
Ballet Wichita is another one of the 26 organizations in the county, and 242 in the state, that gets a small grant from the KAC. Executive Director Barbara Chamberlin says it not about that money, but the money that small communities get to bring acts like the touring ballet to their areas. The KAC pays for part of the cost.
"This is frightening to anyone in the arts," she said.
Both groups want people to talk to their legislators about the issue. Governor Brownback's proposal is to turn the KAC into a non-profit, ending the financial support to the arts. Doing so would save the state only a half million dollars. That's only half of what the KAC gives out in grants each year.
Ballet Wichita and the Wichita Symphony say the arts are important to a city's quality of life, and its effects spill into the business climate, the education system and tourism dollars.
On it's website, the KAC says the state will lose Kansas will lose: $778,300 in direct funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, and $437,767 in indirect grants and services from Mid-America Arts Alliance, the Kansas Arts Commission's regional partner.
"The Kansas Arts Commission provides valuable seed money that leverages private funds and supports the total employment of over 37,000 people in the creative arts industry," it says.
"Arts and cultural businesses support other businesses - galleries, photographic stores, bookstores and music stores. People who participate in the arts, children through senior citizens, purchase supplies, materials, instruments and equipment, support their local economy. Eliminating support for the arts and cultural businesses, especially in rural communities that are already struggling, will cause a negative ripple effect throughout Kansas communities, causing a loss of private sector employment."
The site goes on to say, "If these businesses go away - which many will - Kansas will struggle to recruit and retain companies and talented work forces to rural communities. No one wants to move to communities with poor quality of life."