Governor's Budget Restores $200K In Arts Funding

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kansas would resume its funding of arts programs under Gov. Sam Brownback's latest budget proposal.

"It's very exciting because Film Commission and Arts Commission have been working together for many years," said Jason Opat, chairman of the Kansas Film Commission.

Opat not only chairs the Film Commission, he is an entrepreneur in the visual arts business. He is an example of what Gov. Sam Brownback is hoping to do with arts and job creation.

"The more jobs we have, the more things that are happening here, and the culture is important. The Arts Commission really preserves that art culture and that thinking and that excitement about creativity," said Opat.

Last May, Kansas became the only state in the nation to cut arts funding completely. This was after the governor vetoed the nearly $700,000 lawmakers set aside for the Arts Commission.

The veto led to the loss of about $1.3 million in funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and a regional arts alliance.

"We have to be independent and self sufficient and work cooperatively and collaboratively with others. We're very excited about the prospects of what's going on right now," said chairwoman of the Kansas Arts Commission, Linda Browning Weis.

For fiscal year 2013, the governor recommends that the Kansas Arts Commission be combined with the Kansas Film Commission to form the Kansas Creative Industries Commission. The reorganized commission will be under the Department of Commerce and recommended to receive $200,000 from the Economic Development Initiatives Fund.

A note in the budget said, "Its goal will be to further economic development through promotion and expansion of the creative arts in Kansas."

Those in support of the arts like Opat think it is a win-win situation for film and arts in Kansas.

"Our language is already there between the commissions and some ideas about growing businesses, growing jobs and creating education," said Opat.

The Kansas Arts Commission continued to operate with no staff and only volunteers. They are now selling license plates to generate private funds to support arts programs.

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