Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What I've learned since Topeka

It never fails that before an article is even published, some of the information becomes questionable or out-of-date.
While giving a TIAK report to the members of the South Central Kansas Tourism Region last week I mentioned what was discussed at the TIAK Day on the Hill. All reports then indicated that the governor's decision to dissolve the arts commission would not jeopardize federal funding for the arts in Kansas.
In a release from Governor Sam Brownback's office he stated "As a state agency, the historical society will be eligible to receive federal matching funds for the purpose of advancing the arts in the State of Kansas."
It was this statement that made me think arts would not suffer from a loss of funding and perhaps a private non-profit was a viable option much like the Humanities Council.
It was brought to my attention by Christine Downey Schmidt that this is not necessarily the case.
Here is a summary of what the National Endowment for the Arts had to say in response to Gov. Brownback's ERO.

The National Endowment for the Arts’ investment in a state is predicated on a significant financial and programmatic commitment from state government to its arts council. In each case, state and federal funds are combined to support local programs and priorities. The National Endowment for the Arts stated in an email to the Kansas Legislative Research Department on February 14, 2011:
Federal Match
· Kansas may forfeit its ability to receive federal funding depending on how the new entity is structured and how this restructure addresses the NEA requirements for a fully functioning state arts agency.
· The funds utilized for the 1:1 match to the NEA Partnership Agreement must be directly controlled and managed by the state and may include state appropriated, donated or trust funds.
· If the state does not provide state controlled funds for support of the state arts agency, all federal funds are at risk.
Kansas Arts Foundation / Kansas Historical Society
· It is unclear which agency, the Kansas Historical Society or the 501(c3), is controlling the funds.
It is unclear as to who will be the applicant to the NEA and who will be responsible for performing the responsibilities of the NEA Partnership Agreement; the Kansas Historical Society or the Kansas Arts Foundation.
· Continued federal investment is contingent on the State of Kansas providing financial support to its designated state arts agency. The agency must have the capacity to carry out the significant responsibilities of the NEA Partnership Agreement, including:
· The implementation of an NEA-approved state arts plan, developed as a result of a comprehensive and inclusive planning process that addresses the state’s cultural priorities and those of the NEA, as stipulated in the Endowment’s strategic plan.
· Fair funding decisions based on criteria that take into account artistic excellence and merit, as determined primarily through a panel process.
· Maintenance of sound fiscal and administrative procedures.
· Demonstration of leadership in arts education and in strategies for making the arts available and accessible to those in underserved communities throughout the state.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, currently provides $778,200 in funding to the KansasArts Commission, a state agency, for grants, programs and services to artists and organizations of Kansas.

If nothing else this outlines some criteria for how the new arts council should be structured, funded and administered and I, for one, would like to see some reassurances from the governor's office on these points.

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