Thursday, February 23, 2012

Art and government: not an unheard of match

I’ve been working on plans for our latest mural that will celebrate the 100th anniversary of McPherson County All Schools Day in 2013. We’ll have the mural up in late 2012, hopefully well in advance of May Day. Luckily, local artist R. Bolton Smith has agreed to create an original painting for us to base the mural on. The tricky part is now finding a location for it.
Using guest tax to support the arts seems like a natural way of enhancing our community’s culture. With the recent actions of our governor to dissolve the Kansas Arts Council and his new plan to combine it with the Kansas Film Commission and seriously underfund it, I have to wonder if arts and government ever coexisted in a mutually supportive way.
My investigation of the topic on the Internet quickly led me to the murals and statues funded through the New Deal of the 1930s. As a country struggling to recover from the Great Depression, it would have been easy to get tunnel-vision and funnel all recovery funds into infrastructure and agriculture, but as Roosevelt’s relief administrator Harry Hopkins said “[artists] have got to eat just like other people.”
The result is we now have more than 225,000 government–funded works of public art available for every American to enjoy.
The majority of murals created through the New Deal were actually funded through the Section of Fine Arts of the U.S. Treasury Department (not the WPA). As new courthouses and post offices were built, 1% of the building budget was earmarked for artwork. There are 38 such post office murals in Kansas with the nearest one located in Lindsborg. For a list of murals go to
Also going on at the CVB, we’re set to host our “Leap into a New You” women’s show at the community building Feb. 25-26. To spice things up a little we added a Charity Cookoff competition with six competitors facing off on the auditorium stage. This is a great example of how we are delving more and more into event planning at the CVB. Tickets are available for the women’s show from participating vendors (free) or from the CVB for $2, or $3 the day of the show. Cook-off tickets are $10, available from the CVB, with the proceeds split between the six charities involved.

Bad service experience? Here’s what to do

Why is it that bad experiences stick in our mind much more prominently than good ones? I could go to the grocery store 100 times and have no problems, but the one time my Diet Pepsi doesn’t ring up at the sale price and, man, this store stinks.
The same could be said of bad service experiences. I hear from travelers who have had a bad experience at a McPherson business. Having gotten nowhere dealing with the business directly they will contact the CVB or the Chamber to file a complaint.
If only I had some sort of “be good” enforcement power to make businesses give better customer service. The steps I usually follow are to document the complaint, write a letter to the business, copy it to the owner of the business and if necessary, send a letter to the franchise offices. I can’t say it’s been terribly effective. For one, since I’m a third party to the disagreement, I’m not able to lodge a formal complaint with most franchises. Secondly, most of the complaints I receive are for the same few businesses. They’re used to my letters.
So I’ve decided to put together a list of steps for people to take if they have a bad service experience. One thing to remember though is, if the business makes an honest effort to correct a situation, stop at that step. Don’t pursue the matter further if you’ve received a sincere apology and/or refund for any overcharges.
1. Talk to the manager. Give them a chance to make things right before you “go public.” Any manager worth his/her salt will appreciate the opportunity.
2. Put it in writing. Send letters to the business, the franchise, Better Business Bureau and local Chamber of Commerce or CVB. Follow up with the business to see if they received it and if they plan to take steps to correct the situation. Allow reasonable time for a response.
3. Go public. There are a myriad of different travel sites that let you review a business. (;,, just to name a few) Objectively document your experience and save future travelers from having a similar bad experience. Use social media to let people know about your experience. Most chains have a Facebook page; try posting on their wall. Start a Twitter hash tag like #badservice if you want to Tweet about it.
Some other useful information:
To file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau go to and click the “File a Complaint” link.
To report a business for health code violations go to the Kansas Department of Agriculture – Food Safety Division website KDA also handles lodging complaints.
My email is, phone (800) 324-8022. If you’re planning a visit, meeting or convention in McPherson, start with the CVB office. We know the facilities in McPherson and can help you find the one that will work best for you.