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.

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