Sunday, October 7, 2012

Letter from the Secretary of Commerce

Below is the form letter many received from Secretary of Commerce Pat George, in response to concerns about where Kansas's $700,000 budget for the Creative Arts Industries Commission is being (or not being) spent. Judge for yourself about whether this is an adequate response.

1000 S.W. Jackson St., Suite 100
Topeka, KS 66612-1354
Phone: (785) 296-3481
Fax: (785) 296-5055 TTY: 711

Pat George, Secretary                                                                               Sam Brownback, Governor

October 2012

Dear Arts Stakeholder:

Thank you for contacting the Department of Commerce to share your concerns about the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission. The KCAIC is dedicated to growing the state’s economy through the promotion and expansion of industries engaged in the creative arts and ultimately the creation of jobs in the sector.

In the last three months, Commerce has worked to integrate and consolidate the former Kansas Arts Commission and Kansas Film Commission into this new commission. We also have met with potential industry partners including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Association of State Arts Agencies, and the Mid-America Arts Alliance to discuss the goals of the KCAIC and possible future relationships. We will continue to meet with national and regional organizations in specific disciplines as we look to expand our partnership network.

On Oct. 1, Commerce submitted the KCAIC’s grant application to the NEA for possible funding for Fiscal Year 2014. As you may know, the NEA requires a well-vetted, long-term strategic plan as to how the Department will use matching funds based on the Commission’s mission as defined by the Kansas Legislature. This strategic planning process usually takes one to two years. The Department hopes to complete the strategic planning process by the first quarter 2013. Should the KCAIC’s application be successful, the earliest NEA funding will be available in Kansas is in fall 2013.
If you are interested in learning more about the overall direction the Commission will take in crafting its strategic plan, I encourage you to read the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices report titled, “New Engines of Growth: Five Roles for Arts, Culture and Design,” which outlines strategies for using arts, culture and design as a means for states to enhance economic growth and job creation.

The Commission also is working with the Kansas Department of Revenue to carry forward the former Kansas Arts Commission’s efforts to raise private dollars with the selling of arts license plates. Starting with their 2012 tax returns, Kansans also may support the creative industries through the KCAIC Checkoff Fund on their tax returns.

In addition, I should note there has been much confusion about the difference between the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission and the Kansas Arts Foundation. The Commission is the entity within the Department of Commerce that will oversee the state’s efforts to expand economic activity within the creative industries in Kansas. The Foundation is a private, non-profit entity formed to promote the arts in the state. The Foundation is not affiliated with the State of Kansas. For more information about the Foundation, visit its website.

Thank you again for contacting the Department of Commerce. I welcome your thoughts on how the state can expand economic activity and job creation through the creative industries in Kansas.

Pat George
Secretary of Commerce

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Letter to Kansas Secretary of Commerce

To Secretary of Commerce Pat George,

I write this out of frustration and concern. Artists, arts advocates, and legislators fought a difficult battle to have public funding for the arts reinstated this past term, and now it appears that the Department of Commerce cannot or will not account for how those funds have been or will be used.

As an artist, teacher, and taxpayer, I demand that the Department of Commerce account for the $700,000 appropriated for the Kansas Creative Industries Commission. Allowing that a small portion may be used for administration, the majority of these funds must be distributed to non-profit arts agencies across the state. Funding Kansas cultural and creative endeavors is the purpose of these funds, and it is needed desperately.

Art, in all its forms, contains, and is the catalyst for, the stories of our heritage and dreams for a better tomorrow. Stifling the Arts means stifling the song, the poem, and the dance of Kansas. We are better than that. We have $700,000 in the bank to help encourage, inspire and support our creative spirit. Please, make those funds available to non-profit arts agencies now.

Dave Loewenstein, Lawrence

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Arts Commission faces tough questions

Today in Topeka, members of the newly formed Arts Commission were asked about how the $700,000 in state arts funding for this fiscal year was being used. Their answers were less than encouraging. Read the Wichita Eagle article here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Kansas Arts Funding in Jeopardy

Artists, Educators, Arts Advocates, and Arts Administrators, 

The future of public support for the arts in Kansas is in jeopardy. Your action is needed now.

In order for Kansas to receive funding in FY14 (July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014) from the National Endowment for the Arts and Mid-America Arts Alliance, the Dept. of Commerce must submit an partnership application to the NEA by October 1st. If they do not, Kansas will not be eligible for this funding until FY15 at the earliest. We must demand that Secretary of Commerce, Pat George, submit this application by October 1st.

There is a second problem. Although the legislature appropriated $700,000, there has been no plan given or public accounting for how these funds have been or will be used. We must demand an accounting for these funds and insure that a large portion is going to non-profit arts programs around the state. If these newly appropriated funds are not used for arts programs, the governor and others may cite this inaction as cause to move the funds to another agency and kill the possibility of renewing public support for the arts in the foreseeable future.

Please contact Secretary of Commerce, Pat George, immediately and urge him to:

1) Submit the partnership application to the NEA by October 1st.

2) Account for the $700,000 appropriated by the legislature for the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission in the current fiscal year. Demand that it be used for non-profit arts programs.

Secretary of Commerce Pat George

email -
phone - (785) 296-3481
Kansas Department of Commerce
1000 S.W. Jackson St.
Suite 100
Topeka, KS 66612

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Art Lives" Exhibition in Wichita

"Art Lives" A collaborative exhibit sponsored by the Feminist Art Project

Wichita, Kansas
Opening Friday, March 30th 5:30 - 9pm
March 29-April 21

Collaborative piece by Lora Jost and Erika Nelson

About the show:During the past year, artists, arts educators, galleries, museums, and other arts organizations in Kansas have sustained serious, sometimes fatal, blows. And yet, art is still alive! Kansas artists and arts advocates have rallied in unprecedented force to campaign for the importance of art and funding for art.
This inaugural exhibition of the Kansas Chapter of The Feminist Art Project, staged one year after the state budget cuts, connects artists across the state in a collaborative endeavor as we seek to move forward despite constraints. Artists have been paired with colleagues across the state, enlarging each artist’s community and strengthening the Kansas arts network. The two dozen participating artists contribute artworks created independently and in collaboration with their artist-partners. Each artist addresses the theme of Art Lives! and offers serious reflections on the state of the arts in Kansas. In a time of economic crisis when funding for the arts is one of the first things to go, collaboration may be one of our best tools for survival.

 ~ Rachel Epp Buller
Coordinator of The Feminist Art Project, Kansas