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Arts Commission state case against proposed cuts
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Members of the Kansas Arts Commission say Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposal to eliminate the agency will hurt the state’s economy and cost people jobs.

Brownback has promised to eliminate eight state agencies in all. He says eliminating the KAC would save the state $574,000 in the next fiscal year. He proposes giving the commission $200,000 in the next fiscal year as it transitions to a private, nonprofit corporation.

Arts commission executive director Llewellyn Crain says the cuts would cost Kansas $778,300 from the National Endowment for the Arts, and $437,767 from the Mid-America Arts Alliance, the Kansas Arts Commission’s regional partner.

KAC is asking supporters to contact their legislators, since the governor’s proposed budget must be approved by the legislature. KAC also announced that because of the uncertainty, it has suspended all programming for fiscal year 2012, including grant programs. The agency will continue to operate its fiscal year 2011 programs, including grants, the Governor’s Arts Awards and Poetry Out Loud, until June 30, 2011.

Crain told The Wichita Eagle on Wednesday that the reductions would cost jobs and tax revenue. And, she says when the economy rebounds, businesses will have a harder time recruiting workers to cities with fewer arts offerings.

Karen Neuforth, executive director of the Barton County Arts Council, said if the legislature approves the governor’s proposed budget, other matching grants will also be lost. That will translate into less money for the local economy, she added.

Neuforth cited the example of the grant-supported Oscar Micheaux Film Festivals, celebrating the African American author and film director who is buried in the Great Bend Cemetery. The Arts Council received $20,000 in grant money for two Micheaux festivals, she noted, more than offsetting the $17,000 the county has lost by not having the Barton County Arts Center at Forest and Main in Great Bend on the tax rolls. The festivals also brought business to local restaurants and motels, also generating more tax revenue, she said.

The Associate Press contributed to this report