Category: News and Media
Created on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 11:17
As the recession grew deeper, states across the country took aim at budgets for the arts. In Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback used his line-item veto power to eliminate funding for the for the Kansas Arts Commission, making his state the first to eliminate arts money altogether. At the time, Brownback called the commission a luxury his state couldn’t afford.
Now, Brownback has quietly changed course — but in a different guise. Stateline reports that Kansas is proposing money for the arts again under a new strategy that equates these projects with economic development. The governor proposed the creation of a new “Creative Arts Industries Commission” that would focus on the potential of the arts and creative industries such as graphic design and architecture to help the state’s economy.
Micheline Maynard, Contributor for Forbes Magazine
Across the nation, arts funding is still suffering, according to Stateline. There has been a 37 percent drop in funding arts for arts’ sake since 2001. But arts for the economy’s sake is paying off.
“That strategy is beginning to pay off. Even as state budgets remain tight, estimates from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies show state arts funding increased by an average of 8.8 percent in the budget year that began in most states July 1,” the Stateline report says.
A report released in June by Americans for the Arts found that the nonprofit arts and culture sector supports 4.13 million full-time jobs and generates $6.67 billion in state tax revenue across the country.
In Michigan, hit harder than most states, arts organizations will benefit from a 366.8 percent increase in state funding, the largest such increase in the country on a percentage basis.
State Budget Director John Nixon says the state views this as an important investment in its future. “In order to have a robust economic climate you’ve got to have a robust quality of life, and the arts are a big part of that,” he tells Stateline. “The money gets distributed and multiplied as it goes throughout the state.”
There’s agreement elsewhere. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has vetoed arts funding two years in a row, saying communities are better off deciding on funding for the arts. But the South Carolina legislature overrode her veto both times, allowing the South Carolina Arts Commission to reopen for business. Haley’s move is actually strengthening the Arts Caucus in the state legislature, to which members of both parties belong.
It’s clear just by driving around Detroit that the arts are playing a big role in making the city look better and seem more lively. Funding the arts as an economic strategy may be just the ticket that beleaguered cultural organizations need to justify their existence.
Such a strategy could make life more difficult for artists who have based their appeal for money on lifting peoples’ spirits. But in the cultural world, where funding is so hard to achieve, any new methods will most likely win a quick embrace.