Government Funding of the Arts – To Be or Not to Be?

That is the question! 🙂

There has been a flurry of activity lately in my neck of the woods as word spread quickly that our new governor (Sam Brownback) has proposed cutting funding for the Kansas Arts Commission. Music educators across the state are being called upon to send letters of opposition to the governor and legislators, urging them to vote against the proposed cut. I sent a letter to our governor (and similar ones to my state representative and senator). But instead of opposing the cut, I strongly support it:

Dear Governor Brownback,

Even though I am a devoted music teacher and believe in the importance of arts in our communities, I applaud you for recommending the discontinuation of funding for the Kansas Arts Commission. It is no secret that Kansas, along with the rest of the nation, is rapidly heading toward economic collapse. Any efforts to remedy this disaster must begin with the de-funding of all government programs and initiatives that are unconstitutional (and that would be almost all of them). While this will reap obvious short-term personal losses in the way of jobs, equipment, supplies, etc., the long-term advantages of returning to a free-market society, allowing citizens to retain and disperse their own money, and providing opportunity for creative, resourceful, and entrepreneurial ventures will provide a much more stable framework for our state. I hope that you will do everything in your power to see that all unconstitutional expenditures are cut from the budget and to promote the biblical principles upon which our nation was founded.

May God bless you and grant you wisdom and understanding as you govern our state!

The reality is that every line item on the state budget is there because it is important to someone. No doubt, there are equally fervent measures being undertaken by those in other areas where cuts are being proposed. But we cannot continue to bemoan the fragile economic state of our state and nation, solicit those in positions of leadership to effect stability, and then throw up our arms in protest when “our” area is slated for the chopping block. It has to start somewhere. I just hope that it continues across the board.

In a recent article in our local paper, a county commissioner and past board member for the art museum was quoted as saying, “…believe me, if this goes through, there are going to be managers in a lot of organizations in Sedgwick County who are going to have to work very hard to figure out where to find the operating money they will lose.”

While this was stated as a negative repercussion if the cut passes, it reminded me of another quote, this one by the renowned inventor, Thomas Edison, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Obviously there are passionate views on both sides of this issue. Many believe that the arts community is better off with government funding. I believe that the arts community can not only survive government cuts, but can actually thrive as a result of them. But we must not act victimized! We have to see this as an opportunity to think harder, plan harder, and work harder to develop creative ideas and entrepreneurial ventures that are self-sustaining. Rather than depending on a government handout, we must be resourceful and devise new ways of reaching out to people and providing value in their lives in a way that will compel them to support the arts. The opportunity before us is great, so let’s don the overalls and get to work!

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