Today arts groups, arts advocates and legislators celebrated Kentucky Arts Day in Frankfort. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.
The day began with the Kentucky Arts Council hosting legislators and arts groups from their districts who had received state grants. It comes during a session when legislators will consider further cuts to the Kentucky Art Council’s budget.
Despite the circumstances, State Senator Julie Denton of Louisville (Republican) says there’s still a lot of support for the art in the General Assembly.
“Many of us understand and appreciate the impact that they have on us not just individually, but economically,” Denton says. “And so I don’t think we can leave them hanging out in the wind. I think we have to be very sensitive to that and, at the same time, knowing we have to balance a budget.”
The day comes after the recession has already helped to reduce the council’s budget by 24 percent and state government is consider further cuts to the agency.
State Senator Tom Buford of Nicholasville (Republican) says the arts council’s now operating with a bare-bones financing.
“It’s very minimal now,” he says. “And we’ve lost ground on our financial sides of it. But we have picked up, I think, with philanthropists and people who want to help out, those who have some wealth.”
In the most recent round of grants, the council awarded more then $1.8 million to nearly 90 non-profit arts and cultural groups.
State Rep. Darryl Owens of Louisville (Democrat) says the arts and the council’s work are important to Kentucky.
“We have a lot of very difficult decisions we have to make and hopefully we won’t devastate the arts community with the cuts,” he says. “But it’s one of those things I don’t think there’s a great appreciation at least in the legislative bodies as there is, let’s say, in our communities of the importance of arts.”
Kentucky Arts Council staff say that this year’s Arts Day saw a much lower attendance due to the weather. Activities planned by the advocacy group Arts Kentucky were cancelled.