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Kansas Implements “Plan B” for Arts Funding

When he introduced his budget proposal for the next fiscal year, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer warned the Metro Council and the public that subsequent budgets would be much leaner. There’s a persistent $15 million gap in revenues, and Fischer says it will take fundamental changes to Metro Government to close that gap.

Among those possible changes is how the city supports the arts. Fischer told arts groups that receive city grants to put together a “Plan B” for that funding. Later, on a WFPL news special, Fischer restated his commitment to the arts, but said if given the choice between cutting public safety and cutting arts, he would chose the latter (though the funding for each doesn’t’ exactly compare).

NPR’s Elizabeth Blair recently reported on arts funding in Kansas, where a plan B has already been implemented after Governor Sam Brownback gutted the state’s arts commission.

Meanwhile, Brownback has named someone new to lead the efforts to raise funds from the private sector. In an interview, that new appointee said she doesn’t think it will be that hard … since the Kansas arts commission’s budget was so small to begin with.

When told about the situation in Kansas, Mayor’s spokesman Chris Poynter said it’s too early to say whether Fischer would consider a similar option, especially since the mayor hasn’t determined whether the $500,000 that goes to arts groups will have to be cut from the next budget. Poynter did say, however, that the Fund for the Arts already connects corporate donors to arts groups (despite complaints about that process, which may soon be changed). Further, Poynter said Director of Community Building Sadiqa Reynolds is the mayor’s ambassador to arts groups, but has not done any fundraising.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Indiana Arts Groups Face Difficulties Fundraising

Elizabeth Kramer

Some Indiana institutions have issued a report about the condition of the state’s arts organizations. The Indiana Arts Commission enlisted Indiana University’s School of Public And Environmental Affairs to conduct a survey of more than 1,500 organizations.

Kirsten Grønbjerg is an Indiana University professor and chair of the school’s Center on Philanthropy. She says the data shows Indiana’s arts groups have some priority concerns — particularly— “More funding — that clearly what the organizations themselves say what is what is needed,” she says, “but also technical assistance, workshops and opportunities for learning from other organizations providing similar kinds of services.”

Laura Frank is with the Indiana Arts Commission. She says the commission has already begun acting on some of the report’s findings.

“We found funding assistance is needed and so we had a seminar on fundraising and constituent building in the current economy,” Frank says. “And we also found peer learning and collaborative activities are important so we had a seminar last week called Leading at the Speed of Change.”

(The Arts Commission, which is a department of state government, worked with the Indiana Coalition for the Arts, an advocacy organization that also helps artists and arts groups.)

Grønbjerg says the report shows that arts groups are having a much harder time obtaining funding than other kinds of non-profit groups. She says they deserve help to continue the role they play in communities.

“These organizations are looking to community leaders and funders, policy makers to provide support for these organizations,” Grønbjerg says. “They are an important part of the quality of life in local communities.”

Grønbjerg and Frank say the report will be useful to organizations that fund arts groups and to government officials.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Kentucky, Indiana Get Arts Grants Worth $1.7 million

By Elizabeth Kramer

The Kentucky Arts Council is set to receive a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support arts groups statewide. The council will receive more than $850,000 from the NEA to support the operating costs of arts groups as well as arts education programs.

Ed Lawrence is with the Kentucky Arts Council.

“A certain portion of that funding does go out to our Kentucky arts partnership grantees, which are arts organizations and its operational support,” he says.

He says this year’s annual grant from the NEA is nearly $60,000 more than last year’s and that the funding is needed given the recession.

“Arts organizations are hurting and they’re at bare-bones staff,” Lawrence says. “If we can just keep a staff member in there to keep them going until the economy comes back that hopefully that position will be able to sustain itself.”

Lawrence says the application for this year’s grant paid special attention to detailing how the some of the money would reach rural areas and start a pilot program to help cities create cultural districts.

“That’s been spurred on by Paducah and their artists’ relocation program,” Lawrence says. “So, we were able this year to offer grants to Horsecave, Maysville and Berea to actually do planning for cultural districts.”

Paducah’s Lowertown Arts District came after the relocation program started in 2000 to encourage artists to move to city. It has sense garnered national attention.

The Indiana Arts Commission is receiving a grant of more than $870,000 — nearly $65,000 more than it received in last year’s grant.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Legislators, Arts Groups Recognize Arts Day

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.

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Arts and Humanities Local News Next Louisville Raw Audio

Mayoral Forum Offers Ideas for City's Arts Future

Eleven candidates for Louisville mayor spoke at a forum on the arts and culture last night. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

(To listen to the entire forum, click on Listen to the story.)

Local businessman Chuck Maisch opened the event recounting how a few business leaders started the Louisville Orchestra in the aftermath of the 1937 flood and in the midst of the Great Depression. He spoke about how the orchestra, on the brink of bankruptcy, was saved by the foresight of another business leader, Charles Farnsley, who became mayor.

Maisch used that story to rouse the candidates before turning over the floor.

“What we’re hoping to hear tonight is not just your words about your love of the arts and so on,” Maisch said. “But we really hope that we hear about the actions that you plan to move arts forward.”

During the next two hours, more than 300 spectators listened to candidates answer nearly a dozen questions in between their opening and closing remarks about their vision for the arts and culture in Louisville.

Many candidates emphasized generating more support to preserve and restore Louisville’s landmark architecture in various neighborhoods. And almost all spoke about the need to bring art and culture to children through education and special programs.

David Bretschneider says he was happy to hear those ideas.

“I appreciate the fact that there was emphasis on education and getting the kids involved,” he says. “I don’t like the fact that the schools have taken arts, music, industrial arts even — I’m a word worker by trade and nobody’s learning.”

Some questions covered special taxes and other funding mechanisms for arts and cultural programs. Most candidates were ambiguous about their plans in that area.

Lucy Langman, who came to listen to their ideas, says she didn’t hear anything novel.

“But it was good to get an idea of where these candidates are as far as how they see art being brought into their administrations and how they see, you know, art with development and the economic impact it has,” she says.

The Kentucky School of Art and several other local arts and cultural groups presented the forum. David Cupps of Arts Kentucky moderated the discussion.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Arts Council Temporarily Suspends Six Grant Programs

The Kentucky Arts Council has decided to temporarily suspend six grant programs because of the states budget crisis. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has details.

The announcement comes after incremental cuts in the Arts Council’s budget over the year became an overall 24 percent reduction, which is almost $1 million. The grants include one that helped fund performing arts events and another that provided funds to individual Kentucky artists to further their work. Others have supported research into and presentation of folk arts and built partnerships between artists and local organizations to encourage educational and economic growth.

Arts Council executive director Lori Meadows says the decision came after looking at dire predictions about the state budget.

“Until we’re positive what our funding level for fiscal year 2011 is,” she says,  “it just seemed like the right thing to do, so that people wouldn’t go to the trouble of planning on or filling out an application.”

Meadows says the council has just put the grants on hiatus for the coming fiscal year. She says it’s trying to counter that loss by assisting artists and groups with other activities.

“We are planning on increasing our technical assistance in other non-grant related areas and work with artists and organizations and communities in that way,” she says.

Last year, the grants made up more than $150,000 in awards. And as recently as 2005, those programs provided arts groups and artists with more then $300,000.

Meadows says the suspended grants are all a particular kind.

“These are all project-related or professional assistance award programs,” she says. “And while they wouldn’t hopefully hurt someone’s bottom line, it may mean that they would have to look elsewhere for project-related expenses.”

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Congressman Complains about Art in San Francisco

Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield recently signed a letter to the National Endowment for the Arts complaining about the work of arts groups it had funded. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

Whitfield of Hopkinsville signed the letter along with 49 other Republican congressman that objected to funding staff salaries of three San Francisco arts groups they accuse of producing obscene art.

Whitfield says his signature on the letter doesn’t mean he disapproves of the NEA’s work.

“Most of the funding that has come to my district has been quite productive,” Whitfield says. “And it’s been a program that’s been well received in the schools and [for] the local performing arts groups.”

Art critic Michel Brenson wrote a book about the culture wars of the 1990s that caused a significant funding reduction for the NEA. He says it’s not clear this letter signals a rerun to those debates.

“I think the arts have become more embedded, more populist in some way then they were 20 years ago,” Brenson says.

Whitfield signed the complaint sent just before last week’s confirmation of Rocco Landesman as the NEA’s new chairman.

Whitfield says he signed the letter on the basis of the works produced by the California groups and not because of anti-NEA sentiments in his district.

“In my district, I get a mixed bag,” he says. “A lot of people oppose any funding for the NEA and other people are quite support it. And I’ve generally always voted for funding for the NEA because I think their programs are very important.”

Last year, the advocacy group Americans for the Arts gave Whitfield a B + for his voting record on arts legislation.
Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield was among 50 Capitol Hill lawmakers who signed a letter of complaint to to the

Whitfield says he signed the letter after hearing from some San Francisco citizens who were upset that the groups were getting taxpayer money. He says he favors most the agency’s work, but thinks it should be cautious about the use of funds.

“I think that just use more common sense and I would just try to stay away from things that are obviously hot buttons that upset particular groups of people,” he says. “I mean there are so many wonderful artistic opportunities [the agency offers].”

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Fund for the Arts Gets $8.8 Million of $10 Million Goal

The Louisville Fund for the Arts announced the results of its annual fundraising campaign today. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The Fund for the Arts raised $8.8 million this year — falling short of its $10 million goal set before the economic crisis deepened last September. Much of the money raised will go to support its 14 member organizations.

The organization’s president and CEO, Allan Cowen, says the economy was behind the shortfall. He says workplace fundraising dropped and corporate giving fell about $500,000.

“The losses we had to this year had to do with structural changes in some of the businesses as opposed to people cutting back their budgets so much,” Cowen says. “But we met with a company who’d been extraordinarily generous for the past ten years, and they weren’t in a position to do as much this year. Well, how can you complain?”

Cowen says recent annual campaigns have worked to raise the money need to get members’ budget sheets in order. Now that the largest members are in the black, the Fund for the Arts is looking to help Stage One and Music Theatre Louisville climb out of debt in the coming year.

“We only have a couple chunks of— only two organizations that have any operating debt remaining,” he says. “And that’s probably a multimillion dollar change in existence.”

Cowen says the Fund distributed $1 million to member organizations last year to help stabilize their budgets and looks to make $800,000 in grants this year.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Indiana Advocates: Cut to Arts Hurts Economy

As Indiana legislators prepare to convene tomorrow for a special session, arts advocates are criticizing the large cut Gov. Mitch Daniels has proposed for the state’s arts agency. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

Gov. Daniels called the session to pass a budget after legislators failed to do so during Indiana’s recent General Assembly.

The budget Daniels presented last week cuts funding to the Indiana Arts Commission by 50 percent. During the regular session, many legislators had supported an 8 percent cut, which was similar to cuts made to other state agencies.

Sally Gaskill is with the Indiana Coalition for the Arts. She warns the cut would harm arts groups and the economy.

“Many jobs would be lost — not only staff jobs of local arts organizations but also jobs of printing companies and other kinds of enterprises that rely on the arts to be a part of their revenue source,” Gaskill says.

Gaskill says the cut is very worrisome because the recession has already meant loss of revenues and philanthropic and corporate support to arts groups.

“Any time that there’s such a draconian cut, it’s not going to be pretty,” Gaskill says, “particularly in this economy when arts institutions are making cuts anyway, because there simply aren’t other sources of support.”

Gaskill say the cut would especiall hurt people who work in the arts.

“The outcome of that would be frankly devastating to artists and arts organizations throughout the state,” she says. “There would be much, much less funding to go around in a state that’s already frankly on the lower end of per capita support.”

A January report from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies ranked Indiana 43rd in funding its arts agency on a per capita basis. The report ranked Kentucky at 30.

More information about state arts funding is on the WFPL’s blog, The Edit.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Arts Kentucky Holds Workshop on Arts Advocacy

An arts advocacy group is having a workshop tomorrow at The Speed Art Museum to show people working in and interested in the arts how to work with civic leaders. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

Arts Kentucky is a statewide coalition of arts groups and artists that is holding these workshops throughout the state.

Cecelia Wooden of Arts Kentucky has been leading similar workshops throughout the state and will help lead tomorrow’s event.

“The purpose is really to help board members, volunteers or professional members of arts organizations and arts advocates in general literally learn how to talk to legislators and local leaders,” Wooden says.

Woodens says people who want leaders to support the arts through policies and funding need to do more than present legislators with quantitative data and heartfelt stories that illustrate the value of arts in communities and schools.

“Legislators are concerned about their political health,” Wooden says. “They want to understand is there a powerful constituency that backs the issues related to the arts.”

Wooden says participants in recent workshops have voiced concerns about the Kentucky Arts Council’s budget, which has decreased in recent years, and the role of arts education throughout the state.

Wooden says the arts are an economic driver in many communities and provide over 22,000 jobs throughout the commonwealth.