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Thoughts on Gov. Brownback vs. Kansas Arts Commission

Ok... this is touchy... but needs to be said, maybe just for my sake...

I am primarily a financial conservative, probably a borderline Libertarian.

I truly believe that private $$ can accomplish more and be more efficient in every situation than tax dollars can. I don't believe we should abolish Government. I do think Government should be smaller than it is, not because I am scared of it taking away my Liberty... I just think it is a huge inefficient machine that wastes millions of dollars.

Plain and simple, I believe in the vast majority of the programs that tax dollars go to... I just believe they would be more efficient, they would accomplish more towards their mission and every American would have more money in there pocket if they were privately ran.

Please don't come back at me with extremist stuff like "Cody hates poor people", "Cody hates arts and culture", "Cody hates anything". I don't hate anything. I just firmly believe folks and programs that need our help with $ would be helped more by a privately run organization than any government org could ever hope to do.

So... The Arts..

I think Gov. Brownback is doing the right thing. EEEEKKKKK!!!!

I really do, we have to cut programs that aren't life and death until the State of Kansas has a balanced budget. We just can't spend more than we make as a State.

Please keep in mind this is just regarding the Kansas Arts Commission... I am still pounding thorough the budget and this article is not pertaining to any other cuts... I DO NOT back Brownback blindly and in fact am scared of some of his agenda items.

So... now how many of you just said "Oh.... Cody hates the Arts" --- well your wrong if you did, I think anyone that knows me would at least partially defend the fact that I love the Arts and see them as a crucial part of education and culture, that if ignored will lead to at best a dumbing of our society and at worst to its complete collapse.

So what do I think we should do...

I think we should give more money to the Arts in Kansas than we do now....

I think we should have the best Arts Commission in the United States ... in the World...

I just think until we get the State of Kansas' budget in the black, it should be all private dollars.

How do we do that?

I really don't think it would even be hard if 2 things were to happen.

1. Everyone that is mad at Gov. Brownback take 50 % of the time and energy they are burning to blast him and focus it towards fund raising efforts for the (not yet in existence) Private Kansas Arts Commission.

2. Gov. Brownback and the Conservatives break out the check books and throw their clout/celebrity behind the same fund raising effort.

According to the annual report form the Kansas Arts Commission (here) the total expenditures in 2010 fiscal year were $2,181,965.

If both sides of this argument took this insane opportunity to reach across the aisle and actually solve a problem, raising that money would not be an issue, raising more money than that would be easily achieved, in a time when every other States Art Commission is preparing to face cuts... we could have the Art Commission that went out and kicked ass and increased its reach and created more success stories.

Please note: I am not saying "The artsy left wingers need to suck it up and raise the money themselves". I think its imperative that the conservatives step up and join the fight to have the best Arts Commission in the USA.


1. I want our Arts commission to have a $2.5 million budget the first year it is private.

2. Gov. Brownback is proposing giving $200,000 to ease the transition.

3. I haven't heard a single complaint about current staff so I propose we just keep them and the Board. So administrative costs remain the same... we will have $318,035 extra to give to programs.

4. With the States $200,000 we need to raise $2.3 million.

5. I think there would be 10 people statewide who would cough $10,000 - Gov. Brownback and his staff should commit to help finding these people, if both sides worked together on this... I guarantee it's doable.

6. I think there would be 50 people statewide who would give $5,000 - again the Gov. and his people could really assist in finding these donors, with cooperation, again a very easy task.

7. We are at $350,000 --- $1,950,000 to go.

8. I think its completely realistic to get 100 people to give $1,000 - anyone think any of this is impossible if the Arts Community and the Governors office cooperate on a fund-raising campaign across the entire state.

9. I think we could get 5,000 people to give $100.00. (I can afford this, so we only need 4,999!)

10. We are down to $1.35 Million we need.

11. Divide that last figure by $50 a year and we need 27,000 Art Lovers and Fiscally Conservative Republicans to commit to $50.

Think we as Kansans could do it....? I do... I think we could grow the reach of our Arts Commission if both sides jumped in and helped out... even if it was for different reasons.

I am not happy that we are in a situation that leads us to consider eliminating our Publicly Funded Arts Commission... I just don't wanna be an Art Lover that sits back and bitches about it or points fingers, and I don't want to be a Fiscal Conservative that is naive enough to think that Funding the Arts is not a worthwhile effort.




  1. Cody, I don't like the idea of cutting the KS Arts Commission, but really don't like the State spending out it's ass.

    Thanks for posting your POV with your thoughts on a solution (these are rarely appear together).

    I agree that Kansans could come together and get it done privately. Had a similar discussion with some Art loving folks the other day. The value of Art is intrinsic enough that I think enough support (read: $$) could be mustered up to fund the Arts with private money indefinitely.

    The key would be convincing folks to stop relying on the Government to provide certain services for the people (not all services, but just the "extracurriculars"). It's difficult to accept that the our Government may not always be there for us.

  2. Thanks for the thoughts Cody. In a tight economic climate, arts seem like a "no brainer" when it comes to things to cut. However, it's important to remember that the KAC is the agency of record to receive federal arts funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and and regional funds from the Mid-America Arts Alliance. Without a state agency like KAC, those funds will be distributed to other states. Kansans lose on the state, regional, and federal fronts.

    The KAC's budget has been evaporating for the past few years as the purse strings have tightened and the amount of direct financial support they provide to local arts organizations has diminished. I know of no arts organization that relies on a KAC grant for the bulk of their income. It typically gives these organizations a little bit of breathing room. However, they use those funds as leverage in other fundraising efforts. KAC support means a lot when you're going to others asking for money. It's a sign that you've been recognized for what you do by your peers.

    If the KAC becomes a private nonprofit they will now be in competition for donors with the nonprofits they once supported. And while the KAC has a great deal of respect, a campaign on the level that you propose takes time to gear up and execute - particularly when it's an agency that doesn't have the infrastructure to raise money in this way or at this level. The bulk of the KAC's focus would shift from serving communities and Kansans to raising money to stay afloat - it's a reality that many, many nonprofits face today.

    I read a great blog post about this yesterday (check for the link on my Twitter feed) and the writer pointed out that states continue to preserve their natural resources in this economy. They feel it's important to protect their wildlife and parks to insure the quality of life for their citizens. Gov. Brownback mentioned this area specifically in the State of the State address. The writer then pointed out that cultural resources are also important to our quality of life, and thus worth our investment and protection. I agree.

  3. Marc,

    I agree 100%.I also feel best way to stop getting folks to rely on Gov. for things that might not always be there from Gov. is to step out and show them it can be done with out them.


    While I think all your points are valid, I have some discussion points on them.

    1. Making claims that we are gonna lose Federal "Arts" dollars when the Fed Debt has more zeros than I can type... is not a good stance to me. We need to have a plan when the Feds follow suit and eliminate their Art funding as well... it is coming. I would rather we be ready for it and not expecting to get it at all.

    2. I don't honestly think the KAC being private would mean any less prestige when getting funds from it... if the right folks got excited that it was private... it could be better... I could be wrong here... just giving my opinion.

    3. KAC is currently and always has been actively fund raising. they are already in competition with other orgs. I can also tell you there are a lot of folks with money that don't give to orgs like KAC because they feel they are being asked to give twice because their tax dollars already go these orgs. You may not agree with that mindset and in fact I don't agree with it... but lotsa folks feel that way.

    On your last point Andrea... The Gov. is cutting tourism and Wildlife and Parks and forcing them to combine and become more efficient.

    Wildlife and Parks also only draws 9% of its budget from the Kansas General Fund... not to mention there is a Law Enforcment issue there... I dont think its Apples to Apples.

    I think Art is just as important in all regards as Wildlife and Parks and if Art funds are cut than Wildlife and Parks funds should be cut... but I don't think Wildlife and Parks could be 100% run privately and i think Art possibly could.

  4. Bad idea Brownback. You throw out $564,000 in Kansas Arts Commission funds you also throw out $564,000 in federal National Endowment for the Arts funds that match it. Dumb business sense, that is a break even proposition. The arts activities that this tiny $564k spending addresses is seed money. It is a fraction of what is put in by arts non profits, artists & citizens for each of the dollars coming from the St Of KS. The crime here is that the Kansas Corporation Commission has allowed millions of dollars in secret contracts with industry giving away millions of dollars in tax revenues, fractional energy rate charges and subsidies to special interests who deplete our ground water and pollute our air. Just so you, John Q. Public understand how insignificant your interests are be sure to understand the joy for life that the arts bring to your children ARE NOT on the public agenda in Kansas. However, you ARE PAYING the taxes that big industry and big energy is not paying to the State of Kansas. Now I ask you WHY YOU DON'T STAND UP AND ASK BROWNBACK TO HOLD THESE INDUSTRIES ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE TAX MONEY THEY DID NOT PAY THE JOBS AND BUSINESS THEY DO NOT GIVE TO KANSAS.

  5. Anonymous,

    Spending $564,000 when you have a $550 million deficit, just to get someone else that has a trillion dollar deficit to also spend $564,000 ... Is as far from a "break even proposition" or good business as it could possibly be.

    Its not ever wise to spend money you don't have just because someone else does something to try and make it make sense... Heard of the little sub-prime mortgage incident?

    As far as your rant about tax-breaks... Bring specifics or let's stay on topic... I agree some tax breaks for corporations have been frivolous and ridiculous... Others have lead to huge economic benefits for all of us. Not sure how any of it applies to whether or not we could save Art Funding in Kansas with private dollars???

    Sincerely though.. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  6. Cody, are these 30,000 some people making donations to fund the Arts the same ones donating or paying money to fix the school system as you suggested several months/years ago on facebook? Or the same ones donating money to the parks as you suggested? If everyone has to donate money to fund everything (on a progressive scale no less), why don't we do it more efficiently through taxation, and prevent freeloaders from enjoying our schools, arts and parks without paying, and avoid having to raise money through donations for "boring" government functions such as roads, health inspectors, prisons and public employee salaries.

  7. Dave,

    Just an Fyi... 30k is just barely over 1% of the entire Population of Kansas. So your statement of "everyone has to donate money to fund everything" umm.... thats a bit of "extreme rhetoric" to make my idea seem dumb...huh?

    I just believe enough in the good of some people that if the Government would leave it alone... they would come through and make it work privately. Make it work better. I believe more than 1% of Kansans would step up. I also believe corporate sponsorships would be easier to obtain... possibly drastically reducing the number of personal donations needed.

    Right or wrong there are a lot of people in Kansas that if you reduce their taxes and alleviated their concerns over the State's budget woes, they would loosen up their donation purse strings.

    If we took SOME things private... wouldn't it make sense that we would have less concerns about paying for the things that you mentioned above, roads, inspectors, prisons? Maybe we could quit laying off public employees if the private sector started picking up some projects, whats wrong with that logic?

  8. It is not extreme rhetoric. The state of Kansas budget in 2010 was $14.2 BILLION. The projected deficit in 2012 is $552 million. Your Arts plan was for $2.1 million. You are asking for 30k folks to "donate" various amounts to the arts (and then pay admissions, etc. as they do currently to attend). To reduce the deficit, you would still need to come up with 250X more people (7.5 million people alone to eliminate the deficit using the same scheme).

    Wouldn't it be easier way be to simply raise taxes on the 3million folks $150 to erase the deficit (or some progressive version of an increase). Isn't that the same as having everyone in the state donate the amounts.

    As to privatizing government functions--who pays for that? Who would pay for a "private health inspector" (the fast food industry, or Tysons or would the state pay the salary through taxes. maybe the inspector could be paid for each violation he or she found.)? Who would pay for private roads (the users would pay through tolls, simply shifting money from taxes to tolls). Private prisons are still paid BY THE STATE. How does that reduce the deficit?

    And I simply don't agree that reducing taxes (increasing the deficit while you are at it) increases charitable giving. Taxes have been at historical lows nationwide for years, and I don't see a huge increase in charitable giving. What does help is charitable deductions for taxes, but if you increase that, you would than again simply increase the deficit.

    Cody, I appreciate your passion and belief in the good nature of the masses, but I feel it is not pragmatic, and a bit pollyannaish.

  9. Dave,

    Here's the reason this never actually moves forward with you... you make up shit I said and then argue against it..

    in your last comment you said

    "As to privatizing government functions--who pays for that? Who would pay for a "private health inspector" (the fast food industry, or Tysons or would the state pay the salary through taxes. maybe the inspector could be paid for each violation he or she found.)? Who would pay for private roads (the users would pay through tolls, simply shifting money from taxes to tolls). Private prisons are still paid BY THE STATE. How does that reduce the deficit? "

    In my comment before (and in every post I have ever posted on the subject...) I made it clear, I don't believe in the privatization of all Government. I DON"T THINK THE HEALTH INSPECTORS OR ROAD MAINTENANCE SHOULD BE PRIVATELY FUNDED. You win that argument... that we never had... cause we agree on it....

    I hope others comment on "Wouldn't it be easier way be to simply raise taxes on the 3million folks $150 to erase the deficit (or some progressive version of an increase). Isn't that the same as having everyone in the state donate the amounts. "

    I have never been completely opposed to taxes and understand the need for them... I just don't think its a wise move to raise them right now, I DO believe in the people and would rather they have that $150 to do with what they please.

    And seriously again with the "Everyone Donating" for them...

    I am merely contending that one program could survive and possibly even prosper if those that want it and love it... helped it survive with private donations after Gov. Brownback eliminates its funding.

    Again... if you would have read the text of the blog post... you would have seen I specifically stated, this is not a post about the budget, its not a save all, its an idea to save the Arts Commission that I think could work... or we could bicker about it, make up shit each other said, take sides based on assumptions of how the other feels and just watch the Arts Commission in Kansas fade away...

  10. You are the first person I have seen actually propose an alternative rather than fully blasting Mr. Brownback on this issue. Much of our time is spent complaining or engaged in negative rhetoric with people who disagree with us. It's refreshing to actually see someone think about the issue and come up with potential solutions. Well done.

  11. Hey Cody. Glad to see some action on CodyTalks. Let's talk about guns or drugs or religion next!

    I agree with you about the Arts Commission. It may be better off in private hands. You are right about donation levels. It is realistic to find ten people to give $10,000, twenty to give $5000, etc. It would make for a great PR story... instead of arguing about a program being cut, a bi-partisan private effort created the best Arts Commission in the world.

    My question is whether this is sustainable as a funding mechanism for a large number of government programs? I equate it to schoolkids that come to my door wanting me to buy candy bars or wrapping paper or girl scout cookies. I'm much more susceptible to helping them the first time. Maybe giving money the second time. But when I get hit up by the sixth kid in two weeks, there's no chance I'm giving them money. Same thing here. $1000 to Arts?... Yes! $500 to Animal Health Department? Sure. $200 for School for the Deaf? Ok. $100 for Forest Service? No. $50 for the Great Plains Nature Center? No. Spare a buck for the Historical Society? Leave me alone.

    Our government does a lot. Much of it isn't as sexy as Art. No doubt you could pull on some heartstrings and put together an art fund. But you can only drink from this well so many times.

    At some point, after I get hit up enough, I'm going to either disconnect my phone, or tell the people calling me on behalf of different causes that I'd rather just pay them a few thousand dollars a year and let them spend the money how they see fit. Better yet, I'd suggest that those wanting to decide how to spend the money go through some type of public vetting process.

    It's also worth pointing out that you say that the problem with government run programs is that they are inefficient and wasteful. However, in the case of the Arts, you "haven't heard a single complaint about current staff so [you] propose we just keep them and the Board." All you want to change is their funding source. Same amount of money (or more), same people running the program, different people giving them money.

    If this is the case, your post simply comes down to "I don't think we should force people to give money to government programs (that are working well), they should be able to give of their own free will (nudged with a little guilt)." This isn't a sustainable policy. Many government programs aren't sexy, and if people stop giving due to donation fatigue, we're in trouble. I think you have to view taxes as a "baseline of giving" that allow you have peace of mind that certain shit works. I don't really care what the Long Term Care Ombudsman does (nor would I be prone to contribute $100 to that office if solicited), but I trust our elected officials that she is necessary.

    Reasonable people can disagree on which programs are worthy of government funding. So you don't think the Arts Commission should be public? That's great. I may agree, especially if I think that you [Cody] are going to make it your mission to build up that organization. But I sure don't want to go line by line down the Kansas budget (federal too?) and think through the pros and cons of each particular program. I'd rather elect public officials that are in line with my overall philosophy on which programs are worthy and which ones aren't. Then pay a baseline amount of money per year to help fund those programs. Finally, I'll pick and choose a few that I really like, to support above and beyond the baseline yearly amount. Also, it's a pretty good idea that this baseline is more if you are rich, and less if you are poor.

    You have come up with a great plan for saving the Arts Commission. However, it's not a realistic solution for a privatized replacement or improvement on American democracy. Simply a suggestion that in one case we privately fund what was a public agency.

  12. this is not a good idea...simply put...this commission has existed for many years and i promise you if the thought turned to cutting high school football there would be a bigger uproar.

  13. Nate,

    Here we go...

    If you would read this post through... what I wrote to begin with and my responses in comments.. you would see that you can't sum this post up as "I don't think we should force people to give money to government programs (that are working well), they should be able to give of their own free will (nudged with a little guilt)."

    You can sum this post as ... I don't want the Arts in Kansas to go away... the Kansas Arts Commission as a Gov entity is looking like its going to go away..(thats was as of when I originally wrote the post, Brownback signed the order this Monday... it's pretty much gone) and I think if those of us that enjoy the Arts in Ks banded together and attacked this as something we want sustained, we could do it privately and i personally believe in this instance we could do it better.

    It's amazing how you argue the same point as Dave did in his comments even after I clearly refudiated :) Dave's points. I don't think the Gov should go away. I don't think we should have private cops... I don't think we should rely on donations for road maintenance.

    I do think that one viable option to bitching about the State not funding the Arts is to fund them privately.


    the fact that eliminating football would create a bigger uproar... that's a kick ass argument... you win.

  14. You did beat the shit out of Dave's arguments. It's undeniable!


I love the discussion in the comments.. so... GO FOR IT!

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