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Gov. Sam Brownback is trying to cut all funding to the Kansas Arts Commission. He seems to want to put a complete end to publicly funded art and replace it with corporate funded art.
He has already announced that its five employees will lose their jobs, according to The Wichita Eagle. Brownback has made no effort to hide his plans to completely de-fund public art in Kansas.
The Kansas legislature, both the house and senate are dominated by Republicans and many are in agreement with Brownback. However some would like to designate $689,000 in the next budget to keep the commission alive, but Brownback is expected to line-item veto that proposal.
Brownback wants to replace the KAC with a non-profit foundation financed by private donations. Such donations often come from corporations who want their logo on everything.
The US is flooded with corporate funding, which usually shows up as corporate logo or name on items somewhere. We just got a new arena in Wichita and it is named after a bank because that bank gave the city some money for the privilege of getting that name on the building.
Traditional art, which goes back to ancient civilizations, is disappearing from the US and most of our artistic talents now go to commercial enterprises and corporate logos. Italy has the Sistine Chapel, and as a friend pointed out, the US has golden arches. Andy Warhol became an important artist by showing us what our culture really looks like. It is obsessed with movie stars and corporate labels.
We need public art to allow our own unique culture to develop without economic interference. This is one place where corporations don’t belong. Ants, bees and termites build structures for them to live in. Termites build mounds that resemble small buildings. None of these insects have art, despite their well organized societies. We are not insects and art separates us from the purely utilitarian nature of such bugs.