Supporters of The Kansas Arts Commission contend that Gov. Sam Brownback's proposal to eliminate funding for the commission and prompt it to become a nonprofit organization will hurt the state's economy and cost people jobs — a contention that the governor strongly rejects.


 Supporters of The Kansas Arts Commission contend that Gov. Sam Brownback's proposal to eliminate funding for the commission and prompt it to become a nonprofit organization will hurt the state's economy and cost people jobs — a contention that the governor strongly rejects.

The Republican governor said eliminating the commission would save the state $574,000 in the next fiscal year. He proposed giving the commission $200,000 in the next fiscal year to aid its transition to a nonprofit corporation supported by private funds. He said the state cannot afford to fund the commission while it faces a $550 million budget shortfall in the next fiscal year.

The Arts Commission believes the move would cost the state $778,300 in funding from the National Endowment for the Art, and $437,767 in partnership money from the Mid-America Arts Alliance.

And it would cost jobs and tax revenue, as well as making it more difficult for Kansas businesses to attract employees when the economy improves, commission executive director Llewellyn Crain told The Wichita Eagle on Wednesday.

But Brownback told House Republicans during a Wednesday caucus meeting that his proposal won't cost the Arts Commission its federal funding. What will change is that the state will no longer be hiring and paying the Arts Council's employees.

"We're still going to get the federal match," he said. "We're just not going to have our cost structure internally."

The commission gives money, mostly in small amounts, to arts organizations across the state. The grants are used for such things as museum exhibits and fine-arts performances, as well as to cover operating expenses for many organizations.

After Brownback made the proposal last week, supporters of the arts met with legislators to make their case that Brownback's proposal "is not wise, and is not good business for the state of Kansas," Crain said.

The state's nonprofit arts and cultural sector is a $153.5 million industry, supporting more than 4,000 full-time equivalent jobs and generating more than $15 million in state and local government tax revenues, the commission said.