Late last week, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback line item vetoed appropriations for the Kansas Arts Commission in the 2012 state budget. KAC staff has already been given pink slips. Unless the Legislature over-rides this veto, which is not likely based on what I’ve read, Kansas will be the first state to eliminate its state arts agency since the inception of these offices in every state in the late 60’s.
I am furious. Is it too much to ask the greatest nation on earth to encourage learning in the arts and make it accessible to every child throughout their K-12 public education, taught by arts specialists and respected by decision-makers as a means to a creative life, workforce and engaged learner? Here’s the string of events that started the firestorm in my head last week:
The issue of new business models is a topic with which I am losing patience. To me it’s a “red herring” actually, when we should be discussing new product delivery models that engage more audiences, both young and old, utilize technologies and update the organizational structures and attitudes that may have worked forty years ago but are not working today. These are huge issues of leadership, boards of directors, management, community relevance and understanding audience trends.
By the year 2030, there will be 78 million Americans over the age of 65. This is a staggering statistic for several service sectors like health, housing, recreation and the arts.
(3-29-2011) It’s easy to be cynical these days. The news is filled with disasters that keep me awake at night. Our governments at every level seek quick solutions to financial crises, which almost always hurts those who can afford it least. Compassion and civility are overshadowed by a need to be on the winning team. It’s enough to make a person cynical.
(03-16-2011) “Don’t judge me” is a line that my daughter started using in high school. It usually came after ordering dessert, talking about a party or spending money on something crazy. I’ve always liked it. It’s pretty honest. Whenever she saw “that look” on my face, she would say, “don’t judge me.” This made me stop and think about why I was being critical. Was it because she was doing something differently than I would do it or was there really an issue to be discussed? In our work in the arts, we might need more voices saying, “don’t judge me.”
I spent ten days on the road in February. Traveling this country and experiencing its cultural richness is one of the benefits of my job. I was in Washington DC for the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network conference, in Detroit with MFA students in theatre at Wayne State University and in New York City at the Arts Education Roundtable conference “Face to Face.”
(02-12-2011) My dear friend Donna died last week. She was 72. She lived in Pierre, South Dakota. She was a force of nature…an actor, director, writer, community organizer and volunteer, feminist, facilitator, mediator, leader and much more. But, mostly and always, Donna was a teacher. It’s how she started her illustrious career. She spent years in the classroom where she made students feel special, especially those students who didn’t fit the small town norm.
(2-8-2011) There are two GIAs: Grantmakers in Aging and Grantmakers in the Arts. Two weeks ago, we came together to sponsor "Discovery in the Desert: Creativity and Healthy Aging," a daylong regional workshop for funders in Phoenix, AZ.
(1-31-2011) Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, stirred up emotions, which enflamed the blogosphere at a conference on new play development held at Arena Stage, Washington D.C. last week. He talked about the demand from audiences for theatre being down and the supply being up. He mentioned that small grants may be inhibiting the growth of professional theatre artists since they do little to provide a living wage.