TOPEKA, Kan. - When Oliver Cromwell finally defeated Charles I of England in 1649, Cromwell ushered in a Puritan state. All theaters of the realm were closed, and Cromwell banned any gaming, card playing, or sports because he viewed them as immoral and a distraction from the important task of contemplating God. The people were to focus on leading a pure life to make their way to heaven.
The people quickly discovered just how bland, boring and unsatisfying a life without the arts were, and at the end of Cromwell's rule, the public was more than ready to restore the Stuart Monarchy and enjoy the theater again.
In the spirit of Oliver Cromwell, Governor Brownback has decided the arts are expendable in a time of state budget concerns. I can't help but wonder if behind this cost savings measure there isn't another motive. After all, the arts are infamous for promoting randy and immoral lifestyles as well as indoctrinating the public with dangerous liberal ideas therefore, how convenient to call for cutting the arts to save the Kansas budget.
As many editorials and letters have already stated, this move to cut the arts has serious ramifications for the state's economic well being. Brownback has called for cutting 1.6 million in state funding for public radio and TV as well as privatizing the arts by cutting the Kansas Arts Commission's state funding from $815.000 to $200.000 to help the commission flip from being a public organization to a not-for-profit organization.
Kansas also stands to achieve another first. If Brownback eliminates the Kansas Arts Commission, Kansas becomes the first state in the nation to abolish quasi-government support for the arts. Brownback's plan has the additional snowball of affect of disqualifying the state of Kansas access to federal matching funds of $778.300 as well as jeopardizing money from the multi-state organization called the Mid-America Alliance that amounts to $437,000.
We all know what this means. The arts will have to scrape for every dollar among private donors and those dollars are shrinking fast as more and more organizations are hitting up the same people who have limited dollars and resources in these difficult times. The arts in Kansas may shrink to the point that we will be asking our local neighborhood associations to put plays together for the community or hosting galleries of our children's precious art since crayons and notebook paper may be the only thing affordable left to promote the arts in Kansas.
If every Kansan would send twenty-five cents to Governor Brownback, that's about how much it costs per taxpayer to keep the arts funded in Kansas. I think the citizens are more than ready to even pay a small tax increase if it will save our schools, our social services and yes, the arts. Everyone is more than able to understand a few more dollars from our own personal accounts is worth every penny if it saves the very programs that make such a difference in the quality of our lives as Kansans.