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Potential Elimination Of City Funding Impacts Arts Community


Kansas City, MO – Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser released the City Manager's preliminary budget last week. The city faces an 85 million dollar budget shortfall and the proposal suggests deep cuts and ways to generate money. Some of those cuts include a decrease in funding for the arts and cultural attractions, as KCUR's Laura Spencer reports.

The city budget proposal includes reduced support for the American Jazz Museum, Liberty Memorial, and the Kansas City Zoo. It also suggests eliminating funding ($80,000) for the ArtsKC Fund. In 2008, the fund distributed more than $600,000 to the arts community, from large arts organizations like the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to artist-initiated projects. David Oliver is a board member of the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City, which administers the fund.

"The amount of money that the city has contributed in the past has been very important to us," says Oliver. "It is not a large percentage of our overall budget. But from a symbolic standpoint for having the city participate in the Arts KC Fund, it's very meaningful to us. So that's what we would be looking for is trying to keep that going."

Oliver says the ArtsKC Fund follows a United Way model, through workplace giving campaigns, and Kansas City's support has encouraged other municipalities to invest.

In February and March, the proposed budget will be discussed at public hearings and council meetings. A final budget for 2009-2010 must be approved by the City Council by late March to take effect in May. Laura Spencer, KCUR News.

According to officials at the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City: "85% of the city funds are regranted through the ArtsKC Fund to support arts programming throughout the community, with most of it going to a broad range of organizations of all sizes and a small percentage supporting projects by individual artists. The elimination of all city funding is a blow to the arts community at large."

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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