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Here's What The National Endowment For The Arts Pays For In Kansas And Missouri

Andrew Birgensmith
Kansas City Symphony
The Kansas City Symphony's annual free Memorial weekend concert at Union Station, called 'Celebration at the Station,' draws tens of thousands each year. This year's event received support from the NEA.

The day before Donald Trump's presidential inauguration, reports surfaced that his administration might cut funding for, or eliminate, federal arts agencies.

"Not this again," read a Washington Post headline, in a nod to late-1980s and 1990s calls by conservative legislators to cut the National Endowment for the Arts' budget.

The Trump administration is considering federal spending reductions of $10.5 trillion over the next decade. If it follows a blueprint published by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, the NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities could be on the chopping block. There's also talk of privatizing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides funding for public television and radio stations including KCUR. 

According to The Post, cuts to federal arts agencies could trim about $296 million from the federal government's budget, "saving taxpayers little but sending a symbolic message about the importance of small government." A recent Time article broke it down: The CPB's budget of $445 million costs $1.37 per American; the budgets of the NEA and the NEH are both nearly $150 million, a cost of $.046 per American. 

Trump is expected to present the administration's budget for fiscal year 2018 at a joint session of Congress on February 28.

Credit courtesy Des Moines Metro Opera
courtesy Des Moines Metro Opera
The Lyric Opera of Kansas City received NEA funding for its production of 'Dead Man Walking.' Other area recipients in May of 2016: American Jazz Museum, Charlotte Street Foundation, Children's Mercy Hospital, City of Kansas City, Missouri, Kansas City Artists Coalition, Lawrence Arts Center, Lied Center, M-AAA, and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Here's how the elimination of the NEA might affect Kansas and Missouri:

In December, the arts agency announced its first major round of funding for fiscal year 2017 (the first since a previous round in May that awarded $2,364,000 for 15 projects in Missouri and $741,600 for four projects in Kansas). 

The December list totaled more than $30 million for projects around the country — including $110,000 for six projects in Kansas, and $540,000 for 27 projects in Missouri. The NEA grants pay for things such as exhibits, performances, publications, or artist residencies. 

In Kansas, the recent round of funding includes a concert and residency for a string quartet in Hesston, and support for an exhibition on the plant kingdom at the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

In Missouri, some of the grants will go to a new collaborative public art project in rural Eminence and to programming for homeless youth and adults at ReStart, Inc. in Kansas City. 

Credit University of Kansas
University of Kansas
A screengrab from a KU video demonstrating the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument, or AUMI, with an iPad. The tool can be used by people with physical disabilities to make music. NEA funding will support a week-long workshop for people with limited mobility.


  • Chamber Music At The Barn, Inc., Maize (guest artist Quartet San Francisco): $10,000
  • Hesston College, Hesston (concert and residency by string quartet Sybarite 5): $10,000
  • William Inge Center for the Arts, Independence (playwright residencies): $10,000
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan (artists and scientists collaborate on printmaking through chemical innovation): $20,000
  • Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence (exhibition "Big Botany: Conversations with the Plant World"): $25,000
  • University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc., Lawrence (Adaptive Use Musical Instrument activities for people with limited mobility): $35,000

Credit Sharon Gottula
Hadara Bar-Nadav, an associate professor of English at UMKC, received a $25,000 creative writing fellowship for poetry from the NEA.


  • Black Archives of Mid-America, Kansas City (Mbembe Milton Smith poetry series): $10,000
  • Opojaz, Inc., St. Louis (magazine "Boulevard"): $10,000
  • Cinema St. Louis, St. Louis (26th St. Louis International Film Festival): $10,000
  • Coterie Theatre, Kansas City (production of "Hana's Suitcase"): $10,000
  • Curators of the University of Missouri at Columbia, Columbia ("The Missouri Review" in print, electronic and audio formats): $10,000
  • Eminence Area Arts Council, Eminence (public art project): $10,000
  • Kansas City Symphony, Kansas City (Celebration at the Station): $10,000
  • Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City (Free Stages Festival): $10,000
  • Metro Theater Company, St. Louis (production and tour of "Out of the Box"): $10,000
  • Spire Chamber Ensemble, Kansas City (performance project): $10,000
  • St. Louis Children's Choirs, St. Louis (performance and community engagement project): $10,000
  • St. Louis Classical Guitar Society, St. Louis (Classical Guitar Education Initiative): $10,000
  • ReStart, Inc., Kansas City (arts programming to homeless youth and adults): $15,000
  • Webster University, St. Louis (Community Musical School): $15,000
  • Dance St. Louis, St. Louis (New Dance Horizons and Spring to Dance Festival): $20,000
  • Historic Kansas City Foundation, Kansas City (design guidelines for 18th and Vine Historic District): $20,000
  • Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City ("Director's Choice" spring production) : $20,000
  • Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Kansas City (Origin: KC New Works Festival): $20,000
  • Hadara Bar-Nadav, Kansas City (creative writing fellowship): $25,000
  • Ted Mathys, St. Louis (creative writing fellowship): $25,000
  • Kathryn Nuernberger, Columbia (creative writing fellowship): $25,000
  • The Luminary, St. Louis (international artist-in-residence program): $25,000
  • St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis (exhibition "Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade"): $30,000
  • Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City (exhibition "Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today"): $40,000
  • St. Louis Symphony, St. Louis (performances of "The Gospel According to the Other Mary"): $40,000
  • Center for Creative Arts (COCA), St. Louis (dance outreach): $45,000
  • Ragtag Film Society, Columbia (14th True/False Film Fest): $55,000 

**For more information, the NEA offers an online search about grants awarded since 1998 where you can search by city, state, by individual or organization, as well as other criteria.  

This post was updated to include information about additional NEA funding awarded in 2016.

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @lauraspencer.

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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