TOPEKA — Gov. Sam Brownback signed an executive order Monday abolishing the Kansas Arts Commission and replacing it with a private, nonprofit organization.
The move will save the cash-strapped state nearly $600,000 a year, but it has upset some arts advocates who worry about eroding support for the arts and art education.
“Our state faces a nearly $500 million budget shortfall,” Brownback, a Republican, said before signing the order. “Let’s do all we can to protect the core functions of government.”
The Arts Commission funnels state and federal arts grants to local organizations, artists and art education programs. Starting July 1, the nonprofit Arts Foundation will seek private funds.
Brownback wants Kansas to spend $200,000 next year to assist the foundation, and he said additional funding in future years is a possibility. He appointed nine Kansans to lead the foundation.
The executive order takes effect July 1 unless lawmakers vote to overturn it within 60 days.
Arts Commission Chairman Henry Schwaller said he has already discussed that possibility with legislators.
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