Republicans Eye Arts Funding


In this week's edition of Boise Weekly, reporter Andrew Crisp covered the Idaho Commission on the Arts' recent appearance before the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee.

ICA's executive director Michael Faison told lawmakers, "Creativity takes courage, and so does supporting a creative climate."

However, as Crisp reported, at least one lawmaker sees ICA's $700,000 line in the budget as a potential cut. Emmett Republican Steven Thayn has a bill, which he describes as still "under wraps," that would eliminate the ICA.

So what happens when a state eliminates its arts commission? Just ask Kansas. Last week, the Sunflower State's governor struck the state's arts-supporting agency out of its budget, becoming the first state to do so.

According to a report from the Kansas City Star:

The move trims $600,000 from the state budget, but the chairman of the arts commission says the state economy would lose $1.2 million.

Why? In the current fiscal year, the commission received $778,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts. And the Mid-America Arts Alliance, a nonprofit organization based in Kansas City whose regional partners include the arts commission, paid $400,000 directly to arts groups in Kansas.

However, state arts agencies—particularly those heavily dependent on NEA monies, like Idaho—may have an even bigger battle looming in the future. From a Jan. 25 report from The New York Times:

A group of Republican lawmakers has called for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, each of which received $167.5 million in the last federal budget. The group, called the Republican Study Committee and comprising about 165 House Republicans, also called for eliminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which got $430 million.