Kansans show their passion for arts endeavors in state.
Whether it's music, drama, artwork or other creative endeavors, the arts matter in communities.
A solid turnout for the recent Garden City Arts Garden Party — an important fundraiser for the Garden City Arts organization — was one sign of the public's interest in helping local arts initiatives thrive.
About 40 more people attended the event this year than last, a welcome development for an organization that operates The ArtsCenter on Main and depends on the event for about one-fifth of its annual budget.
Such shows of support became all the more necessary in Kansas after Gov. Sam Brownback slashed funding for arts.
With his 2011 veto of the Kansas Arts Commission's entire $689,000 budget, Brownback also made the state the focus of unwanted attention nationwide, as Kansas became the first state to eliminate arts funding.
The budget cuts not only threatened community theater productions, art shows and other endeavors — as well as arts-related jobs — it also cost Kansas another $1.3 million in funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and a regional arts alliance.
While those matching funds reached every county in Kansas, Brownback wrongly figured private contributions could make up the difference.
Instead, we saw how painful the lost funds were in rural parts of Kansas in particular that already have fewer arts options.
Earlier this year, the Garden City Arts board had to discuss possible closure of the ArtsCenter on Main due to financial issues, namely state budget cuts. And such popular events as the annual Tumbleweed Festival lost funds used for necessary expenses.
Supporters of the arts loudly denounced Brownback's assault on the arts.
Realizing the negative political fallout, the governor finally recommended restoring $700,000 in funding for the next fiscal year. But it will be at least a year before federal and regional matching funds return to the state.
Meanwhile, consider turnout at the recent Garden City Arts Garden Party and other well-attended arts activities a testament to their value to Kansans.
Brownback and other elected officials should take note of such passion before making rash decisions regarding spending cuts that end up doing more harm than good.