Missouri Art Funding Below National Average

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COLUMBIA - The state of Missouri is about 20% below the national average in terms of state governments funding the arts, in fiscal year 2014. The state of Missouri only spent 80 cents per person while the most of the nation spent more than a dollar.

Kyna Iman is the governmental affairs consultant for Missouri Citizens for the Arts and an art lobbyist in Missouri. Iman compared spending on the arts to buying coffee. An average three dollar cup of coffee is equal to the funding of almost four people in the arts.

"That's for the whole year! I mean, that eighty cents per person is all that the state spends. We think it's an investment really in our children's future and in our communities that if we could raise that to at least a dollar per capita that we would be higher in the national average but it is a investment in the state and it would make a tremendous difference," said Iman. "It's always a struggle to get funding for the arts... but we actually have programs in 100% of the Senate districts and over 78% of the House districts."

Those programs can include funding for "Big Yellow Bus" grants that help provide field trip opportunities to art museums, sending artists out into communities, art festivals, or some form of art education grants in schools.

One program that uses the support is Performing Arts in Children's Education, or PACE.

Board Member Linda Schust fills out grant applications for the organization.  "Last year we got 17% of our funding from grant support and I would say that more than half of that came form the Missouri Arts Council... So funding is very important."

Schust said over the past few years funding has decreased quite a bit, and acknowledged the need for the state to get back to numbers it had in 2008.

Linda Luebbering, Governor Nixon's budget director, said some decisions were made during the economic downturn, "I would say during the economic downturn funding for a lot of programs was reduced. Many programs in Missouri, as in other states, did take a reduction, arts was one of those."

The state's 2015 budget includes a funding increase for the arts. "The core budget for the arts is 4.8 million in the current year and the governors recommendation for the next fiscal year is to add another million eight for the arts so, he is recommending an increase. The 4.8-million this year is an increase over last year."

Luebbering acknowledged the arts impact on communities, "arts like other areas do contribute to economic development issues as well as the arts culture."

Lawmakers will make a final decision on the 2015 fiscal year budget in May.