Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sign of the Times

Last week I received an email from someone at the Kansas Arts Commission.
Dear Lacey,

It has been a pleasure to review your Mid-Career Fellowship application in recent weeks. As you know this program was created to honor artists for their achievements, to nurture artists living in Kansas through nominal financial support, and to develop a sense of pride regarding the arts in Kansas. As I’m sure you are also aware, the state of Kansas is caught in the same economic turmoil rippling across the country. In turn, the Kansas Arts Commission has been directly affected with a mid-year budget cut leaving us unable to fund the fellowship for which you have applied.

Despite this unfortunate turn of events, the Kansas Arts Commission has unanimously agreed to move forward with the Fellowship and Emerging Artist honors. We believe it is critical to honor you because your work is an indelible part of Kansas’ creative culture stimulus package, which is needed perhaps now more than ever!

The guidelines for this program stipulate that artists may receive the honor twice in any given category over the course of your career. Due to the fact that funding is not available this year, I realize you may wish to withdraw your application. That is a difficult choice to make, particularly in light of the enormous effort you have put into your application thus far. Please consider your options and let me know as soon as possible whether or not you wish to continue in the current review process. I must hear from you no later than Tuesday, January 20th, in order to move forward with the program in a timely fashion.

Thank you again for sharing your work. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours very truly,

Name Removed
Everyday, I see more ways that we are affected by our struggling economy; Friends and family are laid-off or the businesses they work for are behind on payroll, our 401K's dwindle, etc. With all that is happening, I am glad that the KAC decided not to nix the fellowship program for the year. My response was as follows:
Dear Name Removed,

I *do not* wish to withdraw my application! I agree wholeheartedly with the KAC's decision to move forward with the honors even without funding. Money is not the priority, (obviously, or else we wouldn't be artists!) and especially during these tough times do we need to be encouraged.

Thank you so much for contacting me about this, and cheers to everyone at the KAC for continuing with this program in the face of budget-cuts.

I spoke with this person on the phone, as it seemed my email was lost in cyberspace, and so was able to ask how artists in general were responding. Happily, I learned that very few artists withdrew their applications! I'm glad to hear that even without funding, we are sending a message to all that these programs are important to us as artists. I hope that during these difficult economic times, programs like this do not disappear. There must be some way for us all to come together as a community to support each other in our endeavors.

1 comment:

dugbuddy said...

This is a very stirring letter. I am proud of you and the whole community that has stayed with the program. People who are true to their evocation have deeper desires. Do not get me wrong, there is NOTHING wrong with fiscal gains from your hard work just because you love what you do. Supporting a cause in need that in return supports you back is good for all involved.