Politics & Government

Kentucky Arts Council not eliminated in Bevin’s budget

My Morning Jacket members Jim James, Tom Blankenship and Patrick Hallahan accept the national award with Kentucky Arts Council vice-chair Everett McCorvey. The 2014 Governor's Awards in the Arts, an annual event presented by the Kentucky Arts Council, were Oct. 9, 2014, in the Rotunda of the Kentucky State Capitol Building in Frankfort, Ky.
My Morning Jacket members Jim James, Tom Blankenship and Patrick Hallahan accept the national award with Kentucky Arts Council vice-chair Everett McCorvey. The 2014 Governor's Awards in the Arts, an annual event presented by the Kentucky Arts Council, were Oct. 9, 2014, in the Rotunda of the Kentucky State Capitol Building in Frankfort, Ky. Herald-Leader

The widely feared elimination of funding for the Kentucky Arts Council in Gov. Matt Bevin’s budget did not materialize Tuesday night.

Under Bevin’s plan, the arts agency would see its General Fund appropriation drop from $2,796,200 in the current fiscal year to $2,625,700 in the fiscal year that starts July 1. Bevin’s overall proposal seeks to reduce spending on “nonessential” services by 9 percent over the next two years.

The arts council distributes funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, allocates funds to artists and groups across the commonwealth, and presents programs such as Kentucky Crafted: The Market.

“As I’m looking at the budget, I am pleasantly surprised and I am delighted that the governor is as supportive of the arts community as this budget indicates,” board chairwoman Mary Michael Corbett said Tuesday night. “We look forward to working with his administration to advance the good work of the Kentucky Arts Council.”

A rumor that the council would be cut from Bevin’s first budget spread quickly through the arts community last week. While it was never established as more than a rumor, the threat was taken seriously by many, including LexArts president and CEO Ellen A. “Nan” Plummer, who called an emergency “State of the Arts” meeting for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at LexArts headquarters.

“I am glad to have been wrong,” Plummer said Tuesday night. “I can’t say I am grateful for a cut, but I’m glad the catastrophe did not happen.”

She did see a positive in the attention the rumor created.

“Now we have this new energy for advocacy,” Plummer said, noting the Wednesday meeting would be held as planned. “What we lack in angry energy we may gain in optimism that we are connected as a large group to make a positive change for the arts.”

Noting that the Kentucky Arts Council has seen a 34 percent reduction in state funding since 2007, Plummer said stakeholders in the arts needed to make the case that the creative areas should not keep taking cuts.

Note: This story has been altered from its original version to correct Plummer’s last quote.

Rich Copley: 859-231-3217, @LexGoKY

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