Small arts groups nationwide are feeling the pinch of recession-time cuts as state grants have dwindled. In Kansas, the state arts budget went to zero in May. Thirty-one states cut their arts budgets for the 2012 fiscal year, which began on July 1, continuing a downturn that has seen such financial aid drop 42 percent over the last decade, according to data compiled by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.
State aid accounts for a small portion of the money used to underwrite the arts, perhaps 2 to 5 percent of total expenditures, according to Americans for the Arts, a lobbying group. The hardest hit arts organizations are not the large museums or established regional theaters, but the smaller, rural organizations that don't have deep-pocketed private donors or ticket revenues for additional support.
Some groups have had their state budgets cut, which in turn causes them to lose matching National Endowment of the Arts funds.
“The positioning of arts within the public policy arena has always been tenuous,” said Bill Ivey, director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, in the New York Times. “The arts are considered an amenity — nice to fund when you have a bit extra but hard to defend when the going gets tough.”