The Playgoer: Showdown in Missouri

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Showdown in Missouri

The Kansas City Symphony is suing the state for underfunding them. Result? The Governor is threatening to cut funding. For all the arts.

Thus the governor, Republican Matt Blunt, has succeeded in turning the state's other arts org's against the symphony.

Kyna Iman, lobbyist for one of the groups, Missouri Citizens for the Arts, asked the Symphony to drop its lawsuit after a Wednesday conversation with a deputy chief of staff in the governor’s office.

Iman said the argument coming from the governor’s office is simple: Why appropriate funds that may be tied up in litigation for years?

“I wanted the Symphony to know that the message from the governor’s office is loud and clear,” Iman said.

The Symphony’s suit asserts that the General Assembly has underfunded the Missouri Cultural Trust — the Missouri Arts Council’s endowment — by more than $83 million.

Frank Byrne, the Symphony’s executive director, said the requests to drop the suit
would have to be “thoughtfully considered.”

“We take this information that’s been brought to us very seriously but I simply can’t imagine that the governor would cut all funding to the arts … especially in a year when the state is reporting a surplus of $300 million to $500 million,” Byrne said. “I cannot understand why the governor would take a stand that’s so vindictive against all the arts.”

It's called divide and conquer, Frank.

Update here on further measures taken by the MO State Senate.

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