Arts foundation to launch license plate campaign

By Jelani Yancey

Members of the Kansas Arts Foundation hope a new license plate campaign with a new slogan and a local reward will spur contributions to the arts statewide.

Linda Weis, who chairs the foundation, said the campaign’s focus will be the sale of license plates — at a cost of $100 above the normal charge — with the proceeds going to state and local arts causes. The plates are expected to be available some time in January.

The idea is not new in Kansas, which for years has allowed people paying an additional charge to purchase license plates supporting various fund-raising efforts. The foundation was created earlier this year by Gov. Sam Brownback to encourage private support for the arts when the governor eliminated state funding for the Kansas Arts Commission. It approved the license plate project at its December meeting.

The Kansas Arts Foundation voted to grant $20,000 to the Kansas Arts Commission as seed money to initiate the marketing and sale of the Kansas Arts License Plate Program. The Commission set a goal of 4,000 plates, which if met would raise $400,000.

Beyond that, the foundation agreed that one-quarter of the $100 donation — an amount that is in addition to the normal plate fee — would go to local arts organizations in the county where the plate is purchased.

The new plate was designed by Amanda Warren, a Lawrence artist. It features shocks of wheat beneath a sun and stars, and carries the slogan, “State of the arts.”

Dave Lindstrom, a member of the Kansas Arts Commission, said the new campaign is designed to do three things: build brand awareness for arts funding efforts; unify arts communities behind the campaign; and develop a new funding source for local Kansas Arts programs. He said arts organizations wishing to profit directly from the sale of the plates will be able to offer vouchers to their patrons who pay the donation. The patron will be able to take the voucher to the county treasurer at the time of license plate renewal, and the state will rebate $25 of every $100 donation back to the originating arts entity.

Although some policy issues related to the sale of the plates are still being worked out, Lindstrom said he expects those matters to be set by the end of January.

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