Thursday, August 11, 2011

press releaseContact:
Catherine Brandt
202-712-2054
cbrandt@artsusa.org

Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts, and the National Conference of State Legislatures today announced Kansas State Senator Roger Reitz as the recipient of the 2011 Public Leadership in the Arts Award for State Arts Leadership, which honors a public official who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the advancement of the arts at the state level. Senator Reitz will receive his award today at the today at the National Conference of State Legislatures Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX.

During his tenure in office, Senator Reitz has actively supported arts and arts education programs in Kansas. Upon learning Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s proposal to effectively eliminate the Kansas Arts Commission, he initiated Kansas Senate Resolution 1819, which rejected the Governor’s Executive Reorganization Order transferring the Kansas Arts Commission to another department. Further, he personally spoke with every Kansas Senator to maximize votes in favor of Resolution 1819. During the Federal and State Affairs Committee hearing in the Senate, he testified before this committee—on which he also served—and he spoke again on the Senate floor prior to the vote.

As a result of his efforts, Senator Reitz’s resolution to retain the Kansas Arts Commission passed the Kansas Senate in a bipartisan manner on March 16, 2011. He then went on to work with the Senate Appropriations Committee to appropriate $689,000 for the Arts Commission, which the Kansas House agreed to and included in the final budget for the Governor’s signature.  Despite Senator Reitz’s remarkable work on behalf of the Kansas Arts Commission, a line item veto was issued eliminating the Arts Commission’s budget making Kansas the only state without a functioning state arts agency.

“Senator Reitz has demonstrated remarkable courage and tenacity in his efforts to save funding for the Kansas Arts Commission," said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. "His advocacy for the arts in Kansas not only demonstrates his commitment to public funding for the arts but also to the people of Kansas who—had funding for the Arts Commission been saved—would have continued to benefit from the arts and the financial benefits they provide for all of the state’s communities. His actions have also served as a rallying cry for other arts advocates across the county.”

It is an honor to receive the Public Leadership in the Arts Award at the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures,” said Reitz. “The award brings attention to the value of consistent public finding for artistic education and potential exemplary performance to all parts of or great country.”

Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of more than 50 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at www.AmericansForTheArts.org.