Arts finding ways to survive in Hays
Although the Hays Arts Council will mark its 45th anniversary Oct. 9, events throughout 2012 have served as a countdown for the anniversary.
The role of the HAC has changed throughout the years, starting with the first coffee sessions and informal meetings of the 1960s. The council now hosts an average of 15 exhibitions a year, featuring local and regional artists.
In addition, the HAC celebrates performing arts through amateur and professional collaborations, school music residencies, a summer youth art program, adult art classes, "Famous Figures" project and the creative writing contest.
A popular draw, not only for Hays residents, but also travelers from across Kansas and neighboring states, the spring and fall gallery walks draw an average of 1,000 visitors per event.
Elimination of arts funding in 2011 by Gov. Sam Brownback posed challenges for the organization. However, on June 1, Brownback signed into law a state budget that will include $700,000 for a new Creative Arts Industries Commission.
State funding for arts programs will not be available until 2013. In addition, funding for the state of Kansas from the National Endowment for the Arts, if the state qualifies, will not be possible until 2014.
As executive director Brenda Meder looks to the future of the HAC, she pointed out the organization's goal is to find methods of support and collaboration that will allow it to continue on the path that's brought it this far.
"We can't just rest on the laurels of yesterday," Meder said. "We've gotten through this, and now we have to see how we can develop other avenues and continue to stay the course, so that nobody has to lose the things we've worked so hard to get."
Arts entities in the community and their offerings include the following:
* Hays Arts Council/Hays Arts Center, 112 E. 11th -- Art gallery with year-round exhibits, including the annual Five State Photography Exhibition and the Smoky Hill Art Exhibition. Host of community gallery walks in spring, summer, fall and winter, and arts courses for adults and children.
* Fort Hays State University, 600 Park -- Moss-Thorns Gallery of Art, Encore Series, artistic exhibits, and theatrical and musical productions by students, faculty and guest artists.
* Heartland Community Theatre -- Musical and dinner theater productions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Thomas More Prep-Marian High School and Hays USD 489 schools -- annual theatrical and musical productions.