For artists around Kansas, there is no shortage of outlets to showcase their work. In an effort to advertise all that the state has to offer, the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission (KCAIC) also maintains a Touring Roster — which is currently accepting applications through Sept. 29.
“If you are an artist, becoming a Kansas Touring Performer helps you to be found by presenters and allows you to be considered for increased grant amounts in both the KCAIC AIP-Visiting Artist program and the Mid-America Arts Alliance Regional Touring Program,” said Peter Jasso, Director of the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission.
Local performers from The Sunflower Trio — comprised of vocalist Matthew Schloneger, violinist Rebecca Schloneger and pianist/organist Ken Rodgers (all current or former members of the Hesston College music faculty) — have been a part of the roster for more than a decade, a resource that can help build immediate recognition for artists.
"A performing artist that is new in the area has to have methods to get their name out there," said Matthew Schloneger. "For people that didn't know us, it was kind of a stamp of approval."
Helping raise an artist's profile among organizations looking to book entertainment isn't the only benefit, as Rodgers also noted it helps promote the arts in more out-of-the-way locations around the state that do not have the same ease of access as Kansas' more metropolitan areas.
When grant funds are available, Rodgers noted the KCAIC helps cover the artist fees so rural communities (like those in western Kansas) can bring in performers at a more manageable rate — and allows the artists to maximize their impact by both performing in town and providing some hands-on learning in the form of a half-day residency program in schools, workshops, etc.
"It was a great educational opportunity and allowed us the opportunity to get reimbursed a little bit for that work," Rodgers said.
Over the last few years, budgetary cuts have reduced grant funding, which has not allowed for members of The Sunflower Trio to participate as heavily in the enrichment program. While Rodgers said the group would travel three or four weekends a year after initially joining the Touring Roster, most of the trio's recent performances have remained local.
Though the same opportunities offered when the trio joined may not have been as prevalent in recent years, the Touring Roster's mission is one Rodgers still gets behind — and encourages artists of any other discipline to do the same.
"One of the things that this organization is able to do is make connections between artists and communities in a way that sometimes isn't possible otherwise," Rodgers said. "It's a wonderful opportunity to give your passions and gifts to the rest of the state. It's so fun to go into the small communities and to bring them programs that they might not have otherwise."
Schlonenger echoed that sentiment. After the budget for arts was slashed in 2011, funding has slowly been building back up under the KCAIC and he is hopeful that means more money will be dedicated to the Touring Roster program in the coming years — a program that once had its own dedicated pool of grant funds, according to Schlonenger.
Like Rodgers, he praised the inclusionary aspects — with a variety of artists on the roster — of the program for the performers and audience members alike and how that can enhance the quality of living.
"The arts is something we need as human beings and is something that makes our communities a wonderful place to live," Schloneger said.
Applicants submitting to be a part of the Touring Roster must include biographical information, a description of their act, contact information and program fees. Additionally, artists may include support materials (i.e. video/recordings of performances, marketing brochures, etc.), with all information submitted online at kansascaic.submittable.com.
Current Touring Roster artists do not need to reapply, though they are subject to re-evaluation and a panel decides upon what acts are included on the roster on an annual basis. Criteria to be an eligible act includes:
Can come from any artistic discipline (including, but not limited to: music, theater, dance, visual arts, literary, comedy, graphic novels, film, podcasting, etc.).
Should be either a Kansas-based nonprofit, individual artist, university or unincorporated/for-profit group providing arts performances and experiences.
Must have a history of touring and maintain a reasonable fee range.
Are required to perform outside their community regularly.
Must offer single performances or exhibitions, as well as complementary services, that may include workshops, master classes, lecture-demonstrations, arts education components, residencies or short performances.
For more information and to see the current Touring Roster, visit www.kansascommerce.gov/705/KS-Roster.