Funding for Wichita State’s ShiftSpace Art Gallery is in doubt


Groover Labs’ ShiftSpace art gallery in Old Town could lose two-thirds of its funding this week.

The Student Gallery is part of Wichita State University and receives funding through the tuition process. The process allocates millions of dollars collected in fees each year to student groups and organizations.

With the cut, the space could lose its part-time gallerist and students for at least three years. This is the first year that the tuition fees committee has begun its staggered review cyclethe organizations being assured of funding for three years.

“The way we run helps these students build a relationship with the community, which is … very important because you’re learning how to be an artist, as you’re trying to establish yourself,” said Lydia Humphreys, graduate student at WSU and ShiftSpace. President.

According to Student Government Treasurer Zachary James, part of the problem with funding ShiftSpace is whether the gallery is a Registered Student Organization (RSO) because its organizational status has expired.

RSOs are no longer eligible to go through the tuition fee process, but may go through a separate credit allocation process.

“As a committee, we had to make the decision because we weren’t getting clear answers. [during the student fees process]and we decided they were more of an RSO than anything and therefore would not be eligible for the tuition fee process,” James said.

As Treasurer, James is also Chair of the Tuition Committee.

The gallery hosts several student art exhibitions and community events. Currently, the gallery features artwork by seniors from the School of Art, Design & Creative Industries Bachelor of Fine Arts program in studio art.

According to the students who work at Shiftspace, the elimination of the post of director would create even more work – and not pay – for them to organize art exhibitions.

“It’s not fair to ask people to work for free,” Humphreys said.

Student worker Zoey Hayes started working at the gallery earlier this year. Although she is a transfer student in medical laboratory science, she said she works at the gallery as a social and creative outlet.

“It’s been a real benefit to my life,” Hayes said. “Something that I can walk away from…chemistry and microbiology and get into, ‘Ooh, I can hang art on the wall and talk to other people about art.'”

Without pay, Hayes said, she would have to quit.

“It’s my second job,” she said. “I can’t afford to do artistic stuff without getting paid.”

Kristin Beal is the gallery manager. Eliminating his position due to funding cuts could also eliminate mentorship opportunities for students.

“That person serves as the larger link between the students and the community, but also a mentor who teaches so many different things that are on-the-job skills that you don’t learn in the classroom,” Humphreys said.

“In class, you learn… how to make art. Here you learn how to sell your art, show your art, manage your social media, do PR…community stuff, like I even learned grant writing within ShiftSpace.

Senior Devin Carter echoed that sentiment.

“Last semester…I applied for a scholarship that the class teacher told us to…go past him first,” he said. “But I was confident enough in my grant-writing skills not to go overboard, I just went ahead and did it anyway, and ended up getting money from Art Advocates to do a community art project in Pretty Prairie.

“These skills that I acquired were thanks to ShiftSpace.”

Devin Carter currently has artwork hanging at ShiftSpace Art Gallery as part of its senior showcase. The work depicts his experience with religion.

At a student government meeting last week, some senators suggested the gallery find other ways to fundraise, including taking commissions from artists who sell their work in the space.

“We don’t want to take money from students trying to sell their art, it’s just, I mean, they work really hard,” Humphreys said, “and we want them to have the full reward of that. experience. “

A petition in support of full funding, the gallery has more than 400 signatures, according to Humphreys.

A final vote on gallery funding is scheduled for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Rhatigan Student Center.

Student government officials will vote to either cut the gallery’s funding for the next three years or keep its full request of $67,445 for one year from about half a million dollars in reserve funding.

“It’s not going to be a permanent solution to their problem,” James said of the reserve funding.

ShiftSpace students said they would be open to finding other ways to fundraise.

“But we need time to do that without completely disbanding the organization, which this reduction would really do,” Humphreys said.


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