Arts, civic leadership in … Kansas?

Don’t look to Charleston to be a national leader in harnessing the power of the arts. Instead, you can look no further than — wait for it — Wichita, Kansas. Yes, this paragon of American Middleness dedicated a special tax in 2005 to support the arts every year and establish a clearinghouse process for the distribution of funds. The move won the Wichita City Council the first Governor’s Arts Award in the category of arts community. An editorial in The Wichita Eagle called the city’s decision “a bold and even brave investment in quality of life during tight budget times.” Bold, yes, but also bountiful. The tax yielded $3.2 million this year and is expected to amass another $3.6 million in 2009. That’s a lot of dance, music, theater, and visual art out there on the plains. Too bad we can’t be as bold, or even brave. —John Stoehr

Economy hurts nonprofit donations

Giving to nonprofits has dropped by 4 percent in the first quarter of 2008, according to a new study reported in Philanthropy News Digest. Conducted by Target Analytics, the survey found that since 2005, after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, a majority of the funding of nonprofit organizations has declined consistently. Ironically, revenue per donor has grown by 2.1 percent within the past year, but from January to April of this year, only 40 percent of organizations reported revenue growth. Fortunately, year-end results are expected to be better. —Caitlin Baker

No Prada for Pope

Pope Benedict XVI may not have as much fashion sense as everyone thought. It turns out that the red loafers worn by the pope are, in fact, not Prada, as rumors have stated. According to the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the pope is a “somber man” who wore a very modest black sweater on the day of his election into the papacy, so suggesting that he flaunts designer furs and loafers is absurd. Even so, his choice of attire has drawn media attention. From wearing the fur “Santa hat” that was actually a camauro, a traditional pope’s hat, three years ago during Christmas to wearing a red velvet cape trimmed in fur, it turns out that Pope Benedict XVI only does so to honor the Catholic history. What did we expect? After all, only the devil wears Prada. —Caitlin Baker

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