Members of Shiftspace Gallery speak at SGA public forum against the proposed budget cut


Nithin Nagapur

Senators listen to speakers during public forum at the student senate meeting on March 30, 2022.

Members of Shiftspace Gallery spoke during public forum at the Student Government Association to speak against the gallery’s proposed 65.8% budget cut. 

Shiftspace Gallery, a downtown student-run art gallery, received the large decrease in the student fees proposal. If the proposal gets passed by the student senate and signed by the president, it would cut the gallery’s manager position and just be enough to pay the gallery’s rent.

Graduate student Lydia Humphreys said this would send a harmful message to artists.

“It would increase the workload for any student who did decide to participate, and because of this, that reinforces the narrative, as well, that artists are supposed to work for free,” Humphreys said.

ShiftSpace gallery’s request was debated heavily after questioning its Registered Student Organization status. However, while many student organizations can develop through Shiftspace, the gallery as a whole is not an RSO

Seven people spoke regarding Shiftspace. Not only did members of shiftspace speak at the meeting, but also Wichita community members.

Lindsay Benacka, director of arts and culture for the city of Wichita, read a prepared statement on behalf of the Wichita Arts Council.

“The gallery has [a] significant impact on students and the community at large,” Benacka said. “Hands-on opportunities for students to learn how to curate, market,  program and exhibit artwork are instrumental to the education and professional development of WSU students.”

Benacka said that because Shiftspace is not a non-profit, that really limits their options on where to request funding.

“Shiftspace is not a nonprofit,” Benacka said. “It is really a student organization From WSU, so they would not be able to apply to funding that exists elsewhere in the community … Shiftspace is a special place but that’s where they look to the student body to fund it appropriately.”

During the discussion about the allocation of the student services fee, Senator Bastian asked where Treasurer James thought the funding for Shiftspace could come from if they subsidized it from another line item.  He said that the only place he could see that happening was Varsity Esports.

During the discussion period, Senator Thompson made a motion to pull Shiftspace and for the remaining funding not approved from their initial request to come for reserves from this fiscal year. 

“This organization was described as a nexus, as unique, innovative, collaborative … I believe this organization should be fully funded to their request,” Thompson said.

Senator Chandrasekaran said he agreed with this sentiment, but felt it would be an irresponsible choice. 

“Taking it out of the reserves kicks the problem to the next session to solve,” Chandrasekaran said.

Senator Kirk also spoke in negation, saying that from the students he has talked to, none of them knew that Shiftspace even existed.

“Every single department, every single area needs to be able to not just rely on student fees,” Kirk said.  “I am not saying that Shiftspace itself is inadequate nor am I saying that Shiftspace itself is not important to campus.”

After a vote, the student senate will be discussing Shiftspace’s funding next week to come to a final decision about the student fees bill.