arts alert: Gov. Pawlenty Proposes Cutting the Arts by Nearly 50%

MCA
Minnesota Citizens for the Arts

2233 University Ave. W. #355
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-251-0868 fax 651-917-3561
staff at mncitizensforthearts.org
www.mncitizensforthearts.org
Arts Action Center

January 27, 2009

1. Gov. Pawlenty Proposes Cutting Arts by Nearly 50%

2. A Note on the Amendment Funds

3. Sign up Now! Arts Advocacy Day Feb. 24, 2009

4. Sen. Richard Cohen on List of Potential NEA Leaders

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1. Gov. Pawlenty Proposes Cutting Arts by Nearly 50%

Gov. Pawlenty today announced a nearly 50 percent cut to the arts as part of a package of budget changes intended to balance the state’s budget. A cut of this size would be devastating to an already reduced state arts budget. In 2003, the Governor proposed cutting 40% of arts funding, and we spent all that session fighting to reduce the cut to 32%. In subsequent sessions, we had managed to restore a small part of that funding. With this cut, the Governor is proposing to slash funding even lower than the arts had after losing a third of the funding in 2003.

The state currently appropriates $10.2 million to the State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils, which go out in grants and services to all 87 Minnesota counties. The cuts would reduce that to $6.9M for 2010, and then only $3.4M for 2011. Another confusing angle in his budget recommendation is to turn the Minnesota State Arts Board, a state agency, into a “private non-profit,” showing no state dollars going to the board after 2011. We can’t tell what the point of that is, as it seems that the MSAB would still be largely spending public dollars. Such an action may conflict with the accountability and transparancy of the use of tax dollars.

In addition, while he shows revenue to the Amendment Arts and Culture Fund, he does not spend it. The Governor needs to explain how cutting this much funding from the Minnesota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils is NOT replacing one with the other. The Amendment says, “the dedicated money … must supplement traditional sources of funding for these purposes and may not be used as a substitute.” It may be that his intention is to replace current General Fund spending on the arts with Amendment dollars, but the budget does not seem to show that, except that the Arts Board is the only entity listed on the spending side of the Arts and Culture Fund budget, and there are zeroes in that column. It doesn’t really make sense. We will continue to analyze the budget and get out more information as it becomes available.

The mood at the Capitol is dark. The deficit is huge, at $5B and rising, we don’t know yet if and when federal stimulus dollars might arrive. The Governor is looking exclusively at cuts and shifts (pushing off paying bills by a year or two) to balance the budget. It is expected that eventually someone will propose tax increases of some kind to help balance the budget and reduce the size of cuts across the system, but that may be months away.

We thought last year was going to be the biggest year for arts advocacy in Minnesota history. Apparently, we were wrong! This year is even tougher. The Governor’s budget proposal flies in the face of the clear message sent by voters in the passage of the Amendment: that we want MORE investment in the arts and culture, not less. To then additionally propose privatizing the State Arts Board is the opposite of the intent of voters. The state must spend the Amendment Arts and Culture fund on the arts and culture. The Minnesota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils, which make sure arts funding reaches all 87 counties through their grants and services, is a natural and accountable conduit for much of that funding.

It is expected that this will be a very tough fight, and we need everyone’s help to make sure that arts funding for the next two years isn’t slashed. That is why it’s important for YOU to attend Arts Advocacy Day on Feb. 24. We’ve shown by passage of the Amendment that by working together we can do great things. See below for more details.

Sheila Smith
Executive Director

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2. A Note on the Amendment Funds

On election day, Minnesotans approved a once in a lifetime investment in the arts. Passage of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment is expected to create anywhere from $40 to $50 million annually to support the arts, arts access, arts education and history. Unfortunately, these resources won’t be available for a while, perhaps not until late 2010 or 2011. The new tiny increase in the state sales tax doesn’t start until July, 2009, and then the funds raised by the tax will need to accumulate in the new Arts and Culture Fund before they can be spent. Also, with the contracting economy, the measure is expected to raise less funds than earlier estimates, although those estimates are a moving target right now.

The Amendment will be sorted out in the House Cultural and Outdoors Resources Finance Division, chaired by Rep. Mary Murphy, as well as Sen. David Tomassoni’s Economic Development and Housing Division in the Senate. Our position is that the legislature should, as we have been discussing for several years, appropriate at least 50% of the new resources from the amendment to the Minnesota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils, so that it does indeed reach every MN county and is not diverted to some other, unknown purpose. This will be another major goal on Arts Advocacy Day on Feb. 24.

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3. Sign Up Now! Arts Advocacy Day is Feb. 24, 2009

Join us at the Capitol on Feb. 24 for another fun Arts Advocacy Day. Last year arts advocates got to watch history in the making as both the House and Senate pass the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment on to Minnesota voters. Who knows what amazing things will happen this year?

Watch a video about Arts Advocacy Day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZPqXDYM5zU

The day starts early at 8:00 a.m. at the Minnesota History Center with a First Timers Orientation, followed at 8:30 by the rally, general orientation and mass photo of attendees. By 9:30 we are sorting ourselves into teams by legislative district, and, led by an experienced Team Leader, march up to the Capitol for individual meetings with legislators.

Previous participants have reported that the best things about Arts Advocacy Day is the chance to hang out with 400 artists and arts advocates who agree with them, and to feel like they have had a part in making the world a better place for the arts.

SIGN UP TODAY AT: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=LuTifG9UsbZ0R18HmcJAsA_3d_3d Sign up deadline is Feb. 20.

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4. Sen. Richard Cohen on List of Potential NEA Leaders

Yesterday in the New York Times, arts advocate extraordinaire Sen. Richard Cohen of St. Paul was listed as one of the people the new administration is considering as the new head of the NEA. It’s nice to see one of our greatest Minnesota friends being considered for this important post.

You can read the complete article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/26/arts/26nea.html?_r=1&ref=arts

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ABOUT: MCA is a nonpartisan statewide arts advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure opportunity for all people to have access to and involvement in the arts. MCA organizes the arts community and lobbies the Minnesota State Legislature and Congress on issues pertaining to the nonprofit arts. If you are interested in learning more about how to advocate for the arts, or how to activate people in your arts organization or community to lobby for the arts, please call us at 651-251-0868 or e-mail staff at mncitizensforthearts.org. State arts funding supports access to the arts for all Minnesotans. The state-funded Minnesota State Arts Board and eleven Regional Arts Councils provide grants and services in every Minnesota county for artists, arts organizations, arts projects and school artist residencies. For more information on regional or state grants, go to www.arts.state.mn.us/racs/index.htm.

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