Arts Advocacy Day: Frequently Asked Questions
What is Arts Advocacy Day?
What is the Schedule on Arts Advocacy Day?
What are our goals for Arts Advocacy Day?
How do MCA, the Arts Community, and the Legislature fit together?
How does the legislature work?
What happened in the last few years for the arts?
After Advocacy Day, is there anything else I can do to help?
I can’t go to Advocacy Day. Is there anything else I can do to help?
My organization wants to be involved. What can we do?
Where does state arts money go?
What are the Regional Arts Councils?
What is the Minnesota State Arts Board?
A: Arts Advocacy Day is when arts advocates come to the Minnesota State Capitol in St.Paul to visit their legislators. We work in teams, organized by MCA, and ask legislators to support the arts.
At Arts Advocacy Day, representatives of all parts of Minnesota’s extraordinary arts community come together for one day to:
1. Talk about the arts
2. Make new friends
3. Educate our legislators about the importance of the arts to Minnesota
Each year, there are representatives from small rural choirs and suburban community theaters, presenters and big organizations, museums and art centers of all sizes, painters, tenors, dancers, cellists, french horn players, arts administrators and YOU joining together for this big day.
Past participants have enthusiastically reported two things about Advocacy Day:
First, they feel empowered by gathering together with like-minded people. In 2003, one thousand arts advocates attended Arts Advocacy Day!
Second, they say that Arts Advocacy Day is the best arts networking event of the year. This is the only time that arts lovers of all kinds gather together in one place. Through this big day, we show what a strong, vital arts community we have in Minnesota. Participation in events like Arts Advocacy Day has led to significant increases in state arts funding, including 1997′s $12 million Arts Initiative, for which the unified voice of the arts community was critical to our success.
On Arts Advocacy Day, we are out in full force to say “Please support state arts funding!”
A: The Advocacy Day Schedule is as follows:
Park and meet at THE MINNESOTA HISTORY CENTER
8:00 to 8:30 am: Advocacy Class for New Attendees: History Center Auditorium
8:00 to 8:30 am: Registration & Coffee (if not attending the class.): History Center Auditorium
8:30 to 9:30 am: Advocacy Seminar & Join Your Team: History Center Auditorium
(We strongly urge you to attend this seminar for an up-to-the-minute view of thelegislative session. You need to attend this session in order to join up with your team at the History Center!)
9:30 to 10:00 am: Walk/Ride to the State Capitol
10:00 to 1:00 pm: Legislator Appointments Home Base at the State Capitol
A: Our goals are threefold:
1.We’re here to ask legislators personally to support arts funding.
2.We’re here to educate legislators about arts activities in their district.
3.We’re here to give a face to the arts in each legislator’s district.
A: At MCA, Everyone gets involved and works together:
Forming the agenda
Serving on the board
MCA connects arts folks to their legislators, and watches action at the Capitol so we can tell our members what’s happening, who to call, and what the issues are. We also talk directly with legislators as bills move through the Legislature. Arts Advocates from all over the state talk to their legislators about the arts and why they should vote with us.
Legislators vote on arts issues knowing that their constituents believe the arts are important.
A: There are several steps:
A. The Legislators and the Governor work hard to make friends in their districts, raise money for their campaigns, and get elected. It’s important that arts folks get involved in the campaigns of both parties so even more legislators will be our friends. The Legislature has a Senate (67 members) and a House of Representatives (134 members). You live in the district of one Senator and one Representative.
B. There are a lot of issues to be discussed and voted on each year, so the House and Senate split up into committees, just like most nonprofit boards do, to get most of their work done. The Chairs of the committees have the most power, so MCA works to educate the Chairs about the arts.
C. During the legislative session, the state’s budget is split into pieces and sent to the committees for discussion and votes, including the arts budget. We pay most attention to the committee that gets the arts. (The budget making process takes place in odd numbered years; 2003, 2005, 2007, etc.).
D. In both the House and Senate, once committees decide how much money they will spend, they send their piece to the floor where the whole Legislature can vote on it. This is another good time to call or write.
E. The Senate and House then have to agree with each other in a conference committee how the final bill will read. MCA tries to help them to agree on a high amount for the arts.
F. When the Legislature is done, the budget goes to the Governor to sign. MCA works to educate the Governor about the arts so he won’t veto the budget. When the budget is signed, we are finished. The money goes to the Minnesota State Arts Board and eleven Regional Arts Councils, who together make grants all over the state for the arts.
Responding to the importance of the arts and culture to Minnesota’s quality of life, economy, and education system, Governor Carlson proposed an increase of arts funding statewide of $12 million over two years (the state budgets on a two-year cycle). MCA organized a huge grassroots effort to pass the increase by coordinating the efforts of our many friends and constituent organizations. We also benefited from the help of many legislators, including Sen. Richard Cohen.
People from every part of Minnesota and every type of arts organization played a part in getting the Initiative passed. The new funds went for arts activities in every Minnesota county through grants from the MN State Arts Board (MSAB) and Regional Arts Councils (RACs).
Newly elected Governor Ventura recommended stable funding for the arts, retaining the increase we had achieved in 1997. However, in the newly Republican controlled House, Rep. Phil Krinkie recommended cutting the arts budget by 50%. Rep. Jim Rhodes, a member of the House committee, wanted to offer an amendment to restore full funding to the arts. But to be successful, he needed a majority vote of 6 out of 10 committee members.
MCA went into high gear to activate our statewide arts advocate network. Legislators reported that your calls and letters saved the day. The huge grassroots outpouring showed a level of public support for the arts that could not be denied. On April 16, the House Committee members voted unanimously to restore the $13 million in arts funding. We should not forget that the Senate’s bill also came out with level funding for the arts, with the help of our other hero, Sen. Dick Cohen.
Various arts groups have approached the Legislature in the hopes of obtaining bonding funds to build facilities that help them serve their mission and the public. (Bonding money is borrowed by the state to build buildings and is completely different than the money that goes to the community via the MSAB and RACs). Some are successful but most are not, mostly because the Legislature is a very complicated environment, rules are stringent, and the effort can be overwhelming. MCA does not lobby for bonding requests, although we may provide advice. In 2000, of the dozen or so arts requests, only Lanesboro and the Guthrie were awarded funds. The Governor vetoed both, but his vetoes were over-ridden by an overwhelming bi-partisan majority in both houses. The veto override was a ringing endorsement for the arts across the state, and it was the first time we had a recorded vote on the arts for all legislators.
We experienced deja-vu as Rep. Krinkie again proposed cutting the arts, this time by 40%. After many heart stopping votes and scary experiences, we reached the conference committee with a $5 million cut from the House. Fortunately, Sen. Richard Cohen’s committee recommended a $1.5 million increase in arts funding, responding to the increasing need for arts support throughout the state. In the conference committee, which dragged out through a special session into June, a compromise was finally reached to leave the arts at stable funding. Again, we came very close to real cuts in the arts appropriation, despite another historic budget surplus.
In 2002 the state suddenly went into deficit. Rather than focus on bonding, legislators were forced to look at spending cuts. (They usually only deal with budgeting in odd numbered years). The Governor proposed a 10% cut to the arts, but after a long struggle we managed to keep the cuts to just 4%.
Meanwhile, a bonding bill was passed by the legislature that included money for many arts projects, (again, MCA does not lobby on bonding projects). Funded were: the Children’s Theater in Mpls., the Bloomington Arts Center, the Rochester Arts Center, the Guthrie Theatre, and Trollwood in Fargo-Moorhead. Unfortunately, all projects were vetoed by Governor Ventura.
The state’s deficit worsens – we have one of the worst per-capita deficits in the nation. Newly elected Governor Pawlenty proposes a 22% cut in arts funding at the start of session, increasing it to a 40% cut when the budget situation worsens a few months later. Rep. Bob Gunther in the House manages to find an additional $1 million for the arts, and Sen. Cohen, now Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, does what he can to find more money also, but he is unsuccessful. In the end the arts are cut by 32%. The political upheaval, in addition to the threats to the arts, spark an astonishing outpouring of activism from the arts community. A thousand people come to Arts Advocacy Day in February, overflowing the capacity of the History Center. We hold coffee parties across the state, run a phone bank out of the office that reaches over 5000 arts activists, and run a petition on the web that gathers 2000 signatures in just two weeks, among other efforts. Despite our losses at the legislature, the strength and passion of the arts community is undaunted.
The legislature reconsiders the bonding projects vetoed by Gov. Ventura, passing the Children’s Theater at $5 million, Guthrie Theatre at $25 million, and Trollwood Art Center in Moorhead at $5.5 million. New Governor Pawlenty signs the re-passed bonding bill.
During the 2004 legislative session, arts friends at the Capitol authored a bill that would have dedicated a small percentage (3/8 of one percent) of state sales tax revenue to hunting and fishing conservation, parks and environmental items, and arts and culture. The dedication would have been done via a constitutional amendment that would have had to be passed by voters in November. If passed by the voters, the bill would have increased arts funding and locked it in for the next 25 years. Unfortunately, due to wholly unrelated political issues at the Capitol, the legislature adjourned on May 16 without passing the bill.
The arts and culture funding portion of the bill originated as an amendment authored by Sen. Richard Cohen. The Senate author of the larger bill, Sen. Dallas Sams, chose to include the arts and culture items in his bill which originally only included the outdoors projects, because it appeared that the bill could gain more supporters by the inclusion of the arts. Arts advocates should thank Sen. Cohen and Sen. Sams for their hard work on this bill.
Although it failed to pass the legislature, the cultural community’s efforts advanced the bill as far as it went. Through the grassroots efforts of MCA and our sister cultural organizations, and our professional lobbying, we brought it to life, seeking to increase arts funding farther than we ever had before. In the final hours of the session we came within inches of passing this amendment. Although this time the effort failed, we put a much brighter spotlight on the deficiencies in state funding for the arts community in Minnesota. In only a month and a half, over 2000 people sent letters to their legislators using our brand new DESKTOP LOBBYIST, and over 500 new people joined our arts alert list. Our coalition grows ever stronger.
It’s another deficit year, but we prevent further arts cuts by convincing Gov. Pawlenty to recommend stable arts funding. With much encouragement by arts advocates, the legislature goes along with his recommendation.
It was a non-appropriations year but the debate on the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment dominated the session. Once again, the bill did not advance until the arts were amended onto it in the Senate. In a series of speedy committee hearings, the Senate sent it to the floor and onto a conference committee. The House took all session to catch up. The arts were amended in and out of the bill numerous times as it worked its way to the House floor, and with a dramatic amendment offered by Rep. Charron, the arts got back in to the bill. The conference committee was deadlocked on whether the funds should be dedicated from current revenues or be a part of a new tax, and the bill died.
Pushed by MCA and legislative leaders, arts funding was increased by $1.743 million to $10.336 million per year. We also added a state Poet Laureate and restored the Percent for Art program. The Statewide Smoking Ban included a provision that exempts smoking on stage as a part of a theatrical performance as long as notice is given to the audience beforehand. MCA also helped to add a provision to allow nonprofits to sell donated liquor at silent auctions. The biggest push, to pass the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, came close to succeeding when it passed by large margins in both the House and Senate and then out of conference committee. A filibuster on another issue blocked final passage of the bill, but the bill stayed alive for the next session because it was only the first year of the 2-year biennium. Majority Leaders wrote a letter with a pledge to get the bill done next session. Knowing a great campaign would be needed, MCA leaders and conservationists began organizing the Vote Yes! Campaign.
On Arts Advocacy Day, February 14th, 2008, over 500 arts advocates were at the state capitol to witness legislators pass the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment on to the people for a vote in the 2008 election. The passage of this amendment set into high gear the Vote Yes! Campaign. It was a wide-ranging coalition of artists, arts advocates, environmentalist, and outdoors enthusiasts from across the state. Over 350 nonprofit civic organizations statewide endorsed the amendment. On Election Day 2008, Fifty-six percent of Minnesotan’s voted “YES” to a constitutional amendment that would dedicate funds to the arts and the environment for the next 25 years. The passage of the amendment by such large margins affirmed that Minnesotans value a high quality of life that includes access to arts and cultural resources. MCA played a significant role in the Vote Yes! Campaign. This victory proved again that when we work together, we make great things happen for the arts and our state.
We went back to the legislature to make sure that the new funding we’ve raised would actually go to the arts as intended. The House created a com-mittee whose primary job was to sort out how the amendment funds would be spent called the Cul-tural and Outdoor Resources Finance Division, chaired by Rep. Mary Murphy. The Senate as-signed the job to the Economic Development and Housing Budget Division, chaired by Sen. David Tomassoni. Our request was that at least 50% of the Arts and Culture Fund go to the Minnesota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils, with the remainder to go to the Minnesota Historical Society and other cultural groups.
The economy is in a freefall, but it is estimated that the Arts and Culture Fund will raise $46M per year in the first few years of its existence.
The Senate committee follows through, dedicating 50% of the Arts and Culture Fund to the Minne-sota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils (MSAB and RACs). The House, however, gives only 17% of the proceeds to the MSAB and RACs, sending the new dollars hither and yon to many other interests, some of whom did not even ask for it. In the Conference Committee, led by Sen. Cohen and Sen. Tomassoni, we prevail, and 46% of the resources for the next two years go to their intended destination; $21,650,000 each year for the next two years to the MSAB and RACs.
Combined with the $8.6 million we obtained in general funds, the arts will now receive over $30M per year.
July 1, 2009 – The new amendment tax was imposed, and the four new funds for land, water, parks and arts were created.
August 15, 2009 – The new tax receipts begin to accrue in the four new funds.
Why did we again succeed in the legislative environment?
• The credit goes largely to Sen. Dick Cohen and Sen. David Tomassoni, who would not agree to the conference committee report until the resources go where they were intended.
• The committee chairs were supported by MCA sending over 4000 letters through our Desktop Lobbyist System, Arts Advocacy Day bringing nearly 800 arts people to the capitol to meet with legislators, a month-long phone banking effort, and other grassroots measures.
• It is notable that throughout all three phases of this effort, MCA has had a staff of only two or three people at any given moment. Larry Redmond again performed strongly as MCA’s lobbyist.
We will have to go back to the legislature every two years for the next 25 years to make sure than amendment resources go to where they are in-tended – to preserve and support the arts in Min-nesota. But the language of the constitutional amendment, including a sentence that the funds “must supplement traditional sources of funding for these purposes and may not be used as a substitute” giving us additional protection.
Last year the state faced another billion-dollar deficit. The Governor once again recommended cutting state arts funding by 33% in 2011 and eliminating all general fund support for the MSAB and RACs by 2013 and to “transition (the agency) to a nonprofit corporation”. We fought against those attempts and kept cuts to the arts to just 3%.
A: YES! Two simple ways you can help the cause:
1. Send a thank you letter to your legislators when you get home asking them to support the arts. Get your friends to write a short letter too.
2. Join MCA’s e-mail Arts Alert list, and find out before everyone else what is going on at the Legislature for the arts. Just e-mail MCA and ask to be added to the Arts Alert list.
A: YES! Visit MCA’s Desktop Lobbyist and contact your legislators with our quick and easy online tool. Check out the Advocacy Calendar for individuals to see what’s hot!
A: 1. Recruit people from your organization to attend Arts Advocacy Day. They can register here.
2. Check out MCA’s rules for organizational advocacy, and check our calendar to see how your organization can get involved with what’s happening right now!
A: State arts funding goes to the Regional Arts Councils (RACs) and Minnesota State Arts Board (MSAB). Between the Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils, state money reaches every single Minnesota county in grants and services, so all legislative districts benefit from these grants:
The Minnesota State Arts Board
A. Gives grants to medium and large arts organizations, individual artists and schools, series presenters, folk arts and festivals across the state.
B. Provides newsletters, artist and space directories, workshops and technical assistance to all.
The Regional Arts Councils
A. Give grants to small and medium arts organizations (generally rural), schools, libraries, cities, service organizations, community groups, individual artists, and student artists, depending upon the need of their own region.
B. Provide newsletters, artist and space directories, workshops and technical assistance to all.
A: The state is divided into eleven Regional Arts Councils (RACs) which each support a different geographic area of Minnesota. Minnesota’s RACs are unique in the nation as a model for decentralized decision-making for arts grants, programs and services. The RAC system was established in 1977 by the Minnesota Legislature in order to serve the needs of arts organizations and artists throughout the state on a grassroots level. RACs are funded primarily by the State of Minnesota, supplemented by grants from the private sector. (Contact the Forum of Regional Arts Councils through Mary Minnick-Daniels at (320) 679-4065.
A: The Minnesota State Arts Board (MSAB) is funded primarily by the State of Minnesota, supplemented by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the private sector. The MSAB is governed by eleven private citizens appointed by the Governor from all over the state to serve four year terms. As a state agency, the board sponsors a wide variety of grant programs, services and resource publications for individual artists, arts organizations and schools throughout the state. (Contact the MSAB at (651) 215-1600 or http://www.arts.state.mn.us).