Arts Alert: Election Redraws Political Landscape for Arts

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts
2233 University Ave. W. #355
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-251-0868 fax 651-917-3561
staff at

Nov. 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving from Your Friends at MCA!

1. Election Redraws Political Landscape for the Arts

2. Thank you to Retiring MCA Board Members, Welcome to New

3. Rural Arts & Culture Summit Planned for June 5 & 6

4. Mixed Results in Latest 2012 Giving Report

5. Amendment to Limit Freedom to Marry Defeated
1. Election Redraws Political Landscape for the Arts

Election Day turned out to be a surprise to almost everyone. Both constitutional amendments were defeated and the DFL gained enough seats to take control of both the House and Senate of the Minnesota Legislature. It will be the first time in 22 years for one party control over the policy and budget making functions of the State of Minnesota.

The Senate DFL has already elected Arrowhead Senator Tom Bakk (D) to be their new Majority Leader, and in the House the new Speaker will be Paul Thissen of Minneapolis (D). Both are well known arts supporters. Chairmanships of some committees have already been announced:
  • In the House, arts-friendly Chair Dean Urdahl (R) has been replaced by arts-friendly Phyllis Kahn of Minneapolis.
  • Leadership of the Legacy Committee in the Senate has not been announced, although former (arts friendly) Legacy Chair Bill Ingebrigtsen (R) has been named an Assistant Minority Leader for the Republicans.
  • Some very good news, however, is that Senator Dick Cohen (D) of St. Paul, our most enduring arts friend, has been elected to head the Senate Finance Committee.
  • Membership of the important committees which oversee arts funding have not yet been announced. We will have a better sense of the landscape before us by January, as we expect to see the committee members named by then.
Twenty Three of MCA’s Arts All Stars ran for the legislature this year, and I’m sorry to report that one of them lost, Senator John Howe (R) of Red Wing. Two previous Arts All Stars who had left the legislature are back: Rep. Ron Erhardt (Formerly (R), now (D) of Edina and Will Morgan (D) of Burnsville. However, many senior supporters of the arts from both parties retired this year. One third of the Legislature will be new. That means we have a big job of educating all of
these new members on the importance of arts funding to their districts and their constituents, and to begin building relationships. Luckily some of these relationships will be a renewal of old
friendships as a good number of them are returning to the legislature after having been out of office for a few years.

When a legislative chamber changes party hands, it’s not just leadership changes that happen across the board, it also means many new faces among the staff, and that all legislators will exchange offices. The party that gains control of the Senate moves from State Office Building up to the Capitol offices, and the party that gains control of the House moves to higher floors in the State Office Building. You can imagine the chaos.

With a multi-billion dollar deficit to fix, the legislature has a tough year ahead no matter who is in charge. This legislative session is when the state sets the arts budget for the next two years. We need to be at the capitol in strength together to make sure that we protect arts funding. Stay tuned as we begin to prepare for the legislative session which begins January 8, 2013.



2. Thank you to Retiring MCA Board Members, Welcome to New

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts held our annual meeting on November 9 at the Illusion Theatre. We thanked our three retiring board members Hal Cropp, Audrey Thayer and former MCA Board Chair (and Larry Award Winner) Craig Dunn. Their many years of service to the arts community through their terms on MCA’s board were loudly applauded. Thank you to all for your service! 

Three new members were voted onto the MCA board: Dr. Rhonda Dass of Mankato, Michael-Jon Pease of St. Paul, and Kathy Dodge of Grand Rapids. Welcome to all!


3. Rural Arts & Culture Summit Planned for June 5 & 6, 2013
Save the date!
Plans are just getting underway for the next Rural Arts & Culture Summit next June on the Campus of University of Minnesota-Morris, hosted by the Center for Small Towns. Organizing partners include the Forum of Regional Arts Councils of Minnesota, the McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board and others. Find them on Facebook:


4. State Arts Board Registration & Training Now Available for New Grants System
Planning to apply for Minnesota State Arts Board grants? They are implementing a new online WebGrants system. Registration is a new requirement of the application process, and is simple and easy to complete. You can register either as an individual artist or on behalf of your organization. To access both online registration and registration training, vist the Arts Board website:


5. Mixed Results in Latest 2012 Giving Report

The Chronicle of Philanthropy is reporting that the slow economy continued to cause fundraising challneges for most charities in the first half of the year. According to a study released by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative, giving dropped at 29% of the 770 groups in the study when compared to the first half of 2011 and was flat for another 25%. About 46% chalked up increases. Charities that increased donations were more likely than others to reach out to supporters in multiple ways such as e-mail or in-person events, to show donors results of their contributions, and to publicly acknowledge donors by listing their names or
taking other steps. The study also examined whether charities are doing a good job of keeping donors year after year. Nearly half said that 60 percent or more of donors who gave to their
organizations in 2011 have made one or more gifts in 2012.

6. Amendment to Limit Freedom to Marry Defeated
Thank you to the over 120 arts organizations and thousands of artists in Minnesota who opposed the constitutional amendment that would limit the freedom to marry.  Minnesota’s creative community thrives because of the contributions of all kinds of creative people, and MCA opposes discrimination against anyone. We are proud to have been part of the arts community’s work on this effort. 


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GRANTS: MCA is not a grantsmaker. For access to state funding, contact the Minnesota State Arts Board your local Regional Arts Council.


ABOUT: MCA is a  nonpartisan statewide arts advocacy organization whose mission is to  ensure Minnesotans have access to and involvement in the arts. MCA  organizes the arts community to lobby the Legislature and Congress on  issues important to the nonprofit arts community. If you are interested  in advocating for the arts, or want to learn how to activate people in  your arts organization or community, contact us at 651-251-0868 or  staff at