Sheila Smith steps down from statewide arts advocacy group after 25 years of leadership
MINNEAPOLIS — December 29, 2020 — Sheila Smith, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA), announces her retirement from the organization, after 25 years. She will step down at the end of February 2021.
During Smith’s tenure, MCA, considered the strongest arts advocacy group in the United States, has grown support for the arts across Minnesota. In 2008 it helped create and pass the Legacy Amendment, tripling arts funding in Minnesota and kicking off an arts renaissance statewide to support access to the arts in every community. As director, Smith developed Creative Minnesota, a collaboration of statewide foundations and arts-supporting organizations to gather and analyze hard data to use for advocacy, education and policymaking.
“I am very proud of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts and I’m leaving it in great hands. We’ve educated thousands of arts advocates from all over the state to work with elected officials to support legislation that in turn supports Minnesota’s arts. Our annual Arts Advocacy Day at the Capitol in St. Paul has grown exponentially —we now typically have more than 1000 people from across Minnesota speaking with their legislators about the importance of continued arts funding,” says Sheila Smith, executive director, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts. “For several years I have been thinking about 25 years as my moment to step back, and now that it’s here, I know it’s the right time for new leadership. I will fully support the transition — and I know the hard-working, supportive and wonderful MCA board will forge new paths for our arts community with the next executive director.”
“We are so grateful for Sheila’s incredible stewardship — she leaves MCA financially strong and poised for new growth in arts advocacy. Minnesota’s unique arts funding means we will attract top candidates from around the country to take MCA to the next level,” says Mary Ann Aufderheide, board co-chair, MCA.
“Sheila leaves a tremendous legacy — a safe harbor for the arts in our state for many years to come,” adds MCA board co-chair Ross Willits. “Our board is putting a plan in place and will embark on a thoughtful search process to find the right leader for the next 25 years — and beyond.”
“Thanks to Sheila for her work and support of Minnesota’s nonprofit arts community. Under Sheila’s leadership MCA has built one of the best infrastructures for the arts in the country, and every Minnesota resident benefits from the organization’s mission, vision and hard work,” says Leslie LeCuyer, executive director, Central Minnesota Arts Board and Member of the MCA Board of Directors. “During Sheila’s tenure, our arts organizations have seen positive economic impact, an unparalleled breadth and depth of activity, unmatched quality and an increase in access to the arts on every level across the state.”
The mission of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts is to ensure access to the arts for all Minnesotans. MCA supports Minnesota’s arts community by lobbying the legislature and Congress on behalf of the nonprofit arts and artists. MCA strengthens our cultural community by achieving arts-friendly policy and by creating original research that can be used in advocating for the arts. For more, visit www.artsmn.org and www.creativeMN.org.
See more in the Minneapolis Star Tribune