Arts Alert: Thank You and Farewell!

Thank You and Farewell:
A Letter from Our Executive Director

The last twenty-five years at MCA have been a time of great excitement and growth. When I joined in 1996, I had no idea I’d be with MCA for 25 years. What we have accomplished together is something we can all be proud of.

I am inspired and motivated by you—our arts community. Your personal stories inspire me every single day. Working on behalf of Minnesota’s arts community has been one of my life’s greatest honors.

As arts funding has grown I’ve seen Minnesota’s artists, supported by grants from the MSAB/RAC system, create amazing things that linger in my mind for years. I’ve seen arts organizations evolve and create amazing arts experiences for Minnesotans. I have seen each successive wave of new artistic leadership contribute more and more to the complex and amazing ecosystem of the arts in Minnesota.

As for MCA itself, in the last 25 years many thousands of Minnesotans have learned how to advocate for the arts. Arts Advocacy Days have grown from 150 to 1000 people. Creative Minnesota was developed with many partners to provide hard data about the arts economy. Together we passed the Legacy Amendment that ensures dedicated funding for the arts and the environment for 25 years. Most importantly, $563 million dollars have been appropriatedto the arts during my tenure at MCA with the bipartisan help and leadership of Minnesota’s legislators. This investment by the people of Minnesota gives so much back to our community.

You’ve trusted, supported, and partnered with us as we’ve taken bold leaps and achieved some audacious goals—such as the Legacy Amendment. MCA is just getting started. I have no doubt that there are more great things to come.

I feel extremely thankful to so many people who helped along the way to make MCA the successful organization it is today, including thousands of volunteers. This organization has benefited from the leadership of an amazing board of directors. There is one person with whom I have worked the closest: Mark Albers. I want to thank him for being the quiet foundation behind MCA’s ability to create change in the world with his creativity, diligence and respect for the people and the mission of MCA. I’d also like to thank MCA’s long time lobbyist Larry Redmond who has taken the arts community’s success at the capitol as his personal mission. And it’s been a pleasure to work with all the previous staff that contributed to the success of MCA.

While the Board’s search for a new Executive Director has already begun, MCA will be led by former MCA Board Chair Jennifer Halcrow as Interim Director, enabling for a smooth and successful transition. MCA is well-positioned to meet the opportunities and challenges of being a statewide and national leader in arts advocacy into the future.

Please continue to support MCA by donatingsigning up for Arts Alerts, or responding to Thank you and Take Action! when needed.

The future of funding for the arts is in your hands.

Thank you for the opportunity and pleasure of working with you all. I hope our paths will cross again soon!

Sheila Smith

 My favorite photo:
Arts Advocacy Day 2017, with 1000 Arts Advocates: