arts alerts: Take Action! Virtual Arts Advocacy Day is Monday, April 13

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

April 10 , 2009

1. TAKE ACTION: VIRTUAL ARTS ADVOCACY DAY IS MONDAY APRIL 13

2. First Arts Stimulus Grants Made

3. Amazing Speech on the Importance of the Arts by Wynton Marsalis Now Online

4. Arts Organizations and Artists Included in National Service Bill

5. Arts Education Threatened by “Mandate Reduction” Bill

6. Help For Artists Affected By Floods Available from CERF

7. Arts Issues Background, Updated

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1. TAKE ACTION: VIRTUAL ARTS ADVOCACY DAY IS MONDAY APRIL 13

NEW! Win a T-Shirt for participating in Virtual Arts Advocacy Day. Everyone who sends a letter to their legislators using MCA’s Desktop Lobbyist between April 1 and April 13 is eligible to win a free Arts Advocate T-Shirt. Winners will be announced on April 14.

What’s a Virtual Arts Advocacy Day?
On April 13, you can be a part of a rally for the arts, all on-line! No fuss, no muss! You don’t have to go to the Capitol, take time off work, get dressed up, or spend all day. All you have to do is go to our Desktop Lobbyist on or before April 13, 2009 to send letters to your legislators asking them to support the arts.

What’s Our Goal?
Our goal is to generate at least 1000 more emails to legislators by the end of the day, highlighting the importance of the arts to Minnesota. Legislators will have to sit up and take notice.

What’s Our Message?
Our message is that the arts are important to Minnesota, and we want legislators to “minimize cuts to arts funding” and to “dedicate at least 50% of the Amendment’s Arts and Culture Fund to the existing Minnesota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Council system.” Hearings on both of these issues will be going on in April – we have only two weeks to make our message heard. Passage of these initiatives could double or triple resources for the arts in Minnesota and increase access to the arts for all Minnesotans!

Who Should Participate?
Anyone who cares about the future of the arts in Minnesota.

How Do I Do It?
Go on-line anytime between 7:00 am and 5:00 pm on April 13 (or before!) and use our Desktop Lobbyist to send your message. Then, forward this alert to your friends and encourage them to join in. If we all take just five minutes on April 13, we can make a difference for the arts.

How Else Can I Help?
Starting today, forward this alert to as many friends, organizations and artists as you can, and encourage them to be a part of the Virtual Rally for the Arts. For this Virtual Rally to succeed, we’ll need the help and participation of friends of the arts from all over the state. Thank you for your help!

So far over 1800 letters to legislators have now been sent protesting Gov. Pawlenty’s proposal to cut the arts by 50 percent, and eventual elimination of the State Arts Board after 2011, as part of a package of budget changes intended to balance the state’s budget. 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. We are also very strongly asking that at least 50% of the Arts and Culture Fund from the Amendment that we passed be appropriated to the Minnesota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils so that it gets to every corner of the state.

Be a part of the action: Send a letter to your legislator today saying you want them to protect the arts. You can do it in 5 minutes with our simple Arts Action Center. We give you talking points and set it up, all you have to do is enter your name and address and the letter will go automatically to the right elected officials.

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2. First Arts Stimulus Grants Made

The National Endowment for the Arts has made the first round of grants from the stimulus package of $50 million to preserve jobs in the arts. $19.8 million in one-time grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) were made to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations to support the arts sector of the economy. $316,200 was awarded to the Minnesota State Arts Board to be re-granted in the state, and $514,400 will go to Arts Midwest to be re-granted in the states that it serves.

The funds are “to be distributed in direct grants to fund arts projects and activities which preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn.” Grants will be made to arts organizations in two paths. Organizations can apply to both programs, but can receive grants from only one.

1. 60% of the funds will go directly from the NEA to arts organizations. To qualify, the organization must have received a grant from the NEA in the last 4 years. Organizations can apply for $25,000 or $50,000. The application deadline has passed for these one-time grants. Go to: http://www.nea.gov/recovery/nea-recovery-programs.html to see the application and description of the process.

2. 40% of the funds will go to state and regional organizations to be re-granted locally. The MSAB has now $316,200 to spend on one-time re-granting. At this point, the MSAB has not set up the process for getting out these grants. It is expected, however, that the process will be undertaken after the NEA has made it’s grant decisions, and those NEA grantees will then be disqualified from receiving a state level grant from recovery funds. Once a process is established, it will be posted at: http://www.arts.state.mn.us/.

3. Arts Midwest has also been awarded some funds for re-granting. They have decided to coordinate with the Minnesota State Arts Board to stream-line a combined grantmaking process. Website: http://www.artsmidwest.org/news.

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3. Amazing Speech on the Importance of the Arts by Wynton Marsalis Now Online

Wynton Marsalis on March 30 in Washington DC delivered the “Nancy Hanks Lecture” on arts policy to arts advocates from around the country who had gathered for national Arts Advocacy Day. It was truly amazing combination of music, philosophy, and history that culminated in an extended standing ovation from the crowd, and Wynton brought to tears. Watch it on Americans for the Arts’ website at: http://www.artsusa.org/events/2009/aad/nhl09.asp

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4. Arts Organizations and Artists Included in National Service Bill

The Senator Edward M. Kennedy Serve-America Act, passed by both houses of Congress, includes the listing of a new Musician and Artist Corps as under the Education Corps which may conduct such activities as “providing skilled musicians and artists to promote greater community unity through the use of music and arts education and engagement through work in low-income communities, and education, health care, and therapeutic settings, and other work in the public domain with citizens of all ages.” The new provisions expand national and community service programs, tripling the number of AmeriCorps service volunteers from 75,000 to 250,000.

Many details remain to be finalized around this eligible program, but the legislative door has now been opened for the arts to be fully recognized as a valuable partner for national service programs. The new authority to include provisions for support of artists in the national service program responds to a campaign pledge made by President Obama to create an “Artists Corps” of young artists trained to work in low-income schools and their communities. Passage of the national service legislation to support nonprofit organizations in working with community volunteers has been a high priority for the new president.

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5. Arts Education Threatened by “Mandate Reduction” Bill

You’d think that legislators would have better things to do than ruin arts education opportunities for Minnesota’s students. But no, bad ideas seem to abound. The latest outrage is a “mandate reduction bill” that would reduce required arts offerings in Minnesota’s schools. Is the goal to make education stronger, provide more education opportunities, any positive outcome? No. The goal is merely to spend less money on arts education.

The “House Mandate Reduction Bill” (HF 920) would cut the number of arts courses schools are required to offer. High schools would only be required to offer courses in one arts area – music or dance or visual art or theatre or media arts. Elementary and middle schools would only be required to offer two. We are asking legislators to support the Senate language in the Mandate Reduction Bill (SF 672 and 1396), because it doesn’t include these cuts. Keep arts education strong in the schools. Go to MCA’s Arts Action Center and ask legislators to do the right thing for arts education.

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6. Help For Artists Affected By Floods Available from CERF

The Craft Emergency Relief Fund is working to reach artists, arts organizations and businesses in the regions of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota threatened by flooding, as well as to other art organizations in these states with at least a statewide scope. We hope you and your loved ones are able to avoid loss from the flooding and we wish those who have suffered loss a quick recovery. CERF would like to make sure that any professional craft artist who may have been seriously affected by the flooding is aware of the disaster relief assistance available from CERF.

If, as a craft artist, you have suffered loss, please contact us when able. If, as an arts organization representative, you know of craft artists in the areas hardest hit by the flooding, or plan to correspond with your artist constituents in the near future, please pass this information on. If there are organizations that directly work with artists in your community that you think we should know about, please send us their contact information.

CERF\\’s programs include:

  • Grants up to $1,500;
  • Loans up to $8,000;
  • Booth fee waivers at craft shows;
  • Discounts on materials and equipment from suppliers and manufacturers;
  • Assistance with business development through referrals to consultants and other low or no-cost resources;
  • Disaster forums to facilitate craft community disaster preparedness and recovery.

For eligibility requirements and more detailed information, please contact: Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF), PO Box 838, Montpelier, VT 05601, ph: (802) 229-2306, fx: (802) 223-6484, les@craftemergency.org, www.craftemergency.org

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7. Arts Issues Background, Updated**:

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. The amendment also says these new resources should not be a substitute for traditional sources of funding. Unfortunately, the new money won’t be available for a while, perhaps not until late 2010 or 2011. (The new tiny increase in the state sales tax, created by the Amendment, 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).

The Amendment’s details will be sorted out in the Minnesota 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, this legislative session, which ends in May. The state has a huge deficit. Just like he has done before, the Governor has proposed cutting the Minnesota State Arts Board (MSAB) and Regional Arts Councils by 50% over the next two years, and then eliminating the MSAB completely after that. This is contrary to the wishes of the voters who passed the amendment by 56% – a higher percentage vote than that received by President Obama in Minnesota. Minnesotans want MORE investments in the arts and culture, not less.

** MCA is delighted to announce that all of the calls and letters we have generated to Minnesota’s legislators are beginning to have their effect. On Monday, Rep. Murphy’s Cultural passed a bill to reduce the Governor’s proposed 50% cut to the arts to 7.8%. Considering the context of the state’s massive deficit, this would be a very reasonable outcome for the arts. We should soon hear the Senate’s position on arts funding also, which will then be negotiated between the House and Senate in a conference committee. The final outcome will not be for months, but this is a very good first step! The seperate decisions on how the legislature will spend the revenues of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment are not expected for several weeks. Therefore, now is the perfect time to make your voice heard. So join us on line for Virtual Arts Advocacy Day on April 13, info. is above.

MCA had a huge role in the Vote Yes! campaign to pass the amendment. 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 through their grants and services and is not diverted to some other, unknown purpose. We also oppose eliminating the Minnesota State Arts Board or turning it into a private, non-profit, as it will largely be spending public dollars and should remain in the highly accountable, transparent public system.

Check out two great videos from Arts Advocacy Day Held February 24, 2009:

Here’s a video of highlights from the Arts Advocacy Day kickoff rally on MN Stories by Chuck Olsen:
http://www.mnstories.com/video/376/Arts-Adcovacy-Day

…and a 3 Minute Egg arts show by Matt Peiken with interviews of attendees and some footage of meetings with legislators:
http://www.mnstories.com/video/374/3-MINUTE-EGG-Arts-Advocacy-Day

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