Big Arts News from Minnesota Citizens for the Arts


* Increase in NEA
* Arts Champion Senator Richard Cohen to Retire
* Arts All Star Awards
* Five New MCA Board Members, and
* Save the Date for Arts Advocacy Day 2020! 

Increase in NEA is Coming Thanks to Rep. McCollum

Word has just come from Washington that funding for the National Endowment for the Arts will increase by $7.25 million, with other arts wins also to be included in the budget. Note that this comes as a result of Minnesota Representative Betty McCollum’s work as Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, & Related Agencies, which oversees cultural agency budgets. Thank you to Rep. McCollum!Details from Americans for the Arts HERE.

Arts Champion Senator Richard Cohen to Retire

Our great arts champion in the Minnesota Legislature Senator Richard Cohen has announced that he will not be running for re-election next year, making 2020 his last year in the Senate. For the arts and for other issues for which Dick has been a champion, it’s not a happy situation and an unhappy day. It is a big loss to the Senate and we will need to continue to build leadership for the arts into the future. Senator Cohen has another year in his current term and at some point we will put together an opportunity to celebrate his deep history and great accomplishment in arts advocacy. (Photo: Sen. Cohen speaking with constituents at Arts Advocacy Day. Photo by Scott Streble for MCA).

Two Arts All Star Awards Given to Legislators

Two great arts advocates in the Minnesota House were recently awarded Arts All-Star Awards. Representative Ami Wazlawik received her award at the MCA Annual Meeting yesterday. She serves as Vice-Chair of the House Legacy Committee overseeing state arts funding from the Legacy Amendment.

Representative Jim Davnie received his Arts All Star Award on November 16 at an event at MacPhail Center for Music, presented by MCA Lobbyist Larry Redmond.

(Photo: Rep. Davnie meeting with constituents at Arts Advocacy Day. Photo by Scott Streble for MCA)

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts Announces 
Five New Board Members

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts announces the election of five new board members to its Board of Trustees. Joining the Board are Nicole Johnson-DeBoer, Tanya MB Gertz, Gao Hong, Michelle Kiley and Kathy Mouacheupao.

“All five of our new Board members embody the spirit of community and bring talent, expertise and energy to our work of advocating for the arts in Minnesota,” said Executive Director, Sheila Smith. “MCA’s mission is to ensure access to the arts for all Minnesotans. We work in collaboration with the legislature, Congress, and arts advocates statewide. Our new members join us at a great time, as we have just celebrated how the Arts have Given Back to Minnesota on the 10 Year Anniversary of the passage of the Legacy Amendment.”

The five new Board members will facilitate conversations with elected officials about the importance of the arts to Minnesota and encourage other advocates to get involved.

Marshall resident Nicole Johnson-DeBoer is Executive Director for the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council.  She is a former Corporate Creative Director for the Schwan Food Company and has a freelance marketing and design business. She is involved in the arts as a visual artist, graphic designer, actress, vocalist, volunteer and supporter.

Tanya MB Gertz of Saint Cloud is Executive Director of Fine Arts Programming at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. She was an Association of Performing Arts Presenters’ Leadership Fellow and Co-Chair of the 2011 Arts Midwest Conference. Passionate about the arts and their value, Gertz celebrates that they nourish community vitality, growth and connection. 

Artist Gao Hong, part of the Carleton College Music Department in Northfield, is a Chinese pipa player and composer. A graduate of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, she is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Bush Artist Fellowship and is a five-time winner of McKnight Artist Fellowships for Performing Musicians.

Michelle Kiley of Holdingford is the Executive Director of Great River Arts (GRA) in Little Falls. She is an experienced community development professional and emerging entrepreneur/public artist. She believes that creativity and ingenuity are valuable strategies which are necessary to positively impact today’s most pressing social challenges and to cultivate mindful cities. 

Kathy Mouacheupao is Executive Director of the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council located in Saint Paul which serves the 7-county metropolitan area. Prior to MRAC, Kathy served as Program Officer for Creative Placemaking with Twin Cities LISC, and was Executive Director of the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent (CHAT). She was a 2016 Roy Wilkins Fellow and 2011 Bush Leadership Fellow.
For more information about Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, visit hard data about Minnesota’s Arts and Culture sector, visit

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts is a statewide arts advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure opportunity for all people to have access to and involvement in the arts. MCA organized the arts community and lobbies the Minnesota State Legislature and Congress on issues pertaining to the nonprofit arts and conducts original research with Creative Minnesota. MCA works with over 42,000 arts advocates in Minnesota. For more information on MCA or statistics about the arts in Minnesota, please contact MCA Executive Director Sheila Smith or view or

The Legacy Amendment was passed by a statewide vote of the people of Minnesota in 2008 to dedicate a portion of the state’s sales tax to create four new funds for 1. land conservation, 2. water conservation, 3. parks and trails, and 4. arts and culture. The legislature appropriates the dollars from the Legacy Arts and Culture Fund to the Minnesota State Arts Board, Regional Arts Councils, Minnesota Historical Society and other entities to provide access to the arts and culture for all Minnesotans.

Save the Date! Arts Advocacy Day will be March 19, 2020