Senate Committee Proposes $4M Arts Increase

3/20/07

1. Senate Committee Proposes $4M Arts Increase. Take Action Now

2. Arts Advocacy Day Brings 500+ to St. Paul

3. Artists Count Study Released: Available Now on Web

4. National Arts Advocacy Day: Increase in NEA funding possible

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1. Senate Committee Proposes $4M Arts Increase. Take Action Now

The pace is picking up as legislative deadlines are nearing. We have good news from the Senate, where yesterday Sen. Tomassoni’s (D-Chisholm) Economic Development Budget Division passed a budget bill that recommends increasing arts funding by $4 million! The Governor had recommended an increase of only $1 million. Sen. Scott Dibble (D-Mpls.) wisely added the Poet Laureate to the bill. The legislation now goes to the full Finance Committee and then onto the Senate floor. We have not yet heard from the Minnesota Heritage Finance Division in the House, chaired by Rep. Mike Jaros (D-Duluth), about what they will be recommending for the arts.

There are many more steps to go, and if you haven’t yet contacted your legislators about the arts on our Desktop Lobbyist, now is the time! More hearings will be happening soon, and your legislators need to hear from you.

The constitutional amendment that would dedicate sales tax revenue to the arts hasn’t moved for a week or so and there still is no House companion bill. We may see hearings on this bill scheduled soon.

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2. Arts Advocacy Day Brings 500+ to St. Paul

THANK YOU to the 500+ arts advocates who joined us at the State Capitol on March 8th. The day had a huge impact! We asked legislators to restore arts funding to at least $14 million per year, and that the arts be included in the constitutional amendment which will dedicate sales tax revenue to outdoors and the arts. From the reports that came back from legislative meetings, most legislators said they would support restoration of arts funding if the money can be found, and that, if the constitutional amendment is approved, it will definately include the arts. The question was whether or not there would be enough money to restore the arts, as we are competing against many other issues and interests. This makes it all the more important that legislators heard from advocates on Arts Advocacy Day and that they continue to hear from you via our Desktop Lobbyist.

The day started with a big rally at the MN History Center, led by all of the majority leadership in the House and Senate. Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher (D-Mpls), House Majority Leader Tony Sertich (D-Chisholm), Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller (D-Mpls), and Senate Finance Committee Chair Dick Cohen (D-St. Paul) all revved up the crowd and talked about their support for restoration of arts funding and for including the arts in the constitutional amendment.

A special award was given to MCA lobbyist Larry Redmond who has served the arts community for over thirty years. The new award will be called the “Larry Award” and will now be given by MCA annually to a non-elected official who goes above and beyond the call of duty to advocate for the arts in Minnesota. Watch this newsletter for more information on this award shortly.

Thank you to all who came and made a difference, and thank you also to everyone who has been urging legislators to support the arts on the Desktop Lobbyist. You make a difference!

We want your feedback, so please take a moment to complete our quick and easy online survey at www.mtn.org/mca. Share your experience with us and to let us know what you thought about Arts Advocacy Day.

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3. Artists Count Study Released: Available Now on Web

Also on March 8th, Artists Count: An Economic Impact Study of Minnesota Artists was released and copies delivered to all legislators. Copies are now available on our website: www.mtn.org/mca, which unfortunately has been down for most of the last week. It’s been fixed, so try again! Press reports on the study results have appeared in newspapers statewide and nationally on the web.

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4. National Arts Advocacy Day: Increase in NEA funding possible

One of the largest groups of Minnesotans ever attended National Arts Advocacy in DC last week to lobby our members of Congress to increase funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, support arts education programming, and pass the Artists Deduction Bill. (Issue briefs are available on Americans for the Arts website at http://www.artsusa.org/get_involved/advocacy/aad/handbook/2007.asp). Because of the change in party control at the federal level, and the defeat of many arts opponents, it does appear that funding for the arts at the federal level will be increased. The question is by how much.

A highlight of the day for we Minnesotans was that, at the Congressional Arts Breakfast, Americans for the Arts and the U.S. Conference of Mayors jointly presented the 2007 National Award for Congressional Arts Leadership to U.S. Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN).

Representative McCollum was selected for the Congressional Arts Leadership Award for her strong commitment to the arts. In both the 108th and 109th Congresses, she took action in support for the arts at the Congressional level including: voting to increase funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), co-sponsoring legislation allowing artists to claim a fair-market value tax deduction when donating their work to charity, supporting the reauthorization of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and asking for more funding for arts education. She is also one of three House members appointed to serve on the National Council on the Arts, which advises the NEA Chairman.

“Betty McCollum exemplifies true leadership in the arts,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “We are very pleased to honor and recognize her extraordinary dedication to advancing the arts for all Americans.”

The National Award for Congressional Arts Leadership is part of a series of Public Leadership in the Arts Awards given annually by Americans for the Arts and The United States Conference of Mayors since 1997.

“Access to the arts adds to our quality of life; and Rep. McCollum has enhanced our lives through her support of the arts. Her contributions to our nation\\’s communities are immeasurable and we honor her for her vision,” said United States Conference of Mayors President and Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer.

To send Betty a note of congratulations, you can send her an email here: www.mccollum.house.gov/index.asp?Type=NONE&SEC={AC61FD79-AD5F-440D-A7F0-555B12349E5B}

The Minnesota Team in DC this year included: Sheila Smith, ED of MCA and Minnesota Team Captain, MCA Board members Craig Dunn, VSA ED, Kathleen Hansen, Theatre Mu and U of M, John Neuchterline, ED of Am. Composers Forum, Leslie Schumacher, Chair Regional Arts Council Forum, and George Sutton, Arts Consultant, MCA staff Mark Albers and Katie Sabaka, Jeff Prauer, Executive Director of COMPAS, Jim Sitter, arts advocate, Tom Proehl, MSAB Executive Director, Sue Gens, MSAB Communications Director, Ed Oliver, MSAB Board, and his wife Charty Oliver, and Miss Minnesota Nicole Swanson. Thank you to everyone who went to DC, most at their own expense, to advocate on behalf of Minnesota’s arts community.

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MCA is a non-partisan statewide arts advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure opportunity for all people to have access to and involvement in the arts. MCA organizes the arts community and lobbies the Minnesota State Legislature and Congress on issues pertaining to the nonprofit arts. If you are interested in learning more about how to advocate for the arts, or how to activate people in your arts organization or community to lobby for the arts, please call us at 651-251-0868 or e-mail mca@mtn.org.

State arts funding supports access to the arts for all Minnesotans. The state-funded Minnesota State Arts Board and eleven Regional Arts Councils provide grants and services in every Minnesota county for artists, arts organizations, arts projects and school artist residencies. For more information on regional or state grants, go to http://www.arts.state.mn.us/racs/index.htm