arts alert: Arts Are Best Use of Taxpayer Money

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 27, 2009

 

1. City Pages Says State Arts Board "Best Use of Taxpayer Money"

2. Amendment Decisions Coming This Week

3. Advocates Send over 3000 Letters to Legislature!

4. Best Districts for Arts Education Identified

5. Arts Issues Background – Updated

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1. City Pages Says State Arts Board "Best Use of Taxpayer Money"

In this week’s "Best Of" City Pages declares the Minnesota State Arts Board the "Best Use of Taxpayer Money." Here’s why:

"When the economy gets tough, it’s easy to target programs that advocate and support the "frivolous" – be it the environment, the outdoors, or the arts. Yet as Minnesotans showed last year in voting for the Legacy Amendment – promising more tax money to be support those things – life without them would be poorer indeed. The Arts Board sits at the front lines, supporting tons of worthy artists and organizations each year. That can take many forms, such as the recent statewide Poetry Out Loud competition, which ended with student finalists performing at the Fitzgerald Theater. In fact, a number of programs target school-age artists, including artist residencies. In a time when schools are cutting activities and arts courses left and right, the board, now under the direction of Sue Gens, provides a glimmer of hope – as long as it isn’t another victim of budget-cutting, as the governor has threatened."

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2. Amendment Decisions Coming This Week

Our legislative committees are gearing up to announce their recommendations on how the Clean Water, Land and Legacy amendment funds should be spent. We should hear from both the House and Senate committees within a week. We are meeting with the members of both committees to make sure they are clear that the arts are requesting at least 50% of the new funds available from the amendment, in addition to regular arts funding.

These two committees have already made their recommendations on regular arts funding, and those other bills are headed for a conference committee that will be meeting shortly. Both sides are proposing to reduce Gov. Pawlenty’s 50% cut to the arts to 7.8% in the House and 10% in the Senate.

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3. Advocates Send over 3000 Letters to Legislature!

Our successes so far this session in protecting the arts are due to all of the arts advocates to have been sending calls and letters to legislators. We hit the 3000 mark this weekend! It’s not too late to 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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4. Best Districts for Arts Education Identified

The NAMM Foundation announced the results of its tenth annual “Best Communities for Music Education” survey, which acknowledges schools and districts across the U.S. for their commitment and support of music education in schools. As the economy challenges state and local school budgets to adequately support education, the 124 school districts named by the NAMM Foundation demonstrate the unwavering commitment to provide music education for their students.

This year’s roster of musical schools represents 21 states with a record amount of communities from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas. A total of 29 communities are new to the roster. Which Minnesota schools made the list? Just three:

  • District 279 – Osseo Area Schools in Maple Grove
  • Milaca School District #912 in Milaca
  • Rosemount High School-Rosemount-Apple Valley School District

The NAMM Foundation’s mission is to ensure that all children have access to quality music education programs that encourage lifelong participation in music making. In conducting the annual survey, the NAMM Foundation is joined by advisory organizations in the fields of music and education including, Americans for the Arts (www.americansforthearts.org), League of American Orchestras (www.americanorchestras.org), The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation (www.mhopus.org), The Metropolitan Opera Guild (www.operaed.org), Music for All (www.musicforall.org), Music Teachers National Association (www.mtna.org), National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts (www.nationalguild.org), National PTA (www.pta.org), Yamaha Corporation of America (www.yamaha.com) and VH1 Save The Music Foundation (www.vh1savethemusic.com). The survey was conducted by The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service of Lawrence, KS, an affiliate of the University of Kansas.

The complete list of “Best Communities” is listed here – http://www.namm.org/news/press-releases/nationwide-survey-finds-best-communities-music-edu .

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5. 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. Rep. Murphy’s House committee passed a bill to reduce the Governor’s proposed 50% cut to the arts to 7.8%. Now Sen. Tommasoni’s Senate committee for their part has recommended the cut be reduced to 10%. The final outcome should be somewhere in between those two numbers, as long as there are no other major shifts in the state’s deficit problem. Considering the context of the state’s massive deficit, this would be a very reasonable outcome for the arts.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. Send your legislators a letter at the Arts Action Center.

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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Everything MCA does is made possible by our passionate and committed members. Join Today on MCA’s secure web site at: mncitizensforthearts.org/join/membership/individual-memberships/

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ABOUT: MCA is a nonpartisan 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 staff at mncitizensforthearts.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 www.arts.state.mn.us/racs/index.htm.