Arts Alert: Arts Funding Outcome Uncertain

1. JUST LIKE SPRING, ARTS BILLS HAVEN’T YET ARRIVED

2. ARTS ADVOCATES TAKING ACTION ACROSS THE STATE

3. MCA TAKES LEADING ROLE ON NATIONAL STAGE

4. ARTS BILLS YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT

5. FREEDOM TO MARRY BILL COMING UP ANY DAY

  

1. JUST LIKE SPRING, ARTS BILLS HAVEN’T YET ARRIVED

One minute it seems that arts legislation is ready to go, and the next minute we are waiting around for something to happen. Doesn’t that just feel like Spring this year?

Below is a quick rundown on the arts issues at the Capitol, but if you only do one thing in response to this message, it should be that you use the link at the bottom to send your legislator a quick email asking them to dedicate 50% of the Arts Legacy fund to the Minnesota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils to make sure it goes where the voters intended – for arts activities in every corner of the state.

Read “Arts Bills You Should Care About” below for an update on happenings at the Capitol.

2. ARTS ADVOCATES TAKING ACTION ACROSS THE STATE

In the last two months thousands of arts advocates have taken action to help protect arts funding:

  • 700 advocates came to Arts Advocacy Day at the Capitol.
  • Over 300 advocates were part of nine coffee parties with targeted legislators in their districts, including events in Bemidji, Willmar, Winona, New Ulm, Grand Rapids, Golden Valley, Brainerd, St. Cloud and Minneapolis. Thank you to great MCA board members David Marty, Kathy Dodge, Brenda Byron, Jeff Prauer, Tony Goddard, Leslie Schumacher and Michael Robins for their help in getting these events together, in addition to dozens of others who did extraordinary work to organize these events, including Terri Widman, Cheri Buzzeo, Anne Polta, and too many more wonderful people to list!
  • And we’re not just meeting in person, participants in Virtual Arts Advocacy Day delivered over 1300 calls and letters to legislators in one day. Legislators are aware of our 50% of Arts Legacy goal and are aware that their constituents support that goal. Keep up the great work!

3. MCA TAKES LEADING ROLE ON NATIONAL STAGE

MCA organized a group of nine Minnesotans to be a part of National Arts Advocacy Day, and we met with members of congress and their staff about NEA funding. As a result of our meetings, new Congressman Rick Nolan (Duluth, CD8) joined the Arts Caucus and the STEAM Caucus, and Congressman Tim Walz (Southern MN, CD1) signed onto a letter in support of increased NEA funding, as did Sen. Al Franken. We thank them all!

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (St Paul, CD4) was the keynote speaker at Arts Advocacy Day. She joined us for dinner and was very gracious and supportive of Minnesota’s arts community and is committed as a leading Democratic member of the Interior Subcommittee which funds the NEA to get increased support for the arts:

“For those of us in Congress who believe in strong federal support for the arts, we need you here. We need your energy and your passion. Most of all, we need your determination to educate policymakers about the power of the arts in our economy, in our communities, in our schools, and in our lives.”

Read the rest of her great speech to arts advocates giving advice on how to change the minds of elected officials: http://www.mncitizensforthearts.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/McCollumRemarks.pdf

Sheila Smith, MCA’s Executive Director, was invited to testify to Congress in support of the NEA. Her testimony is now part of the Congressional Record:

“Economists are increasingly aware that when citizens gather together to create or perform the arts, they too are a catalyst for economic activity that brings people together to revitalize neighborhoods, energize businesses, and bring energy to our economy.  Through the relatively small investments made by the NEA, Congress is making possible extraordinary things all across the country.”

To read her remarks, go here: http://www.mncitizensforthearts.org/.

(Photo: Minnesotans attending arts advocacy day with MN Rep. Betty McCollum: Sheila Smith, Anton Treuer, Patricia Mullaney, Jeff Prauer, Rep. McCollum, Mark Albers, Sarah Twedt, Ian Vaver, Jill Boldenow, ,Sheila Terryll).

4. ARTS BILLS YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT

LEGACY FUND:

The Legacy and General Fund arts funding bills are our principal focus. The Legacy bill in the House commits only 41% of the Arts Legacy Fund (down from our current 43.2%) to the Minnesota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Council funding system, much lower than our request for 50% of the whole. Although we continue to bang the drum for the 50% level, it should be noted that because of more revenue to the Legacy Fund, the House bill appropriates about an additional $2M to the MSAB/RAC system, giving us a good starting point for negotiations with the Senate. The Legacy bill is very controversial in the House because of provisions added by Chair Phyllis Kahn in the land preservation section which is opposed by outdoorsmen.  It was supposed to come up on the House floor two weeks ago but still hasn’t appeared.

We may not see a Legacy bill from the Senate side for another week. The Senate Legacy bill is being overseen by a subcommittee chaired by Sen. Dick Cohen. He strongly supports our 50% position and has spent all session working with other Senators to build support for a higher level of funding.

GENERAL FUND:

Both the House and Senate are expected to pass bills with level funding at $15M for the biennium, which is good news in the context of the state’s billion dollar budget deficit.  There was a hostile floor amendment limiting the use of artist grants for travel for research, a controversial issue since KSTP did an expose a few weeks ago on giving grants to artists who travel overseas to do research for their art projects in Minnesota.  This travel issue also popped up in the Legacy committee.

NONPROFIT TAX ISSUES:

  • Ticket Tax, and expansion of taxes to services done by nonprofits: The House bill does not include any of the new taxes on nonprofits that were proposed by the Governor at the beginning of session. We are expecting the Senate to follow suit, but we will know more soon.
  • Street Maintenance Fees: Property owners could be subject to a new property tax/fee under this bill allowing municipalities to arbitrarily draw lines around parts of the city or even around just specific buildings without public hearings or proof that there is any benefit to the property. We are in a wide coalition that includes the MN Chamber of Commerce, MN Council of Nonprofit and others in opposition to this bill (although we are not running the coalition as the majority of our time is being spent on the arts appropriation).  The coalition of nonprofits involved has successfully inserted into the bill an exemption for nonprofits, but this issue will bear watching until the Legislature ends its session in May.
  • Change to charitable giving law: a new tax front has just been opened with a proposal to change how charitable giving is treated in Minnesota. The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits is the natural rally point on this legislation, for more information go here: http://www.minnesotanonprofits.org/mcn-at-the-capitol/current-agenda/preserving-charitable-tax-incentives

5. FREEDOM TO MARRY BILL COMING UP ANY DAY

Our friends at the Minnesotans United campaign tell us that the bill to ensure the Freedom to Marry will be up on the floor in the legislature any day now. There is no time to lose! Contact your legislators on this important issue today:

http://action.mnunited.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=10065

TO TAKE ACTION ON ARTS FUNDING, CLICK BELOW:

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https://www.votervoice.net/link/target/mnarts/3yN53FRF.aspx