Arts Alert: Arts Projects Win Big at Capitol.

Art Projects Win Big at Capitol

The strange and very brief legislative session ended last week with lots of wins for the arts. The most obvious win was that many arts and culture projects were funded in the state’s bonding bill. We usually have one or two arts projects make it through the grueling and sometimes arbitrary gauntlet of the bonding process, but last week the legislature passed a bill that included funding for nine large and small projects in every corner of the state, a truly unprecedented number. Congratulations to those organizations who worked so very hard to make this happen.

Arts Projects in 2014 Bonding Bill

Project Amount
NorShor Theater, Duluth: $6,950,000
Palace Theater, St. Paul: $5,000,000
Grand Rapids Regional Performing Arts Center: $3,897,000
Minneapolis Parks Sculpture Garden: $8,500,000
Park Rapids Regional Arts Center: $2,500,000
Ordway Center for Performing Arts, St. Paul: $4,000,000
Chatfield Center for the Arts: $5,352,000
Hennepin Center for the Arts, Mpls: $550,000
Red Wing River Town Rennaisance: $1,560,000

In addition to these arts-specific projects, some money will go to rehabbing the performing arts theater in the Rochester Civic Center used by some nonprofit arts organizations, and the St. Paul Children’s Museum received $14,000,000.

MCA does not lobby for arts bonding projects, we only work on issues that help the whole statewide arts community. However, we will give advice and assistance where we can. The success of this many arts projects is due to arts advocate Rep. Alice Hausman, Chair of the bonding committee, who made several speeches about her belief that the arts revitalize downtowns in every corner of the state. Another reason so many made it through was that the bonding bill was very large and supplemented by some of the cash from the state’s surplus this year (after many years of deficits).

Other Arts Legislation of Interest This Year:

Turnaround Arts

Yesterday the White House announced that Minnesota has been awarded the Turnaround Arts program, which will provide arts resources to four underperforming schools. The program will be managed by the Perpich Center over the next two years, and the legislature provided some funds to enable Minnesota’s participation. The Minnesota State Arts Board will provide some funds for grants for artists and arts organizations to work with the targeted schools.

Loans and Donations Not Proof of Residency

Well-meaning donors who live in other states who had loaned artworks to Minnesota museums will no longer be threatened with estate taxes under a small change in our estate tax law. This means that it is more likely that precious works of art loaned to Minnesota museums by non-residents and former residents will stay here.

New Definition of “Fundraisers”

The Department of Revenue added new language to the sales tax statute to clarify what is and is not a fundraiser for the purposes of determining the 24 day fundraiser limit currently in statute. The new language helps some nonprofits whose ordinary mission-related activities, such as providing arts classes, had been deemed mistakenly by some assessors to be fundraisers. The new language isn’t perfect but we will be working with the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits on suggested refinements for next session.  Here’s the new language:

45.19            (d) For purposes of this subdivision, “fund-raising events” means activities of

45.20            limited duration, not regularly carried out in the normal course of business, that attract

45.21            patrons for community, social, and entertainment purposes, such as auctions, bake sales,

45.22            ice cream socials, block parties, carnivals, competitions, concerts, concession stands,

45.23            craft sales, bazaars, dinners, dances, door-to-door sales of merchandise, fairs, fashion

45.24            shows, festivals, galas, special event workshops, sporting activities such as marathons and

45.25            tournaments, and similar events. Fund-raising events do not include the operation of a

45.26            regular place of business in which services are provided or sales are made during regular

45.27            hours such as bookstores, thrift stores, gift shops, restaurants, ongoing Internet sales,

45.28            regularly scheduled classes, or other activities carried out in the normal course of business.

45.29            EFFECTIVE DATE. This section is effective the day following final enactment.