Arts Alert: Eight of Ten Minnesota Members of Congress are Arts Supporters

Minnesota’s Arts Advocates
in Congress

Did you know that eight of ten of our representatives in Congress are members of the Congressional Arts Caucus? Minnesota is extraordinarily fortunate in having a majority of members who support the arts.

Recently six Minnesotans traveled to Washington to lobby our members to support an increase in funding for the National Endowment of Arts and other issues important to Minnesota’s arts community. The most important of the members we met with is Rep. Betty McCollum (pictured, third from right), who is about to become the highest ranking member of the Interior Subcommittee that oversees NEA funding.

Over time, at our request, six of our eight representatives have joined the Congressional Arts Caucus in the House:

  • Keith Ellison (D-District 5, Minneapolis)
  • Betty McCollum (D-District 4, St. Paul)
  • Rick Nolan (D- District 8, Arrowhead, Iron Range, & East Central MN)
  • Erik Paulsen (R-District 3, Western Twin Cities Suburbs)
  • Collin Peterson (D-District 7, Western Minnesota)
  • Tim Walz (D-District 1, Southern Minnesota)

And both of our Senators have joined Senate Cultural Caucus:

  • Al Franken (D)
  • Amy Klobuchar (D)

(So, you may be wondering, who are the two that are NOT part of the team? Michelle Bachman, (R-District 6, Stillwater to St. Cloud) and John Kline (R-District 2, Southern TC Suburbs)).

The big “ask” at this year’s National Arts Advocacy Day, organized by Americans for the Arts, was to increase NEA funding to $155M, restoring it to 2011 levels after cuts to $146M and $138.4M in 2012-2014.  We circulated an Arts Caucus “Dear Collegue” letter asking our members to sign on in support of the $155M level. Reps. Walz, Nolan, Peterson and Ellison had already signed on or signed on right after our visit, and Rep. McCollum also said she would support the higher level.

Why should they support the NEA? Here’s a few reasons why:

  1. Minnesota arts organizations received $3.6M in grants in 2013 from the NEA.
  2. NEA funding reaches every Congressional District. These grants leverage additional support from a diverse range of private sources including government, business, foundation and individual donors.
  3. The arts put people to work. More than 905,000 U.S. businesses are involved in the creation or distribution of the arts, employing 3.35 million people: visual artists, performing artists, managers, marketers, technicians, teachers, designers, carpenters, and many other trades and professions…jobs that pay mortgages and send children to college.
  4. The arts are a business magnet. The arts are a proven strategy for successfully revitalizing rural areas and inner cities and help local merchants thrive through the purchase of goods and services. A strong arts sector stimulates business activity, attracting companies that want to offer employees and clients a creative climate and a community with high amenity value.
  5. The arts attract tourism revenue. Cultural tourism accounts for 78 percent of U.S. travelers – some 118 million tourists — who include arts and heritage in their trips each year. They stay longer and spend 36 percent more money than other kinds of travelers do, according to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce.

(Pictured: Jeff Prauer of the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, Faye Price of Pillsbury House Theater (and current MCA Board Chair), Sheila Smith of MCA, Leslie LeCuyer of the Central Minnesota Arts Board, Representative Betty McCollum, Mike Charron of St. Mary’s University Winona, and Sue Gens of the Minnesota State Arts Board).



Make Sure Your Organization is Counted!

Minnesota’s arts funders have partnered with MCA to create a State of the Arts and Culture Report to be released January, 2015.  The report will include data collected from multiple sources including the Cultural Data Project (CDP). Funding partners so far include the McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board and the eleven Regional Arts Councils.
If your organization has not participated in the CDP you are in danger of not being counted as part of Minnesota’s arts economy!

Make sure you are counted!

Nonprofit arts and culture organizations not already in CDP
can participate by filling in a brief online survey here:
Want to know more about the project? Go here.