Despite a thousand people coming to the state capitol in the most successful Arts Advocacy Day in history, we are shocked to see the Governor’s new proposal today to cut an additional $2.5 million per year out of arts funding for the next two years. This is on top of the 22% cut reduction he’d already proposed. This new proposal would bring arts funding down by a total of 40%. This is also contrary to the public outcry against the cuts he’s already proposed.

The Governor brought out the new cut proposal today in response to a predicted additional state shortfall of $125 million for the next biennium, due to a slightly worsening financial picture. Cuts to the arts were one of the largest cuts in the new proposal. Most of the other changes were shifts in payments and other smaller revisions to the budget.

Obviously, the state’s deficit is affecting everything in the budget, and we’ve already stated that we know everything will be cut and we are willing to do our fair share. However, we think the proposal to cut the arts out of proportion to the state’s actual deficit is very unfair. We reiterate that the cuts to the arts should be no more than 14% (the actual size of the state deficit is 14%), rather than the now 40% cut.

A cut at this time of economic peril for Minnesota’s arts community would be devastating. In response to a recent MCA survey, 65% of arts organizations reported they expected deficits both this year and next, even after cutting services, programs, staff and wage freezes. Corporate and foundation support for the arts is also going down because of the bad stock market.

On Feb. 27, a thousand Minnesota arts advocates came to the state capitol and asked their legislators in persons to lessen cuts to the arts. Whether or not you could be there, please make your voice heard soon by calling or writing your legislators and the governor to ask them to support the arts. The good news is that the legislative session goes on for several more months, and we can lessen these cuts if we can get legislators on our side.

We urge people to call the Governor’s office (651) 296-3391 or 800-657-3717 and even more importantly to call their legislators about this unfair disproportionate treatment of the arts. You can get phone numbers and addresses here. You can add your voice to the choir of arts advocates.

Here’s our message: “It’s unfair to cut the arts so much! Please keep arts cuts at or below 14%, the actual size of the state deficit!”