4/16/03

1. HOUSE COMMITTEE RESTORES A SMALL PART OF ARTS FUNDING
2. JOIN THE ARTS PETITION
3. VOLUNTEER TO SAVE THE ARTS

1. HOUSE COMMITTEE RESTORES A SMALL PART OF ARTS FUNDING

Today the Jobs and Economic Development Finance Committee in the Minnesota House, chaired by Rep. Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont) voted to restore $2 million dollars of the cuts to the arts. This would reduce Gov. Pawlentyâs suggested 40% cut for the next two years to about a 32% cut. Thank you to Chairman Gunther and his committee for their efforts. While much work still needs to be done, it’s important to acknowledge the work of our good friend Rep. Gunther in the House Republican caucus.

While we welcome the restoration of the funds in this committee, we are disappointed that they didn’t go farther. You may recall that we are asking that Gov. Pawlenty’s proposed 40% cut to the arts be reduced to 14%, the actual size of the state deficit.

The budget still must go through several phases. This was the very first step. The next step will be Sen. Samâs committee in the Senate, where we hope we will do better.

Our ability to get some money back to the arts in this committee is a direct result of the calls, letters, emails and postcards that have been pouring into the legislative offices from arts advocates. THANK YOU! If you have not yet contacted your own legislator, see below for a simple how-to.

2. JOIN THE ARTS PETITION

The first week of May, 2003 we are going to deliver a copy of one huge community letter in person to all Minnesota legislators, asking that arts funding be restored. It will be signed by friends of the arts from across the state. The names will be printed on the letter.

To add your name to the letter please e-mail us at she-mca@mtn.org with your name and hometown. If you’d like to collect names for the petition yourself, print out the petition at www.mtn.org/mca/Letter03.html and then fax (651-917-3561) or email the names to us by April 30, 2003 so we have time to add them before we go to the Capitol. (Please do not send the letter directly to legislators. We want to deliver all of the names at once!)

Here’s what the community letter will say:

COMMUNITY LETTER TO THE LEGISLATURE
5/1/03
Dear Legislator:

The arts are important to Minnesota’s economy, quality of life, and future. One of the reasons Minnesota has a national reputation as a great place to live (despite our cold winters) is our world class arts and culture community. The arts draw tourists, prime the economic pump, and keep our cities and towns vibrant with life and activity state-wide.

We understand the seriousness of the state’s deficit and the need for cuts. The arts community is willing to do our fair share. However, the proposal to cut the arts is out of proportion to the state’s actual deficit. Because the arts represent less than 1/10 of 1% of the state’s budget (.00089), a cut of this size would have very little effect on the overall state deficit, but will cause devastation in the arts community. Cuts to the arts should be no more than 14%.

The arts are under threat. Attendance declined after 9/11. Corporate and foundation gifts are fewer and smaller because of the bad economy. Individual giving is threatened. A recent survey by MCA showed that 65% of re-porting arts organizations will suffer deficits this year and the next, even after cutting services and programs, layoffs and wage freezes. And now Gov. Pawlenty has proposed a 40% cut in state funding.
State funding has contributed stability to the arts. A cut this large will cause further loss of arts programming across the state, in every legislative district, including yours. Between the grants of the Minnesota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils, state arts funding reaches every Minnesota County. State arts funding leverages private giving. A 40% cut in state funds, at a time of economic peril for Minnesota’s arts community, will be devastating. Arts programs serving your constituents may not survive.
69% of the public believes government support for the arts is important, according to a new study in the seven county metro area by the Performing Arts Research Coalition, funded by the Pew Charitable Trust. A 1998 survey by the Minnesota Center for Survey Research also found that 92% of Minnesotans believe that the arts are “very important” or “somewhat important” to their quality of life. Your constituents care about the arts.
Sincerely, Name Name etc.

“I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.” -Lily Tomlin

3. VOLUNTEER TO SAVE THE ARTS

Volunteers Needed! MCA needs your help contacting arts advocates to urge them to call their legislators about cuts to arts funding. Because we have lost a bunch of volunteers to the recent good weather, we are falling behind on calling.

Can you volunteer on one of these dates? Please help.

Thurs. Apr. 17, 5:30-8:00 PM

Mon. April 21, 5:30 -8:00 PM
Tue. April 22, 5:30 – 8:00 PM
Wed. April 23, 5:30 – 8:00 PM
Thu. April 24, 5:30 – 8:00 PM

Location: MCA Office, 2233 University Ave W. #355, St. Paul (three blocks east of the intersection of University and Raymond). Please RSVP to Geri at mca@mtn.org or 651-251-0868. We’ll provide you with all the info you need, snacks, beverages, and UNDYING APPRECIATION.

Advocates in Greater Minnesota area codes (218) and (507): We may be able to fax you calling to do from home. Let us know if you are available and weâll see if there is calling to be done in your area code.

CONTACT YOUR STATE LEGISLATOR TO OPPOSE ARTS CUTS

“Ten letters can influence a legislator.” Rep. Alice Hausman
“If you don’t mobilize, you will lose.” Rep. Matt Entenza

Please make your voice heard by calling or writing your legislators and the governor to ask them to support the arts. You can get phone numbers and addresses of your legislators on here: www.mtn.org/mca/leg2.html.

HOW TO CONTACT YOUR FEDERAL CONGRESSPERSON ABOUT THE ARTS

National Arts Advocacy Day was held last week in Washington, D.C. by Americans for the Arts. A small group from Minnesota visited our congressional delegation to talk about federal support for the arts and tax policy affecting philanthropy and non-profits. We had particularily good meetings in person with Rep. Betty McCollum (St. Paul), Rep. Jim Ramstad (Western Suburbs) and Sen. Mark Dayton.

One of the most important federal arts issues to Minnesota is an attempt to increase federal funding for the arts from approximately $115 million per year to $171 million. Minnesota benefits from NEA funding in two ways. The first way is through direct grants to various cultural endeavors around the state. (You can see a list of these direct federal grants to Minnesota for 2003 at: http://www.arts.gov/learn/03grants/states1/MN.html). The second way NEA funds get to Minnesota’s citizens is through a grant to the Minnesota State Arts Board which is then used to support granting all over the state.

To contact your member of Congress with a quick email asking them to support federal arts funding, just click on http://capwiz.com/artsusa/home/. You can write your own message, or click on the pre-written “Support Cultural Agencies through Arts Advocacy Day!” message. The Americans for the Arts website also has position papers on various federal issues affecting non-profit arts.