05/17/05

1. TAKE ACTION TODAY- Ask Congress to support Increase in Federal Arts Funding by $10 million!

2. Arts Bill In Conference Committee

3. News from the Arts Education Consortium

1. Ask Congress to support Increase in Federal Arts Funding by $10 million!

Support the Arts Caucus Amendment Across the country, arts advocates are banding together to contact their member of Congress to ask them to vote for a bipartisan Congressional Arts Caucus floor amendment to increase NEA funding by $10 million for 2006.

The House of Representatives may begin hearing the FY 2006 Interior Appropriations bill on Thursday, May 19. Funding for the NEA and NEH is in this bill. Without this amendment there will be no increase over the NEA’s current funding level of $121 million. The increase proposed by the Congressional Arts Caucus would restore the Challenge America funding which targets underserved communities, especially in inner cities and rural areas (and Minnesota has received a number of those grants), and would also support the American Masterpieces program.

The Congressional Arts Caucus has offered a similar amendment each of the past five years. Those amendments were successfully passed – by increasing margins each year. Contact your Representative by 5 p.m. Wednesday because Members of Congress will not vote for this amendment unless they hear directly from their constituents.

Take 2 minutes to help increase NEA funding. Make the connection here:

2. Arts Bill In Conference Committee

The Economic Development bill, which contains arts funding, was passed by both the Minnesota House and Senate in the past week. The conference committee has been appointed, and they will hash out a compromise between the two bills. Both the House and Senate have recommended, as has the Governor, that the arts receive stable funding for the next two years. The members of the conference committee are: SENATE: Senator Dallas Sams, Chair Senator Tom Bakk, Senator Ellen Anderson, Senator Gary Kubly, Senator Dennis Frederickson HOUSE: Representativer Dennis Ozment, Chair Representative Bob Gunther, Representative Tom Hackbarth, Representative David Dille, Representative Maxine Penas

Unfortunately, activity in the legislature seems to be coming to a stalemate. With the Governor’s budget relying on gambling income, the House recommending two budgets, (one that relys on the gambling income and one that makes more cuts instead), and the Senate not interested in gambling but instead on increasing taxes to solve the budget, we seem no closer to resolution than we were several weeks ago.

We’ll keep you updated as we go along. Because we still have many hurdles to cross, it’s not too late to send letters in support of the arts to your legislators! You can do it today by clicking here: DESKTOP LOBBYIST

If you are on MCA’s snail-mail list, you should have received a set of bright green postcards in the past week or so. Waste no time in sending them in to your legislators! Your mailing label will tell you who your legislators are, all you have to do is fill in their names, write your name, and throw on a stamp. It should be really easy. There is no time to lose!

3. News from the Arts Education Consortium:

A. URGENT: Conference Committee Acting on Education Legislation

B. Tips in Becoming a More Effective Arts Advocate

C. AEC Contact Information

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A. URGENT: Conference Committee Acting on Education Legislation

It is important to note that the legislature’s action will affect education for the next two years (2006-2007). Consequently, every effort needs to be taken now in order to ensure that education and arts education is adequately funded for the next two years. Both the House and Senate Omnibus bills were voted out of committee in late April and a compromise bill is now being formed in the House/Senate Conference Committee.

The House bill would increase the basic education formula per pupil state aid, now at $4,601 per pupil, by 3% or $4,740 in FY 2006, and 3.1% or $4,885 in FY 2007. This is more than the Governor’s proposed annual increase of 2.5% for the same periods. The Senate bill provides an increase of 5% or $4,832 in FY 2006, and 4.0% or $5,053 in FY 2007. Overall, the House bill provides a $622 million increase in state aid during the next biennium versus $761 million in the Senate. Within both bills the Perpich Center for Arts Education is expected to see little or no increase in funding.

Any increase in funding for Education in Minnesota should emphasize the importance of comprehensive and sequential arts education. We need you to send a letter to your legislator today asking them to support the Senate’s K-12 education funding level. In addition, the Perpich Center for Arts Education that provides important arts education for students as well as professional development and research support for arts educators and schools throughout the state of Minnesota needs to receive at least $14 million in its operating budget for the next biennium.

How to Send a Letter A sample letter is available now by simply going on the internet. Legislators listen to their constituents, so go to the DESKTOP LOBBYIST and you will be taken through the process.

For further help, you may call Sheila Smith, Executive Director, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, at 651-251-0868.

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B. Tips in Becoming a More Effective Arts Advocate

Although this legislative session is expected to end in late May, your work as an effective arts advocate can continue throughout the year. Here are a few tips to help you become a more effective arts advocate:

Please take the time to respond to requests or action alerts that you receive. Email messages or letters have become a fast and effective way of communicating with legislators.
Legislators have time and welcome meeting invitations especially after the legislative session. The summer and fall months are especially good times to schedule meetings with legislators in their home districts. Also, consider inviting them to neighborhood or group meetings where they have the opportunity to meet with more of their constituents.
2006 is an election year for the governor, representatives and senators in Minnesota. Consequently, legislators will be eager to visit with you.
Take the time to educate your legislator and others about the importance of arts education in your community. Forward arts education materials to legislators that show the importance of the arts in your community and schools. Also, scheduled arts events and activities are great opportunities to invite legislators to.
Determine if your legislator sits on a key legislative committee. All legislators are important, but it may be especially important for you to know whether your legislator may sit on a key education or tax committee.
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C. AEC Contact Information

The AEC is not a formal organization. Rather it is a loose affiliation of educators, artists and organizations passionate about the importance of arts education to Minnesota’s children. If you have ideas, concerns or need more information you may contact any one the members of the AEC Steering Committee:

Steve Barberio (AATE): sbarberio@mn.rr.com

Colleen Callahan (DEC): dec@pconline.com

Craig Dunn (VSA Arts): craig.vsarts@bcmn.com

Tom Gale (Alliance): tgale@mn.rr.com

Kathy Gerdts-Senger (AEM): kathleen.gerdts-senger@isd742.org

Jill Lofald (CTAM): jill.lofald@duluth.k12.mn.us

Kevan Nitzberg (AEM): knitzber@ties2.net

Doug Orzolek (MMEA): dcorzolek@stthomas.edu

Bob Ouren (MMEA): bob_ouren@rdale.k12.mn.us

Mary Schaefle (MMEA): Schaefle@mmea.org

Sheila Smith (MCA): she-mca@mtn.org

Dan Tjornehoj (AEC): dtjorneh@pressenter.com

You may also contact a member of the Perpich Center for Arts Education staff for research and resources related to arts education programs and policies:

Mike Hiatt: michael.hiatt@pcae.k12.mn.us

Virginia McFerran: virginia.mcferran@pcae.k12.mn.us

Pam Paulson: pam.paulson@pcae.k12.mn.us

Finally, we welcome any donation to the work of the AEC by sending a check to Minnesota Music Educators Association, which serves as the fiscal agent for the AEC. Send your check to: Minnesota Music Educators Association 6860 Shingle Creek Pkwy #103 Brooklyn Center, MN 55430. Make sure to designate on your check that it is for arts education advocacy.

http://www.mtn.org/mca

Your frequently updated, one-stop site for:

information about Minnesota Citizens for the Arts
how you can get involved
an Action Center called the DESKTOP LOBBYIST where you can write a letter to your legislator
or even find out who your legislators are
facts about the arts in Minnesota
the latest on legislative and congressional action on arts issue
And more!
Join Our Arts Advocacy Family

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts is funded entirely by the dues of its members. Do you appreciate receiving up to the minute news on the fate of the arts in the Minnesota State Legislature and Congress? We could not provide Arts Alerts if it weren’t for the wonderful and committed arts advocates who show their commitment by joining MCA. You can join by printing out the membership form on our website at http://www.mtn.org/mca. Individual dues are just $30, and a household membership is just $40. Thank you!

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts is a non-partisan statewide arts advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure opportunity for all people to have access to and involvement in the arts. MCA organizes the arts community and lobbies the Minnesota State Legislature and Congress on issues pertaining to the nonprofit arts. If you are interested in learning more about how to advocate for the arts, or how to activate people in your arts organization or community to lobby for the arts, please call us at 651-251-0868 or e-mail mca@mtn.org.