Who We Are
Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA) is a statewide arts advocacy organization committed to lobbying the Minnesota State Legislature and Congress. Our mission is to provide opportunity for all people to have access to and involvement in the arts.
To ensure access to the arts for all Minnesotans by working to protect, and if possible increase, state appropriations to the arts in Minnesota.
Recognizing and encouraging the public’s engagement with and support of nonprofits by working to promote and maintain tax policies beneficial to charitable giving, arts philanthropy and nonprofit arts organizations.
To support the inclusion of arts as a basic requirement in Minnesota school.
What we’ve accomplished
- We’ve increased the state’s appropriation for the arts from zero financial commitment to a high point of over $40.7 million annually.
- We’ve helped secure and protect tax exemptions that benefit philanthropic and nonprofit arts organizations in Minnesota.
When you give back, it’s important to know you’re donating through a reputable nonprofit. MCA has been recognized by multiple third-party organizations so you can rest assured, you’re contribution will go toward actionable change.
Over 45 years
Organized in 1974, MCA is the oldest continuously operating statewide arts advocacy organization in the country. When it all started, annual funding for the arts was just $300,000. Since then, we’ve helped Minnesota become the nation’s leader in per capita arts funding, fueling Minnesota’s national reputation as a hotbed of creativity.
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A group of individuals formed Minnesota Citizens for the Arts to build stronger legislative support for the arts. With a handful of dedicated people, MCA began work during the 1976 legislative session when the arts were tied to the stadium bill.
Photo: Carole Achterhof & former MCA Executive Director, Diane Gallert
The effects of a unified advocacy group were demonstrated in 1977 when the biennial appropriation increased from $1 million to $4 million. Large and small arts organizations, individual artists, presenters and audiences from all parts of the state benefited from that increase.
Photo: Former MCA Presidents Maddie Simons and Gary Fretheim
After hard-won incremental successes, MCA hit some rocky times at the legislature as well, particularly during the early 1980s and the early 1990s, when budget crises sent panic through the government and massive funding cuts swept state agencies. In 1981 and 1982, arts funding dropped 12% and 25%, respectively.
As the fiscal nightmares of the early 1980s subsided, MCA shifted from a defensive mode back into the offense. Over the next several appropriations cycles, MCA was able to recover the lost ground and move the appropriations to ever-higher levels. These victories culminated in the $12 million initiative in 1997 that brought an 80% increase in state funding for the arts, making Minnesota second in the nation in per capita funding for the arts. In 1999, MCA successfully fought off an attempt to cut the state appropriation in half. MCA also helped pass the exemption from sales tax on admissions to arts events and protects current tax exemptions for nonprofit arts organizations.
MCA has helped change the landscape of the arts over time. “The arts were thought of as elitist, the plaything of the rich and powerful. MCA has done more to change that attitude than anything else,” said Fretheim. MCA’s strengths remain its focus of purpose, unity of message and uncomplicated mission.
Our biggest success to date came in 2008 with passage of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, which tripled state arts funding to $30M annually and put dedicated funding for the arts into Minnesota’s Constitution for the next 25 years.
Hennepin Theatre Trust is a proud member of MCA because we know that arts organizations in this state could not do what they do without this support.
Mark Nerenhausen, Finance Chair & President & CEO, Hennepin Theatre Trust
...Our membership connects us to arts organizations across the state, which is helpful as we work to broaden our reach.
James Haskins, Managing Director, Guthrie Theatre