1. Take Action NOW - Ask Legislators to Support SENATE POSITION for Amendment Arts Funding
The House and Senate have taken radically different positions on Amendment spending which could have a huge impact on the arts. They both passed their bills tonight and sent them to a conference committee that will meet soon and must complete its work by May 18.
Tonight, just before 11:00 p.m., the House has recommended that only 17% of the Arts and Culture Fund go to the arts, which we strongly oppose. The House bill would give away to other issues, such as zoos and "civic education," the arts funding we have spent seven years trying to get to the field.
In contrast, Sen. Tomassoni's committee and subsequently the full Senate has recommended that 50% of the proceeds go to the Minnesota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils so that funding gets to every Minnesota county to support the arts. We are very happy with the Senate position. Credit goes to Dick Cohen and David Tomassoni who have been Senate heroes for the arts. In committee, before passing the bill, several legislators made brief speeches in support of this position, including Sen. Cohen, Sen. Tomassoni, Sen. Dibble, and Sen. Kelash. The Senate passed the bill off the floor today and also sent it to the conference committee.
Please contact your legislators by Wednesday, MAY 13 asking them to SUPPORT THE SENATE POSITION of 50% of the Arts and Culture Fund FOR THE MINNESOTA STATE ARTS BOARD AND REGIONAL ARTS COUNCILS. Even if you sent a letter before, this message is totally new so please take just five minutes to send the new one at the Arts Action Center.
2. Governor Vetoes Economic Development Bill That Contains Regular Arts Funding
Last night the Governor vetoed the Economic Development bill that contained our regular arts funding. We were not the reason for the veto, which was about unrelated issues. As expected, the Senate re-opened the bill, took out the stuff the Governor didn't like and re-passed the bill over to the House tonight. We would prefer that the bill be finished before the end of next week so that it is not part of any special sessions the legislature seems increasingly likely to have because they can't come to agreement with the Governor on how to solve the state's deficit. The Senate's quick action tonight will help get the bill done.
Regular arts funding has been at about $10 million per year for the last two years. It goes to the Minnesota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils who provide grants and services statewide in the arts. At the start of session, the Governor had proposed cutting arts funding by 50% and eliminating the Arts Board in two years. The House proposed limiting the cut to 7.8%, and the Senate to 10%. The committee was agreeing to keep the cuts to somewhere between these two positions, but the Governor's staff came into the room and demanded that they take the Senate position, and cut some more. The final recommendation reduced funding by 16.6% over the next two years, or $8.6 million per year. In the committee, Rep. Rukavina said, "a $3 million cut in the Minnesota State Arts Board and Minnesota Historical Society is an aggregious statement about what kind of society we are."
On the floor, when the Senate was voting to send the original bill to the Governor, Rep. Marty Siefert stood up and said, "There's more money spent on art in this bill than on economic development," which political bloggers have already pointed out is widely factually incorrect. In response, Rep. Tim Mahoney got up and said, "The arts are a billion to two billion industry in this state. It does put a lot of people to work." Thanks to Rep. Rukavina and Rep. Mahoney!
On election day, Minnesotans approved a once in a lifetime investment in the arts. Passage of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment is expected to create anywhere from $40 to $50 million annually to support the arts, arts access, arts education and history. The amendment also says these new resources should not be a substitute for traditional sources of funding. Unfortunately, the new money won't be available for a while, although it looks increasingly likely that the state will begin to spend it in 2010. (The new tiny increase in the state sales tax, created by the Amendment, doesn't start until July, 2009, and then the funds raised by the tax will need to accumulate in the new Arts and Culture Fund before they can be spent). MCA had a huge role in the Vote Yes! campaign to pass the amendment. We have devoted all of our resources for the last seven years to getting the amendment passed. Our position has all along been that the legislature should appropriate at least 50% of the new resources from the amendment to the Minnesota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils, so that it does indeed reach every MN county through their grants and services and is not diverted to some other, unknown purpose. The legislature must finish by May 18, when session is supposed to end, or they will have to have special sessions this summer. Send your legislators a letter NOW at the Arts Action Center asking them to support the Senate position of 50% to the arts! We are also working to protect regular arts funding in the state's Economic Development bill, which has been about $10 million per year. See update above on this other bill. ----------------------------------------------------------------------VIDEO LINKS Check out two great videos from Arts Advocacy Day Held February 24, 2009: Here's a video of highlights from the Arts Advocacy Day kickoff rally on MN Stories by Chuck Olsen: http://www.mnstories.com/video/376/Arts-Adcovacy-Day ...and a 3 Minute Egg arts show by Matt Peiken with interviews of attendees and some footage of meetings with legislators: http://www.mnstories.com/video/374/3-MINUTE-EGG-Arts-Advocacy-Day----------------------------------------------------------------------RESOURCESEverything MCA does is made possible by our passionate and committed members. Join Today on MCA's secure web site at: mncitizensforthearts.org/join/membership/individual-memberships/
Take Action:www.mncitizensforthearts.org at our frequently updated, one-stop site for: information about Minnesota Citizens for the Arts and how you can get involved, an Action Center 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 issues and more!