The Big Story Blog

Should Legislature have more say in Legacy culture spending?

Posted at 1:54 PM on November 30, 2011 by Paul Tosto

Discussion in the public hearing this afternoon swung to the issue of spending in the Legacy Amendment's Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund and whether lawmakers should take a bigger role in deciding what gets funded when it comes to culture and arts.

Controversies over some spending bubbled up earlier this year. Today, though, It didn't sound like anyone was ready to make that move.

Asked for recommendations, Judy Randall with the Legislative Auditor's office said what's culturally or artistically significant to warrant funding "is the nature of the beast...Arts and cultural heritage by its nature is subjective."

Part of that subjectivity is simply in the amendment and "what the people approved," she told lawmakers. "Some of it is just differences of opinion that we may all have to live with."

The processes created to review and award competitive grants was sound, Randall said. So, ultimately it comes down to how much the Legislature wants to direct funding or rely on the competitive grant process even when it might approve projects lawmakers might not agree with.

"No one is ever going to agree that every project" has cultural significance, said Rep. Dean Urdahl, chairman of the the House Legacy Funding Division panel.

"For the legislature to individually try to approve (projects) would be quite an adventure."

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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