Tomorrow hundreds of Minnesotans from across the state will congregate at the state capitol to talk about the importance of the arts.
Minnesota State Capitol
MPR Photo/Steve Mullis
Sheila Smith, director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, organizes "Arts Advocacy Day." Each year she rallies the troops, and brings her advocates up to speed on the most important points they need to discuss with their representatives.
Knight Arts' Susannah Schouweiler recently checked in with Smith to find out what would be at the top of this year's agenda. It begins with a fine-tuning of the distribution of Legacy Amendment funds:
They're asking lawmakers to distribute a full 50 percent of the arts-specific funds gleaned from the amendment to the Minnesota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils (up from 43 percent currently). Applicant demand for those grants has far outpaced revenues available thus far; the state arts board can now only fund about half the eligible incoming requests for grants and services. MCA's director, Sheila Smith, says funneling more of Legacy Amendment monies to the state arts board also ensures that grants drawn from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund will be fairly distributed across all of the state's 87 districts, according to a rigorous, transparent adjudication process. "We are concerned about some bills that would earmark the resources intended for all Minnesotans to benefit only a few," allocating a disproportionate share of the fund to benefit one district at the expense of the others, she says.
Additionally, the group will urge legislators to vote against tax reform proposals that would extend new sales taxes to cover nonprofit organizations' activities (including ticket sales, e.g.). MCA argues that such an expansion effectively "puts a tax on donations," because ticket sales, along with charitable giving and volunteer labor, add up vital part of Minnesota nonprofits' fundraising strategies. What's more, "taking away the sales tax exemption for nonprofit tickets increases costs just when nonprofits are reeling from the effects of the recession," the press release reads.
Advocates will gather early tomorrow morning at the Minnesota History Center for a rally that includes a performance by The New Standards before heading to the capitol. You can read more about tomorrow's agenda here.