Every midwinter, legions of artists and arts supporters from around the state head to downtown St. Paul for a day at the capitol, lobbying state legislators about issues important to the Minnesota arts community. The time has come around again: this Wednesday, Feb. 29, is Arts Advocacy Day 2012.
This daylong exercise in civic and cultural expression is organized every year by the grassroots arts advocacy group, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA). While the group has lobbied Congress and the state legislature on a number of issues — from securing and protecting tax exemptions for nonprofits to specific cultural bonding requests and arts education in the schools — Minnesota Citizens for the Arts is best known in recent years for its role in organizing the Minnesota cultural community around the push to add a groundbreaking amendment to our state’s constitution. With the successful 2008 referendum vote to add the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, citizens voted by a wide margin to tax themselves a bit extra each year to provide millions in supplemental revenue specifically dedicated to the arts and culture, water, wildlife and Minnesota’s parks, trails and historical centers.
The rallying cry for this year’s Arts Advocacy Day has coalesced around the issue of state arts funding again, this time to urge lawmakers to safeguard those Legacy Amendment funds from poaching by other legislative priorities and projects — notably the proposal floated by some Republican legislators this fall to put those funds toward construction of a new Vikings stadium.
Arts Advocacy Day 2012 is Wednesday, Feb. 29 from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Minnesota History Center and State Capitol Building, 75 Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, Minn. Attendees should register no later than today, Monday, Feb. 27, and then meet at the Minnesota History Center at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday for orientation, at 345 Kellogg Blvd. West, St. Paul, Minn. For detailed information about Arts Advocacy Day events or to register to attend, visit the MCA website: www.mncitizensforthearts.org.