Politicans, Can’t Live With ‘Em…

So I have gotten some nice responses to the question I posed about the Minnesota Legacy Tax at the end of yesterday’s post.

Paul from Minneapolis praises the Legacy tax, saying that everywhere he goes he hears that the event has been supported by the Legacy Tax.

Another commenter who wished to remain anonymous was a little annoyed because everywhere she goes, she hears about all the events in Minneapolis being supported by the Legacy Tax.

She becomes exasperated when she hears the tax is supporting the Guthrie Theatre’s babysitting program while places like Bemidji get very little support (The commenter was not from Bemidji, its just one of my favorite Minnesota place names.)

If you follow the link to the Legacy Tax project tracking website the commenter from Minneapolis provides, you will see that the frequency and amounts of the grants made in southeast Minnesota tend to be higher than the rest of the state. (Though selecting arts only spreads the frequency out across the state, most of the money is still around Minneapolis.)

This brings up the counter-truth of yesterday’s post. Yeah, politicians will give the arts short shrift, but you need them to get anything at all.

When I was growing up in New York, the perception was that only NYC, Albany and Buffalo existed in the eyes of the legislature.

I think I mentioned before on this blog that when I was working in NJ there was a rule that a certain percentage of the arts funding had to be given to the southern counties. The intent was warped a little bit so that providing more money to northern arts organization was rationalized as benefiting the southern half because they traveled south to perform.

It wasn’t until a legislator from the rural south of NJ became speaker of the assembly that this changed.

Heck, the performing arts center I am director of is named for the speaker whose influence aided in its construction. (And actually, I just noticed today is his birthday.)

We all hate thinking about the process of currying favor and politicking, but there are plenty of examples to provide a lesson as to why it works.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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