On The Hook With Arts and Culture

Back in 2008, I wrote how the voters of Minnesota passed an amendment to support both the arts and outdoor wildlife as a result of a political alliance between the arts community and outdoor sport enthusiasts.  The amendment increased the sales tax by 3/8 of 1%.

According to the website created to report how the money was being used, this is how much of the collected revenue has been allocated between fiscal year 2010 and 2017.

Minnesota has been known for its outdoor activities and support of the arts so it isn’t necessarily surprising that the citizens supported this tax increase. The alliance between the groups was not a forgone conclusion though. As I quote from an article from that time by Jay Weiner:

“As it was, the pioneers of the amendment idea — the sportsmen with bullets and hooks — were wary enough of the arts being included … until they saw the political power of the statewide arts and cultural organizations.”

I went on to write:

Every state should be lucky enough to have an arts community with enough political clout to help get a constitutional amendment passed. Of course, that influence didn’t magically appear, the state arts community would have been working on cultivating it over the course of years and probably decades.


The other thing he [Weiner] mentions is that berating the arts and parks people perpetuates an environment which keeps sports fans from forming coalitions.

If this program appeals to you and you want to replicate it in your state, another article written at the time outlines the pros and cons of the amendment. I am sure that nine years later, those who advocated for the amendment and those who have dealt with the appropriation and administration of the money can give valuable feedback about best practices and mistakes to avoid.

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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