The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council strongly believes that the arts are essential to the creation and sustenance of thriving, vital communities, and that the arts should be supported by the participation of many people in arts activities and organizations, and by public and private funding. In fact, it is a part of the MRAC’s vision that the public value of the arts is understood and acted upon by community members, leaders, and policy makers. Therefore we consider advocacy an important part of what we do.
But arts advocacy isn't something that can be done for you--it requires your involvement to get these important messages out!
Read on to find out what you can do to advocate for the arts!
Every year, hundreds of art advocates gather at the Capitol for Arts Advocacy Day to show their legislators that arts funding is important to their communities. This is an opportunity to meet and network with artists and art supporters from around the state while showing your passion for the arts to legislators. We'd love to help you get involved. One MRAC grantee wrote to us after the first Advocacy Day that she attended, “Just wanted to thank you for holding my hand and talking me into heading to the Capitol…Our organization was the only one from our [legislative] district so it was very clear that our presence was important.”
While Arts Advocacy Day happens only once a year, legislation and important events that can affect arts organizations happen throughout the year. Stay up to date and involved by subscribing to Arts Alert. This newsletter from Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA) will keep you informed with the latest news on what is happening at the State Capitol, in Congress, and in the arts community. Also try MCA’s Desktop Lobbyist tool—an easy way for you to communicate your support of the arts with your elected representatives.
To help constituents meet with their legislators and to help legislators understand the impact of arts funding, each fiscal year MRAC hosts "Big Check" events. These events are opportunities for arts groups to demonstrate the importance of the arts, and to be photographed with legislators in attendance. Grantees have enjoyed meeting with their legislators and benefited from local press regarding the event. According to one grantee, “We have gotten some wonderful PR opportunities from the publicity you generated over our Community Arts award [through the Big Check event]." Because of the number of grants awarded by MRAC each fiscal year, we are unable to provide big check events for all of our grantees and/or all of our grant rounds.
In 2008, the Clean Water, Land and Legacy constitutional amendment passed and increased MRAC's funding by 178%. This equaled approximately one million eight hundred thousand dollars in increased funding distibuted by MRAC for arts development in the 7-county metropolitan area, and close to three million dollars for arts activities and arts infrastructure improvement altogether. The increase also allowed for the creation of two new MRAC grant programs: MRAC's Arts Learning grant program and the ADA Access Improvement Grants administered by VSA Minnesota, which are soley funded through the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. MRAC continues to distribute its portion of the Arts and Cultural Heritage fund to arts organizations and activities throughout our region. Every year MRAC publishes an online Annual Report with all of the grants given during the fiscal year. For more information, visit the Clean Water, Land and Legacy constitutional amendment at www.legacy.leg.mn/funds/arts-cultural-heritage-fund.
We hope you will get involved and actively help us support the arts and we thank you for all that you do!