Gaiman to make another Legacy-funded appearance

(by MPR’s Elizabeth Dunbar)

Minnesota Legacy money in June will again go toward paying for an appearance by bestselling author Neil Gaiman, but at a fraction of what it cost to have him speak at the Stillwater Public Library last year.

Gaiman will be the main guest as a part of Minnesota Public Radio’s “Wits” series on June 24 at the Fitzgerald Theater. The series features local and nationally known writers, comedians and musicians.

MPR spokesman Bill Gray said the organization offered to pay Gaiman an honorarium of $1,500 for the appearance. Gaiman accepted and had MPR make the check out to Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, Gray said.

On average, 60 percent of the cost to produce “Wits” is covered by Legacy funds, with 40 percent coming from ticket sales, he said.

The Clean Water, Land and Legacy amendment approved in 2008 sends a portion of state sales tax money to arts and cultural organizations. Minnesota Public Radio received $2.6 million in Legacy funds for the current, two-year state budget cycle. It would receive $2 million in the next two years under the current proposal at the Legislature.

Gaiman’s honorarium is similar to what other guests are being offered, Gray said. Gaiman was also paid a $500 honorarium for a shorter appearance in a “Wits” show last year, he said.

Republican lawmakers last week criticized Gaiman’s $45,000 speaking fee to appear at the Stillwater Public Library, complaining that it was a waste of taxpayer money. Gaiman explained in his blog that he felt the fee was justified and that he donated his portion of the fee to charity.

The Metropolitan Library Service Agency apologized for using poor judgment in using Legacy money to pay the fee, and Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, proposed cutting the agency’s next Legacy grant.

Although MPR is paying Gaiman an honorarium, Gaiman said in his blog that his “Wits” appearance is part of a Harper Collins tour for the 10th anniversary reissue of his book “American Gods.”

Gaiman said in an e-mail to MPR News that because the show at the Fitzgerald coincides with the tour for the “American Gods” reissue, his publisher will be paying for him to be in the Twin Cities that day.

  • Albatross

    Republicans are all for free market capitalism right up until their Speaker of the House makes a fool of himself, then alluvasudden it’s price controls.

  • kittyellen

    Republicans are all for the free market right up until the money goes to someone they consider a Progressive. Let’s be clear: Gaiman was targeted because he’s a science fiction and fantasy author, who the Republicans automatically assume are all pinko-commie-Liberal-do-gooders. If this money were being used to compensate Ann Coulter or Tim LaHaye, for example, they’d be talking about how it was an appropriate cost and how it was the price the market would bear–but when Gaiman responded that way, they got all up in arms. Such hypocrites.

  • Why is this news-worthy?

  • Audent

    You’ve forgotten the bit where Gaiman took the money in the first place because it needed to be spent on speakers and not on books or salaries or anything else, and that he donated the money to charities, AS HE DOES WITH SPEAKING PAYMENTS.

    He’s a writer and he makes his money from writing so as he’s said repeatedly, anything that comes in from these kinds of gigs goes straight out to charities.

    I’d rather he was writing than speaking at conferences, I’m glad he can find time to do both and I love it that he’s happy to hand his speaking fee over to good causes. Surely this story is better headlined “Author does good” instead of suggesting that he’s somehow pillaging his way across America’s library-scape?

  • Really?

    Why is this news again?

    For shame, trying to drum up some kind of malcontent over this issue. Move on please.

  • hollie sexton

    If it was snookie from jersey shore or sarah palin the price point would not be an issue. Thinking of switching to the independent party.

  • Jessica Atteberry

    As an American and a public library employee I would like to thank you for being awesome. I would also like to apologize for the crazy that my people are throwing at you.

  • DW

    1. You’re still misreporting the amount paid for the initial speaking appearance.

    2. Does it matter what Gaiman does with the fees he receives. He signs a contact; he provides a service; his payment is his to do with as he pleases.

    3. The real story — if there is one — is the behavior of Matt Dean. I want to know if his mommy is still staying with him this week while his wife is gone.

  • Jonny Pope

    This Gaiman fellow is obviously some kind of pencil-necked weasel thief. Here in Wisconsin, we like to give our taxpayers’ hard earned money to big corporations in tax breaks, not spend it on arts or education! Looks like Minnesota may soon be following suit.

  • BtA

    Darn weasel thieves keep stealing all my weasels *except* the ones named Dean.

  • CR

    Not a portion of the misrepresented (in this article) fee went to charity, *all* of it went to charity.

  • I agree. If the Legacy funds had been spent paying an honorarium to someone like Sarah Palin, this would never have made the news.

    It’s newsworthy because it’s fun to red-ass a politician who sticks his boot in mouth over something so incredibly trivial.

    Methinks he doth protest too much about wasting taxpayer dollars. When is the last time Matt Dean’s expense reports were audited?

  • Etskh

    I lose faith in another news media.

    This just seems like a compilation of poorly assembled (and misinformed) .

    Perhaps neither party was available for comment because there truly isn’t anything to say?

  • Caitlin

    Seriously? This is news? The $45,000 was going to be gone in a matter of weeks, and he donated it all to charity anyhow. And this $1500 speaking fee? Going to charity as well. Funny how both of those facts were left out. Unbiased news my ass.

  • Deb

    Seriously? This is a non-issue. Or did you miss the part where Matt Dean’s Mom made him apologize. Isn’t there anything else going on in Minnesota that is fit to print?

  • MA

    He responded, you morons. Go ahead with your redaction anytime.

  • Derek

    Some commenters aren’t up to date on the data. Neil *was* paid the $45,000. His agent-type people took their (roughly) 20% portion, leaving his portion of the fee to donate. A little more than $35,000.

    I wish the headline had actually said he was “pillaging his way across America’s library-scape.”

  • Bear

    MPR’s Elizabeth Dunbar should get her facts right before publishing stories.

    She should also try to make them be actual news instead of biased garbage.

  • Martin Reed

    “The publisher did not immediately return a call, and Gaiman could not immediately be reached for comment.”?

    So, by definition of the very wording, coupled with its split infinitives, the publisher DID return the call AND Gaiman WAS reached for comment.

    Wouldn’t the column inches taken up by that last sentence have been better spent noting the author’s comment or the details of the return call from the publisher, instead of trying to get in a last ineffectual dig at both?

    Mind you, I am impressed by the way in which the journalist managed to put both her English language prowess and her political stance boldly on display in a mere seventeen words…

  • Martin Reed

    And there that last sentence was, gone…

    But at least it was replaced by the “Gaiman said in an e-mail…” line. The news, as it unfolds…

  • Jessica Nelson

    I voted to pay extra taxes to go towards the arts, and this is completely appropriate spending, in my opinion. Paying a professional to talk to those interested in what that professional does is not a novel misappropriation. In fact, most experts in their field do get paid to talk about what it is they do. And who better for the rest of us to learn from, than someone who actually knows what they’re talking about?

    Thank you, MPR, for helping the likes of Matt Dean and Michele Bachmann make the rest of America (and the world) think all Minnesotans are petty morons with neither class nor culture. Which is, I must say, the exact opposite of what our state is known for. Perhaps next time, instead of hopping on the bandwagon in a feeble attempt to gain readership, you could simply write a story about the fact that Mr. Gaiman, who actually lives in Minnesota, will be speaking, and that we are incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful addition to the rich cultural experience that is the Twin Cities. Just my two cents.

  • Betty Burns

    You could set up a “Where’s Gaiman?” section so we can keep track of where to see him speak ‘coz he’s awesome!

    Does anyone have intelligence on what Matt Dean’s mum thinks of this?

  • Laura F.

    My response to manufactured Republican outrage?

    Just pre-ordered the American Gods 10th Anniversary edition.

    Gaiman is one of my two favorite writers. Matt Dean hasn’t a clue about Gaiman’s talents and contributions to the modern literary world. If he understood the respect, admiration, and appreciation for Gaiman throughout the English-speaking world, he’d support a bill to pay Gaiman to live in Minnesota.

  • Laura

    Oh my god. I don’t know how I’ll be able to sleep tonight after hearing this devastating news. Thanks for keeping us up to date with this immensely important development.

  • John W

    You know, given the general assault on history, science, literature, and, well, education in general, this is not surprising behavior from the GOP.

    Nor does any news that the money went to charity. They’d probably classify it as “money for nothing” to the recipients, whoever they are.

    What is most disappointing are the amounts of decent citizens they frightened into voting them into office to rail against them things.

    I have to think we are all better than this. And if not, well, then we’re all collectively screwed.

  • Kris D

    I have to say my favorite part of wasted time on “non-news” is reading all the wonderful things everyone has to say about Mr. Gaiman and all the wonderfully awful things they have to say about Matt Dean. I’d love to say something about how “it’s ridiculous that we are tracking Neil Gaiman’s money or how its such a “crazy” thought to pay someone for a service” but you all do it so wonderfully.

  • John

    So nice of the pencil-kneck Liberals here to confirm Conservative prejudices. You just don’t get it. If you can afford $45k for a one-off speaker, then your doing well enough to get by without tax money of any sort.

    Do what you want with donor’s money, but I get upset when tax money, taken at the point of a gun, goes to waste when needy causes go wanting.

  • Rob Whatman

    No John, you just don’t get it. Matt Dean called Neil Gaiman a thief, and has not retracted this slander. Its not Neil’s job to decide whether Minnesota wants to spend tax money on this or that. He spoke, got paid, gave all the money to needy causes. Leave Mr Gaiman out of the thing, take up your greivances about taxes with your elected representatives.

  • Tim Macdonald

    Martin Reed: Perhaps before you go around moaning about split infinitives, you should learn what one is. There wasn’t one in that sentence.

    Here is an excellent and educative blog on that kind of issue:

  • Audra

    …Really, Conservative Minnesota? Please, if Mr. Gaiman is frittering away your allotted tax dollars on such awful, pointless things as libraries and books, you can just ship him straight off to us Oregonians… that silly, silly author, always making charitable donations of his time and money…

  • Ailsa

    Wow, and I thought the tabloids here in the Uk were liberal with the truth. So does freedom of speech mean your allowed to publish the first thing that pops into your head even if it is a known fallacy?

  • Bll

    Seriously? Gaiman generously offers his time to MPR for a ludicrously small fee (which he donates to charity anyway) and rather than being thanked for it MPR itself writes what is essentially a hit piece. Good grief. I can only assume Gaiman is focusing on his fans and others genunely interested in hearing him speak and ignoring the rest of this mess. At least someone is taking the high road.