Ms. Smith goes to Washington

Sheila Smith, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, is heading to the White House. Smith, along with Minnesota State Arts Board Director Sue Gens, have been invited to take part in an arts briefing there on Tuesday afternoon.

Their trip is part of National Arts Advocacy Day, an event which actually takes up two days.

Smith says as part of the trip, Minnesota advocates will be talking with their members of Congress.

We know there is a big budget fight going on in DC and arts funding is a very small part of the big picture, but the arts are vitally important to our economy and huge employers, so we will be talking jobs. Some of our members of congress are important committees with jurisdiction over various arts things (For example, Betty McCollum of St Paul is high ranking minority member on Interior which funds the NEA) so when we meet with them we will be focusing on whatever committee they are on.

Smith says this is the first time in her memory that there’s been a “White House Arts Briefing.” Smith, who’s been the MCA’s Executive Director since 1996, says the last time I was at the White House was the day after Jesse Ventura was elected Governor:

It was for the presentation of the President’s Arts & Humanities medals. Pres. Clinton made fun of Minnesota electing a pro-wrestler and I was very embarassed.

We’ll check in with Smith when she gets back to find out just what gets discussed.

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