Arts funding vs. Vikings Stadium

One of the sources of funding being considered for a new Vikings Stadium is Minnesota’s Legacy Amendment.

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Tom Powers works on a pottery piece while participating in a Veterans in the Arts class at the Northern Clay Center. (MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson)

MPR’s Elizabeth Dunbar took a look at how the money is being used now, and what programs might be lost if Legacy funds were to be reallocated for the stadium.

For larger groups, including CLIMB Theatre in the Twin Cities, the Legacy funds helped them make it through the recession — and even expand when some traditional funding sources dried up.

“It has kept us alive,” said Peg Wetli, CLIMB’s executive director.

CLIMB was forced to cut staff salaries in recent years as libraries and school districts cut their programming budgets. The group, which had a $1.1 million budget in the last year, has four full-time staffers, three part-time staffers and hires actors for its productions.

CLIMB has used the funds to perform plays about bullying in schools and has brought theater to preschool children to help them with cognitive and social skills. CLIMB also worked with communities and performed plays about reintegration for troops returning from fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We overcame the barrier of, ‘oh the theater is for the elite, educated and people with money,’” she said. “We overcame the geographic barrier. We were there in people’s communities and we performed for free.”

Dunbar’s story also looks at such organizations as Veterans in the Arts, Blue Earth Valley Concert Association, Staples Area Men’s Chorus, and Wadena Madhatters Community Theatre. You can read her full report here.

  • Chris

    Why should the legacy funding be used to fund things it wasn’t intended to? If it were mentioned before the vote a few years back for this funding would be used to increase the profits of a very profitable NFL franchise, it never would have passed. So why take it now?

  • Elle

    Anyone who says that the Minnesota Vikings are not part of our legacy is not very engaged with Minnesota history.

  • Charlie

    It’s simple. Money. Vikings bring in revenue; Arts, not so much.

  • Sheila Smith

    Hi Charlie. According to a 2007 study “Arts: A Driving Force in Minnesota’s Economy” The 1400 nonprofit arts organizations in the state have an economic impact of almost $850 million per year. Arts organizations are in every town in Minnesota, energizing main streets, bringing people downtown and filling restaurants on a daily basis. The arts aren’t just eight or ten games in town per year, they have an economic impact 365 days per year. An added bonus is that, as nonprofits, they are owned by the people themselves, and are not private businesses.