Where do the arts fit in?

News Cut doesn’t have a Best News Cut Award (that is, a sound bite on the radio) yet, but if we did, this would be it:

“It’s easy to make a kneejerk argument against the arts; all you have to do is mention Robert Mapplethorpe or Karen Finley. You know, the outdoors don’t get naked and smear themselves with chocolate.”

Arts critic Dominic Papatola talked to MPR’s Cathy Wurzer about why the effort to get a sales tax increase passed to support outdoors initiatives, seems to be targeted to and mentioning only the outdoors portion, while ignoring the fact that 20 percent of the money raised will go to the arts.

“The arts got the ‘crazy aunt in the attic treatment,'” Papatola said. In other words, the marketing effort is trying to keep the arts component quiet.

The arts community and the hunting/fishing/outdoors community is an unlikely alliance to begin with. Their marriage was at the end of a political shotgun. The outdoors people have been trying to get funding with a sales tax increase passed for about a decade. The arts component was included because it’s the only way DFLers would support the referendum question. Why? Some DFLers fear a ballot question for sportsmen only is more likely to draw Republicans to the polls.

According to a story from MPR’s Chris Roberts, both sides have since pooh-pooh’d the tensions:

“When you talk to the owner of the Blue Heron — that’s a wonderful restaurant in Cold Spring — and you ask him ‘What do the arts mean to your business?’ He said, ‘When an arts event is going on in Cold Spring, my restaurant is packed.’ It is an economic driver,” said Leslie Schumacher of the Central Minnesota Arts Board in Foley.

Are the arts folks working a little too hard to find reasons to feel ignored?

On his radio interview Papatola described a button he saw at the Orpheum the other night showing a fisherman, and the Split Rock Lighthouse, and — he says — “there’s a guy way at the bottom with a paint brush looking like he’s painting Split Rock.”

But MPR’s Euan Kerr found this button…


… which appears to leave hunters and fishermen out of the picture.

Here’s Papatola’s very interesting — and entertaining — interview. (Listen – MP3)

  • The Vote Yes Campaign Logo is composed of three images, that only being one of them. They mint other buttons with the other two icons, each representing a different part of the amendment. The orange logo has hunters/fishers, the green is the environment themed one and the blue is for the arts. See:



  • Bob Collins

    Thanks Noah. I saw a post on Twitter that also referred to The Uptake pix. Separate but equal (sort of) seems to be the message.