We’ve had a “spirited” discussion on my cubicle row today about the Star Tribune story concerning author Neil Gaiman’s $45,000 speaker’s fee to speak in Stillwater, paid for via the Legacy Amendment money. That’s the arts and outdoors dedicated fund from an increase in the sales tax.
You can hear Gaiman’s speech for free:
The arts community has offered a little “pushback” to the criticism of Gaiman since the Star Tribune article appeared.
Says Kevin Hoffman of City Pages:
Sure, $45,000 sounds like a lot of money for an author, even one as acclaimed as Gaiman. But that’s pennies compared to the $791 million Vikings stadium the Star Tribune wants taxpayers to help build.
Amy Goetzman of MinnPost:
But predictably, this unleashed the comments-section mob of torch-bearing, anti-library Tea Party types, who will no doubt think of this item when it comes to voting to support their local libraries.
That’s a lot of money, to be sure, but author Sarah Palin’s been bringing in more than double that for appearances, and a quick look at this talent site finds plenty of other writers charging in the $30K to $50K range for an appearance, including Alice Walker and Anderson Cooper
All of this is low-hanging fruit for those who argued against including arts funding in a bill that originally was intended to help outdoors and natural resources projects. And it caused me to take a look back at how the Legacy Amendment was marketed to voters — heavy on the outdoors, light on the arts.
Former MPR arts commentator Dominic Papatola delivered a classic quote when asked about it during the campaign.
“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.”