The federal stimulus and Minnesota arts

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has left a sizeable imprint on the Minnesota arts scene. Last year, the program allocated 50-million dollars to the National Endowment for the Arts to preserve and sustain arts-related jobs that were hemorrhaging across the country.

Two government agencies, the N.E.A. and the Minnesota State Arts Board, and one Minneapolis-based philanthropic organization, Midwest Arts, distributed the funds in Minnesota.

The N.E.A. gave out 1,025,000-dollars to 26 Minnesota arts groups, including the Guthrie Theater (above), The Eastside Arts Council in St. Paul and Coffeehouse Press. Midwest Arts issued three grants totaling 45-thousand dollars, and the State Arts Board awarded 361,200-dollars in grants to 18 recipients across the state.

If our addition is correct, Minnesota’s share of the stimulus pie in grant form adds up to 1,386,200-dollars.

State Arts Board Executive Director Sue Gens says the money was geared toward preserving arts jobs that had been eliminated or were in danger of being eliminated–all except fundraising jobs.

“So it might have been a marketing position,” Jens said. “It might have been an artistic director. It might have been the education manager, who plans all the residencies. In some cases, it was the actual artists.”

Taken together, Jens says the grants have saved dozens of jobs.

“We believe 180 jobs in the arts that would have been either eliminated or perhaps downsized are still there now, or have come back,” she said. “In some cases we had requests from organizations that had already laid off a staff person and wanted to bring that person back.”

Jens says Minnesota has done very well in securing stimulus money for the arts, especially compared to other states. She sees it as part of a hard won recognition by Washington of the importance of the state’s billion dollar arts economy. When you add the two million dollars in stimulus money the city of Minneapolis bequeathed to the Shubert Theater restoration, you’re up to well over three million in American Recovery and Reinvestment largesse for Minnesota. Not bad for a flyover state.

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