Arts leaders perplexed by cuts to State Arts Board

Gov. Pawlenty
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget proposal calls for a 2 percent reduction in spending compared to the current budget cycle as part of his solution for a $4.8 billion deficit.
MPR Photo/Tim Nelson

Leaders of the lobbying group Minnesota Citizens for the Arts say they are confused by Governor Pawlenty's budget proposal for arts funding.

Pawlenty said today he wants to zero out funding to the State Arts Board and convert it from a state agency to a private non-profit.

MCA president Sheila Smith says she doesn't see what would be gained by the move.

"We can't quite tell what the point of that is, because it seems the state arts board would still be spending largely public dollars. So an action such as this might conflict with the accountability and transparency that you would want in the use of tax dollars. So I find his proposal perplexing," Smith said.

The Pawlenty proposal would reduce the Arts Board funding by a third in 2009 to about $7 million, then to about $3.5 million in 2010, and zero the year after.

The state arts board was expected to handle distribution of money from a new state sales tax, although that issue is now before the legislature.

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