Supporters of the arts in Iowa say the state should look at the approach taken by neighboring Minnesota when it comes to funding. Residents of Minnesota approved a constitutional amendment last November that guarantees a portion of sales taxes will go to fund the arts. The President of the Iowa Cultural Coalition, Regina Smith, says a constitutional amendment to fund the arts in Iowa is a good idea.
“Just having our youth involved in the arts and grow up with these cultural experiences, is really important for our future leaders in the state to have that open mindedness from being involved in the arts throughout their life,” Smith says. Smith says she doesn’t know whether her coalition will try to build support for an Iowa arts constitutional amendment.
The Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, Sheila Smith, spoke about the issue at an arts forum in Cedar Rapids. Smith says the effort to pass a constitutional amendment started in 1991. She says it takes a lot of education to let people know the importance of the arts to tourism, to education and the economic vitality of towns and cities. Smith says Minnesota is the only state to constitutionally guarantee funding.
Smith says: “We are going to be the Paris of the Midwest because of this funding. And I’m really excited, I get calls all the time, about, well we’re thinking about moving our organization up to Minnesota because the arts are so important to Minnesotans.” The vote in Minnesota is expected to lead to about $46-million in funding for the arts. State funding for the arts in Iowa is about $1.7 million.