Legacy Funding for History

Members of the history community in Minnesota will gather on December 10, 11 and 15 to discuss the recently approved constitutional amendment and what may happen next.

What is known:

The constitutional amendment to increase and dedicate sales tax funds for outdoor and cultural resources passed in the November election with 56% of the vote.

“Minnesota history” is contained within the constitutional language. History funding is contained within the “Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.”

According to the Department of Revenue’s latest estimate, the Arts and Cultural Heritage fund will contain approximately $54 million per year.

Funds will ultimately be appropriated by the legislature.

Language within this new section of the constitution states that funding from this fund shall supplement existing sources of funding, but not be a substitute.

What is not known:

It is not clear how much money will be allocated to the various areas within the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, or by what mechanism funds will be allocated (i.e. citizens’ council, direct appropriation, etc.)

What can you do:

  • Propose how the funding could be used. Specifically, what needs are there?
  • Attend one of three meetings (same content, three locations): RSVP to David Kelliher
    • 7 p.m. December 10, 2008 at the Nicollet County Historical Society in St. Peter 7 p.m. 
    • December 11, 2008 at the Stearns History Museum in St. Cloud 3 p.m. December 15, 2008 at 
    • Historic Fort Snelling Visitor Center near the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport
  • Attend “History Matters Day at the Capitol” on February 16, 2009.

If you would prefer to deliver your thoughts without posting them to this blog, please email David Kelliher at the Minnesota Historical Society who volunteered to compile comments for the Council for Minnesota Archaeology, Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums, Minnesota Historical Society, and Preservation Alliance of Minnesota.

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About David Grabitske

David Grabitske is the manager of outreach services at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota.
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12 Responses to Legacy Funding for History

  1. Since I will not be able to attend any of the planning sessions, I’ll give it a shot. I would love to see at least part of this fund go towards a General Operating Support grant program, along the lines of what IMLS got rid of. GOS is the hardest money to raise, and the most critical.

    A little bit of money could go a long way in a program like this. Let’s say that institutions could request up to 5% of their annual operating budget, capped at, say, $50,000 (for the real bigs). For us, this would be a little over $10,000. It would make a huge difference for us, and I’m sure it would for other organizations as well.

    The criteria could be similar to the IMLS program: general excellence and adherence to accepted standards.

    That’s what I’d like.


  2. June Lynne says:

    I think that there needs to be some funding set aside for preservation of our historic buildings. I have heard several good ideas and agree with them, but funds for preservation are so limited, and the preservation of our structures are vital to our history. Simiplification of the process would also be important.


  3. Yes to Claudia, yes to June.

    To add to Claudia’s thoughts, 5% for us would be around $5K. That amount would be a tremendous lift at is would allow us to engage in the activities that we often have to put off. New display cases (boy are those spendy!), upgrading technology (love my color laser printer, but after ten years, starting to show its age), collections storage stuff, and even books for our library can get deferred when the funds are tight. I do believe that a peer review process like what IMLS did for GOS and does for MFA could be put together.

    No doubt there will be many good ideas coming forward in the next few months. My curiosity will be to see what kind of procedures the legislature puts into place to handle the funds as they accumulate. Which committee(s) will steer the funds. How will groups have to apply for those funds. Etc.


  4. tamara edevold says:

    i see two “needs”
    technology- we need scanners, projectors, lap tops, smart boards, all those 21st century things that we don’t all have.
    we also need building upgrades: energy efficient windows, insulation, better furnaces. many museums were built so long ago these things need replacing and now is the time to do it.
    funds for these would free up funds for programs


  5. Mary Warner says:

    My concern is that all of our historical organizations have needs, from the largest to the smallest. How do we make sure funding is distributed equitably across the spectrum? How do we make sure that Greater Minnesota is not short shrifted due to having less population than metro areas?


  6. Marcia Anderson says:

    If it’s true “that funding from this fund shall supplement existing sources of funding, but not be a substitute” then I’d like to suggest that some sort of grant program emphasize (as one of its components) projects that are institutional collaborations. Collaboration could result in a blending of available resources, & enable regional activities (thereby saving on advertising, etc.). Using this approach it’s possible that some of the existing needs mentioned previously would be eligible for funding. I believe, especially in Minnesota where the cultural resources are so plentiful, more collaborative projects are overdue anyway.


  7. As we move forward in this process, let’s be mindful that there are other groups who are now eyeing this pool of funds that were likely not intended targets of the legacy amendment.

    One of the other hats I wear is that of a high school forensics (speech) coach. There is a movement amongst the debate coaching community to make a coordinated effort to persuade legislators to include high school forensics programs as potential recipients for the arts portion of the amendment. Debate in particular has seen a large loss in programs due to its high cost and lack of off-setting revenue (i.e. no gate receipts).

    I bring this up as but one example of how, esp. considering how state, county, and local budgets will be under tremendous stress due to the condition of the state’s budget, that people/organizations will view the legacy amendment funds as a way to make up for what they have lost.


  8. What about support for regional histories/historical guidebooks of the state? That might get us all thinking about what we have in common with our neighbors and raising the profile of history statewide. Such histories could include both a book and a web component, with lists/links to county & local museums, historic sites, National Register sites, driving and/or walking tours as well as what makes that region a region — often geology and natural history. Just a thought.


  9. You can add musicians to the list of people lining up to get a portion of the arts funding component from the Legacy Amendment.



  10. Musicians are not getting in line for Legacy Amendment funding.



  11. Let me try that again:

    Musicians are now(!) getting in line for Legacy Amendment funding. Same link as previous post. (Note to self: proof posts before posting.)


  12. Pingback: Dispatches from Minnesota « Public Historian

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