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Park Rapids artists rally at the Capitol, ask legislators to support arts funding

Front row, from left, Janet Johnson (Roseau), Marie Nordberg (PR), Pat Dove, Holly Alcott (R2AC), Sandy Andress (Akeley), Sandy Fynboh Andress, Maxine Regalado, Maureen Regalado, Skylar Fynboh and Therese Jacobson. Back row: Katie Carter (Headwaters School), Terri Widman (R2AC), Rod Nordberg, Laura Dehler-Seter, Fred Rogers, Sen. Rod Skoe, Donald Clark and Paul Dove

Editor’s note: Visual artists, singers, dancers, musicians, members of an arts board, arts administrators or students, all arts advocates were urged to visit the state Capitol and meet with legislators Feb. 19 to share the importance of the arts to our lives and our economy.

The annual event is organized by Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, a nonpartisan, statewide arts advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure Minnesotans have access to and involvement in the arts.

The state Legislature will soon decide how much arts funding will be available for the next two years.

On Feb. 18, Paul and Pat Dove and Marie and Rod Nordberg set out to represent the Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council(PRLAAC) at Arts Advocacy Day at the state Capitol.

Because Advocacy Day started by 8 a.m. on the Feb. 19, a day’s earlier arrival presented an opportunity to attend a magnificent performance at the Guthrie Theatre of “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

On a rather frigid morning, some 500-plus arts supporters from around the state gathered at the state capitol for Arts Advocacy Day.

Sheila Smith, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, welcomed the group and sent them out to meet with their legislators.

Our team of 14, ranging from high school students to retirees, met with Representatives Green, Hancock, and Persell as well as Senators Skoe and Stumpf and thanked them for their support of the Arts and the Arts Legacy Funding.

Team members also affirmed how this support had enriched their careers, their organizations, and their greater communities. We walked miles through the tunnels, going back and forth to the Senate Office Building and the Capitol. We experienced the construction in progress, some bared underground support pillars, and some finished exterior enhancements.

Sen. Stumpf gave us a history lesson on the Capitol’s beginnings to the updates that make this a “People’s House” of which Minnesotans can be proud.

Sen. Skoe spent a considerable time with the group, asking about arts happenings in members’ communities and affirming his belief that arts contribute to a healthy citizenry.

Sen. Skoe also thanked the Park Rapids members for the best ever welcome received by the Senate Finance Committee when they visited the Armory in the fall of 2013.

During post Advocacy Day activities, a new study was released at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts affirming the economic impact the Arts have on Minnesota’s economy. To read the report, go to

We would encourage folks to check out the State Capitol and stop by to see the legislators if their schedules would allow time for a visit. They are our representatives and would surely welcome our concerns, but also would surely appreciate our thanks for their service.