May 2010 Letters to the Editor
Letters from readers regarding the last issues of Minnesota Monthly
Good Cop, Good Guy
Thanks for the thoughtful article on Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan and the reappointment process (“The Inside Man,” March). I’ve worked with Tim for several years on the board of Patchwork Quilt, an organization serving children and teens in North Minneapolis, and it gives great hope to the young people we serve to know that Tim had his own troubled youth and came through it. He treats teens like he has all the time in the world, offering job ideas and contact info to kids looking for work, sharing his own sometimes-shaky college experiences with teens who are the first in their family to graduate from high school. It’s clearly not just a job for him.
Margaret Nelson Brinkhaus
Your “Spring Awakenings” fashion piece in the April issue seemed more like “Survived Winter in a Cave.” Shame on you for perpetuating this sickened, starving look.
Pawlenty vs. the Arts
Tim Gihring’s article “Chiseling Away” (April) raises an important question about government funding the arts. I would argue that whether or not the government financially supports the arts is ultimately not that important. There will always be politicians who increase arts funding as well as those who cut it. If we wish to maintain our arts scene, our energies are best spent teaching others the importance of the arts and mentoring the next generation of artists and audience members.
T. James Belich
Like many others, artists and those who work in arts organizations are losing jobs or taking smaller paychecks home to their families as a result of the economic crisis. Arts jobs are jobs—and a job is a job is a job. In fact, over 30,000 Minnesotans make their living in the arts, and preserving the small funding for the State Arts Board prevents thousands more from joining the unemployed.
Minnesota Citizens for the Arts
Governor Pawlenty is going “rogue” by taking a stand for fiscal responsibility. He has become a bit of a hero to some of us by doing what few modern-day politicians can do: refusing to spend money we don’t have. He would like to fund the arts and other programs for our education, environment, etc., but he is showing courage in doing what is prudent and responsible. This sets an example for the rest of the country that is practical and noble.
I recently heard an arts enthusiast and funder claim that artists here have a sense of entitlement and that they refuse to identify with the working class. Most artists I know certainly do consider themselves skilled workers who take on a variety of other low-paying jobs to support themselves. Many labor without the protection of unions and the benefits or pensions that have traditionally been granted other workers. Many mature, nationally and internationally recognized artists in this state are living as close to the bone as they were 25 or 30 years ago. The myth of entitlement has plagued artists in America for far too long. When, even in our culturally savvy state, arts supporters voice such sentiments, we know we still have a ways to go in educating Minnesotans about the lives and work of their artists.
Tim Gihring gave an excellent argument for why Pawlenty is in jeopardy of going down as the governor who ruined Minnesota’s reputation as a vibrant cultural arts center. However, one aspect of the discussion not touched upon is the funding of art in schools and the integration of art into every subject. Not all students learn in the same way. Many students are kinetic learners, they need to move and create. The arts can help. For years, scientists have been demonstrating the connection between the development of the brain and learning with arts curriculum. Arts with the Brain in Mind by Eric Jensen is an excellent primer on the subject. I’d send the book to Pawlenty, but he already knows what’s best for our children and our state.
Governor Pawlenty’s proposal to cut the Minnesota State Arts Board’s budget by 33 percent on the road to abolishing the agency is curious but not cavalier. Curious, because the governor has supported the arts by word and deed, most notably with $12 million in bonding for the Minnesota Shubert Center. However, this is not the first time he has proposed a sizable reduction (2003) or elimination (2009) of the agency, suggesting that his actions are not cavalier. We have seen this play before when the state’s finances became severely stressed.
Nonetheless, Tim Gihring is right to note that the forerunner of the MSAB was created in 1903—the same year the Minnesota Orchestra was founded. Just a few years later, in 1910, Swedish immigrants opened the Southern Theater in the Seven Corners-West Bank neighborhood of Minneapolis. The value of the arts and of organizations that facilitate their expression is timeless. Backed by the advocacy—and votes—of citizens throughout Minnesota, governors and legislators have recognized as much for more than a century. That’s a tradition that today’s leaders should maintain.
Contrary to what we specified in “Best Places to Live” (April), the Edina Public Schools district includes six elementary schools (one of which is French immersion), not three. Also, among the “10 Best Home Improvements” we highlighted, the major kitchen remodel recoups an average of 62 percent, not 6 percent.