For the first time all winter, I want you to take this question seriously, to contemplate it in its fullest ontological sense:
Cold enough for ya?
Seriously. Look outside. It's ghastly, right? And it will be like this well into April.
For too long (and coincidentally in the midst of a long economic boom) our leaders told us to do for ourselves. And we are strong, pragmatic Midwesterners, so yah sure we listened. We were persuaded to starve funding for supposedly frivolous arts programs. And even those of us who might have cared didn't.
But somehow this fall, as the Dow cratered and the news stations swapped stock footage of foreclosures in Ohio, as another season of disorder wheezed down our necks, Minnesotans showed up on November 4 and voted yes on the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy amendment to the state constitution. Fifty-nine percent of us voted yes—which means Republicans, Democrats, and even those weird Barkley people.
So Minnesota voters deserve to be Artists of the Year.
Clean water and air and nice trails are great and everything. But in this climate? We. Need. To. Party. And with a .375-percent sales tax bump that will net arts organizations around the state approximately $48 million in 2010 and $54.5 million in 2011, our party people—the artists—will be able to do their thing. Do you have plans to record a CD of the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay set to electronica? Do you have a vision of a photographic comparison of Ottertail, Minnesota, and her sister city Nordhordland, Norway? Do you work in the mediums of copper, thread, and hope? Awesome. Come on in. The state of Minnesota will throw your coat on the bed and get you a cup for the keg.
It's brutal out there.
Steve Marsh is a staff writer at Mpls/St Paul magazine.