State of the Arts

Facts, Figures, Stats and Stories about Arts in Minnesota

2002, double-sided poster/brochure. The McKnight Foundation, 600 TCF Tower, 121 South 8th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402, (612) 333-4220.

I fell in love with Minnesota and Minnesotans during the 2000 GIA conference. What arts grantmaker wouldn't be impressed with a state where 92 percent of itspopulation believe that "the arts are crucial to their quality of life?"1 I first saw this statistic on a memorable poster printed by the Minnesota Citizens for the Arts. A take-off on the Got Milk? commercials, the poster brandished a cow peering at the viewer and asked Got ART? The back side of this wry piece provided information about why the arts are valuable to Minnesota. The message was very effective, and I still quote its noteworthy findings.

So when I received The McKnight Foundation's "State of the Arts: Facts, Figures, Stats and Stories about Arts in Minnesota," I delighted in exploring this accessible and informative report. The brochure/poster unfolds like a map (but is much easier to re-pack). One side presents alternating orange and black columns with data on five different artistic disciplines. Each column features excerpts of stories that aired on a Minnesota Public Radio news program called "Word of Mouth: Radio Guide to the Arts." Each starts off with a pithy summation: "Orchestral Music— Quality up, attendance down” or “Visual Art — plenty of artists and foundations, not enough galleries and collectors.”

The reverse side is a crazy quilt of doodles and handwritten gems with headings such as Changing Philanthropy — which notes that contributions by foundation and corporate grantmakers decreased 10 percent since 1997; Children — “Child magazine ranked the Twin Cities third in their list of top ten best cities to raise kids, partially on the strength of the availability of arts programming and museums;” Tourism —“Five of the top 25 Minnesota tourist attractions are arts institutions;” and Crafts Artists — they help generate $228 million for Minnesota's economy. Whether it's the non-linear presentation, the attractive use of color, the drawings, or the hand-written notes, this poster drew me in and engaged me more than a conventional report. Minnesotans should find this poster a helpful educational tool, as should any arts funders who are eager to learn what is happening in one of this country's most arts-loving states.

1 From the 1998 public opinion survey conducted by the Center for Survey Research at the University of Minnesota

Pam Wolkoff, Flintridge Foundation