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Want to stand up for the arts? Contact Congress Today

Contact Congress Now to Oppose Tax Bill Threats to Nonprofits and Artists

Today a wide, diverse set of Minnesota’s nonprofit organizations aligned with one voice to oppose the harmful federal tax bill. Minnesota’s nonprofit community, a sector that employs nearly 12 percent of Minnesota’s workforce and partners with millions, is asking you to take action to oppose the bill. It is expected that Congress will take action on this bill by Christmas, so please take action now.

You can take action any of three ways:
1. CALL your Member of Congress and talk about the brief, highlighted issues listed below, and/or
2. CUT AND PASTE the letter below to your member of Congress, and/or
3. Use Americans for the Arts action page to SEND A PRE-WRITTEN LETTER:

To call or cut and paste the letter below to your member of Congress:

—–MCA’s Letter——

Dear Member of Congress:

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA) and our 1600 affiliated nonprofit arts and culture organizationsare concerned about the impact of proposed changes in the federal tax law currently under consideration in Congress. These include changes in charitable giving laws and the fundamental change in the relationship between partisan politics and the traditionally non-partisan nonprofit organizations who are focused on their missions of serving the public through providing services, educational opportunities, and access to the arts. These changes are inappropriate for the nonprofit sector and will hurt access to the arts and other nonprofit services for all Minnesotans.

Specifically, we oppose reducing tax incentives for charitable giving that undermine the strength of the nonprofit sector. We support allowing more, not fewer people who can itemize their deductions. The proposal to reduce the number of people who can take deductions will have an overall effect of reducing charitable giving by $13 billion annually. The loss of that revenue will devastate the nonprofit sector by removing resources that enable us to accomplish our community-focused missions. The push to devalue charitable deductions is being made without consideration about how it will affect our work or how it will affect people who support nonprofits with their charitable giving.

We also oppose undermining the guarantee of nonprofit nonpartisanship. The House version of this bill will radically change the longstanding, vital protection in law for the nonpartisanship of charitable, religious and philanthropic organizations. These changes would allow political operatives to pressure those organizations to endorse or oppose candidates for public office and make anonymous political donations tax deductible when funneled through 501c(3)s, thus turning mission-driving nonprofits who are serving their communities into conduits for dark political money that can’t be traced. This fundamental change in the nature of nonprofits was not asked for by the nonprofit sector, nor was the nonprofit sector consulted on the impact of such a fundamental change.

Third, we oppose the Robert’s Amendment which strikes low-income artist housing from the list of qualified groups who can benefit from federally subsidized low-income housing. It would forbid developers from using housing credits to build affordable housing with a preference for low income artists. Moreover, as written, the law would also render all existing artists’ housing developments built with housing credits retroactively ineligible for the benefit. The amendment includes a simple line-for-line language swap. Where current law carves out a special exception for individuals “who are involved in artistic or literary activities,” the new bill would instead specify a benefit for those “who are veterans of the Armed Forces.” While we are also supportive of housing for veterans, we believe both should be included, not one swapped for another. Elimination of this tax credit for low income artists will have a significant impact on the ability of cities to protect their cultural community.

We ask that as Congress considers changes to the nation’s tax laws, that they:

  1. Strengthen the nonprofit sector by maintaining existing incentives for charitable giving and expanding the charitable deduction to all taxpayers, not just those who itemize, and
  2. Protect the long tradition of nonpartisanship in 501c(3) nonprofit organizations by preserving the Johnson Amendment, and
  3. Preserve the artist preference clause for low income housing incentives and add the new Veterans preference language added to it, making it a stronger and more inclusive piece of legislation.

We believe that with legislation that reflects these values, we can work together to build thriving communities on a strong foundation of service and access to the arts for all. If these changes can’t be made, we ask that our members of Congress vote against the bill.

Seeking Emerging Youth Artists to Sell Art

courageous heARTS, a youth-led nonprofit art studio in south Minneapolis, is hosting a Winter Bazaar on Dec. 2 from 10-4pm. They are currently seeking emerging youth artists ages 10-24 to sell their work during this event.

Interested in participating?


The event is on Saturday, Dec. 2 from 10-4pm at their studio: 2235 E. 38th St., Minneapolis. Artists (or their proxy) must be present the entire time and are responsible for all sales. The table fee is $10 for half a table and $18 for a whole (tables are 8 feet in length.) All sales go directly to the artist.

To apply, complete this interest form and they’ll be in touch with the details. Spaces are limited.

Questions? Call 612-729-2483.

Give to the Max Day is November 16!

Give to the Max Day is set for Thursday, November 16, 2017!

GiveMN links donors with organizations that are working to make Minnesota a better place. Its online giving website,, enables charitable giving any time and any place, allowing people to donate with ease and enthusiasm. GiveMN brings innovation, energy and fresh ideas to Minnesota generosity.

Consider donating to the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council

The Northwest Minnesota Arts Council promotes, stimulates and supports arts activities in Northwest Minnesota.  We provide arts services, award grants, advocate for the arts, and help to promote art appreciation and participation through our 7 county service region.

NWMAC services Polk, Pennington, Marshall, Kittson, Red Lake, Norman and Roseau counties in Northwestern Minnesota.

Funding for our programs comes primarily from The Minnesota State Legislature.  We, along with the other 10 regional arts councils, work with the Minnesota State Arts Board to provide arts services, staffing and grants.

We also receive funding from the McKnight Foundation.  This allows our organization to help artists grow and prosper through their continued financial support and leadership training.  Their funds help to promote and showcase our artists’ art.

We are always looking for ways to partner and grow and to diversify our Arts Council and our funding. To give to the Arts Council click here

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts Accepting Board Nominations

Nominations for MCA’s Board Now Open

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts is looking for new Greater Minnesota members for their Board of Trustees. Terms begin December, 2017 and will last for two years.

What makes the arts strong in Minnesota? We have great, talented artists. We have world class museums and orchestras. We have thriving arts communities in every corner of the state. And we have a higher level of arts participation than most of the country. Minnesota Citizens for the Arts is a statewide, grassroots political organization that works to increase support for the arts in our state. MCA lobbies the legislature and congress on behalf of the non-profit arts and also produce research to support arts advocacy.  MCA created and passed the arts portion of the Legacy Amendment with many legislative partners that now funds the arts across Minnesota. Learn more at and

The full MCA Board meets four times a year in addition to holding an annual Arts Advocacy Day at the State Capitol in St. Paul. All members serve on committees that meet primarily by phone.

Interested? Fill out the form below and return it by November 14, 2017 by email, fax, or by snail mail to the address below. MCA’s bylaws ensure that board representation comes from all over the state. Half of MCA’s 36 board members must come from the Twin Cities metro area, and half from Greater Minnesota. Two current openings on the MCA Board include:  One opening for a metro based nonprofit arts organization representative, and one greater Minnesota at large representative. Other openings may occur.


MCA seeks board members who:

  • Have mix of party affiliation, and provide balance in terms of the size or type of organizations represented on the board (large, medium, small, arts education, individual artist, etc.)
  • Provide other balances in terms of representing the state or the arts community (ie diversity in terms of age, race, etc).
  • Are people with political connections, political strategists, and people with an understanding of the political process, or are willing to learn.
  • Have clout within their organizations and/or peers, and have the ability and willingness to communicate about the need for arts advocacy.
  • Have a willingness to work, volunteer and join at  meetings.

FYI, your nomination to the board is more likely to be successful if you are a paid member of MCA and if you have previously been a part of Arts Advocacy Day, the Legacy campaign, or volunteered for the cause in some other way.
***(Please do not nominate someone else unless you have discussed it with them first, and they have provided an answer to the question “Why do you want to be on the MCA board?).***

Successful applicants will be notified in November, 2017.

For further information, please download the Board of Directors Nominations Form and feel free to contact them with any questions at (651) 251-0868 or

Board Members and Staff Fiscal Year 2018

Meet Our Board and Staff Members

NWMAC FY 2018 Board Members


Kristina Gray, Crookston, Polk County

Board Member and World Traveler Kristina Gray

Kristina works as a teaching specialist at the University of Minnesota Crookston. She is the Project Director of the Carnegie Library activities and is a board member of the Polk County Historical Society.  Kristina lived abroad for 15 years when she taught English composition and other subjects in the Philippines, China, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. “All these countries have their own way of expressing their traditions and cultures.” She has written two books about Crookston’s history and loves the outdoors. Kristina said, “Art starts a conversation that might not get verbalized.”

Briana Ingraham, Red Lake Falls. Red Lake County 

Board Member and Oboe Player Briana Ingraham

Briana is a former federal government employee taking a break from her career to raise three young sons. She serves on Red Lake Falls’ Civic and Commerce and the Economic Development Committee. She is also part of the Zehlians, the Thief River Falls branch of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. She has a strong interest in preserving the arts, history, and culture and believes we can best do this by educating the public through events, concerts, art walks, and performances. Her art form is music. She sings and plays the oboe in the University of Minnesota Crookston Community band. About Minnesota’s arts scene, Briana said, “I have really seen a big difference in the pride Minnesotans have in their arts programs compared to other states. There is a high quality and quantity of artists of all types here. The support for these artists — from the school programs up through the various community sponsored concerts or events, is something that other states would do well to emulate.” The arts are important to Briana personally, because singing and playing an instrument as an elementary student gave her self-confidence, and a way to express herself that she continues to utilize today. “The arts allow us to connect with one another, no matter our background or creed. In today’s day and age, we need to embrace and support that which unites us, and the arts are something we can all benefit from– across gender, age, religion, and race.   We can’t afford to do without them.”

Janet Johnson, Malung. Roseau County

Board Member and Artist Janet Johnson

Janet is a retired art/English teacher and a current substitute teacher, artist, mentor and a teaching artist. Janet is a painter, book artist and potter, in addition to other artistic mediums. “I have made it my mission to promote art and artists in northern Minnesota…I truly believe in the theory that art is for everyone.”




Chris Lane, Newfolden. Marshall County

Board Member and Photographer Chris Lane

Chris works as a Video Production Designer at Digi-Key. He’s a painter, sculptor and a photographer. He also has experience working with digital art and stained glass. Fun fact: Chris attended school for fine arts in Scotland and exhibited art there during college.




Mary Ann Laxen, East Grand Forks. Polk County

Board Member and Sky Diver Mary Ann Laxen

Mary Ann was one of the founders of River Walk Arts Gallery and Gift Shop in East Grand Forks.  She has served on the River Walk board, exhibited and sold photography note cards, and charcoal drawings.  At the age of 65 Mary Ann went sky diving and when she was 70, she went paragliding off the Swiss Alps. “My foray into the world of art didn’t begin until I was in my 50s.  Before that I was immersed in the world of health care administration. What began as a way to relax and unwind became for me, a world of art and creativity…Because I believe that the arts should be available to all ages, I have agreed and value serving on the Board.  I am living proof that “we are never too old try something new!”

Connie Nelson, Hallock. Kittson County

Board Member and Muralist Connie Nelson

Connie is retired from a career with phone companies in California and Minnesota. She has been and is active in a number of art forms including painting, drawing, acting, directing, other performance art, as well as singing. Connie paints murals, pet portraits and more on commission.

Aliza Olson, Roseau. Roseau County

Board Member and Fiber Artist Aliza Olson

Aliza is a History/Political Science Instructor at Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls. She has been involved in fiber arts most of her adult life. Currently, she focuses on traditional fiber arts and folk arts, including spinning, Nabinding, and simple weaving.




Elizabeth Rockstad, Ada. Norman County 

Board Member, mosaic artist and Star Wars Nerd Elizabeth Rockstad

Elizabeth owns Studio 4:13 in Ada. She is a mosaic artist, a K-12 Art Teacher and a Star Wars nerd. She wants to support the arts in any way she can. “Being a NWMAC Board Member allows me to work with many different types of art and artists in the Northwest region. Art enables us to reflect and grow in our understanding of ourselves and each other. We use art in order to thrive in our world.”

Brook Rufsvold, Red Lake Falls. Red Lake County

Board Member and Arts Advocate Brook Rufsvold

Brook is a Special Education Strategist. She has a lifelong passion for art and has experience writing, designing theater sets, stage directing, judging speech competitions and painting murals. “I have a love for art and creativity.”





Elwyn Ruud, Karlstad. Kittson County

Board Member and Grant writer Elwyn Ruud

Elwyn Ruud brings artists to the schools in northern Minnesota in her role as the Northwest Minnesota Arts Coordinator for COMPAS. She taught elementary school for 36 years before retiring a few years ago. She has also worked for 25 years as a grant writer for four area school districts to secure funding for artist residencies. In addition, Elwyn paints and draws as a primary grade artist in the Roseau and Red Lake County School Districts. Elwyn “serves on the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council to help bring arts to all areas of our communities. The arts are a gift for all ages and I want to be part of bringing that gift to our students, teachers, artists and communities.”

Katya Zepeda, Crookston. Polk County

Board Member Katya Zepeda

Katya is the Executive Director of United Way of Crookston. She is an arts advocate and paints and sculpts as a hobby and has experience creating murals. She was exposed to the arts at a very young age and feels it’s important to pass that on to the next generation. She enjoys collecting artwork through her travels.


Executive Director for Forever Mara Hanel

Mara Hanel, Executive Director 

Mara (formerly Lunde and Wittman) has been the Executive Director of the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council forever.  Yes, that long!  She estimates that she knows 1,000+ wonderful artistic people who love to live in Northwest Minnesota, just like herself.  She grew up in East Grand Forks and was very active in all the arts, including dance, drawing, trumpet, piano, singing, photography, fine craft, theater, and creative writing. For many years after graduating from college in Duluth, Mara combined Arts Administration with visual art and textiles with some choreography here and there.

Mara is happily married to a man who loves to be active in church with her, travels the world, parent, and works on art together in their spare time. Mosaics, stain glass, gardening and landscape design are current passions for them.  “We thoroughly enjoy our blended family of seven plus a dog.  Yes, we need that huge SUV that I drive around for our full family, as well as to move art displays. Love our lake time and get-aways for adventure… that often include theatre, a quiet walk through a museum, and observing top notch sports, and strolling outside… spontaneous, relaxed fun, barely any TV.”

The arts and service to others in the arts is part of every single day for Mara. Her art and the artistic expression of others is what makes her life so rich, and full of meaty topics for discussion. “Visual art, performing art, creative writing, they can all handle those hard topics.  Art can create an amazing emotional response, transformative.  It awes me with its expression of beauty. Enough said?  Love my job working with artist and The Arts.”

Kristin Eggerling, Promotions Specialist

Promotions Specialist Kristin Eggerling with her mosaic for the Equality & Respect for All Exhibit

Kristin works as a freelance writer and community activist. She is a published author — Breath of Wilderness: The Life of Sigurd Olson. She loves the process of research, interviewing, and telling the story of places and people. She serves on a number of boards, including the local library board and regional and state boards focused on sustainability, conservation, the arts and community development. She loves travel, good food, films, reading and spending time with her family.  In addition to writing, she creates mosaics and mixed media art. “Art is so important for our society as a whole, and for each of us as individuals. It has the power to transform our lives and regularly does.”

Kat Allen, Showcase Specialist

Exhibit Specialist and Artist Kat Allen with “Awareness,” her piece in the Equality & Respect for All Exhibit

Kat is an artist, designer, art director, author and mother of three kids. She holds a B.F.A. from Savannah College of Art & Design, and studied art in Florence, Italy. She studied, lived and worked in Colorado, Minneapolis, Chicago, Savannah, Milwaukee and abroad and has worked professionally in brand and marketing design for almost ten years. Currently, she lives in Grafton, North Dakota with her family and is originally from northwest Minnesota.

Jane Anderson, Training and Networking Specialist

Jane Anderson lives in Thief River Falls. In addition to her position as the Networking and Training Specialist with the NWMAC, she is also the Executive Director of the Thief River Falls Area Community Theater.  She is a classically-trained soprano with a B.A. in vocal performance from Bemidji State University, where she studied voice with John Keston. “I love every aspect of performance art. Besides singing, acting, and directing, I have recently taken up costuming and it’s become another passion.” Jane explains, “Arts are important because I believe we weren’t born to merely survive, but to thrive.  Why are we here, if not to enjoy the beauty of the earth and the other people in it?  To fully understand and enjoy, we need to express ourselves and also to see and hear what others are thinking and feeling.  Art is a profound way to connect with ourselves and each other.”