ST. CLOUD(AP) -- A St. Cloud lawmaker wants the Minnesota State Arts Board to pull its funding for its Central Minnesota chapter.
In a letter dated Monday, Rep. Joe Opatz, DFL-St. Cloud, asked the state arts board to end its relationship with the Central Minnesota Arts Board after a year of problems.
"This is an agency that spends lots of tax dollars and they have a responsibility to the public that they seem unable to fulfill," Opatz said.
The Minnesota State Arts Board gives money to 11 regional arts councils, which distributes the money locally.
In 2002, the Central Minnesota Arts Board allocated $166,771 in project grants to a four-county area; next year the board plans to give out $152,505. Grants have gone to projects such as art exhibits, plays and concerts.
Earlier this year, the Minnesota State Arts Board expressed concerns about the St. Cloud-based board's leadership and compliance with the state's Open Meeting Law after the resignations of six members.
Every two years, the Minnesota State Arts Board designates the regional art councils. Executive director Robert Booker said if another organization wants to apply for designation in the central region, it must notify the State Arts Board before Jan. 1.
"We share (Rep. Opatz's) frustration that organization issues at the Central Minnesota Arts Board continue to cast a very dark cloud over the very good work that is being done by the artists and arts organizations of the region," Booker said in a written statement.
Catherine Meyers, chairwoman of the Central Minnesota Arts Board, said Opatz did not contact her about his letter and its request.
"That's tragic," she said. "I'm quite disappointed in Representative Joe Opatz knee-jerk reaction. It's highly unfortunate."
The Central Minnesota Arts Board receives private funding from the McKnight Foundation. Instead, Opatz recommended the Central Minnesota Community Foundation receive and then grant the state money.
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