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Minnesota Citizens for the Arts

Executive Director

Location: MN - Twin Cities Metro
Type: Full Time
Category: Executive and management
Deadline: May 17, 2021

City: St. Paul, MN
Salary: $148,000 / yr.
Website: http://artsmn.org/
Is this a remote / work from home position?: This is a hybrid position (partially remote, partially site-based)

Job description

Ballinger | Leafblad is pleased to conduct the search for Executive Director at Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, an arts advocacy organization in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA) is a statewide arts advocacy organization that organizes the arts community to lobby the Minnesota State Legislature and Congress.

MCA is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit membership organization and their services and programs are funded entirely by their members. MCA’s members include individuals, organizations, and businesses from every corner of the state. MCA is a network of artists, arts educators, arts organizations of all sizes and genres, and citizens who care about the arts and who are committed to working to preserve them. MCA uses its resources wisely to work on behalf of the entire arts community.

Minnesota is proud to set itself apart from surrounding states with a robust nonprofit arts and culture economy that extends throughout the state as a hub of artistic energy in the Midwest. Because of the interest of the citizens of Minnesota in having access to artistic opportunities, Minnesota has one and a half times the number of arts businesses per capita than all of the surrounding states, on par with California and New York. MCA’s work has fostered that density of artistic activity.

Organized in November 1974, MCA is the oldest continuously operating statewide arts advocacy organization in the country. A group of individuals formed Minnesota Citizens for the Arts to build stronger legislative support for the arts. From its beginnings in 1974, when the state provided no funding for the arts, MCA began work during the 1976 legislative session when the arts were tied to the stadium bill.

Although the Arts/Stadium bill did not pass, the session proved to be good preparation for the biennial appropriation to the Minnesota State Arts Board the following year. The effects of a unified advocacy group were demonstrated in 1977 when the biennial appropriation increased from $1 million to $4 million. Large and small arts organizations, individual artists, presenters and audiences from all parts of the state benefited from that increase.

Over the years, MCA has been successful in advocating for increased access to the arts, fueling Minnesota’s national reputation as a hotbed of creative activity and high quality of life. MCA has helped increase state arts funding putting Minnesota ahead to become the nation’s leader in per capita arts funding.

MCA’s largest success to date came with passage of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008, which put dedicated funding for the arts into Minnesota’s Constitution for the next 25 years including a high point of $40.7 million annually.

To ensure opportunity for all people to have access to and involvement in the arts.

• Ensure access to the arts for all Minnesotans by working to protect and increase state appropriations to the arts in Minnesota
• Recognize and encourage the public’s engagement with the support of nonprofits by working to promote and maintain tax policies beneficial to charitable giving, arts philanthropy and nonprofit arts organizations.
• Support the inclusion of arts as a basic requirement in Minnesota schools.
• Support federal funding of the arts and enlightened national tax policies for charities.
• Support a state role in providing resources to create cultural infrastructure in Minnesota.

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts works to increase arts funding by bringing arts advocates together with their legislators about the importance of the arts to our lives and our economy. MCA has trained thousands of citizens in civic activism, giving them the tools and know-how to become arts advocates at the state and local levels. Every year nearly 1000 arts advocates join together for a rally at the Minnesota History Center Auditorium in the morning, split up into teams with experienced leaders and walk together to legislator offices to educate them about the arts in their communities and ask them to support arts funding.

Creative Minnesota (https://www.creativemn.org/) was developed with many arts and culture supporting organizations in partnership with MCA to provide hard data about the arts economy. It provides research and reports to improve the understanding of the importance of the arts. For an artist or arts and culture organization, it provides data that can be used to advocate for the arts and artists. For a politician or elected official, the data shows how much economic activity is generated by the arts and culture sector in a specific area. For members of the public, the CreativeMN report is a great way to see the impact of the arts and culture in Minnesota and to find out what is in their area.

Because of MCA, Minnesota is unique in the country for having dedicated funding for the arts in its state constitution. MCA led the cultural community in joining a coalition of hunting and angling, conservation, clean water and parks and trails advocates who passed the groundbreaking Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008. As a result of MCA’s ability to work with a wide variety of partners, the Legacy Amendment tripled state arts funding to $30M annually and put dedicated funding for the arts into Minnesota’s Constitution for the next 25 years through the year 2033.

MCA, in partnership with the Minnesota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils, has been successful in advocating policies that resulted in a border-to-border state funding system unparalleled in the nation. This system has enlivened Main Streets across the state by supporting all sizes and genres of the arts, from the largest world-class organizations and the many different genres of mid-sized and small organizations to the individual artists who make it all happen and create the art. In turn, this results in access to the arts for all Minnesotans no matter where they live or what their circumstances. Arts funding now touches people in every corner of the state.

In addition to Minnesota’s national leadership in arts funding, MCA advocated for and has protected the state’s “Percent for Art in Public Places” program, which acquires works of art to be exhibited in and around the public areas of state buildings. MCA has also been a vigilant watchdog for the nonprofit arts sector, passing a sales tax exemption for nonprofit tickets and protecting other vital nonprofit tax exemptions. In addition, MCA protects artists rights by opposing censorship and passing a consignment law to protect artists’ works if galleries go bankrupt.

Another signature accomplishment was MCA’s role in the creation of the state’s eleven Regional Arts Councils which advocate for and provide access to the arts across the state. Resources reach organizations, artists, audiences and school children in every corner of the state through the unique competitive grant-making system of the Minnesota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils.

MCA works with other nonprofit partners to fight off attempts to tax nonprofits. MCA’s collaborative work enabled the passage of the Minnesota Charitable Giving Relief Act, which allows nonitemizers to get a tax deduction of 50% of their contributions of over $500 per year to charities.



The Executive Director is the chief administrator, connector and spokesperson for Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA) and is responsible to the Board of Directors for the overall operations of MCA. The Executive Director reports to and receives direction from the Chair and the Executive Committee.

The Executive Director organizes arts organizations, artists, and the arts-interested public to create positive public policy outcomes on behalf of the Minnesota nonprofit arts community.

The position is open with the retirement of long-time Executive Director, Sheila Smith.

MCA has retained an interim Executive Director, Jennifer Halcrow, to support the leadership transition.

Opportunity Summary
MCA seeks a collaborative coalition builder who is an exceptional listener, organizer, educator, advocate, communicator and connector. This leader will be motivated by the opportunity to understand the nuance and perspective of all stakeholders and coalition members and to enact strategies to build alignment, understanding and consensus regarding MCA’s future direction.

The leader will demonstrate lived experience around consensus-building, negotiating, advocating and leading coalitions. They will be energized by the opportunity to engage the entire State of Minnesota in the work to build and highlight the foundation of the case for renewing the Legacy Amendment in 2033 and by the opportunity to build relationships with legislators and other potential funders to advocate for expanded current support from the legislature and other potential funding partners.

The next Executive Director will understand the mechanics and process of public policy making and coalition building. They will work to strengthen the relationship with and between the Minnesota State Arts Board, Regional Arts Councils and MCA and with other arts and cultural advocacy entities.

MCA seeks a leader who will guide the organization through its ongoing work on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion and who embodies the vulnerability, empathy, compassion and courage required for this type of adaptive leadership and change management work. This leader will be able to be articulate their own journey on issues of equity and inclusion, and how it informs their leadership.

This leader will serve as a bridge between the work accomplished to date and charting a new course for MCA’s future. They will be comfortable with the discomfort that comes with evolution, growth and change and energized by mediating and resolving conflicts within the coalition community of MCA.

Primary Responsibilities
• Provide thoughtful, strategic leadership to the Executive Committee, Committees, and Board in creating, implementing and evaluating short- and long-term goals of the organization.
• Oversee financial planning and management of resources to ensure the accomplishment of the organization’s goals.
• Communicate in an open, transparent manner to inform statewide membership and, when appropriate, government agencies and the press, of the mission, services, goals and accomplishments of MCA.
• Provide direction and work positively and closely with lobbyist(s) in the development and implementation of political strategy to achieve MCA goals.
• Provide visionary, collaborative leadership for the organization. Hire, supervise, coach and develop other staff members, contractors and volunteers.
• Administer and lead Creative Minnesota (CreativeMN.org).
• Maintain active participation in partnerships with other organizations involved in arts advocacy.

Qualifications or requirements

• Background, experience and related education in management, community service, political or grassroots advocacy, administration, or similar field(s).
• Experience in fundraising, budgeting and fiscal management.
• Preference for candidates with knowledge and understanding of the nuance of Minnesota’s political system and arts and culture organizations.
• Passion for the mission and values of MCA.

View complete profile:

How to apply

For additional information or to apply, contact:

Lars Leafblad, MBA


Damon Shoholm, MA