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Equity and Decisions for Legacy Fund
A Minnesota Legacy Grant Recommendation has been put forth by the Minnesota History Coalition - a consortium of history-related organizations. This recommendation covers the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund – one piece of the Legacy Grant pie.
The Coalition’s recommendation is a significant document as it demonstrates a working consensus among the representatives of these organizations – and they all deserve credit for that work. My sense is that this document will carry some weight with legislators.
We all have many questions about the Legacy Grant – questions for which there is not yet an answer. To the extent that this is time to get all ideas out on the table before it’s too late – I’d like to address two issues regarding the Legacy Grant funding.
Geographic/Economic Equity – The Legacy Grant is an opportunity to enable under funded county historical societies and underserved areas of the state to become better equipped for preservation of their history. There are many rural county historical societies (I’m thinking of Lincoln County in southwestern Minnesota) that aren’t as active due to little or no county support and that miss out on opportunities provided by the legacy grant to preserve their county’s history. County historical societies with limited staff do not have the ability to research and write grants, lobby for funding, lobby for preservation, etc…. They are too busy worrying about covering their next insurance payment or fixing the leaky roof. Consequently, their history is being lost.
I would like to see some of the legacy funds earmarked for those areas and organizations that lie in economically stressed areas where funding for historical societies and historic preservation is minimal. One solution may be to offer these counties a dollar for dollar matching grant for use in funding their county historical society or other bona fide historic preservation organization.
Deciding who gets what? – We know that the amendment gives the legislature the authority to make spending decisions. But we also know the legislature is not going to review and recommend individual projects. So who will? I believe an independent council should be established similar to the Lessard Outdoor Heritage Council. This council, legislatively approved and containing eight citizens and four legislators, will make recommendations to lawmakers about spending the Outdoor Heritage Fund - another piece of the Legacy Amendment pie. More information on this council can be found in Minnesota Statute 97A.056.
Sherburne History Center