Rose Williams | Anna Miller
Minnesota taxpayers have spent more than $630 million on community projects that promote left-leaning political views under the guise of upholding the state’s “arts and cultural heritage.”
In 2008, Minnesota voters passed a constitutional amendment to raise the sales tax to generate funds for the preservation of Minnesota’s culture, clean water, environment, parks, trails, and overall legacy.
The so-called Legacy Amendment created four different funds that Minnesota taxpayers would contribute to over the next 25 years, starting in 2010, by increasing the sales tax by three-eighths of a cent.
The Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund receives 19.75% of the sales tax revenue from the Legacy Amendment, and it’s estimated that taxpayers will provide $1.2 billion over the life of the 25-year tax to “preserve Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage.”
While some of the funding is allocated to museums, theaters, youth scholarships, and projects that focus on history and culture, a huge chunk of the money goes to projects that explicitly push a left-wing agenda and favor LGBTQ communities.
Money from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund is available through grant programs and has been awarded to more than 21,000 projects since 2010.
A map of all approved projects is provided by the State Legislature and includes specific information about every project.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars have gone toward sexually explicit performances, pride parades, and LGBTQ-exclusive choirs, shows, films, and events.
Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus
A choir called the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus has been given $367,883 between 2011-2021. The choir’s mission is “gay men building community through music.”
Collective Unconscious Performance
A group called “Collective Unconscious Performance” received $5,000 in 2016 for a project called “Spun Sugar,” which was a “variation” of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale “collaboratively re-imagined through a queer lens using puppetry and mask work.” The performance was in production from May 2016 through January 2017.
Jason Coyle, an individual recipient, was granted $10,000 in 2018 to “complete and distribute” a documentary called “Charlie, Bella, Cooper.” The short film examined “the deaths of three domestic pets whose lives were ended by law enforcement.”
An organization called Gender Reel was given $27,150 between 2018-2020 for its mission of supporting “filmmakers who are creating films about gender non-conforming/trans issues in various ways.” The group puts on a film festival that is “dedicated to enhancing the visibility of trans and gender diverse people” and only accepts films about LGBTQ people. The organization allocates half of its funding specifically to trans people of color.
Outdoor Halloween Puppet Show
An organization called Barebones Productions has been awarded $70,000 between 2011-2020 to produce its annual puppet show to “honor the dead.” Barebones Productions dedicated its 2020 puppet and performance art show to the “mourning, grieving, and fires on Lake Street.”
Exhibits included “Spirit Lantern Puppets,” which are described as “puppets resembling jellyfish [that] give space to all the dead including all those murdered by injustice;” “Pig Skeleton Puppet,” which was “a large moving puppet representing the end of the police;” and “Calling of the Names,” which consisted of “a ghostly white horse puppet addressing white supremacy and people moving forward together.”
One Voice Mixed Chorus
A choir called One Voice Mixed Chorus has received $212,768 between 2012-2020. The choir describes itself as “Minnesota’s own, and one of North America’s largest, LGBT and straight allies community chorus.” The group says it is “building our community and creating social change by raising our voices in song.”
Hinterhands Puppet Company
A group called Hinterhands Puppet Company received $10,000 in 2012 and $10,000 in 2020 for a workshop called “Animating Queer Stories,” which was “a series of puppetry workshops for LGBTQ youth and elders in Minneapolis.”
An organization named What’s Next Productions was given $5,500 in 2020 for its production of a sexual education performance called “Sex Ed: A Sexprov Performance.”
20% Theatre Company
20% Theatre Company received $113,876 between 2014-2020 for various productions called “The Naked I” — performances featuring queer and trans stories from local LGBTQ artists — as well as a workshop called “My Naked Self.”
Drag Story Hour
The recipient of the grant, Viva La Pepa, was awarded $6,950 in 2020 to support an event featuring drag queens called Drag Story Hour in Minneapolis.
Gadfly Theatre Productions
A theater company called Gadfly Theatre productions was given $25,000 between 2017-2019 for the production of several LGBTQ performances and festivals. “60 Queer Plays in 90 Queer Minutes” is the title of one show the group put on in March 2019. It also sponsored an event called “Final Frontier Festival” that highlighted “the stories of marginalized people, particularly from queer and feminist voices.”
A transgender musician was awarded $10,000 in 2019 to share her “memoir reflections of an era wholly accepting of transphobic violence and discrimination while navigating marriage, a band, and her public gender transition.”
A production called “Queertopia” was given $20,000 between 2018-2020 for its annual show in Minneapolis. 2020 was the 15th annual production of Queertopia.
Ecumen Scenic Shores
A nonprofit business called Ecumen Scenic Shores received $16,825 in 2017 for an event that provided “Scenic Shores’ residents and employees with drum circles to enhance wellness, support treatment goals, and build community.”
An individual named William Reichard was given $10,000 in 2020 to “research the history of LGBTQ people in Minnesota, then write lyric, narrative poems about their lives” and read and discuss his work in St. Paul.
Twin Cities Pride Parade
The Twin Cities Pride Parade was given a total of $400,038 between 2011-2019 for its annual parade, in 2016 featuring “more than 60 artists, including 25 queer artists of color.” The money also funded a film project that documented the LGBTQ pride movement in Minnesota.
Equity Response Grant
The Equity Response Grant consists of $39,000 from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and was created by the Metro Regional Arts Council to “fund groups led by Black; Indigenous; People of Color (BIPOC); People with Disabilities (PWD); and/or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual/Agender, Two-Spirit (LGBTQIA2+) individuals.”
Republicans attempted to reform the funding process in 2019 after a report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor found that the State Arts Board, the agency responsible for awarding Legacy Amendment funds, had “room for improvement” in detecting “misuse of state funds” and measuring “outcomes of its grant programs.”