By Lee Gundersheimer and Doug Scholz-Carlson
Lee: Doug, did you know that Senator Jeremy Miller has a We-no-nah canoe in his office in the capitol?
Lee: Well not a full-size canoe, but a nice three-foot replica. Hanging right by his desk. And Representative Pelowski has his father’s Winona State letter sweater from when he was on the golf team.
Doug: What, were you spying on everyone’s office in St. Paul?
Lee: No, we were recently hanging with the politicians.
Doug: Why? Was it was “bring your local artist to work” day?
Lee: No, you didn’t hear the clammering of music and song all the way down route 61? It was Minnesota Arts Advocacy Day. You should have seen us, it was like “House of Cards” meets “Forrest Gump.”
Doug: You lost me there.
Lee: There were arts groups everywhere, from all over the state, meeting with members of both houses. The capitol office building was packed to the rafters. We were all there to advocate and inform and discuss the essential role that the arts play in our communities. Lois Heymans from Acoustic Café was there representing fine art and music, I went from Great River Shakespeare — Hal Cropp was there from Commonwheal, both of us representing theater. Folks from Rochester and Lanesboro arts centers were there. It was wonderful to see us all sharing information about the essential role the arts play in the Southeast Minnesota region.
Doug: That sounds so cool.
Lee: It was. Everyone we had meetings with, eight elected officials in all, talked about their experiences and love of the arts. They spoke of how refreshing and nice it was to take part in such an important day. How arts funding is something shared across the aisle, regardless of party affiliation, that they all believed was integral and must remain on their agendas. And Senator Miller and Representative Pelowski both are so proud to be Winonans and want to do whatever they can locally to help keep our city’s cultural calendars full. They could not have been more helpful and open to meeting and welcoming us. It was a great day for the arts in Winona and the entire state!