GOP legislators want more guardrails for state arts funding following ‘demon summoning’ event

"Taxpayer dollars should be in no way associated with these activities," said Sen. Eric Lucero.

Sen. Eric Lucero introduces an amendment that would have prohibited Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund money from going to “activities related to the occult, divination, necromancy, soothsaying, Satanism, demonology, or pedophilia.” (Minnesota Senate Media)

Some Republican legislators want to establish more guardrails for Minnesota’s Legacy Amendment funding after it was revealed that a taxpayer-funded art center hosted a “demon summoning” event.

Republicans have long been concerned by some of the projects and organizations that receive funding under the Legacy Amendment, a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2008 that raised the sales tax to generate funds for the preservation of Minnesota’s culture, arts, clean water, environment, parks, and trails.

The Legacy Amendment created four different funds that Minnesota taxpayers would contribute to over the next 25 years, including the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, which receives 19.75% of the sales tax revenue.

“This goes back probably four-ish years ago or so. I remember when [Sen.] Steve [Green] and I both were still in the House, our colleague Rep. Josh Heintzeman, he brought up an example where dollars were spent to create a painting depicting police as Nazis with then-President Trump [groping a woman]. It was just abhorrent how they were depicting law enforcement officials. And Democrats again, they just pooh-poohed these concerns,” said Sen. Eric Lucero, R-St. Michael.

The legislature appropriates money from most of the funds biannually. The process, however, lacks transparency, according to Sen. Green, a Republican from Fosston who explained that the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund money is often divvied out to state boards, councils and agencies, and then they decide where that money goes from there.

During the most recent legislative session, Green highlighted where some of the funding goes, including $30,000 to “Divas and Drag Opera,” $25,000 for “Divination tools,” $9,800 to “revise and promote someone’s own novel that they’ve already written,” and $10,000 to “ride a bike down a 40-mile trail and take pictures.”

“One of the problems with the Legacy Amendment is that in most of these areas, and especially in the arts, there’s not a lot of transparency. For instance, in the arts portion of the bill we don’t get to know where that money’s even going to be going or appropriated until the arts board decides where it’s going to go,” Green said at the time.

This prompted Lucero to introduce an amendment to the legacy appropriations bill that would have prohibited Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund money from going to “activities related to the occult, divination, necromancy, soothsaying, Satanism, demonology, or pedophilia.”

“My amendment was defeated with 100 percent unanimous Democrat opposition. Meaning they were okay with taxpayer dollars going to fund Satanism, demonology, pedophilia, among other things,” Lucero said.

“So their reaction essentially is to dismiss the legitimate concerns of Minnesotans that do not want their dollars or any dollars being spent in these activities that shock the conscience. That’s the Democrat reaction, to not take the legitimate concerns of Minnesotans seriously,” he added.

It was recently revealed that the Walker Art Center, which has received at least $4 million under the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, hosted a family-friendly “playful demon summoning session.”

Lucero said in the future he plans to broaden the language in his amendment to prohibit taxpayer dollars from flowing to any organizations that promote the activities described in his amendment.

“Taxpayer dollars should be in no way associated with these activities,” he said. “Not only [does the state] have a background of funding left-wing projects, but they have begun to dabble in aspects that shock the conscience of most Minnesotans, such as demonology and related topics.”

Under the most recent legacy appropriations bill, the Minnesota State Arts Board is set to receive roughly $91 million over the next biennium.

“If you look at what this is being spent on, it seems like the crazier the project, the more they want to spend the money on it,” Green said.


Hayley Feland

Hayley Feland previously worked as a journalist with The Minnesota Sun, The Wisconsin Daily Star, and The College Fix. She is a Minnesota native with a passion for politics and journalism.