Mayor Elizabeth Kautz (R - Burnsville, MN)
Mayor Kautz’s most visible arts accomplishment is the city’s new $20 million Performing Arts Center which was dedicated in January of 2009. This facility was constructed without any new taxes, relying instead on revenues from Tax Increment Financing and landfill fees. The new arts center now hosts a wide variety of community arts groups, performing arts educational groups, professional national touring acts, dance competitions, and a wide variety of musical productions. Despite some criticism for allocating public funds for this project, Mayor Kautz exhibited extraordinary leadership and vision by stressing how the performing arts center will be an investment for the city and the residents of Burnsville. After two years, she has been vindicated with increased property values, an expanded tax base, and the successful completion of multiple theatric productions.
Mayor Kautz believes art and design are important parts of everyday life. Under her leadership, an art gallery was added to the Performing Arts Center, which now hosts eight to 10 significant shows annually. Further, she is a supporter of the annual Art and All That Jazz Festival that attracts more than 10,000 music fans to an outdoor concert setting.
As President of the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), she exhibited remarkable national and international leadership in the arts as well. At the national Arts Advocacy Day in 2011, Mayor Kautz provided testimony on Capitol Hill in support of increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. She also led a USCM delegation of mayors to Turkey on a cultural mission to learn more about Istanbul’s experience of being named Cultural Capital of Europe in 2010 and specifically how local governments in the country use arts and culture as a way to maintain their municipal uniqueness while promoting economic development.