Lawmakers add ‘funded by coal money’ disclosure to state arts grants

Signal Peak Energy bought the Bull Mountain mine near Roundup in 2008 and applied to the Bureau of Land Management to mine coal under 2,700 acres of federal land adjacent to the mine. (Inhabitat.com)

(Montana Free Press) Arts and culture initiatives supported by a Montana state grant program could soon come with an acknowledgment, courtesy of language inserted in a funding bill on March 22: The money comes from coal.

House Bill 9, a recurring bill sponsored this session by Rep. Tom Woods, D-Bozeman, provides grants of up to $10,000 to 82 programs, including Shakespeare in the Parks, Humanities Montana, and the Yellowstone Art Museum.

The bill cleared the House on a 77-23 vote, but only after lawmakers voted unanimously for an amendment adding the disclosure requirement. The bill now specifies that grant recipients must include the following language on their websites, publications, and promotional materials: “We are funded in part by coal severance taxes paid based upon coal mined in Montana and deposited in Montana’s cultural and aesthetic projects trust fund.”

“A lot of times I don’t think people understand where the money comes from,” said Rep. Jim Keene, D-Butte, who sponsored the disclosure amendment.

Montana collected $56.6 million in coal severance taxes in 2018, according to the State Department of Revenue. That money is split between cultural grants, water infrastructure, construction of state buildings, and economic development projects, among other programs. Twelve percent of coal severance tax collections is directed to the state’s Long-Range Building Program, for example. Two-thirds of 1 percent is directed to the cultural trust.

Between climate change concerns and competition from renewable energy sources and natural gas, Montana’s coal mines face an uncertain future — and would leave a substantial hole in the state budget if they were to shut down. The Rosebud Mine that supplies the Colstrip power plant, for example, has been moving through bankruptcy proceedings.

HB 9 awards a total of $423,000 in grants, and also sets aside $30,000 for maintaining artwork in the Capitol complex. It now heads to the Senate.

The bill authorizes the following grants:

  1. Mai Wah Society Museum — $4,000
  2. Council for the Arts, Lincoln — $3,000
  3. Billings Cultural Partners — $3,000
  4. Signatures from Big Sky — $2,000
  5. Montana Flute Association — $2,000
  6. Upper Swan Valley Historical Society, Inc. — $4,500
  7. Montana Preservation Alliance — $20,000
  8. Montana Historical Society — $5,400
  9. Mountain Time Arts — $2,500
  10. Preservation Cascade, Inc. — $2,000
  11. Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives — $5,000
  12. International Choral Festival — $2,000
  13. SPARK! Arts Ignite Learning — $2,000
  14. Zootown Arts Community Center — $9,000
  15. Emerson Center for the Arts & Culture — $8,000
  16. Museum of the Rockies — $7,000
  17. Bozeman Symphony Society — $4,500
  18. Art Mobile of Montana — $10,000
  19. Montana Shakespeare in the Parks — $10,000
  20. MCT, Inc. — $10,000
  21. Alpine Artisans, Inc. — $3,000
  22. Billings Symphony Society — $7,500
  23. Humanities Montana — $10,000
  24. Butte Symphony Association — $3,000
  25. Billings Preservation Society — $7,500
  26. Alberta Bair Theater — $10,000
  27. Glacier Symphony and Chorale — $5,000
  28. Schoolhouse History & Art Center — $5,000
  29. Montana Repertory Theatre — $10,000
  30. Sunburst Foundation — $2,500
  31. Irwin & Florence Rosten Foundation — $5,000
  32. Yellowstone Art Museum — $10,000
  33. Cohesion Dance Project — $5,000
  34. Western Heritage Center — $10,000
  35. Great Falls Symphony — $5,000
  36. Northwest Montana Historical Society — $5,000
  37. Grandstreet Broadwater Productions, Inc. — $9,000
  38. MonDak Heritage Center — $9,000
  39. Holter Museum of Art — $9,000
  40. Missoula Art Museum — $9,000
  41. Helena Presents/Myrna Loy Center — $9,000
  42. Archie Bray Foundation — $9,000
  43. International Wildlife Film Festival — $8,000
  44. Museums Association of Montana — $5,000
  45. Montana Association of Symphony Orchestras — $5,000
  46. Verge Theater — $5,000
  47. Daly Mansion Preservation Trust — $5,000
  48. Big Horn Arts and Craft Association — $2,000
  49. Montana Performing Arts Consortium — $5,000
  50. MAGDA — $5,000
  51. Montana Dance Arts Association — $5,000
  52. Stillwater Historical Society — $4,500
  53. C.M. Russell Museum — $7,000
  54. Alpine Theatre Project — $5,000
  55. Whitefish Theatre Co. — $5,000
  56. Carbon County Arts Guild & Depot Gallery — $4,500
  57. Ravalli County Museum — $4,500
  58. Missoula Writing Collaborative $2,000
  59. Arts Missoula (Formerly Missoula Cultural Council) — $4,500
  60. Little Shell Tribe — $4,500
  61. The Extreme History Project — $2,000
  62. Friends of Big Sky Education DBA Warren Miller PAC — $4,500
  63. World Museum of Mining — $4,500
  64. Pondera Arts Council — $4,500
  65. Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre — $3,500
  66. Hamilton Players, Inc. — $3,500
  67. Montana Ballet Company — $3,500
  68. Intermountain Opera Association — $3,500
  69. Southwest Montana Arts Council — $2,000
  70. Pondera History Association (PHA) — $2,000
  71. Fort Peck Fine Arts Council, Inc. — $10,000
  72. Friends of the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula — $2,481
  73. Carbon County Historical Society — $5,000
  74. Hockaday Museum of Art — $3,500
  75. Helena Symphony — $3,500
  76. North Valley Music School — $3,500
  77. Main Street Uptown Butte — $3,500
  78. Arts & Above — $2,000
  79. Bozeman Art Museum — $2,000
  80. Support Local Artists and Musicians (S.L.A.M.) — $2,000
  81. Free Voice Media — $2,000
  82. Sunburst Foundation — $500