Of Poets and Podcasts

U of M Radio on Your Historic Dial

By Hannah O’Neill & Carissa Hansen

Welcome back to U of M Radio on Your Historic Dial!

In addition to our day to day work, there are always a number of fascinating projects underway in the University of Minnesota Libraries Archives and Special Collections. One of them, formally known as  “Preservation of Minnesota’s Radio History,” is the Radio KUOM project that produces this podcast. In this program, we will hear about another project based in the University’s Upper Midwest Literary Archives, with a focus on the poet Margaret Hasse.

You can listen to the episode here in the browser and read the script below.

Episode 12: Of Poets and Podcasts

Hello! This is Hannah over in University Archives, and this U of M Radio on Your Historic Dial, Episode 12: Of Poets and Podcasts. You’ve likely noticed the outro that accompanies the end of each podcast episode, which states that funding for this project comes from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund administered by the Minnesota Historical Society. This grant has enabled numerous projects here at University Archives and within the University of Minnesota Libraries Archives and Special Collections, as well as at other Minnesota cultural institutions.

While there is always regular staff to carry out day to day operations related to the collection, maintenance, and promotion of our materials, grant funded projects allow us to focus on one collection or area in particular, singling it out for detailed processing and description, as well as unique promotional activities such as this podcast. The project featured in this episode focuses on Minnesota’s literary heritage, embodied in the personal collections of poets Robert Bly, Bill Holm, and Margaret Hasse, as well as the papers of Milkweed Editions. Now I’m going to pass the mic to the project manager, Carissa Hansen.

Hi, this is Carissa from the Upper Midwest Literary Archives. Thanks to Hannah for inviting me to join her for this podcast! Margaret Hasse is one of three Minnesota poets’ collections I am working with as part of a grant project titled “Prairie Poets and Press: Literary Lives of the Upper Midwest.”

Photograph of Margaret Hasse from the Milkweed Editions records in the Upper Midwest Literary Archives
Photograph of Margaret Hasse from the Milkweed Editions records in the Upper Midwest Literary Archives

Margaret Hasse was born in Aberdeen, South Dakota in 1950, and has spent much of her adult life in Minneapolis. She’s well-known for being a poet, but Hasse is also a teacher, arts administrator, and arts consultant.

This installment of the KUOM program Minnesota Issues features Hasse in her role as Executive Director for the Minnesota Alliance for Arts in Education. The year was 1984 and plans were underway for the establishment of an arts high school in Minnesota. Governor Rudy Perpich had implemented a task force to conduct a feasibility study for the establishment of the school.

Can you guess what school this would become? That’s right, Minnesota was already laying the groundwork for the Perpich Center for Arts Education that operates today in Golden Valley. Not everyone was in favor of establishing a school that would centralize funding for arts education in the state. Margaret Hasse and the Minnesota Alliance for Arts in Education had concerns about the establishment of the school.

There was a great need for more arts education of all kinds in schools across the state of Minnesota. The establishment of an arts high school was certainly an exciting proposition, and one that would represent a commitment to the arts and youth in the state, but the question of proper disbursement of funding remained. Should the state’s resources be focused on one school, or should they be spread out, encompassing more grade levels and areas of Minnesota? And would the school’s mission overlap with the arts magnet schools in St. Paul and Minneapolis?

The new school was to operate with an independent board and an independent school district. The task force estimated that operating the school would cost between 5 and 10 million dollars per year, and funding would come from a statewide bingo tax. David Speer, chairman of Governor Perpich’s task force, and Hasse had very different ideas about how the money from a bingo tax should be used to fund arts education.

Fast forward to 1987, the Minnesota School and Resource Center for the Arts, Perpich’s original name, had opened to students. In light of the new school, the Minnesota Alliance for Arts in Education had begun to question its role and direction. In a letter from Margaret Hasse’s papers in the Upper Midwest Literary Archives dated October 14, 1987, Hasse writes:

The Alliance is at a marvelous point in a major challenge of the last three years. We have two major decisions to make, each one somewhat separate, each one impinging on the other. I write the people heading two committees dealing with the two different decisions…

One of the Alliance’s two decisions is a political, philosophical one regarding arts education: is the Alliance or is it not in favor of public commitment of funds for the Minnesota School and Resource Center for the Arts? If yes, why? If no, why not? If the organization as a whole is ambivalent, that must be also expressed so that we then stay at a point removed from political behavior with our lobbyist at the legislature and in urging any particular behavior from our members.

Hasse outlined some of the Alliance’s concerns about the the arts high school in the KUOM interview in 1984, but it is clear that by 1987, many of the concerns hadn’t been resolved. The allocation of public funds was still a concern for the Alliance, and Hasse wanted them to articulate their stance more clearly. Their course of action in local politics depended on it. Hasse goes on to write:

The other Alliance decision focuses on the Alliance as an organization in the community. This decision is guided in process by the Long-Range Planning Committee. Again, final authority lies with the full Board.

What is the function of the Alliance in Minnesota and what is the best structure for realizing some of its goals? Always a topic of important discussion for any organization of people, this topic is even more pressing for the Alliance right now because of a major change in the environment of arts education: the advent of the MSRCA which, from one vantage, can be seen as more duplicative of Alliance’s stated purposes than any other state-wide entity, but one with more financial resources than the Alliance. More resources may be a thing to celebrate, i.e., institutionalizing, in public, some of the dreams of the Alliance. Nevertheless, the presence has been clearly acknowledged by the Board as a whole, the Long-Range Planning Committee and the staff as a dilemma for the Alliance: what is our role in the expanded community of players and resources for arts education? How can we play a useful role in the “all the arts for all the kids” mission of all advocates for arts education?

In the same way some questioned whether the arts high school would duplicate the work of the magnet schools in the Twin Cities, the Alliance itself realized that some may see their work as duplicative. At the end of her letter, Hasse brings the focus back to funding, writing:

A final comment about autonomy of the Alliance. Private funding does not automatically give an organization autonomy, any more than public funding makes a group beholden to speak the authorized line.

Letter dated October 14, 1987 from Margaret Hasse to Gretchen Heath and Paul Chindvall of the Minnesota Alliance for Arts in Education regarding the Alliance’s role and direction after the opening of the Minnesota School and Resource Center for the Arts (today known as Perpich Center for Arts Education). From the Margaret Hasse papers in the Upper Midwest Literary Archives.
Letter dated October 14, 1987, from Margaret Hasse to Gretchen Heath and Paul Chindvall of the Minnesota Alliance for Arts in Education regarding the Alliance’s role and direction after the opening of the Minnesota School and Resource Center for the Arts (today known as Perpich Center for Arts Education). From the Margaret Hasse papers in the Upper Midwest Literary Archives.

Thank you to Carissa! If you are curious to know more about “Prairie Poets and Press”, please reach out to the Upper Midwest Literary Archives based in Andersen Library. You can follow the project’s progress on the University of Minnesota Libraries social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

This episode wraps up the first season of the  U of M Radio on Your Historic Dial podcast. We at University Archives have really enjoyed sharing these programs that made KUOM such an integral part of Minnesota’s history, and we hope to continue to do so in the future. Thanks for listening.

The U of M Radio on Your Historic Dial podcast is produced every other week for your enjoyment. Subscribe or download on iTunes or GooglePlay so you don’t miss another moment of historic Minnesota radio.

If you enjoy our clips and want to hear or learn more, go to www.lib.umn.edu/uarchives, and search KUOM in the collection guides.

Digitization of University Archives recordings was financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.

Hannah O’Neill is a project archivist for the University of Minnesota Archives. Carissa Hansen is a project archivist for the Upper Midwest Literary Archives

 

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