General 8-20-2007

Someone Wants to Help You Make Your Work: Artist Grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board

Does the Arts Board give grants to individual artists? Yes! The Arts Board has two such programs. Deadline for your Artist Initiative Program application is September 7; for your Cultural Community Partnership grant, October 8.. Get busy!


The Two Programs in Question

Artist Initiative grants are designed to encourage artistic development, nurture artistic creativity, and recognize the contribution individual artists make to the creative environment of Minnesota. Whether you are just beginning your artistic career, or have been a practicing artist for a long time, you are eligible to apply. These grants range from $2,000 – $6,000.

Cultural Community Partnership grants are meant to enhance the artistic and career development of artists of color. The funds must be used to support a project that involves two individual artists of color, or an artist and an organization. Whether you are just beginning your artistic career, or have been a practicing artist for a long time, you are eligible to apply. An artist can collaborate with any Minnesota nonprofit organization; it can be an arts organization, but doesn’t have to be. These grants range from $1,000 – $5,000.

You can use the grant money to buy supplies and equipment, to do research, to pay for professional or creative development workshops or conferences, for travel related to your project, to pay for your time of the time of others who are helping you complete the project, or for promotional or marketing expenses related to your project. If you have other uses for the money, ask a program officer if they are allowable.

Who can apply?

Artists who are 18 or older, who are U. S. citizens or have permanent resident alien status, and have been living in Minnesota for at least six months can apply for these grants. Plus, there are a few other things to know:

In the Artist initiative grant program you must work in one of the following disciplines to apply this year: photography, media arts/new media, music, literature. (Disciplines rotate, grants were awarded in dance, theater, and visual arts last year.) You can only submit ONE Artist Initiative application every two years.

In the Cultural Community Partnership grant program you must be an artist of color and, if you are collaborating with an organization, it must be nonprofit, with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. If you received an Artist Initiative or a Cultural Community Partnership grant last year, you can’t apply again this year. If you’ve received a two or more Cultural Community Partnership grants, you can’t apply for one this year.

How do I apply?

Artist Initiative grant: submit your application by Friday, September 7 (get on it now!). You need to submit an application form, an artist plan, a resume, and samples of your artistic work.
You can download the application form and instructions from the Arts Board Web site.

Cultural Community Partnership grant: submit your application by Monday, October 8. Send an artist plan, a resume, and samples of your artistic work.
You can download the application form and instructions from the Arts Board Web site.

The Arts Board has lists of all the past grant recipients. Who’s there? Go to the list on the site.

Are Artist Initiative grants for specific projects or are they for continuing to do ongoing work?


Artist Initiative grants need to be used for a specific career building, professional development, or artistic development project. The project needs to help the artist move his or her ongoing work forward in some new way.

For example, artists have received Artist Initiative grants to learn or explore a new dimension their work or artform; to collaborate with another artist or incorporate new media into their work; to exhibit or perform work in a place or a way that helps them reach a new audience.

How important is the grant narrative (what the applicant writes about the project / work the grant is meant to fund)?

To apply for a grant, artists need to submit four things: a simple application form (it’s only two pages!), samples of their artistic work, an artist plan, and a resume. The work samples and artist plan are the most important pieces of the application.

Artistic quality is the most important thing the Arts Board considers. It’s important to submit high-quality work samples that show your best work.

The artist plan also is very important. The plan tells us what your career or artistic development goal is and how the particular project you are proposing will help you achieve that goal.
The plan needs include four key elements: 1) a brief background information about you and the project you’re planning; 2) a summary of your career or artistic development goal; 3) a description of whatever barrier might be keeping you from achieving the goal; and 4) an explanation of how you believe the project you are planning will help you overcome the barrier and move you closer to achieving your goal.

What are some characteristics of successful applications?

Successful applications are:

Clear and concise – The artist plan can only be two pages long. Think about what’s most important for the review panel to know about where you are as an artist right now, and where you believe the project will help take you. The panel doesn’t need to know every detail about you and your project; they do need to know what your proposed project will help you accomplish.

Best quality possible – Choose your work samples carefully, and submit the best quality samples that you can. Sometimes there are trade-offs. If your photos of your very best piece are too dark, or too fuzzy, they won’t help the panel evaluate your work. As much as possible, submit work samples that relate to the project you are proposing.

Complete – Don’t forget to include any of the required documents or attachments. Incomplete applications won’t be reviewed.

On time – The Arts Board has to receive all your application materials before 4:30 p.m. on Friday, September 7. Applications that arrive after 4:30, or come in the mail a few days later will NOT be reviewed.

Who picks the winners?

Grant applications are reviewed by an advisory panel made up of artists and arts professionals who live and work throughout Minnesota. There will be five separate panels, one for each artistic discipline that is being considered this year – media arts/new media, music, photography, poetry, and prose.

One of the unique things about the Arts Board is that applicants can attend the review meeting and listen to the panel discuss their applications. All panel review meetings are held at the Arts Board office, 400 Sibley Street in Saint Paul. Panel dates for Artist Initiative grants are as follows:
Media arts/new media … November 7-8
Music … November 14-15
Photography … October 24-25
Poetry … November 28-29
Prose … December 5-6


If you have questions you would like to see answered here, click the link, submit a question and appropriate individuals from the State Arts Board will answer them & they will be posted at the end of the article.

Talk to an Arts Board program officer. They’d like to talk to you about your work and your project idea. They can answer questions and give you advice as you work on your application.

Contact Nicole Simoneaux about Artist Initiative grants:
(651) 215-1617 | (800) 866-2787
TTY (651) 215-6235

Contact Amy Frimpong about Cultural Community Partnership grants:
(651) 215-1607 | (800) 866-2787
TTY (651) 215-6235

You can also talk with a community liaison about the Cultural Community Partnership grants. These four individuals are artists who have received Arts Board grants or have participated in reviewing grant proposals in the past. They know how to design a successful project and write a strong application.

Armando Gutierrez G: (651) 454-0586;

May Lee-Yang: (651) 587-1208;

Valerie Norris: (612) 205-4664;

Stacey Parshall: (612) 201-0230;