topMRAC e-newsletter
March 2014 
In This Issue
Arts Achievement Award Nominations!
Arts Learning Deadline
Next Step Fund Deadline
Community Arts Panels
Arts Activities Support Workshops
Website Update
ADA Access Improvement Grants
Arts Management Training
Arts Advocacy Day on 3/27
Resource Updates
Office Hours on 3/27
FY 2013 Annual Report
Photos Needed!
FY 2014 Grant Deadlines
Forward to a Friend
FY 2013 Summary
Quick Links

Arts Advocacy Day, organized by Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, is coming up on Thursday, March 27, beginning at 8:00 a.m. at the Minnesota History Center and then moving to the State Capitol for meetings with members of the state legislature. Advocacy Day is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to talk with legislators about the importance of the arts in our lives and our communities, the impact of the General Fund and Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund appropriations, and other key legislative issues. Legislators are eager to hear from their constituents, and Arts Advocacy Day is a fabulous opportunity for you to communicate with your representatives and senators in an organized way, with assistance from experienced Advocacy Day team leaders.  

The 7-county metropolitan region touches all or part of 37 of the state's 67 legislative districts (that's 55% of the whole state!), so it's extremely important for people in the MRAC region to participate. I strongly urge you to attend, and to get everyone you can to join you. I look forward to seeing you at the Capitol on March 27th! Here is a link to more information:


Jeff Prauer

Executive Director 


Arts Achievement Award Nominations
You do great work! Tell us about it.

MRAC is requesting nominations for its annual MRAC Arts Achievement Awards.

The MRAC Arts Achievement Award is designed to call attention to the outstanding contributions that arts organizations with annual expenses less than $400,000 make toward strengthening communities and increasing access to the arts in the 7-county metropolitan region (Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington Counties).

Nominators are asked to describe how organizations are exemplary in:
  • Causing artists and arts activities to thrive; and/or
  • Integrating the arts into the social fabric and identity of a community, and/or
  • Enhancing understanding of the public value of the arts.
The awards are accompanied by a $5,000 cash payment. Unlike other MRAC grants, the Arts Achievement Award is not given for specific projects or programs, but rather for the overall work that the organization does to strengthen communities through the arts. 

Organizations can be nominated or may nominate themselves. Organizations that meet MRAC eligibility requirements for any other MRAC grant are eligible. The MRAC Board of Directors will review nominations and select up to two recipients annually. Past award winners can be viewed at

Click on the link for full nomination information. Nominations may be emailed to Deadline: Monday, April 14, 2014 at 4:30 p.m.
Arts Learning Deadline 

The FY 2014 Arts Learning, Round 2 grant deadline is 4:30 p.m. on Monday, March 3, 2014 with an earliest project start date of May 28, 2014. 

All applications must be submitted using MRAC's online Grant Interface.
The grant guidelines and Grant Interface are available on the Arts Learning grant program page. Tutorial videos are available on the online applications page

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Next Step Fund Deadline 

The FY 2014 Next Step Fund deadline is Monday, March 3, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. with an earliest project start date of June 25, 2014.

All applications must be submitted using MRAC's online Grant Interface. The grant guidelines and Grant Interface are available on the Next Step Fund
program page. Tutorial videos are available on the online applications page.

The Next Step Fund grant program is funded by The McKnight Foundation as a part of its vision to support an environment in which artists are valued leaders in our community, with access to the resources and opportunities they need to succeed.

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Community Arts, Round 2 Grant Panels    


The FY 2014 Community Arts, Round 2 grant applications will be reviewed the week of March 17, 2014. The panel review meetings will begin each day at 9:00 a.m. with a short panel re-orientation. Click on the linked panel review date to see the order of reviews for that day. 


Tuesday, March 18, 2014  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 

Thursday, March 20, 2014 

Friday, March 21, 2014 


Panel meetings are public, open meetings, and constituents are encouraged to come and listen to the reviews to gain a fuller understanding of the process and hear the panelists' comments directly. Applicants may listen to the proceedings, but are not invited to make presentations.


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Arts Activities Support, Round 2 - Application Workshops

The deadline for Arts Activities Support, Round 2 grant applications is Monday, April 7, 2014 with an earliest project start date of June 25, 2014.

The following workshops are designed to help groups prepare MRAC Arts Activities Support grant applications. Participants will become familiar with the grant program, the online application process, and how to write effective MRAC grant proposals. Click on the linked workshop date to register.

Thursday, March 13, 2014, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Friday, March 14, 2014, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

The workshops are free and will be held in the MRAC conference room at 2324 University Avenue West, St. Paul, MN 55114. Please contact us if you need special accommodations to attend an application workshop.

All applications must be submitted using MRAC's online Grant Interface. The grant guidelines and Grant Interface are available on the Arts Activities Support program page. Tutorial videos are available on the online applications page.

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Website Update!

MRAC has added a Manage My Grant web page with direct links to the Grant Interfaces and directions for grant agreements and final reports.

If you have suggestions about how we can improve the website, please send them to

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ADA Access Improvement Grants for Metro Arts Organizations

ADA Access Improvement Grants for Metro Arts Organizations are designed to help make arts programming, activities, and facilities more accessible to people with disabilities. The grants of up to 15,000 are intended for projects with significant or long-term potential to involve more people with disabilities as participants or patrons in arts programs. This year some smaller grants will be available for shorter-term activities to help arts groups engage with part of the disability community and cover their expenses in doing so (such as language interpreting, Braille programs, captioning, assistive listening units, etc.). Groups must be located in the 7-county metropolitan region and have an annual budget less than 4,460,000.

For grant guidelines, application, and the dates/locations of information meetings and accessibility workshops, contact VSA Minnesota at 612-332-3888, email, or go to Deadlines: March 14 and May 16, 2014.


This program, administered by VSA Minnesota, is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.


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MRAC Arts Management Training  

The Art of Data--Using Outside Data to Extend Your Reach
Thursday, March 6, 2014 from 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM
Presented by Steve Boland, Next in Nonprofits
Neighborhood House - Wellstone Center, 179 Robie Street East, St. Paul, MN 55107 

"Big Data" is all over the news. Learn how to put it to work for your organization! From audience development to marketing to highlighting outcomes, Big Data can help your arts nonprofit make decisions that will increase your impact. Your organization can access for free (or nearly free) several larger, outside data sets that can be used to connect with untapped audiences, make strategic decisions based on comparative data, and/or extrapolate your results to a larger community. In this session, you will learn how to access and use data from:
  • The Cultural Data Project, which tracks the trends and performance of arts and cultural organizations,
  • The American Community Survey, which has updated and ongoing U.S. Census information,
  • GuideStar, which has information based on IRS 990 forms that can be sorted by codes, and
  •, which collects consumer information such as buying power, and where people spend their leisure time and money.
By the end of the session you will understand how these sources can help improve programs, explore trends, inform your evaluation, and bolster your own theories of change.

Steve Boland is a nonprofit leader with expertise in building strong communities, creating effective financial and evaluation strategies, and using technology to further nonprofit fundraising and operational goals. Steve has over 20 years of nonprofit and public sector experience, including executive director positions at Saint Paul Neighborhood Network, Summit-University Planning Council, and Greater Frogtown Community Development Corporation. He holds a Master of Nonprofit Management from Hamline University and serves on the Board of Directors for Outfront Minnesota. You can often find his leading-edge industry opinions in publications of Nonprofit Quarterly, Community Tech Knowledge, and the Minnesota Council on Foundations.



Management Consulting Fund and Working with a Consultant
Get Help with Your Specific Organizational Needs!
Tuesday, March 11, 2:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M.
Presented by: Shannon Forney and Bethany Gladhill
Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, 2324 University Ave W., St. Paul, MN 55114

Could hiring a consultant help your organization? Join us to learn about MRAC's Management Consulting Fund grant and how to create a bite-size, management-related project specific to your organizational challenges. You'll learn how to articulate your organizational needs and plan for long-term impact and organizational learning. You'll find out what the best practices are and what pitfalls to avoid when working with a consultant. MRAC does not recommend or endorse specific consultants, however what to consider when choosing and contracting with a consultant will be addressed. Stay after and ask one-on-one questions of the presenters and/or look at the MRAC library of Management Consulting Fund grant applications.
"A great introduction to working with a consultant and the grant, particularly for those of us who are relatively new to the field."--Past Participant
Shannon Forney is the MRAC Program Director for the Organizational Development, Capital, Management Consulting Fund, Management Training Fund, Arts Achievement Award, and Emergency Accessibility grant programs. She holds a Masters of Administration in Nonprofit Management from Hamline University's School of Business in St. Paul and a BA in Theater from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.

Bethany Gladhill is an experienced consultant in nonprofit and arts management in the areas of strategic planning, evaluation, operational management, marketing, and fundraising. Following positions as Director of Operations at Theatre de la Jeune Lune, Finance Director at the Jungle Theater, and Managing Director of Nautilus Music-Theater, she began working exclusively as a consultant in 2010. Bethany holds a BA from Tufts University and a Masters of Historic Preservation from Goucher College, Baltimore.


The workshops are free, but we ask that you register in advance. Please click on the linked workshop date to register. A list of upcoming MRAC training events and the handouts from past presentations are available at Please contact us if you need special accommodations to attend a workshop.

Arts Advocacy Day, March 27

Arts Advocacy Day is a day in which arts advocates from around the state unite to show the importance of legislative funding for the arts.

Your voice matters! It is sometimes said that legislators only understand what is explained to them by a constituent. Legislators want to hear from the people they serve.

It's easy! Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA) sets up the appointments and group leaders will help you get to them. All you need to do is bring your stories and thoughts about the arts in your district.

Be a part of the arts community! Arts Advocacy Day is a great arts networking event. Advocates say they feel empowered by being part of Minnesota's vibrant arts community.

More information is available at

Please note: the MRAC office will be closed Thursday, March 27 from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. to attend this event.

We hope to see you there!

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Resource Updates (These non-MRAC opportunities are listed at MRAC's discretion. The listing does not indicate an endorsement.)     

Cultural Data Project Webinar: New Data Directions, Monday, March 17, 2014, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. (CT). Find out about the CDP's newly released report, New Data Directions for the Cultural Landscape: Toward a Better-Informed, Stronger Sector, and its recommendations for a more strategic, coordinated approach for developing information resources that can help improve the arts sector. Learn more and register by clicking here.   


The Minnesota Theater Alliance presents: Minnesota Performing Arts Touring and Presenting Workshop on March 27, 2014, 1:30 - 4:30 p.m. Minnesota's most experienced touring performance companies and presenting venues will come together on a panel to talk about touring your show or presenting shows in your venue. This workshop takes place after Arts Advocacy Day, at the Minnesota History Center, 345 W. Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul, MN 55102. Learn more and register at


The Minnesota State Arts Board's Arts Learning grant program offers funding for projects that help lifelong learners acquire knowledge and understanding of and skills in the arts. Projects must provide participatory learning and engage learners with skilled teaching artists and high quality artistic experiences. More information is available at Deadline: April 25, 2014. 


On April 1, a month from now, artists and administrators will face a penalty for not having health insurance. Have questions? Springboard for the Arts has trained MNsure Navigators who can help you understand the requirement and walk you through the application process. Visit for more information.  


The Bush Foundation is accepting applications from nonprofit organizations and government entities for their Community Innovation Grants. The grants, ranging from $10,000 up to $200,000, will support communities to use problem-solving processes that lead to more effective, equitable and sustainable solutions. More information is available at Deadline: March 13, 2014.


The inaugural Arts Business Research Symposium: Bidirectionality: Arts as Business as Arts, will be held March 12-14, 2014 on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. More information is available at   


Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council, an initiative of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, is accepting project support grant proposals for arts-related projects. To be considered, projects must meet Rimon's mission to promote and enhance Jewish identity through arts and culture, support arts and artists who broadly explore Jewish themes, and assist the greater Jewish community in developing a collaborative involvement with the arts. For more information visit Deadline: March 17, 2014.  


The Nonprofits Assistance Fund has developed a series of financial trainings customized for the distinctive nature of small and large arts and cultural organizations. The training opportunities are being presented free of cost (thanks to funding from the Minnesota State Arts Board and National Endowment for the Arts) but registration is required. Visit for more information. 

Interested in a non-MRAC training opportunity, but not sure that your organization can afford the fee? MRAC offers a training fund grant for management or administrative-related training opportunities that will strengthen your organization. Click on the link for more information on MRAC's Management Training Fund grant. 


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Arts Advocacy Day Office Hours

The MRAC office will be closed Thursday, March 27 from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. for Arts Advocacy Day.

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FY 2013 Annual Report

All of our grant awards from FY 2013 are available in a downloadable document--the MRAC 2013 Annual Report is now online! Thank you to all of our awarded groups whose work helps us meet our mission of increasing access to the arts in 7-county metropolitan area communities. We also thank Ananya Dance Theatre - photo by V. Paul Virtucio, Bedlam Theatre - photo by Farrington Starnes, Cleveland Neighborhood Association, Dream Songs Project - photo by Greg Kaiser, Hinterhands Puppet Company - photos by Bruce Silcox, Iraqi and American Reconcilliation Project - photo by Shari Hagen, KAIROSalive!, Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association, Rosemount Area Arts Council, and zAmya Theater Project for supplying the photos we used in this year's report.


Please note: with 472 grants awarded last year, the annual report is a fairly large file and may take a moment to download. If you wish to submit photos from your MRAC-funded events for use in MRAC and RAC Forum materials, please visit


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Photos Needed for a New Brochure!

The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council needs photos of arts activities from the past year to use on our website and in our print materials such as our brochure and annual report. We are looking for a variety of photos that will show the diversity of our community and the range of art activities and art disciplines that MRAC funds. Photos will be selected for use based on our needs and photo quality.

For more information and to submit your photos, please visit our photo submission page or contact Mara Miller by email at

FY 2014 Grant Deadlines

All grant applications are now submitted online. For more information about our online applications visit the online application page on our website. Please note: the deadline time is 4:30 p.m. for all grant deadlines (except for the Next Step Fund for individual artists) so that we can process the online entries.

3/3/2014      Arts Learning, Round 2
3/3/2014      Next Step Fund
4/7/2014      Arts Activities Support, Round 2
4/14/2014    Arts Achievement Award
Weekly        Management Training Fund
Weekly        Emergency Accessibility
Monthly      Management Consulting Fund


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Please forward our e-newsletter to people who may be interested in information about MRAC grant deadlines and awards, workshops, training opportunities, resource updates, and other MRAC news. We do not share our e-mail subscriber list with others.

MRAC FY 2013 Summary 

In FY 2013, MRAC received 801 applications and awarded 434 grants totaling  

2,979,141 to arts organizations and/or projects including a grant to VSA Minnesota for its regranting program, the ADA Access Improvement Grants for Metro Arts Organizations. These grants were funded by an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the State's general fund, and by the voters of Minnesota, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. MRAC also received 376 applications from individual artists in the Next Step Fund program and awarded 38 grants totaling 180,225 with funds from The McKnight Foundation. MRAC also provided 16 arts management training sessions and 30 grant application workshops.


Photos for top ribbon provided by: Caponi Art Park, Twin Cities Housing Development Corporation, Twin Cities Women's Choir, Weavers Guild of Minnesota, and the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra.