topMRAC e-newsletter
April 2015 
In This Issue
Arts Achievement Award Nominations
Arts Activities Support Deadline
Arts Learning Grant Panels
Community Arts Grant Awards
Creative Minnesota
MRAC Arts Management Training
MRAC Biennial Plan
ADA Access Improvement Grants
FY 2014 Annual Report
Legacy Signs
Arts & Culture Funders Database
Resource Updates
FY 2015 Deadlines
Photos Needed!
Forward to a Friend
FY 2014 Summary
Quick Links

You may recall from our January newsletter that MRAC's Communications and Events Coordinator, Mara Miller, left MRAC to become a program director at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts. I am delighted to report that we have hired Raeisha Williams as the new MRAC Communications and Events Coordinator. Raeisha will begin her work at MRAC in April, and you will learn more about her in our May newsletter.


Responsibility for MRAC's arts management training workshops and events has shifted to Shannon Forney, who already wears several other MRAC hats, including director of our Organizational Development, Capital, Management Consulting Fund, Management Training Fund, Emergency Accessibility, and Arts Achievement Award programs, and she serves as our human resources coordinator. Equipped with a Masters of Administration in Nonprofit Management from Hamline University's School of Business, Shannon is designing some new sessions that you will hear more about in the coming months.

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 13, 2015 at 4:30 p.m.

Arts Activities Support, Round 2 Grant Deadline

The deadline for Arts Activities Support, Round 2 grant applications is Monday, April 6, 2015 at 4:30 p.m. with an earliest project start date of June 16, 2015.  


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


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Arts Learning, Round 2 Grant Panels

The FY 2015 Arts Learning, Round 2 grant applications will be reviewed May 19, 20, and 21. Panel review schedules will be available in our May e-newsletter and on our website in May.


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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Community Arts, Round 2 Grant Awards

On March 24, 2015, MRAC awarded $312,316 to 66 organizations in its FY 2015 Community Arts, Round 2 grant program. The organizations and projects chosen demonstrate both strong artistic quality and a connection to a community. The Community Arts grant program utilizes a block grant system to ensure funds are distributed broadly in the seven counties of MRAC's service area.


Click here for a list of this round's grant recipients sorted by the county of activity that includes award amounts, project summaries, and links to the grantees' websites when available. Please note that the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are separated from the surrounding suburban Hennepin and suburban Ramsey counties.


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Creative Minnesota: The Health and Impact of the Nonprofit Arts and Culture Sector

As the first of an ongoing series of biennial reports, Creative Minnesota: The Health and Impact of the Nonprofit Arts and Culture Sector ( is a snapshot of spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences as well as other indicators of the sector's health and impact on the economy in 2013. The study quantifies the economic impact from 1,269 arts and culture organizations in every corner of the state, in addition to information about jobs created, local vs. non-local attendees spending, nonprofit arts and culture organizational budgets, and artist employment levels.


Creative Minnesota was developed by a collaborative of arts and culture funders in partnership with Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA). The report leverages new opportunities for in depth research provided by Minnesota's participation in the Cultural Data Project (CDP) ( Many public and private grant makers in Minnesota require some or all of their arts and culture grantees to submit data to the CDP. Americans for the Arts (AFTA) was commissioned to calculate the economic impact of the arts.

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MRAC Arts Management Training

Creating an Effective Board of Directors 

Thursday, April 16, 2015, 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.  

Presented by Gary Kelsey

Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, 2324 University Avenue W, St Paul, MN 55114  


Is your organization harnessing the full power of your board of directors? Are roles and functions clear between staff, executive director, and the board of directors? Do board members understand they are fiscally, legally and morally responsible for the organization? What is the board's role in fundraising for the organization? Are you recruiting the right individuals to the Board? Are you recruiting them using a targeted process that is likely to identify and engage individuals who can help move forward the mission of the organization?


Please join us (and invite your board members!) for a session that aims to inspire and align the roles of staff and board to better serve your organization. This session is a great introduction to board service and seeks to engage and align role clarity, expectations and benefits across all organizational members.

Gary Kelsey has 39 years experience within the non-profit, government and education sectors and expertise in non-profit board development, program development, strategic planning, and fundraising. He is currently a faculty member and Residency Coordinator in the School of Public Policy and Administration at Walden University. Formerly, he served as Program Director and Professor of the MA in Philanthropy and Development Program at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota and speaker in the University of St. Thomas Center for Nonprofit Excellence. In addition, he has also served on at least one MRAC Organizational Development grant panel and currently serves as a member of the St. Croix Valley Community Foundation - Grants and Planning Committee and Vice President of the ArtReach St. Croix Board of Directors.



Putting Out the Welcome Mat

Thursday, April 30, 2015, 9:00 a.m. to Noon 

Hosted by Leah Cooper

Open Book, 1011 Washington Avenue S, Minneapolis, MN  55415 


Is your organization authentically engaging audiences? How do you measure that engagement? Do you ever look at your organization's audience and wonder, "who isn't here?" What is your organization's diversity of welcome vs. its depth of welcome? How does this affect who shows up and who returns? Do the organization's decision makers reflect the audiences? This workshop will mix panel expertise, peer-to-peer brainstorming, and interactive problem-solving to explore how we Put Out the Welcome Mat to engage the audiences we intend to serve.


Leah Cooper is the Executive Director of the Minnesota Theater Alliance, Co-Artistic Director of Wonderlust Productions, a freelance stage director, an arts administration consultant, and a co-founder and partner at She was also the Executive Director of the Minnesota Fringe Festival and served on the Minneapolis Arts Commission.



Creating a Volunteer Social Media Team 

Facilitated by Steve Boland 
Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, 2324 University Avenue W, St Paul, MN 55114 


Social media management can be a full-time job, but rarely can small arts groups afford that kind of staff time to really use the tools to engage donors, recruit program volunteers, or advertise a performance in channels where people spend their time. Creating a social media team which mixes staff, board and other volunteers can really extend a nonprofit's reach. The challenge then becomes managing all that effort in real time for measurable goals (often referred to as conversions in measurement tools like Google Analytics).


This session will dive deep into Hootsuite as one tool to manage scheduled posts, author roles, and monitoring channels for engagement. Ensuring consistent voice across authors and scheduling some posts for review will be discussed, as well as a brief overview of other platforms such as Tweetdeck and Buffer.  


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.



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.


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MRAC Biennial Plan

The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council develops a two-year plan to guide our work for each legislative biennium. Constituent input is very important to us as we do this planning.


A public meeting will be held regarding the contents of MRAC's proposed plan for the 2016-2017 biennium on Tuesday, April 21 at 4:30 p.m. at the MRAC office. Although you are welcome to just show up, we encourage you to let us know you are coming so that we can provide seating accordingly. To register, or to provide input on the plan, send an email to, or call us at 651-645-0402. A draft of the Biennial Plan will be available for your information beginning Monday, April 20 at the MRAC office and on our website.


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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 offered for projects with significant or long-term potential to involve more people with disabilities as participants or patrons in arts programs.  


Soo Visual Arts Center, Interact Center for Visual & Performing Arts, and The Show, are the most recent recipients of an ADA Access Improvement Grant. With the addition of these three grants, VSA Minnesota has now awarded over 1 million in ADA Access Improvement Grants to 49 seven-county Twin Cities arts organizations. 


The next application deadline is May 1, 2015.  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

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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FY 2014 Annual Report

All of our grant awards from FY 2014 are available in a downloadable document--the MRAC 2014 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 Body Cartography, Drama Interaction, FTF Works/Herocycle - photo by Mike Neuharth, Iny Asian Dance Theater - Photo by Cam Xiong, Marcy Puppet Dragons Residency,  Magic Lantern Puppet Theater, Open Eye Figure Theatre - photo by Mark Vancleave, Poetry Picnic - photo by Bruce Silcox, Theatre Pro Rata - photo by Charles Gorrill, Wayzata Symphony Orchestra - photo by Dawn Anderson, and Yellow Tree Theatre for supplying the photos we used in this year's report.


Please note: with 490 grants awarded last year, the annual report is a fairly large file and may take a moment to download. It also may not display correctly in Firefox. Please contact Katie Kaufmann at if you would like an emailed pdf. 


If you wish to submit photos from your MRAC-funded events for use in MRAC and RAC Forum materials, please visit

MRAC Lends Legacy Amendment Signs! 

Help us communicate the impact and value of Legacy Amendment funds! MRAC is lending graphic banner signs (33.5"w x 83"h) with the Legacy Amendment logo and MRAC acknowledgement language for display at projects/events funded by the arts and cultural heritage fund. Please contact Katie Kaufmann at or by phone 651-523-6384 to reserve a sign. The number of signs available is limited, so please reserve them early and return the signs promptly after using.
Arts & Culture Funders Database

You have asked, "Where besides MRAC can we go for funding?" Now we have an answer. MRAC has partnered with Access Philanthropy to provide, for free, a database of approximately 400 funders that have a history of making grants in the Twin Cities metro area for arts, culture, history, and humanities. Visit to access the database.

Access Philanthropy is also providing a quarterly newsletter with updates and deadlines. Click the link to view the most recent Arts & Culture Funders Database updates/deadlines newsletter. Sign up to receive them by email at


Your feedback is important! Please let us know if you receive a grant as a result of this tool or if you think of ways to improve it.     


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

The Minnesota State Arts Board Arts Access grant program is designed to help arts organizations broaden arts opportunities for underserved groups. Grants can be used to identify underserved groups or communities, identify the barriers that keep them from engaging in the arts, and develop and implement strategies to reduce or eliminate the barriers. More information is available at Deadline: April 24, 2015.

Arts A'Fair is currently accepting proposals to participate in the 2015 Arts A'Fair project at the Minnesota State Fair.  Minnesota performing arts organizations will be selected to entertain fair guests in surprise pop-up showcases throughout the fairgrounds. More information is available at Deadline: April 24, 2015.


The Knight Arts Challenge in St. Paul opens for applications beginning April 20, 2015. The Knight Arts Challenge is a community-wide contest funding projects that engage and enrich the community through the arts. More information is available at Deadline: May 18, 2015. 


The Minnesota Theater Alliance has launched Arts Market, a free online materials exchange for the arts, where you can offer and find reusable set pieces, hardware, art materials, gear, costumes, props, office equipment/materials, etc. available for free, sale, rent, or barter. You can share resources, reduce costs, make a little revenue, and reduce waste. It's like Craigslist for the arts. More information is available at

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. Visit the Management Training Fund program page for more information. 

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FY 2015 Grant Application Deadlines

Below are the remaining FY 2015 grant application deadlines. All applications must be submitted using MRAC's online Grant Interface. Unless otherwise noted, all applications must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. on the deadline date. "Submitted" means that the application has been received and time-stamped by the MRAC Grant Interface server.  


4/6/2015     Arts Activities Support, Round 2

4/13/2015   Arts Achievement Award


Weekly           Management Training Fund

Weekly           Emergency Accessibility

Monthly         Management Consulting Fund


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Collecting Photos

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 arts activities and arts 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 Kelly Affeldt by email at

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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 2014 Summary 

In FY 2014, MRAC received 814 applications and awarded 452 grants totaling
3,175,634 to arts organizations and/or projects including a 220,000 grant to VSA Minnesota for its re-granting 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 340 applications from individual artists in the Next Step Fund program and awarded 38 grants totaling 182,586 with funds from The McKnight Foundation. MRAC also provided 23 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.