Find Nonprofit and Small Business Grants

Advance Search

Only Available for Paid Subscribers
Clear Filters
Search Filters

Operating Support Grant

Grants to Minnesota Arts Nonprofits, Agencies,
and IHE Divisions for General Operating Support

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

Add to My Calendar 

Minnesota State Arts Board

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

01/19/18 4:30 PM


Request a Grant Writer

Grants starting at $15,000 to Minnesota nonprofit, government, and IHE-based arts organizations to support general operations. First-time applicants are strongly encouraged to contact program staff prior to applying. Applicants are strongly encouraged to register for the December 14 webinar.

Operating Support is a grant program that provides general operating support to high quality, established arts organizations that produce, present, or exhibit works of art; to organizations that provide a broad range of services to artists; and to community arts schools and conservatories that make arts learning available to Minnesotans of all ages and abilities.

The program recognizes that organizations with an established record of programmatic service and administrative stability should have access to funds to support their organizational goals and objectives, and to maintain their ongoing programs, services, and facilities without special emphasis on new initiatives as justification for funding.

Program Outcomes:

By ensuring that sufficient resources are available to sustain the arts and arts organizations, the Operating Support program is dedicated to achieving the following Arts Board long-term strategic outcomes:
-Minnesotans learn, grow, or change because they participate in quality arts experiences;
-Minnesotans are more likely to participate in the arts because arts experiences are relevant and accessible;
-Minnesota communities are stronger or more vibrant because of art’s impact on social, civic, or economic life;
-Arts organizations effectively manage and strategically apply resources to maximize impact for Minnesotans.

Applicant Outcomes:

Each Operating Support applicant must identify one or more distinct and measurable outcomes that it intends to achieve with any support provided by the Arts Board’s Operating Support grant. Applicants will define specific organizational outcomes that relate to and support their mission and key priorities during the grant period. Applicants must be able to explain how their proposed organizational outcomes will help achieve one or more of the Arts Board’s Operating Support program outcomes listed above. Grantees will be expected to evaluate activities, maintain required financial records, and demonstrate measurable achievements related to identified Operating Support program and applicant organizational outcomes.

Two-Year Qualifying Expenses:

Qualifying expenses are defined as all unrestricted expenses, but do not include any in-kind expenses; or nonoperating and nonarts expenses such as expenses associated with charitable gaming, acquisition, board designated reserves, endowment, or restricted expenses. The two-year average for the FY 2019 Operating Support grant year will be based on applicant’s fiscal years 2015 and 2016. If an applicant received Arts Board Operating Support for fiscal years 2015 and/or 2016, those grants will be excluded when calculating qualifying expenses.

Operating Support grants include two components:

1. Formula Award

Applicants must meet basic expectations in all five Operating Support review criteria to receive a formula award.

The amount of the formula award will vary depending on the overall number of grantees and the total dollars available for this program, and will be based on the applicant’s two-year qualifying expenses, as verified by financial information required with the application.

2. Merit Award

Applicants who meet basic expectations in all five review criteria, and whose performance in one or more criteria greatly exceeds program expectations, will be eligible to receive a merit award.

For the purposes of allocating program funds to the merit portion of the award, Operating Support applicants will be separated into the following budget groups based on the applicant’s two-year qualifying expenses:

-Group 1: $5,000,000 and above
-Group 2: $830,000 - $4,999,999
-Group 3: $390,000 - $829,999
-Group 4: $166,000 - $389,999

There are two types of application reviews:

1. Full application review is required for any applicant not funded in FY 2018 and those returning applicants who have reached the end of their four-year grant cycle. Full applications are reviewed by an advisory review panel. If recommended for funding, full review applicants will receive a four-year funding commitment.

2. Interim application review is required for returning applicants in each subsequent year of the multiyear commitment. The applicant will be expected to demonstrate that it continues to meet eligibility requirements of the program and to make measurable progress toward organizational and program outcomes in order to receive funding for the next year of the four-year cycle. Interim applications are reviewed by staff. At the end of the applicant’s multiyear cycle, it will need to submit a full application to be considered for another four-year funding commitment.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 136384

Estimated Size of Grant:

The minimum award amount is $15,000.

Term of Contract:

Funds must be expended by June 30, 2019.

Multiyear Award Determination:
The Arts Board is unable to commit to a specific grant amount for the multiyear grant cycle. Instead, the board will make a commitment to provide annual grants for a four-year period, based on the applicant successfully undergoing the interim application review process. The grant amount will vary each year of the four-year period; each year, the grantee will be notified of its grant amount.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible applicants must be one of the following:
-An arts organization, or
-An arts affiliate;

AND the arts organization or arts affiliate must be one of the following:
-An arts producing organization;
-An arts presenting organization;
-A community arts school or conservatory; or
-An artist service organization.

AND every applicant must meet all of the following conditions as of the application deadline:
-Be physically located in Minnesota. The majority of an applicant’s arts programming, services, or activities must take place in Minnesota, and must primarily serve and engage Minnesota audiences and participants;
-Have been in existence and actively providing arts programming in Minnesota for two consecutive full years before applying to the Operating Support grant program for the first time;
-Have two-year qualifying expenses, averaged over fiscal years 2015 and 2016, of $166,000 or more;
-Receive at least ten percent of its total unrestricted revenue from charitable arts support, averaged over fiscal years 2015 and 2016;
-Have at least one paid, professional, administrative staff person in a contract or salaried position (i.e., someone to whom the organization issues a W-2 or 1099 form);
-Have no reports specified in a previous contract with the Arts Board that are overdue as of the application deadline;
-Be in compliance with any active contract with the Arts Board.

AND every arts affiliate must meet all of the following conditions as of the application deadline:
-Be hosted by a Minnesota host or parent institution, with a public presence and identity as an arts affiliate that is distinct from the host organization;
-Have professional staff with expertise, training, and/or qualifications in bringing arts programming or services to the public;
-Provide an ongoing menu of arts programming or services throughout each year or season;
-Show evidence of a broad community following, as demonstrated by season ticket sales, public classes attendance, or charitable membership program;
-Have a citizen advisory or governing board independent from the host organization’s board, which provides community oversight of the affiliate’s activities as distinct from the host organization’s activities;
-Demonstrate receipt of charitable arts support from multiple sources beyond support of the host institution;
-Have a budget for the arts affiliate’s activities that is separate and distinct from the host institution’s budget that can be documented through financial statements; and
-Provide arts programming or services which are intended to primarily serve the general public in Minnesota, not the host institution and/or its constituents, as would be the case with an academic degree program and its students.

Not Eligible:
-Any state agency, public institution, or nonprofit organization that receives a legislative appropriation or legislatively mandated grant from the State of Minnesota’s arts and cultural heritage fund is NOT eligible to receive an Arts Board Operating Support grant for the same fiscal year that it receives the appropriation or legislatively mandated grant.
-Any project, program, or division housed within or affiliated with a state agency, public institution, or nonprofit organization that receives a legislative appropriation or legislatively mandated grant from the State of Minnesota’s arts and cultural heritage fund is NOT eligible to receive an Arts Board Operating Support grant for the same fiscal year that it receives the appropriation or legislatively mandated grant.
-An affiliate and its host institution may not both receive funding in the Operating Support program. However, more than one affiliate of the same host may receive funding.
-Two separate organizations whose work supports or is based upon the same artists or arts programming — such as an organization and an associated “friends of” organization — may not both receive funding in the Operating Support program.

Not Funded:

Arts Board grant funds may not be used for the purposes listed below. An application that includes any of the following items, either as part of proposed organizational outcomes or as part of the applicant organization’s routine activities, will be ineligible:

-Activities in which artists are required to pay excessive fees in order to exhibit or perform;
-Payment of debts incurred before the grant activities begin;
-Activities that are essentially for the religious socialization of the participants or audience;
-Activities in primary or secondary level parochial schools;
-Activities that attempt to influence any state or federal legislation or appropriation;
-Capital costs (such as improvements, construction, property, and equipment costing $5,000 or more);
-To start, match, add to, or complete any type of capital campaign (such as endowment, debt-retirement, or building campaigns);
-Events that are not open and accessible to the entire general public;
-Events that when feasible, do not establish admission charges;
-Payment of costs for activities that take place outside the geographic boundaries of the state of Minnesota.

Program Definitions:

Artist service organization — An arts organization or arts affiliate that plays a significant supporting role in service to practicing professional artists by providing technical and management assistance, operational services such as collaborative buying or group marketing, and opportunities for collaborative learning and group solidarity. By handling or supporting the functions that artists may not have the expertise or resources to handle alone, artist service organizations help their participants enhance or advance their careers, achieve a larger scale of operation, and free them to focus on their core mission and activities.

The following are some of the kinds of services that do not fit the definition of artist services and therefore are not eligible for the Operating Support program:
-Service or trade organizations whose mission is focused on supporting arts organizations
-Management and consulting services for nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations
-Service organizations whose mission is focused on building community/audiences for an art form or within a geographic community or community of interest

Arts affiliate — A distinct arts program or established arts division with an arts focused mission that is hosted within a Minnesota public or nonprofit 501(c)(3) nonarts institution (such as city government or a university) or within a Minnesota nonprofit 501(c)(3), tax‐exempt, community service organization; and for whom arts programming or services represents at least 90 percent of the affiliate’s annual operating expenses.

To meet the definition of affiliate in the Operating Support program, an applicant must also meet all of the requirements listed in the eligibility section on page 1.

Arts organization — A nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that has an arts focused mission and for whom arts programming or services represents at least 60 percent of the organization’s annual operating expenses.

For the purposes of this program, public or private preK–12 schools, colleges, or universities; radio and television stations; libraries; zoos; children’s museums; historical societies or museums; natural history museums; civic organizations; human service organizations; or other community service agencies do not meet the definition of “arts organization.”

Arts presenter/presenting organization — An arts organization or arts affiliate whose work consists of engaging artists, touring companies, or exhibitions that are external to the institution. The tasks must include curatorial vision and programming choices that are connected to mission and community, contracting the artists, paying artistic fees, providing the facility, fostering connection between the presented artists’ work and audiences, marketing, and assisting in technical support. Organizations must be able to demonstrate that the majority of their activities include an active presenting role that goes significantly beyond a venue rental relationship with producing artists and audiences.

Arts producer/producing organization — An arts organization or arts affiliate that is primarily engaged in conceiving or creating artistic work, and in assembling the artistic elements for its productions, performances, or exhibitions.

Charitable arts support — Charitable arts support consists of unrestricted revenue, including contributions and donations from foundations, corporations, businesses, and individuals which are tax-deductible by the donor; the proceeds from benefits, special events, and memberships which are tax-deductible by the donor; contributed support from a nonprofit 501(c)(3) or government host institution to its arts affiliate; and grants from government agencies. If an applicant received Arts Board Operating Support for fiscal years 2015 and/or 2016, those grants will be excluded when calculating charitable arts support. Charitable arts support does not include in-kind contributions or revenue associated with charitable gaming.

Community arts schools and conservatories — An arts organization or arts affiliate with open enrollment that provides arts instruction to individuals of varying ages or abilities. No two community arts schools are exactly alike, but their missions generally combine a commitment to artistic and educational excellence with access for everyone. Schools may operate independently or in connection with a host or parent nonprofit 501(c)(3) or public organization.

Instructors must be practicing artists, artists who have an established arts reputation, artists who have demonstrated artistic skill and vision, or artists with an advanced degree in their art form or in teaching their art form. They must be able to demonstrate appropriate proficiency. Activities must be primarily focused on sharing knowledge and promoting the development of student skills and knowledge in the arts. Activities should not primarily be focused on rehearsals and/or preparing students for performances. Organizations or affiliates that use the arts as a tool or strategy for some other purpose (i.e., increasing general academic achievement, youth development, advocacy on public or social issues, or to build basic life or self-sufficiency skills of participants) do not fit the definition of a community arts school or conservatory.

Pre-proposal Conference:

The Minnesota State Arts Board is offering a one-hour Webinar to help applicants prepare to apply for the Operating Support grant program. The session will focus on program basics and applicant questions.

The session is scheduled for Thursday, December 14, 2017, 3:00 PM.

The Webinar is free of charge, but advance registration is strongly encouraged.

If you are not able to attend, but would like to view the PowerPoint used in the Webinar, it will be posted on this page following the session.

Pre-Application Information:

During any year, a grantee may receive no more than 50 percent of its total operating expenses from the Arts Board. The 50 percent cap will be based on the applicant’s total operating expenses for fiscal 2016, as demonstrated in its fiscal year 2016 financial statements. Arts Board support includes an Operating Support grant, one or more project grants, or a combination of operating and project support.

All applicants are required to use the WebGrants system to apply, and will submit all materials electronically. Everyone wanting to apply must be a registered user. New users need to register in advance in order to create an account and set up a user ID and password.

First time applicants are strongly encouraged to call the program officer prior to beginning an application, after first reviewing the Program Overview and Application Instructions.

The Operating Support grant program uses a four-year grant cycle. First time applicants or those not funded in FY 2018 are welcome to apply in any application cycle.

Applications must be submitted to and accepted by the online WebGrants system BEFORE 4:30 PM on Friday, January 19, 2018.

Applications will be reviewed in May 2018. Board approval will occur in July 2018.

Calendar Page:

Online tutorial to register as a WebGrants user:

Online tutorial to use WebGrants:

Application deadline Before 4:30 p.m. Friday, January 19, 2018 Application review: May 2018 Board approval: July 2018

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Register for the December 14 webinar:

Apply online through WebGrants:

If you have questions about the content of the application form or narrative, please contact:
Richard Hitchler, Program Officer
(651) 215-1604

If you have questions about the required financial documents, please contact:
Dave White, Director, Finance and Grants Administration
(651) 215-1622

If you have questions about the technical aspects of the application form, or questions about electronic submission, please contact:
Tom Miller, Project Manager
(651) 215-1611

Park Square Court
Suite 200
400 Sibley Street
Saint Paul, MN 55101-1928

(651) 215-1600 / (800) 866-2787

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Minnesota