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Essential Artist Award

Grants to Minnesota Artists in Eligible Counties to Create New
Works and Pursue Professional Development Opportunities

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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East Central Regional Arts Council (ECRAC) and Minnesota State Legislature and McKnight Foundation

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

03/01/19 11:59 PM


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Grants of $7,000 to Minnesota individual artists in eligible counties for career advancement and professional development activities. Funding is intended to recognize and honor outstanding endeavors of professional artists across the literary, visual, and performing arts disciplines, which include, but are not limited to, painting, sculpture, design, music, poetry, and acting. Eligible applicants may reside in Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, or Pine Counties.

The East Central Regional Arts Council (ECRAC) Essential Artist Award program is designed with McKnight Foundation funding to recognize, reward, and encourage outstanding professional artists. The Council will fund artists at various stages in their professional careers. These Awards will allow artists to set aside time to work, purchase supplies and materials, undertake advanced study (not related to a degree) or to pursue other artistic career goals. The Essential Artist Award program is open to artists in all artistic mediums. This includes, but is not limited to: Visual (2 or 3 dimensional and photography), film/video screenwriting, dance/choreography, music, theater arts/playwriting, prose and poetry.

Review Criteria:

The review criteria include the artistic quality of the work samples submitted, and the merit and feasibility of the Essential Artist Award plan. The artistic quality of the work is demonstrated by work samples. If the artistic activity meets high standards of excellence, the Arts Council will then review the Essential Artist Award plan. Merit and feasibility of the proposed Essential Artist Award plan is measured by its anticipated impact on the applicant artist's career, and by its relevance to the artist's work. The plan should include information about what the applicant will do with the time and money afforded by an ECRAC Essential Artist Award and a description of the artistic direction of the work. Finally, the Council will assess the applicant's ability to accomplish the proposed Essential Artist Award activity. Artistic quality is the primary criteria; merit and feasibility of the proposed Essential Artist Award plan are secondary.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 154648

Number of Grants:

Up to three are awarded each year. The program provides at least one Essential Artist Award annually.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Each Award is for the amount of $7,000.

Term of Contract:

The project cannot start before May 15 of the current year. The project must be able to be completed within 14 months of the grant deadline date.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible applicants must be permanent residents (for at least six months) of Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs or Pine Counties, eighteen years of age or older, who are professional artists. The ECRAC definition of “professional artist” is someone who considers the creation of art to be a primary endeavor or career.

An applicant must also be a U.S. citizen, or individual having permanent resident alien status; a primary or secondary creator in the visual, literary, or performing arts (including painters; print makers; sculptors; design, craft, film/video, interdisciplinary, and performance artists; playwrights, actors, directors, composers, musicians, singers, poets, fiction and creative nonfiction writers); applying in a single discipline; and applying as an individual.

The Essential Artist Award applicant must not have received ECRAC’s McKnight funding for two years. (Example: FY 2017 ECRAC/McKnight grantees are not eligible again until FY 2019.) An artist obtaining funds from the Minnesota State Arts Board (MSAB) for the same project is ineligible for this funding.

The applicant must not have any outstanding or unacceptable final reports with ECRAC.

This is not a program for college credits.

Pre-proposal Conference:

Individual Artists Grant Sessions will be held on:

- Thursday, January 3, 2019, 10:00am – 11:30am.
- Thursday, February 7, 2019, 5:30pm – 7:00pm

Location: East Central Regional Arts Council, 112 Main Avenue South, Braham, MN 55006

These grant information sessions are for all artists (visual artists, writers, dancers, videographers, potters, musicians, etc.) in Region 7E. They will include basic information about all ECRAC grant programs for artists, as well as recent changes to the grant application processes. Even for those who have already attended a grant information session in the past, a refresher is always a good idea to keep up to date with any new grant requirements and recent changes to the application processes.

Advance registration is required. To register, please call the East Central Regional Arts Council office at (320) 396-2337 x 1, or email

Grant Application Workshops: Information Sessions are held monthly. Participants learn about the grant programs, application process, and how to write an effective ECRAC grant application. This is an excellent opportunity to get questions answered on project ideas.

For the ECRAC Calendar:

For the Online Individual Artist Grant Info Session, see:

Pre-Application Information:

The annual application deadline is March 1 of each year. If a deadline date falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline will be 11:59 p.m. on the next working day.

Artists must complete and submit the application form online.

Once your application has been submitted, ECRAC board members and staff are prohibited from discussing your application with you prior to the funding decision. You will be invited to attend the ECRAC grant review. Applicants are not required to attend, but are encouraged to so.

Applicants are officially notified of funding decisions by May 15 each year. You may contact the ECRAC office for an immediate answer regarding ECRAC’s funding recommendations the day after the grant review. Artists recommended for funding by the East Central Regional Arts Council will receive a Notification of Grant Award and Request for Payment with the funding decision letter via U.S. mail.

Applicants may attend an ECRAC Grant Workshop Information Session. This is not currently a grant requirement, but it is strongly recommended by ECRAC for this funding.

Grant Library: ECRAC maintains a library of submitted grant applications. Reviewing these materials can enhance your understanding of the process and may improve your application.

Artists can only have one active ECRAC grant at a time.

For any grant related questions, contact the ECRAC or the ECRAC Program Officer Katina Eklund by phone or email.

Application Tutorial:

Contact Information:

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

Online application portal:

Katina Eklund
320-396-2337 x 2

112 Main Avenue South
PO Box 294
Braham, MN 55006

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Minnesota: Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, and Pine Counties