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Next Step Fund

Grants to Minnesota Artists in Eligible Counties for
Professional Development and Artistic Achievement

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) and The McKnight Foundation

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

01/11/21 11:59 PM


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Grants of up to $5,000 to Minnesota professional artists in eligible counties for artistic achievement and career development. Funding is intended to support artists working in any discipline and at any stage of their career (emerging, mid-career, or established). Artists must demonstrate achievement in their field and have a history of public presentation or community contribution. Eligible applicants reside in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, or Washington County.

An ideal Next Step Fund project is one that:

  • Helps artists adapt or transition their creative process to address current social realities
  • Helps an artist overcome a barrier to success, professionalize, or increase artistic output and quality
  • Helps an artist complete a project that marks a significant miesone in their career
  • Assists an artist in reaching a new community or market

The following are some examples of eligible projects (this list is not intended to be exhaustive):

  • The acquisition of equipment to help an artist increase quality, diversify or otherwise improve upon their artistic process or product.
  • The development of a business plan, creation of promotional materials or an artist portfolio.
  • The development of new methods of sharing artistic creations and staying connected to audiences (e.g., new or expanded websites, virtual galleries or stores, implementation of web streaming technology, new marketing or social media strategies, etc.)
  • Participation in training, master class, or workshop that will enhance the artist’s abilities (enrollment in a degree or certificate program is not eligible).
  • The production or presentation of a significant work that represents a milestone in an artist’s career.
  • The production or presentation of a work that reaches a new community or market (e.g. geographic region, cultural community, galleries, curators, professional network, etc.).

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 178120

Number of Grants:

Approximately 35 to 40

Estimated Size of Grant:

Up to $5,000

Term of Contract:

The earliest grant expenditure date is May 19, 2021.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Applicants must meet all of the following requirements:
- Emerging, mid-career, and established artists, working in any discipline, who have evidence of artistic excellence respective of their career stage.
- Have resided in the seven-county metro area during the six months prior to the deadline (July 11, 2020 – January 11, 2021). Projects do NOT need to take place within the seven county metro area but applicants MUST reside in the seven-county metro area.
- Recipients must live in the seven-county metro area for the entirety of the contract period
- 18 years or older

Applicants cannot be:
- Individuals seeking to begin a career as an artist, or make a professional transition to the arts.
- Individuals whose portfolio only reflects client or freelance work.
- Artists currently enrolled in a degree or certification program in their respective art form, unless the applicant can demonstrate they maintain a career as a professional artist outside of their educational program.
- Arts administrators seeking support for their administrative profession.

Projects, where the community is the primary beneficiary, are not compelling Next Step projects as the focus needs to be on the individual artist’s needs.

For a list of ineligible applicants and projects, see:

Pre-proposal Conference:

A recorded workshop is captioned and available via YouTube; a live workshop will be presented on January 4, 2021 at 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm. Register here for the grant workshop:

Pre-Application Information:

MRAC grant applications must be submitted online by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, January 11, 2021.

Avoid last-minute issues with the online submission by submitting early.

MRAC technical assistance is only available until 5:00 p.m. on deadline day. Once you click “Submit Application” you will no longer be able to edit your application. However, if you find that you accidentally submitted an application before it was ready and it is before the deadline, you may contact MRAC staff to revert the application to draft so you can continue to work.

A peer review panel reviews all final applications remotely via MRAC’s grant interface. Feedback from the panel will be available by request starting Wednesday, May 19, 2021.

Questions about the Next Step Fund grant?
- If you would like to talk with a program director about this grant program, fill-out this Next Step Fund meeting request form: Someone will follow up (ideally within 2 business day) to schedule a meeting.


Eligibility information:


Contact Information:

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

Apply online:

Program Director:
Jovan Rebollar

Metropolitan Regional Arts Council
2324 University Ave. W., Suite 114
St. Paul, MN 55114

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Minnesota: Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington Counties

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