McKnight Foundation: Arts Grant

The McKnight Foundation

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Grant amount: Up to US $555,000

Next deadline: Jan 15, 2020 (Letter of inquiry)

Later deadlines: Apr 15, 2020 (Letter of inquiry), Jul 15, 2020 (Letter of inquiry), Oct 15, 2020 (Letter of inquiry)

Applicant type: Government Entity Nonprofit

Funding uses: General Operating Expense, Project / Program

Location of project: Minnesota

Location of residency: Minnesota

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About this funder:



Arts Program Goal: Support working artists to create vibrant communities. Minnesota thrives when its artists thrive.

As creators, innovators, and leaders, Minnesota’s working artists are the primary drivers of our heralded arts and culture community. Artists nurture our cultural identities, imagine solutions, and catalyze social change.

Organizations can provide critical support structures to working artists, helping artists sustain themselves through their creative work.

The McKnight Foundation invests in the arts and other sectors to support Minnesota’s working artists and advocate for the value of their work.

Our Approach

Ensuring that Minnesota is a place where artists choose to live and work strengthens our communities, our cultures, and our economies. The McKnight Foundation’s arts grantmaking is focused on working artists and the organizations that help them advance artistically and professionally.

Support for working artists has been a mainstay of the Arts program since it began. In 2010, after a comprehensive evaluation, McKnight’s board of directors decided to focus on impact at the source: the artists.

McKnight’s arts grantees are organizations that do the following:

  • prioritize compensation to artists
  • enable unique artistic opportunities
  • facilitate meaningful relationships between artists and their communities
  • demonstrate a deep understanding of their field
  • respond to broad trends
  • work to eliminate deep and persistent cultural, economic, and racial barriers

McKnight’s Arts program funds arts organizations across many disciplines that offer support structures for working artists. It also provides fellowships and other re-granting to working artists through key partners.

Our Strategies

Fuel exceptional and diverse artistic practice

We fund organizations, programs, and projects that provide support structures for working artists to develop and share their work.

For example, here are some ways that grantees advance this strategy:

  • develop, exhibit, publish, produce, or promote new work or compelling interpretations of existing work, and facilitate community-embedded arts practices
  • connect artists to funding, physical space, networking, and other opportunities
  • provide funding and other material support to artists for professional development and technical assistance
  • facilitate experimentation and collaboration

Maximize the value of artists’ work in their communities

We fund and leverage local and national collaborations, networks, knowledge, data, and policies that maximize artists’ value inside and outside the arts sector. For example, grantees carry out this strategy in various ways:

  • elevate perceptions of artists as primary drivers of our arts and culture sector
  • enable sector-wide capacity development
  • conduct research that enhances capacity for arts advocacy, field sustainability, and managerial excellence
  • support arts organizations and artists as partners in community development, leveraging collaboration among cultural, municipal, and economic development interests

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Eligibility and Types of Support
    • We provide operating and project grants to organizations in Minnesota.
    • We consider capital grants only in exceptional circumstances.
    • With very few exceptions, applicants must be classified by the Internal Revenue Service as tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations to be eligible for a grant.
    • Government entities may apply for funding for innovative projects.
      • We generally will not fund, however, activities that are traditionally the sole responsibility of government.


  • What We Don’t Fund
    • Foundations can be most effective by concentrating their resources in a few areas. This means we cannot support worthy projects outside our program interests. For example, we do not generally make grants for organizations with these characteristics:
      • do not pay their artistic staff
      • are historic in nature
      • use art primarily for rehabilitation or therapy
      • primarily present rather than produce art
      • have produced art for less than two years
      • primarily serve youth, or are primarily arts education or social service based
      • have operating budgets of less than $100,000
  • In addition, we generally do not fund the following:
    • singular productions, events, exhibitions, or festivals
    • scholarships or direct support for individuals
    • conferences, including attendance or travel (except when related to existing McKnight support)
    • endowments, except in rare cases
    • activities that have a specific religious purpose
    • lobbying prohibited by the Internal Revenue Code
      • A note on lobbying and public policy analysis: 
        • The Foundation may consider funding requests for efforts such as advocacy. As required by the Internal Revenue Code, however, the Foundation will not fund attempts to influence specific pending or proposed legislation, including referenda, local ordinances, and resolutions.