MRAC Awards $909,431 in Arts Activities Support

Minhua Chorus

On June 11, 2019, the MRAC board awarded $909,431 to 93 organizations/projects in the second round of its FY 2019 Arts Activities Support grant program. The Arts Activities Support projects chosen will provide high-quality arts events and programs for Minnesotans of all ages to experience and enjoy arts in a variety of disciplines. From theater productions to camps to classes and more, the Arts Activities Support grants provide quality engagement with the arts at a variety of entry points. The Arts Activities Support grant program is made possible with funds from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund of the Legacy Amendment. Geographic listings represent the county where the arts programming will take place; note that Minneapolis and St. Paul are listed separately from the Suburban Hennepin and Suburban Ramsey counties.

We thank these individuals for serving as panelists for this grant review round:

Andi Cheney, Andy Sturdevant, Anton Jones, Audrey Anderson, Audrey Park, Beverly Cottman, Brenda Butler, Bryan Thao Worra, Cigale Ahlquist, Courtney Gerber, Curt Lund, D.A. Bullock, Deborah Jinza Thayer, Divya Karan, Edna Stevens, Emmy Carter, Erik Madsen-Bond, Florence Brammer, Heidi Droegemueller, Jeff Hansen, Jenea Rewertz-Targui, John Bueche, Julia Brown, Kate Sheldon, Kevin Yang, Kim Peterson, Lauren White, Loren Niemi, Mai Yang, Malia Cole, Mary Barghout, Max Erickson, Michael Robins, Monica Cruz Zorrilla, Nakita Kirchner, Quinn Villagomez, Robin Gillette, Roseanne Pereira, Samantha Sencer-Mura, Sara Endalew, Sha Cage, Stanton Wood, Susan Rotilie, Suzanne Roberts, Takara Henegar, Teresa Mock, Ying Lee

Dakota County

Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community                $10,000.00
Funding for the 20th Annual Traditional Wacipi, a three-day Native American artistic and cultural celebration and social gathering. Activities will take place on the St. Peters Church grounds in Mendota in September 2019.

TigerLion Arts                     $10,000.00
Funding to present Nature: A Walking Play, in partnership with the School for Environmental Studies in Apple Valley and Dakota County Parks. Five Performances are slated for October 2019 in Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan.

Twin Cities Catalyst Music, Inc                 $8,562.00
Funding for the Young Artist Empowerment series to support the opportunity for a diverse audience of underserved young artists to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to further their self-sustaining career in the music industry. Young artists will participate in 24 events to take place June 2019 – June 2020 at THE GARAGE, an alcohol-free all-ages, state-of-the-art music venue, recording studio, and educational facility located in Burnsville.


Arbeit Opera Theatre                     $10,000.00
Funding to present a new production of Benjamin Britten’s opera The Rape of Lucretia in March 2020 for 7 performances at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis.

Art Shanty Projects            $10,000.00
Funding to curate and present the 2019 Art Shanty Projects On Ice Program, a free four-week interactive exhibit of performance and visual art on frozen Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. The exhibit will be on display in January and February 2020.

Black Storytellers Alliance                       $10,000.00
Funding for the 28th annual Signifyin’ & Testifyin’ Festival, a three-day, family-friendly, free event inviting showcasing Black storytelling as an oral tradition in all of its styles. This year’s festival will be held in September 2019.

Black Table Arts                  $10,000.00
Funding for six free Black Table open mic events, merging the artistic practices of presentation; community gathering and sharing; and entrepreneurship. The events will be held at Illusion Theater in Minneapolis between June 2019 – April 2020.

BRKFST Dance Company               $10,000.00
Funding to collaboratively choreograph an extended version of a work-in-progress into a full evening production which will premiere at The Southern Theater in Minneapolis, June 4-7, 2020.

Chronofon Productions                 $10,000.00
Funding to present ten multi-media cabaret performances about the lives and work of Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht and their un-credited co-creator, Elisabeth Hauptmann, at Open Eye Theater in August 2019.

Classical Actors Ensemble            $9,400.00
Funding for Shakespeare’s comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, and the anonymous tragedy, Arden of Faversham, performed in repertory at the LAB Theater in Minneapolis in September 2019.

Collective Unconscious Performance                 $10,000.00
Funding to produce and present the world premiere of Maiden Voyage, a new, ensemble-driven play. Performances will take place primarily at SpringHouse Ministry Center in Minneapolis for three weeks in May 2020.

COLLIDE Theatrical            $10,000.00
Funding to produce Skol, an original feature-length dance musical retelling of Norse Mythology, to premiere at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis in spring 2020.

Dark & Stormy Productions                     $10,000.00
Funding to produce John Patrick Shanley’s play DOUBT with performances in October – November 2019.

Dear Gaza                  $10,000.00
Funding to produce the Dear Gaza Block Party celebrating Palestinian culture, held in September 2019 at 24th and Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis.

Exposed Brick Theatre                  $10,000.00
Funding for the world premiere production of EDGES by Ashawnti Sakina Ford. EDGES is an original play that explores the hair stories, past and present, of African American women. This production will be preformed from April 17 – April 26, 2020 at the Phoenix Theater in Minneapolis.

Freshwater Theatre                        $9,900.00
Funding for the main stage show Immaculate Heart and repertory show Eventually, Epiphany during September 2019 at the Crane Theater in Minneapolis.

Gadfly Theatre Productions                     $10,000.00
Funding for The Final Frontier Festival, an annual one-act festival highlighting the stories of queer and feminist voices. Performances will take place in November 2019.

Hennepin Health Foundation                   $10,000.00
Funding for two teaching artists to lead pediatric and cancer patients in visual art activities. Artists will provide art activities to adults and children who have limited opportunities to participate in the arts. Activities will take place in Hennepin Health Services’ Comprehensive Cancer Center and Pediatrics units for eight hours a week from July 2019 – April 2020.

Hopewell Music Cooperative North                    $10,000.00
Funding to bring multi-sensory concert experiences to seniors at Victory Care Center and two other care centers in Minneapolis during June 2020.

House of Charity                  $10,000.00
Funding for a community mural to be created by residents and diners who use the Food Centre, where a free community meal program is offered to those experiencing homelessness. The project is in collaboration with Juxtaposition Arts and will culminate in a mural unveiling in November 2019.

International Friendship Through the Performing Arts                    $10,000.00
Funding for seven multicultural concerts in public libraries performed by Syrian oud player Issam Rafea and Chinese pipa master Gao Hong. Concerts will take place September 2019 – May 2020.

Iraqi & American Reconciliation Project                       $10,000.00
Funding for two performances of BIRDS SING DIFFERENTLY HERE during July 2019 at The Southern Theater in Minneapolis.

Journey Productions                      $10,000.00
Funding for the 2019 Theater Experience, audition-based performing arts program in Minneapolis for youth between the ages of 9 and 18. The program will culminate in the performance of Clinton 12, a play centered on the 12 heroic youth that were the first students to desegregate their high school in the Jim Crow south. The performance will be at the Ritz Theater in December 2019.

Katha Dance Theatre                      $10,000.00
Funding to create a new dance work titled Shaamya – Of Equality inspired by the poem Of Equality by Bengali poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. Asian Indian choreographer Rita Mustaphi, Katha Dance Theatre, and African American composer JD Steele will collaborate to present a work-in-progress showing in January 2020 at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis.

Kenwood Symphony Orchestra               $10,000.00
Funding for four live symphony orchestra programs, including a soloist competition. Performances will take place at metro area venues and assisted living facilities between October 2019 and May 2020.

Kulture Klub Collaborative                       $10,000.00
Funding for a 12-week improv theater class series at HUGE Improv Theater in Minneapolis during July – October 2019 for youth aged 16-24 who are experiencing homelessness.

Metropolitan Symphony Orchestral Association                     $10,000.00
Funding for the 2019-2020 concert season, featuring five orchestral music concerts, two of which will be performed twice, for a total of seven performances. The MSO will perform these concerts in a variety of venues in the Twin Cities and greater metro area between October 2019 and May 2020.

Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute             $10,000.00
Funding for the Writer’s Table to take place in the fall 2019 semester of the After-School Homework Help program. The project consists of workshops for youth grades K-12, visits from an author mentor, and culminates in the printing of a chapbook. Activities will occur in Minneapolis from September – December 2019.

Mila Vocal Ensemble                      $10,000.00
Funding for a holiday concert featuring traditional instrumental and vocal music from the countries surrounding the Black Sea in December 2019 at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis.

Mizna             $10,000.00
Funding for the 14th Arab Film Festival, a five-day festival featuring 25 to 30 films by Arab and Arab-American emerging, independent, and established filmmakers. The event will take place at the Film Society’s screen at St. Anthony Main Theatre and will occur in September 2019.

Morris Park Players                       $10,000.00
Funding for nine performances of Big Fish in the fall of 2019 at Edison High School in Minneapolis.

Native Youth Arts Collective                     $10,000.00
Funding for Ziigwan (“spring” in Ojibwe), where members of the Native Youth Arts Collective program arts activities for children who attend the Little Earth Youth Development Center. There will be 10 weeks of programming January – March 2020.

New Arab American Theater Works                  $10,000.00
Funding to present the play Zafirah the Olive Oil Warrior and community dialogues on the theme of Arab and Muslim American internment camps. The play will be presented at the 9th floor Guthrie Theater space during October 2019. 

Nimbus Theatre                   $10,000.00
Funding to produce Lost in the Taiga based on the story of the Lykov family, to be presented at the Crane Theater in Minneapolis during November 2019.

Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association                       $8,000.00
Funding for the 25th Art-A-Whirl Open Studio Tour in May 2020.

People Incorporated                      $10,000.00
Funding for the 25th year of Artability, offering free multi-disciplinary workshops to individuals with a diagnosis of mental illness throughout the Twin Cities from July – September 2019.

Prime Productions             $10,000.00
Funding for the second PRIME Voices: A Staged Reading Series, three plays to be presented at three separate venues on three Mondays in September, October and November 2019. The three plays to be presented are THREE FORKS by Staci Swedeen, THE CITY OF CONVERSATION by Anthony Giardina and WAITING IN THE WINGS by Noel Coward.

Sandbox Theatre                 $10,000.00
Funding for the production of a new play called Bone Mother, an original work inspired by the Slavik folklore tales of Baba Yaga. The play will run two weekends at two different venues: September 2019 at The Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis and October 2019 at The Crane Theater in Minneapolis.

Speaking Out                        $10,000.00
Funding to provide six free community events that include a performance of the play School’s No Place for Kids and an interactive arts-based workshop. Performances and workshops will occur August – November 2019.

Swandive Theatre               $10,000.00
Funding to produce the absurdist play The Canopic Jar of My Sins, a new work by Justin Maxwell, about Ralph Wiley, the creator of plastic, and mankind’s culpability in the destruction of our environment. It will be presented at The Crane Theater in Minneapolis in October 2019.

Take-Up Productions                     $9,900.00
Funding for the Volunteer Picks film series, in which volunteers will choose the films that are screened. Screenings will occur at the Trylon Microcinema in Minneapolis from September 2019 – May 2020.

The BAND Group                 $10,000.00
Funding for IN THE SPIRIT – a new rock opera in collaboration with Venus DeMars and inspired by her life story from childhood to gender confirmation surgery. IN THE SPIRIT will have public workshop readings at The Playwrights’ Center in Summer 2019, Rogue Buddha Art Gallery in Fall 2019, and a performance run at The Southern Theater in March 2020.

The Semilla Center for Healing and the Arts                $10,000.00
Funding for the Phoenix of Phillips Literary Magazine, a journal by and for the Phillips neighborhood, which is sent to every household in Phillips. The project consists of writing workshops and two issues of The Phoenix from July 2019 – May 2020.

The White Page                    $7,500.00
Funding for Activity Room at The White Page Gallery presenting visual art, performance, literary arts, and time-based media from October 2019 – April 2020.

Theatre Coup d’Etat                        $10,000.00
Funding for Rogue/Prince, an original adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Henry IV Parts 1 and 2. 11 performances will be presented at Calvary Baptist Church in Minneapolis during October 2019.

Theatre Pro Rata                 $10,000.00
Funding to present the world premiere of The Ever and After by Minneapolis playwright Rachel Teagle in December 2019 at the Crane Theater in Minneapolis.

Toot               $10,000.00
Funding for Toot’s February 2020 theatrical production of Tweezer Burn.

Twin Cities Iranian Culture Week                       $7,435.00
Funding for a weeklong program of events highlighting Iranian arts and culture during August 2019 at Jackson Flats in Minneapolis.

United Festival Group                    $9,500.00
Funding for Twin Cities Horror Festival VIII, an 11 day live-performance festival featuring theater, music, dance, and visual arts exploring the genre of horror from October – November 2019 at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis.

We Win Institute, Inc.                    $10,000.00
Funding to partner with Heart of the Beast and master storyteller Nothando Zulu to provide a summer puppet making program for 30 youth from June – August 2019, culminating in a public performance at the Northside Arts Crawl in Minneapolis. 

zAmya Theater Project                  $10,000.00
Funding to produce the Annual Fall Roadshow: zAmya Zone, a 90-minute theatrical event that will build understanding about homelessness and inspire action for housing justice. Five venues – which include Pohlad Auditorium at Hennepin County Library and Plymouth Congregational Church – will present the event in November 2019.

Voices of Hope Prison Choir                     $8,165.00
Funding for the  fall 2019 quarterly project “From Darkness to Light.” A concert will be given at Minnesota Correctional Facility in Shakopee during November 2019. 

Saint Paul

BareBones Productions                $10,000.00
Funding for the 26th annual Halloween Outdoor Puppet Extravaganza,  a nighttime, multimedia, spectacle performance that celebrates Fall and honors the dead. Performances will occur at Hidden Falls Park in St. Paul during October and November 2019 and includes giant puppets, live music, and communal singing, followed by a reception with free food and opportunity for remembrance and contemplation.

Center for Irish Music                    $10,000.00
Funding for the 12th Annual Minnesota Irish Music Weekend in Saint Paul in June 2020.

CLUES            $9,900.00
Funding for “(Inter)Conexiones“, an indoor mosaic mural project with CLUES community members, led by two Minnesota-based Latina mosaic artists. The artists will engage Latino seniors, adult immigrants, and youth in an intergenerational design and co-creation process that will enliven the space, promote mental health, and improve social services. The mosaic will be installed in the newly‐expanded headquarters on East 7th Street in Saint Paul by December 2019.

Dangerous Productions                 $10,000.00
Funding to create a collaboratively-written play about displacement in Saint Paul’s Frogtown community.

District 1 Community Council                  $10,000.00
Funding for The Highwood Performance Series, featuring 4 weekly, outdoor, family-friendly performances and make-and-take arts activities based on “up-cycling”. The series will encompass master storytellers, Taiko drumming, Somali and South Asian dance and a physical clown artist. Performances will take place during July and August 2019 near the Highwood Hills Recreation Center in St. Paul.

Face to Face Health and Counseling, Inc.                       $10,000.00
Funding to support music training and to host a showcase featuring youth artists from the community served by Face to Face Health and Counseling at SafeZone Homeless Youth Drop-in Center in St. Paul from July 2019 – June 2020.

Fortune’s Fool                     $10,000.00
Funding to present the Midwest premiere of the award-winning play DOG ACT, a post-apocalyptic vaudeville by Liz Duffy Adams. Performances will be at Gremlin Theatre in St. Paul during December 2019.

Frogtown Tuned-In             $9,899.00
Funding for Frogtown Summer Walking Tour, an audio tour of businesses and organizations along University Avenue between Lexington and Rice Aves in Saint Paul. Each 2-5 minute audio piece will air on WFNU radio and be available via web and podcast in multiple languages.

Funny Asian Women Kollaborative (F.A.W.K)             $10,000.00
Funding for the Super Ratchet Clapback Cabaret, a one-night showcase featuring Minnesota’s finest emerging Asian and Asian Pacific Islander American female-identifying comedians, comedic artists, and comedic storytellers at the Ordway Performing Arts Center in October 2019.

Gender Reel              $9,800.00
Funding for Gender Reel’s 2019 Film Festival taking place during October 2019 at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul and The St. Paul Jewish Community Center.

In Progress               $10,000.00
Funding for “McDonough”, a digital arts and exhibition program supporting 10 youth using digital art-making to tell stories of families that live in the McDonough Homes. Youth work with teaching artists to develop skills in photography and video, and then create artwork that depicts the culture of the North End neighborhood housing complex. Artwork will be exhibited at the McDonough Homes, the Rice Street Library, and City Hall in St. Paul from February – April, 2020.

Japan America Society of Minnesota                   $10,000.00
Funding for the Obon Festival at Como Park in August 2019, consisting of the Festival and related Bon Odori workshop in July 2019 at Spring House Ministry Center in Minneapolis.

Jazz at Studio Z                    $10,000.00
Funding for Jazz at Studio Z, a series of jazz workshops, podcasts, and professional concerts featuring local musicians. Events will take place monthly at Studio Z in downtown St. Paul between September 2019 and May 2020. 

Lyra Baroque Orchestra                $10,000.00
Funding for production and promotion of six Twin Cities performances of the 2019-2020 season, Lyra’s 35th Anniversary year of performances. Concerts feature local musicians and internationally-renowned guest soloists, performing music from the Baroque and Early Classical eras at Sundin Hall in Saint Paul.

Minhua Chorus                    $10,000.00
Funding to produce a full-length concert to showcase the Chinese moon’s cultural and its historical values, featuring songs, dances and poems from both East and West. The concert will be held at the O’Shaughnessy Auditorium in St. Paul in November 2019.

Minnesota Chinese Music Ensemble                   $10,000.00
Funding for five Singapore musicians to perform and give instruction in traditional and contemporary Chinese music. In September 2019, there will be a master class and performance at Kang Le Daycare Center in St. Paul, a concert at Sundin Music Hall, and a performance at Legacy Adult Daycare Center in Golden Valley.

Minnesota Guitar Society              $10,000.00
Funding for nine concerts at Sundin Music Hall in St. Paul from September 2019 – May 2020.

Nautilus Music-Theater                 $10,000.00
Funding for five ROUGH CUTS works-in-progress presentations of new music-theater (two performances each) plus a “special edition” ROUGH CUTS presented during the Saint Paul Art Crawl between October 2019 and April 2020.

One Voice Mixed Chorus               $10,000.00
Funding for One Voice (LGBT) Mixed Chorus to present “Beyond Borders: Coming Home”, a non-traditional winter holiday concert in December 2019 at Hamline University’s Sundin Concert Hall.

Rain Taxi Inc.                       $10,000.00
Funding for the 19th annual Twin Cities Book Festival, featuring Minnesota authors, publishers, booksellers, and book artists, and select writers from across the nation. The Festival highlights their work through an all-day book fair, children’s activities, youth programs, and author readings and book signings held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds during October 2019. 

Sod House Theater              $10,000.00
Funding for the site-specific performance of The Ghost Sonata in collaboration with Black Label Movement. Performances will occur in September 2019 at Swede Hollow Park in St. Paul.

Sospiri                       $10,000.00
Funding for two concert programs during fall and winter of the 2019-20 season: “Sospiri da Morte” and “Sospiri di Natale.”

The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library                $10,000.00
Funding for the 26th season of the Fireside Reading Series, showcasing diverse literary voices and perspectives that connect audiences with ideas, stories, and each other. The series will take place at the Hamline Midway branch of the Saint Paul Public Library, in January and February 2020. 

The Show                  $8,500.00
Funding to partner with teaching artists from Women’s Artist Resource of Minnesota (WARM) for an introductory workshop series that will engage youth, adults with disabilities, and the public between September 2019 and June 2020.

ThinkSelf, Inc.                      $10,000.00
Funding to produce a 15-minute documentary highlighting the daily lives of individuals with hearing loss who experienced language deprivation, and the effects it has had on their lives. Filming and production will take place beginning January 2020 with an event to showcase the completed project in late May 2020 at St. Catherine University in St. Paul.

Young Dance, Inc.                $10,000.00
Funding for Stretching In, a season investigating the idea of virtuosity, asking dancers to challenge themselves physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. Workshops and performances will occur at Young Dance’s new home at Co-Motion in St. Paul.

Zeitgeist                    $10,000.00
Funding for 2019-2020 Eric Stokes Song Contest program and the annual Playing it Close to Home concerts. Activities will include conducting the contest, presenting three composition workshops, rehearsing the winning works, and presenting three concerts featuring these winning works at Studio Z. The program takes place September 2019 – May 2020.

Scott County

Advocating Change Together                   $10,000.00
Funding for a monthly integrated singing group open to all people with developmental disabilities, their allies and the general public without disabilities. Activities will include nine monthly rehearsals and three public performances in Winter 2019 and Spring 2020.

Suburban Hennepin County

Bengali Association of Minnesota                        $10,000.00
Funding for the Bongoutsav Festival, a two-evening event celebrating the culture, music, and arts of Bengal, India. The festival will be held in October 2019 at the Park Center High School in Brooklyn Center.

Courage Kenny Foundation                      $10,000.00
Funding for the 2020 Art of Possibilities Art Show & Sale, a juried art show featuring more than 250 works by artists with disabilities locally and from around the world. The exhibition will be held at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Golden Valley in April and May 2020.

Historic Walker-Lake Placemaking Committee                       $10,000.00
Funding to create a large-scale mural in the Historic Walker-Lake District of St. Louis Park from July 2019 – June 2020.

Indian Music Society of Minnesota (IMSOM)                 $10,000.00
Funding for the Fall 2019 concert series, consisting of five concerts including a community music festival. Concerts will be held September – November 2019.

Sabes JCC Cultural Arts                  $10,000.00
Funding for the 11th annual Twin Cities Jewish Humor Festival at the Sabes Jewish Community Center in St. Louis Park and the St. Paul Jewish Community Center in January 2020.

The Chameleon Theatre Circle                $10,000.00
Funding for the theatrical production of Vanishing Point. Performances and post-show panel discussions will take place September – October 2019 in the Black Box Theatre at the Bloomington Center for the Arts.

Wayzata Symphony Orchestra                 $10,000.00
Funding to present five free concerts of music in Wayzata and Mahtomedi that include collaborations with other Twin Cities solo artists and feature classical, jazz, musical theater, and multi-media pieces. The concerts will take place in Wayzata in October 2019, March and April 2020, and in Wayzata and Mahtomedi in November 2019.

Suburban Ramsey County

Children’s Performing Arts                      $10,000.00
Funding for the 2nd annual “Spotlight on a Cause” theater program, taking place over the course of 10 weeks with performances in October 2019.

Merrick, Inc.             $10,000.00
Funding for The Art of Social Skills, two nine-week sessions for 2 groups of 15 adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities to work with Upstream Arts artists during each one-hour session. Activities will take place at Merrick’s Vadnais Heights location between September 2019 and June 2020.

North Suburban Chorus                $3,000.00
Funding for 25 performances from June – December 2019.

Washington County

Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop                $10,000.00
Funding to expand the one-to-one mail Mentor Program to 32 additional students incarcerated in one of the four Metropolitan-area state correctional facilities. The Mentor Program expansion will take place from July 2019 – April 2020 in Stillwater, Lino Lakes, Oak Park Heights, and Shakopee prisons and will culminate in a public reading at Hamline University in May 2019.

Music Saint Croix                $10,000.00
Funding for two concerts, “St. Croix Celebration”, an annual free outreach concert for the community held in collaboration with Valley Chamber Chorale and St. Croix Jazz Orchestra, and “Festa Italiano”, part of MSC’s “music around the world” series with chamber music from Italy, including several operatic arias performed by soprano Sarah Lawrence with MSC’s chamber orchestra. These concerts will take place in fall 2019 in Stillwater.

Washington County Jail                 $10,000.00
Funding for the Women’s Creative Writing program taking place in the Washington County Jail in August 2019 in Stillwater.


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