First and foremost, MRAC mourns the loss of George Floyd, and we send our condolences to his family, friends, and community. We are outraged that another Black man has been killed by the police. And, we are grieving with the community over this tragedy. The racial inequities and disparities in access to resources are even more illuminated during this time of pandemic crisis and tragedy. MRAC is committed to increasing access to the arts because we believe it improves the quality of lives. We know that we cannot do this work effectively if we do not address racism within our systems.
MRAC constituents that are most impacted by this have been in our thoughts as we have all tried to make some sense of the chaos. We acknowledge the long history of racism, discrimination, and inequities against Black people, and we stand in solidarity with the community in the pursuit for justice.
With that in mind, in past years June 1 has been a day we provide you, our constituents, the new grant guidelines and the calendar of grant deadlines for our new fiscal year, which begins July 1. By this time in past years, we know our funding numbers and have all of the activities for the next fiscal year planned. However, due to the pandemic and related crises, our planning for the next fiscal year has been delayed.
Outside of the Next Step Fund which is generously made possible by the McKnight Foundation, all of our grant funds come from the State of Minnesota, through both general appropriations and the Legacy Fund. As you can imagine, the state is experiencing change and uncertainty with revenue and operations. They have informed us that we may not receive our annual funding until late-summer or early fall and we do not know the amount of this reduced funding.
Additionally, MRAC staff are engaged in listening to and responding to current needs of constituents, which includes working with grantees on changes to summer and fall projects, distributing all available Emergency Relief Funds, and sending grant payments quickly for recently approved Arts Learning, Organizational Development, and Arts Project Support projects.
To this end, we want to share with you what we know and have planned for the next fiscal year:
- There will be funding available and we will offer grant programs that will serve groups and organizations in the 7-county metro area.
- There will be multiple deadlines and we will publish clear and helpful guidelines and also offer resources and staff support to help apply for these dollars.
- Grant programs will be a consolidation of our current programs: Arts Project Support, Arts Learning, Capital, Organizational Development, Access Improvement, Management Consulting Fund, and Management Training Fund. The grant programs will not go away, but will re-emerge and be improved.
- We expect the first deadline to be late-summer or early-fall when we have more information about available dollars from the State.
- The application process will look different—more streamlined, more flexible, more responsive to your needs.
- The Next Step Fund will have a deadline in early 2021 and will support individual artists in this next fiscal year.
We also know that these things are also true:
- MRAC will not offer an Art Management Training program in FY21 due to budget cuts.
- There will not be a summer deadline for Arts Project Support, nor a fall deadline for Capital, and the Management Consulting Fund and the Management Training fund will not be available in these formats in FY21. There will be ways to apply for similar support through other grant programs and we look forward to sharing this via the grant program guidelines later this summer.
- Due to the best interest of our community, board members, panelists, staff members, and vendors we are not making plans to reopen the physical office space and we will continue to serve the arts community remotely. We continue to pay our vendors and our panelists for their work.
This is all difficult news to share. But we ask for you to be optimistic about MRAC’s goals in providing funding for the arts in the 7-county metro area. Please reach out to any MRAC staff with questions at this time. We will continue to communicate any news about funding and opportunities to apply for grant funds as we know them.