MRAC Announces 2021 Next Step Fund Recipients

The Next Step Fund, funded by the McKnight Foundation, provides project grants up to $5,000 to artists in any discipline for the purpose of research, career development, and artistic achievement. Applicants may be at any stage in their career, but must demonstrate achievement in their artistic field and have a history of public presentation or community contribution.

The McKnight Foundation’s arts program is founded on the belief that Minnesota thrives when its artists thrive. The McKnight Foundation supports working artists to create and contribute to vibrant communities.

After a record applicant pool of 567 artists submitted proposals in this year’s Next Step Fund, our panelists read and rated all of the applications in round one, determining the 108 finalists. After reviewing work samples in round two, the 34 grantees were determined.

We would like to extend our sincere gratitude for the hard work and thoughtfulness of the following panelists:

Beverly Cottman, Cameron Gainer, D. Allen, Dameun Strange, DejaJoelle, Diver Van Avery, Esther Callahan, Gabrielle Grier, Heidi Wiren Bartlett, Jeffy Hnilicka, Jonathan Herrera Soto, Laura Joseph, Maria Isa Perez-Hedges, Mariona Lloreta, Miko Simmons, Nico Wheadon, Pao Her, Rachel Breen, Sara Tan, Shaiwna Adams, Zamzam Mohammed

We would like to extend our warmest congratulations to this year’s grant recipients!

Alanna Morris-Van Tassel    
Funding for research for the development for new choreographic project, Black Light

Alanna Morris-Van Tassel photo credit: Canaan Mattson

Arneshia Williams    
Funding to create, build, market and sustain artistic practice.

Arneshia Williams

Benji Perez Gonzalez   
Funding to pay a filmmaking crew

Benji Perez Gonzalez

Debra Stone    
Funding for a new laptop computer and printer to revise essay manuscript, The House on Rondo, create a website and query agents.

Debra Stone
photo credit: Anna Min

Diane Willow    
Funding for sensory media equipment for the research and production of Warming, to be developed during a post-pandemic Arctic Circle Research Residency. Warming will complete the cycle of three works that comprise the Open Air Cycle.

Diane Willow

France-Hue Barbeau    
Funding for equipment purchase for photo studio

France-Hue Barbeau

ifrah mansour    
Funding for the creation of a puppetry digital series called “Sanjabeel/ginger”, that explores mental health wellness and meaningful connection in challenging times

ifrah mansour

James Curry    
Funding for the production of a significant body of work

James Curry
photo credit: Gina Cioffi

Jarrelle Barton    
Funding to purchase music equipment to professionalize as well as increase output and quality.

Justin Jones    
Funding for the creation of a home music studio to support development of an album of new music.

Justin Jones

Ka Ly    
Funding to present the Hmong Batik Workshop.

Kang Vang    
Funding for professional video production equipment to produce a short film pulled from the feature length script “Eat 30 (Noj Peb Caug),” that will be used to raise funding to produce the entire feature film.

Kang Vang
photo credit: Joe Kelley

Keren Kroul    
Funding for an immersive large-scale watercolor on paper painting to be exhibited at The Gordon Parks Gallery at Metropolitan State University in April 2022.

Keren Kroul 
photo credit: Rachel Nadeau

Mara Duvra    
Funding for a solo exhibition at Saint Cloud State University

Mara Duvra

Michael Kleber-Diggs    
Funding for a chapbook of specialty poems

Namir Fearce    
Funding for The Southern Artist Tour focusing on archiving, filming, and collaborating with Black artists, farmers, and storytellers in cities throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and Georgia.

Namir Fearce

Nancy Musinguzi    
Funding for first professionally published artbook

Nancy Musinguzi
photo credit: Breon Jones

Niphone Phommaras    
Funding for equipment for documentation, preservation and marketing of Lao dance and performance

Nirmala Rajasekar    
Funding for research into the origins and development of Raga in Indian music.

Nirmala Rajasekar

Pagnia Xiong    
Funding to hire a music business coach and mentorship program enrollment.

Pagnia Xiong

Phillip McGraw    
Funding for additional education and equipment purchase

Phillip McGraw

Pooja Pavan    
Funding for travel to India to study in depth, the folk songs of Rajasthan from an acclaimed master.

Pooja Pavan
photo credit: TPT MN

Pramila Vasudevan    
Funding for the creation of a new solo performance

Roshan Ganu    
Funding for documentation of first solo exhibition outside Twin Cities and building a website dedicated to storytelling using the documentation.

Roshan Ganu

Rosetta Peters    
Funding to revise full manuscript, (Memoir) with professional Developmental Edit with Line editing

Stephanie Henry    
Funding to purchase new equipment for home studio, attend a workshop and network as a woman composer of color.

Tahiel Jimenez Medina    
Funding for Tahiel to direct his short film My Mama Can’t Swim.

Tahiel Jimenez Medina

Taylor Ngiri Seaberg    
Funding for new video equipment to film/livestream an immersive and psychedelic Black jazz rock soundscape in my home studio in Anoka.

Taylor Ngiri Seaberg photo credit: Markus Akre

Tearra Rosario    
Funding for first solo full-length album.

Tearra Rosario
photo credit: Free Truth Media

Timi Bliss    
Funding for new equipment to remain prepared and active in writing and illustrating diverse children’s books.

Timi Bliss

Tish Jones    
Funding to develop a website; commission podcast marketing material and create content for podcast and website

Trevor Scoggin-Bowen    
Funding to create a business plan to scale up production capabilities and continue to produce commissioned pieces, and move more work to a more gallery friendly presentation.

Za’Nia Coleman    
Funding for equipment and project support.

Za’Nia Coleman

Zach Goldberg    
Funding for the completion and revision of a first full-length poetry manuscript.

Zach Goldberg
photo credit: Mel Nigro
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