Meet some MRAC grantees with disabilities

The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) provides grants to groups and individuals creating arts access in the Twin Cities metro region (Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and/or Washington counties).

Below are profiles from two recent MRAC grantees with disabilities who wanted to share about their work and encourage others to apply.

Want to spread the word?

Share this post if you can! Download the print-ready PDF versions of these disabled grantee profiles and one-page flyer with MRAC grant opportunities to share with other disabled artists and arts organizers. Interested in having MRAC staff speak with your group or network about grant opportunities? Get in touch with scott@mrac.org.

Dave Fallon

The Open Doors Project

Received a $5,000 Arts Impact for Individuals grant for The Open Doors Project, inviting adults with disabilities to experience workshops and tours

Dave Fallon headshot
Dave Fallon, a smiling Black man wearing a hiking outfit crouching atop rocks by a large body of water

How did an MRAC grant impact your work?
My MRAC grant made it possible for me to start an arts-accessibility program. It also gave me an opportunity to investigate my relationship with my personal disability.

What encouragement do you have for MRAC applicants with disabilities?
My piece of advice would be don’t be afraid to ask for help. MRAC has more accessibility resources than I ever expected.

What’s one piece of advice to MRAC applicants with disabilities?
It feels like we’ve entered a new era in terms of addressing disabilities and access with equity. Take this opportunity!

Where can we find more information about your grant-funded project?
@opendoors_project on Instagram

DisabiliTease Festival

Festival Production Team: Minda Mae, Lakota Shekhar, & VaVa Vashti

Received a $15,000 Flexible Support grant for the third annual DisabiliTease Festival, a platform for talented people with disabilities to perform in the areas of burlesque, cirque and drag

Photo of Minda Mae, Lakota Shekhar, & VaVa Vashti
The photo is of three women on a big, black couch with a brick wall and windows behind them. From left to right are Minda Mae, Lakota Shekhar, and VaVa Vashti. Minda Mae is a bald, caucasian woman. She is wearing a burgundy dress and shoes, and rhinestoned earrings and necklace. Her right hand is on her crossed leg, and her left hand is on the couch behind Lakota. Lakota Shekhar is a dark-skinned multicultural woman. She has long, curly, black hair and is wearing a black jersey dress, red shoes, and a rhinestone necklace and crown pin. Her hands are on her right leg, which is tucked under her left, crossing her feet. VaVa Vashti is a caucasian, plus-sized woman. She has purple and teal hair pulled back into a ponytail and is wearing a black top, a blue skirt with a high slit, a rhinestone caplet in a netted pattern, and strappy black heels. Her left arm is on her left thigh, which is crossed over her right leg. Her right arm is on the couch behind Lakota. They are all smiling at the camera. Photo: Andrea Baue Photography

How did an MRAC grant impact your work?
The funds we received from MRAC not only allowed us to provide a platform to lift up the art of performers with disabilities but also added additional accessibility and community support for both performers and audience members to be able to participate in ways that felt safe.

What encouragement do you have for MRAC applicants with disabilities?
Your idea is worthy of support! It does not have to be a groundbreaking idea to warrant a grant – you just need to share why it is important.

What’s one piece of advice to MRAC applicants with disabilities?
Take your time writing out your answers and utilize the resources in your networks. Connect with the MRAC team if you need clarification on what something means and have a friend or colleague review your application and ask *you* questions before you submit it. These things will help you fine-tune your answers and make the best impact with your submission.

Where can we find more information about your grant-funded project?
DisabiliTease Festival website and DisabiliTease Facebook page

Interested in applying for an MRAC grant?

Here are some upcoming deadlines for MRAC grants open to disabled people/people with disabilities and groups (formal or informal) whose leadership is made up of majority people with disabilities. MRAC offers robust support to ensure applicants with disabilities have equal access to grant opportunities. Inquire with the program director listed on each program’s web page to discuss how we can make this process work for you. Not sure where to start? Connect with MRAC’s Accessibility Program Director Scott Artley at scott@mrac.org or 651-523-6384.

Arts Impact for Individuals

Deadline: December 12, 2022 at 11:59 PM

$5,000 for artistic projects in Minnesota led by individuals creating access to the arts for Minnesotans. Projects must center enhancing Minnesotans’ access to the arts through projects that: connect Minnesotans with arts and arts experiences; and/or integrating arts into community efforts and projects; and/or connecting Minnesotans with arts learning opportunities, any of which may be presented virtually.

Individuals do not need prior artistic experience to apply. This opportunity is open to artists/creatives and people who do not identify as artists/creatives. More information on the Arts Impact for Individuals program page.

Next Step Fund

Deadline: January 9, 2023 at 11:59 PM

$5,000 to help artists complete a project focused on their individual artistic and/or professional development goals within an artistic discipline. Projects should outline strategies that will help the artist overcome barriers to success, sustain the continued success of their artistic career, and/or help them leverage an opportunity. More information on the Next Step Fund program page.

Flexible Support (Round 2)

Deadline: February 13, 2023 at 11:59 PM

$15,000 to help groups create and sustain Minnesotans’ access to the arts. This program supports the production of artistic projects, and/or projects that strengthen the organizational capacity and operations of groups providing access to the arts. More information on the Flexible Support program page.

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