FY23 Next Step Fund Grant Awards!

Congratulations to the 33 individual artists who were awarded a FY23 Next Step Fund grant. On June 27, 2023, the MRAC board approved $165,000 in funding for individual artists residing in the 7-county metropolitan region. 

The Next Step Fund grant is designed to help artists complete a project focused on their individual artistic and/or professional development goals within an artistic discipline. Projects include 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.

The Next Step Fund is made possible with support from the McKnight Foundation and provides project grants up to $5,000 to artists in any arts discipline. Artists may be at any stage in their career, and must have a primary residential address in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, or Washington county. 

This year, MRAC received 370 applications from all seven counties in the region. The total amount requested from applicants was $1,793,937. With only 9% of applicants receiving a grant award, Next Step Fund remains as the most competitive program at MRAC. 


Mayumi Amada     $5,000.00     Hennepin     

Funding to create a “super-sized” doily form through digital and industrial fabrication to be installed in dynamic configurations in community public spaces.


Leila Awadallah     $5,000.00     Hennepin     

Funding for Leila Awadallah to engage in movement research and Arabic dance studies in her village in Palestine culminating in performances at the Bethlehem International Performance Festival.


Victoria Blanco     $5,000.00     Hennepin   

Funding to plan and hold five culturally relevant readings and conversations from Victoria’s first book, Out of the Sierra, for MN-based Latinx audiences


La Kendra Dennard     $4,500.00     Hennepin   

Funding for the purchase of in-ear monitor and wireless headset microphone will aid in consistency of performance for long term sustainability.


Antonio Duke     $5,000.00     Ramsey     

Funding to invest in my leadership skills by directing my first digital theater project.


Marjorie Fedyszyn     $5,000.00     Hennepin    

Funding to travel to NC and attend a paper making workshop taught by a master paper maker in 2024


Brian Few Jr     $5,000.00     Hennepin     

Funding to create a series of videos documenting black fathers and entrepreneurs offering expecting black fathers advice on how to succeed in roles not normally apart of their lives.


Ritika Ganguly     $5,000.00     Ramsey     

Funding for field travel to West Bengal, India, to work with tradtional mentors and deepen artistic practice by presenting compositions at the biggest annual Baul festival in South Asia.


Matthew Himes     $5,000.00     Hennepin     

Funding for the expansion and development of the artist’s in-home recording studio and music production facility, to further the artist’s work in sonic conservation and creative sound.


Lindsay Halleckson     $5,000.00     Hennepin     

Funding to study atmosphere and weather in Greenland August 2023 will inspire a new body of large scale paintings based on scientific measurements gathered while aboard tall ship Skydancer


Tia Keobounpheng     $5,000.00     Hennepin     

Funding to support travel to Finland and Sweden to explore geometry in traditional Finnish and Sámi handicraft in my ancestral lands.


Michael Kareken     $5,000.00     Hennepin     

Funding for the production of a series of intaglio prints of nighttime window views. Grant funds will support upgrades to my studio and the purchase of materials to make the prints.


Tumelo Khupe     $4,000.00     Ramsey     

Funding to attend an immersive Krump training experience in Los Angeles, California


Michelle Kinney     $5,000.00     Hennepin     

Funding to compose, rehearse and perform new music for a sextet of saxophones, strings, electronics and drums; to be premiered at the Cowles Center in concert with breakdance company BRKFST, in 2024.


Leah Klister     $5,000.00     Hennepin     

I am seeking funding to offset the childcare and materials costs I will need to complete my artists’ book, “Ode to a New Mother.”


Julie Koehnen     $5,000.00     Hennepin     

Funding for post production for short film, APERTURE.  APERTURE is a short film made to support filmmaker Julie Koehnen’s career transition from the short film format into feature length narratives


Haley McCallum     $5,000.00     Ramsey     

Funding to finish production, mix, and master a full length studio album.


Zachary Miller     $5,000.00     Hennepin    

Funding for printing of SYNCO and the subsequent clinic and performance at Macphail Center For The Arts.


Elizabeth Pechacek     $5,000.00     Dakota     

Funding for a larger kiln and kiln shelves to create a series of large scale ceramic tile wall installations to expand my current pottery and sculpting practice to 2 dimensional art


Jay Afrisando     $5,000.00     Hennepin    

Funding to build networking with curators, galleries, and art institutions for opening potential future collaborations and reaching the wider public


Preeti Rajpal     $5,000.00     Hennepin     

Funding for Author Website. My project is to develop a professional author website to suit the needs of an emerging poet with her debut book to be published.


Laura Rosenstone     $4,950.00     Hennepin    

Funding for this project will provide Laura the opportunity to train with and be mentored by Shakia “Kia the Key” Barron while Laura also spends time supporting Shakia’s dance work administratively.


Patrick Scully     $5,000.00     Hennepin     

Funding for equipment for self production of Patrick Scully’s performances


Sun Yung Shin     $5,000.00     Hennepin     

Funding to complete BLACK POWDER, a poetry manuscript following the socio-cultural history of firearms from 9th century China, to Korea, to Japan, to colonial America, and present-day US culture.


Sara Suppan     $5,000.00     Hennepin    

Funding to create ten paintings for the artist’s first major international exhibition in Hong Kong


Priya Thoresen     $5,000.00     Hennepin     

Funding for the purchase of a larger, computer operated electric kiln to increase both the scale and quality of sculptural ceramics through greater control over the firing process.


Saymoukda Vongsay     $5,000.00     Ramsey     

Funding for Lao American playwright Saymoukda D. Vongsay to work with Laotian American theatermaker/director Ova Saopeng to learn about devised work or collective creation.


Claire Wahmanholm     $5,000.00     Ramsey     

Funding for the completion of the author’s fourth poetry collection.


Chamindika Wanduragala     $5,000.00     Hennepin     

Funding to learn music theory/composition, piano, percussion basics and development in modular synths so I can create my own sound design for my puppet films and puppet theater pieces.


Forrest Wasko     $5,000.00     Hennepin     

Funding for the production of an edition of high-quality photo books and a gallery exhibition.


Taja Will     $5,000.00     Hennepin     

Funding for disabled, queer, Latine choreographer Taja Will to make a new solo work, to premiere at the Cowles Center in March 2024.


Mohammed Yabdri     $5,000.00     Ramsey     

Funding for the creation of a documentary entitled “Freddy” exploring immigrant artists to Minnesota from Algeria


Jacob Yeates     $5,000.00     Hennepin     

Funding for acquisition of bookbinding/printmaking materials for studio experimentation and execution of new illustrated chapbook series



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