Next Step Fund

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.

Please read the guidelines before you apply.

Stronger proposals will accomplish one or more of the following:

  • Help an artist adapt or transition their creative process to address current social realities
  • Help an artist overcome a barrier to success, professionalize, or increase artistic output and quality
  • Complete a project that marks a significant milestone in their career
  • Reach a new community or market

Grant Guidelines are available as a pdf below, or can be accessed in an Accessible text format via this link: Text Version Next Step Fund Guidelines


Monday, January 11, 2021 - 11:59 pm

Program directors

Jovan Rebollar

Scott Artley

Masami Kawazato

Program requirements & eligibility

This program has a two-tiered process for review. A peer review panel rates applications based on the program criteria. A smaller group of the highest-rated applicants are selected as finalists and asked to submit work samples as context for their artistic vision. The grantees are selected from the finalists after a panel review. 

The requirements listed below are intended to give a sense of the program and are NOT comprehensive. Applicants are required to read the complete guidelines before beginning their application.

  • This program funds emerging, mid-career and established artists, working in any discipline, who have evidence of artistic excellence respective of their career stage.
  • Applicants must have resided in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott or Washington County during the six-months prior to the deadline.
  • Applicants must be 18 years of age or older.

This program does NOT fund:

  • Projects where the applicant is applying on behalf of a duo, group, or organization. This program provides support for the professional and artistic development of an artist independent from their organizational identity. For example, a choreographer may apply for an independent study, but not to produce or stage a work marketed as a production of their dance company. MRAC has other grant programs to fund arts projects of groups and organizations.
  • Projects that include expenses that will be paid or incurred before the earliest grant expenditure date (May 19, 2021). Examples: airline tickets, registration fees, etc.
  • Activities that engage in projects that attempt to influence any state or federal legislation or appropriation, serve the religious socialization of participants, or discriminate against persons or groups.

Help with your application

Questions about the Next Step Fund grant?

If you would like to talk with a program director about this grant program, fill-out this Next Step Fund meeting request form. Someone will follow up (ideally within 2 business day) to schedule a meeting.

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