Next Step Fund

The Next Step Fund, funded by the McKnight Foundation*, provides project grants up to $5,000 to professional artists in any discipline for the purpose of career development and artistic achievement. Applicants may be at any stage of their career, but must demonstrate achievement in their artistic field and have a history of public presentation or community contribution. This is a highly competitive program. Please read the guidelines before you apply. The application will be activated six weeks before the deadline.

An ideal Next Step Fund project is one that:

  • helps an artist overcome a barrier to significant, long-term success
  • professionalizes or increases artistic output and quality
  • enables an artist to complete a project that marks a significant milestone in their career, and/or
  • assists an artist in reaching a new community or market

If you are unable to attend a Next Step Fund workshop in person, a one-hour video of the workshop with Closed Captions, is available at this link.


Monday, January 27, 2020 - 11:59 pm

Program director

Witt Siasoco

Program requirements & eligibility

This program has a two-tiered process for review. A peer review panel rates all eligible 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 proposals. The grantees are selected from the finalists after a public 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 entire year prior to the deadline.
  • Applicants must be 18 years of age or older.

This program does NOT fund:

  • Projects being produced by an organization. This program provides support for the professional and artistic development of an artist independent from their organizational identity.
  • Fellowship support to sustain an established artist’s profession.
  • Activities that engage in political lobbying, serve the religious socialization of participants, or discriminate against persons or groups.

Help with your application

Due to the large number of applicants to this program, the program directors are unable to give individual feedback on grant applications.

Previously funded projects

MRAC staff can email you two applications from previous awardees; email program director Witt Siasoco at to request the two you would like to review. The application library is open during MRAC hours and staff is happy to help you. To see a list of this and last fiscal year’s funded projects, visit our recent awards page.

*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.