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Program Background

Artists are essential to a healthy and vibrant community. Minnesota's artists are innovators, organizers, and leaders — as critical to our state’s quality of life as other professionals working in business, health, technology, government, education, and other sectors. They are the primary drivers of our heralded arts and cultural community, and live and work in every corner of the state. Minnesota thrives when its artists thrive.

The McKnight Foundation’s arts grantmaking strengthens the system of support for working artists. A 2008 evaluation by The Center for the Study of Art and Community noted that Minnesota was home to a deep community of artists working across all genres, but that parts of the resources and infrastructure necessary to support those artists were underdeveloped. The foundation’s board decided to focus McKnight’s arts grantmaking on impact at the source: the artists.

A functioning system of support for artists includes financial support to buy time and materials; appropriate spaces to produce and present work; a community of peers and collaborators; engaged and informed audiences; active and diverse markets; critical dialogue; and opportunities for continued exploration, experimentation, and skill development.

Building on our past, the arts program strengthens this system of support in several ways. The flagship McKnight Artist Fellowship program provides funding for mid-career artists in 11 disciplines. Partnering with Minnesota’s Regional Arts Councils, the foundation makes funds available to artists in all 87 counties. McKnight supports nonprofit artist service organizations, who offer advanced training and development, networking, employment, advocacy, and other resources. And, support to organizations of all sizes provide opportunities for artists to develop work, experiment with ideas, sharpen skills, and connect with communities.

By ensuring that Minnesota is a place that artists choose to live and work, McKnight improves the quality of life, quality of community, and quality of opportunity for all Minnesotans.

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