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Visual Arts Fellowships at MCAD expand to include photography

May 10, 2013, Minneapolis — The McKnight Artist Fellowships Program for Visual Artists, administered by the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, will now include photography within its award portfolio. From 2009 to this year, McKnight’s photography fellowships were administered by, an online artist service community co-developed with Walker Art Center.

“We are grateful to’s program leadership the past four years,” said McKnight president Kate Wolford. “They helped us identify and build new opportunities for McKnight’s photo fellows, which will now directly inform some exciting enhancements in the newly envisioned, broader visual artist fellowships. As we begin our next chapter with this important program, I am delighted to build on our strong partnership with MCAD.”

McKnight’s decision to consolidate administration of photography with the other visual artist fellowships at MCAD came directly from ongoing discussions with McKnight’s discipline-specific fellowship administrators (full list below), field experts, and past fellows including photographers. Staff sought to identify the best program structure to reflect how artists, curators, funders, and audiences approach such work today.

Although it was visionary for McKnight’s board to include photography among its fellowships 30 years ago, arts program director Vickie Benson notes that times have changed since then. “Photography remains a notably distinct discipline, but it also has a logical home today within the broader visual arts,” explained Benson. “Great photographic works are firmly embedded in the collections of most major visual arts institutions. And similar discipline-specific grant programs nationally consider these artists increasingly within one comprehensive group.”

Throughout 2013, program staff at MCAD and McKnight will partner to refine the administration of the re-envisioned visual arts fellowships. Drawing directly from’s experience with the photography fellowships, as well as MCAD’s own history administering McKnight’s visual arts fellowships, the goal is to lay roots for an inclusive program that meets the needs of the broad visual arts community and adds value in useful ways.

For all artist fellowships, McKnight sets broad funding parameters and works with each administering site to appropriately tailor its guidelines and process. Over the past 30 years, the Foundation has funded more than 1,500 artist fellowships.

The McKnight Artist Fellowships were created in 1981 to help artists set aside time for study, reflection, experimentation, and exploration; take advantage of opportunities; and work on new projects. Fellowships are awarded based on past work; funding is wholly unrestricted and may be used however the artist chooses. McKnight contributes nearly $1.7 million per year to individual artists through the 10 fellowship programs. The Foundation delegates management of the fellowships to arts organizations that tailor programs to the unique challenges of different creative disciplines. Interested artists should contact the appropriate administering organization for further information about potential funding:

The McKnight Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations through grantmaking, collaboration, and encouragement of strategic policy reform. Founded in 1953 and independently endowed by William and Maude McKnight, the Minnesota-based family foundation had assets of approximately $2 billion and granted about $85 million in 2012. Of the total, over $9 million went to support an environment in which artists are valued leaders in our community, with access to the resources and opportunities they need to succeed. Learn more at, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Tim Hanrahan, McKnight Communications Director, 612-333-4220