Skip to content

How to Apply


For individual artists and culture bearers, learn more about the McKnight Artist Fellowships, the Regional Arts Councils, and Forecast Public Art’s grants.

For arts organizations, the first step is to familiarize yourself with our approach. You may also want to review our funding FAQs and the arts organizations in our grants database.

To help you prepare, you can preview both the initial inquiry and the full proposal application forms at any time.

If, after reading our approach and funding FAQs, you feel your organization fits within our funding strategy, contact the Arts & Culture team before starting the initial inquiry form. This will clarify any questions you might have, and help us explore if your organization is a potential fit.

We will respond via email four to six weeks after receiving your inquiry, either to provide instructions for submitting a full proposal application online, or decline funding.

Eligibility & Types of Support

We provide general operating (unrestricted) and specific program/project (restricted) grants to organizations, groups, and Tribal Nations primarily in Minnesota. We make limited grants outside of Minnesota that are able to demonstrate a clear benefit to Minnesota artists and culture bearers. We consider limited capital grants, typically to current grantees.

Government entities, including Tribal Nations, may apply for funding for unique programs or projects. However, we generally will not fund activities that are traditionally the sole responsibility of a government.

Although most applicants funded are classified by the Internal Revenue Service as tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, nonprofit status is not mandatory to receive funding. Please connect with program staff if you have questions regarding eligibility.

What We Don’t Fund

Foundations can be most effective by concentrating their resources in a few areas. This means we cannot support worthy projects outside our program interests. For example, we do not generally make grants for organizations, groups, or projects that:

  • do not pay their artists
  • have produced art for less than two years
  • primarily present rather than produce/create art
  • offer singular productions, events, exhibitions, conferences, or festivals
  • primarily serve youth, or are primarily arts education or social service based
  • seek support for scholarships
  • are seeking to create or grow endowments
  • engage in lobbying prohibited by the Internal Revenue Code

A note on lobbying and public policy analysis: 

The Foundation may consider funding requests for efforts such as advocacy. As required by the Internal Revenue Code, however, the Foundation will not fund attempts to influence specific pending or proposed legislation, including referenda, local ordinances, and resolutions.

Learn more about our general funding guidelines.


McKnight’s initial inquiry deadlines are quarterly. If invited, the inquiry submission date will determine when a full proposal is considered by our staff and board. Please note the online application system is open approximately two weeks prior to the deadline so the open dates below may vary from year to year by a day or two.

Application Opens Initial Inquiry Due Board Consideration
January 2 January 15 May
April 1 April 15 August
July 1 July 15 November
October 1 October 15 February

Important Notes

  • All new initial inquiries start here. Inquiries that are in progress can be accessed from within your online account.
  • To access saved applications or to check the status of a report, use the Account Login link (upper right corner of any page on this website).
  • If you have any trouble with the online application system call us at (612) 333-4220 or send an email to our Arts & Culture team.

Initial Inquiry Instructions

The online application system is only accessible for two weeks prior to deadline.

Initial Inquiry Deadlines
January 15
April 15
July 15
October 15