Minneapolis, Minnesota • Updated October 2, 2012, 07:10am

Public funding for small arts organizations in the Twin Cities took a giant leap in 2010 when Arts and Cultural Heritage Funds became available after voters amended Minnesota’s constitution to tax themselves for the arts and other purposes. Requests for 2013 arts funding continue to outpace available dollars, however, at least in one program administered by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. Overall in 2012, half of the organizations applying for all programs received grants.

Jeff Prauer, MRAC’s executive director, reported in the agency’s October newsletter that the board of directors approved 56 grants in September for the first round of the 2013 Arts Activities Support grant program. Those grants totaled $544,706, or an average of $9,726 each. According to Prauer, another 60 applications in that program round could not be funded.

The $544,706, Prauer continued, “is just 18% of MRAC’s total grants budget for the fiscal year. But it is also almost $50,000 more than MRAC awarded in BOTH rounds of the same program in fiscal year 2009, the last year before Arts and Cultural Heritage Funds became available.”

There is no grant allocation formula among artistic disciplines. In a competitive process, review panels are convened to discuss applications in open meetings and make recommendations to the board of directors. Regular readers of Minnesota Mist will be interested to know that eight dance producing organizations received $79,500, or 14.6%, of September’s Arts Activities grants.

MRAC is one of 11 regional arts councils in Minnesota; it serves the seven counties of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington. MRAC receives its funding from three sources: an appropriation by the Minnesota Legislature from the state’s general fund; the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund approved by voters; and designated funds from the McKnight Foundation.

According to MRAC’s website, it received 840 grant applications from organizations in fiscal 2012 and awarded 419 grants totaling $2,738,936. It received 366 applications from individual artists to the Next Step Fund, supported by McKnight, and awarded 32 grants totaling $155,900.

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