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MRAC TRIANNUAL NEWSLETTER October 2015 - January 2016


OFFICERS Peter Leggett



Shelly Chamberlain VICE PRESIDENT

Dayna Martinez TREASURER

Dameun Strange

Dear Supporters,


MEMBERS Julie Andersen Jill Anfang

By now, you are probably accustomed to receiving a monthly e-newsletter from MRAC. This October newsletter is the first in a new format of expanded newsletters which you will receive three times a year.

Bethany Brunsell

We will continue to provide monthly updates and

Marisol Chiclana-Ayala

announcements, however the expanded newsletter will use

Anthony Galloway

videos, photos and stories to deliver in-depth information about

Jamil Jude Tricia Khutoretsky

specific arts organizations and artists in the metro region. We would love to feature every arts group in our area.

Colleen McLaughlin

Unfortunately, that won’t be possible; but we will do our best

Tom Moffatt

to cover a broad range of people, disciplines, and geographic

Kathy Mouacheupao

locations within the seven-county region. I hope you enjoy the

Adam Napoli-Rangel Heather Rutledge

new format. Jeff Prauer

Andrea Sjogren

Executive Director

Melissa Wright

Metropolitan Regional Arts Council


The Minnesota State Arts Board is studying individual artists in Minnesota to learn what it might take for all artists in Minnesota to thrive. The ARTISTS THRIVE research study will survey hundreds of artists statewide about their needs. Then, the Arts Board will use what it learned to inform how it serves and supports artists.

Would you be willing to help ARTISTS THRIVE? Here are two easy ways– · Do you think of yourself as an artist? Or is creative expression an important part of your life? Then complete the survey found here: It should take about 25 minutes. · Do you work with or know artists or creative people? Then help spread the word by posting or forwarding this message! You can access the survey online, or request alternate formats in English or Spanish by contacting the Arts Board. For more information, please contact Renae Youngs, Director of Research and Evaluation, Minnesota State Arts Board: or (651) 215-1607.


As one of the 11 regional arts councils in Minnesota, MRAC’s

The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council serves nonprofit arts organizations, informal arts groups, community education ventures, non-arts nonprofit organizations with annual operating expenses under $400,000, and individuals artists in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington Counties.

In FY 2015, MRAC received 838 applications and awarded 457

funding is derived primarily from Minnesota State Legislature appropriations, specifically the State’s General Fund and the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. In addition, we receive a generous grant from The McKnight Foundation.

grants, totaling $3,214,221, to arts organizations and projects including ADA Access Improvement Grants for Metro Arts Organizations. We received 346 applications from individual artists in the Next Step Fund program and awarded 37 grants totaling $180,450 with funds from The McKnight Foundation. In that same year, we provided 14 arts management training sessions and 32 grant application workshops. ◊

(all panel meetings are open to the public). The proposal was comprehensive, and excellently prepared, and demonstrated an incredible next step for the artist. The panel recognized this and rated the project very highly. When it became apparent that it was almost certainly going to be funded due to the high rankings, I saw the artist, who was observing, well up with emotion and start crying out of joy. This, to me, is an incredible example of the enormous impact MRAC makes on artists.


MRAC: In three words, describe the Twin Cities hip-hop drummer, who's been actively touring,

Arts Scene!

recording, and performing, nationally and

Peter: Best. Kept. Secret.

internationally, for more than ten years. Join us as we share an espresso (two shots over ice!) with

MRAC: What does community arts mean to

Peter during our Q&A conversation.


WITH PETER LEGGETT MRAC: What is your current role as the

In July 2015, Peter Leggett began his tenure as the new President of the Board of Directors of MRAC. Peter, a St. Paul native, is an arts administrator and musician. He is the Executive Director of Walker West Music Academy, a 28-year-old community music school on Selby Avenue in Saint Paul. Peter wears many hats as the newly-elected President of MRAC but also as the Board Chair of the St. Paul Cultural STAR Board and the Secretary of the Selby Avenue Action Coalition.

President of MRAC?

Peter: Community is when any individuals come together to connect around something they share in common.

Peter: I support the Board and staff to ensure that stakeholders of MRAC are being served in the

MRAC: Choose one word to describe the

most efficient and transparent means possible.

following art disciplines

MRAC: How did you get involved with the organization?

Peter: Visual Arts - Vibrant; Performing Arts Living; Literary Arts - Thinking

Peter: Like so many MRAC stakeholders, I first

MRAC: In your words, how do you define

became involved as a grantee, then as a review


panelist, and now for several years, as a Board member. MRAC: What is your proudest MRAC moment?

Peter: MRAC presents a nearly unparalleled opportunity for artists, and audiences to engage in our incredible arts and culture community. ◊

Peter: During a Next Step Fund panel last year, I witnessed an artist's proposal being reviewed

We sat down with the accomplished jazz and

by panelists while [the artist] was in the room

Photographer: Helios Photography

MRAC IS PLEASED TO OFFER ARTS MANAGEMENT TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES MRAC TRAININGS LOCALS: ART CENTER/LOCAL ARTS AGENCIES LOCALS (Leaders of Community Art Locations and Spaces) is a professional network of art center, arts council, community education, community theater, parks and recreation, and other arts leaders who provide arts programming for their communities. The training is leadership based, and one of the goals is to provide networking opportunities. The training includes a continental breakfast and lunch to help encourage connections between individuals. We often work with the University of St. Thomas to provide the leadership training.

UNPACKING RELEVANCE, IDENTITY, AND OPPORTUNITY OF YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD ART CENTER. Presenter: Carlo Cuesta Creation in Common Date: TBD (visit for final dates)

ARTS AND CULTURE FUNDERS DATABASE Presenter: Steve Paprocki Access Philanthropies Date: November 12, 2015

ARTS AND CULTURE FUNDERS DATABASE Presenter: Steve Paprocki Access Philanthropies Date: Feb, 2016 (visit for final dates)

GENERAL CONSTITUENCY SESSIONS MRAC’s General Constituent Training is focused on management skill building, with the idea that not everyone who starts an arts organization has nonprofit or business management background. The topic focuses on areas such as fundraising, marketing, finances, board development, evaluation, audience development and others.

TELLING YOUR STORY ON A SHOESTRING BUDGET WITH NO PAID STAFF - PART 1 SOCIAL MEDIA Presenter: Twin Cities Media Alliance Scott Artley & Chris Cloud Date: October 29, 2015




Date: December 2, 2015

Presenter: Elaine Weber Nelson Date: October 8, 2015



Presenter: Twin Cities Media Alliance

Presenter: Eric Molho Date: October 22, 2015

Melissa Harrison Date: January 13, 2015


MRAC grants are funded by an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the State’s general fund, and by the voters of Minnesota, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

OCTOBER 2015 - JANUARY 2016 Below is a list of upcoming MRAC grants. The following is a list of upcoming MRAC grants. Visit our Grants at a Glance section, at, for further details and application requirements. The application will be activated six weeks before each deadline. Please read the guidelines before you apply.







Program Description: The Community

Program Description: The Arts Learning

Arts program provides grants, up to $5,000, in project support for groups wishing to offer quality arts activities, in any discipline, to communities within the seven-county metropolitan area of Minnesota. Grant requests may include costs for artists and other personnel, facility and equipment rental, postage, supplies, printing and other expenses necessary to carry out the project. In this program, MRAC assigns a "block" of funds in each county to ensure arts activities transpire throughout the region.

program provides grants, up to $10,000, for high-quality arts education activities in any arts discipline to develop knowledge, skills, and understanding about the arts and/or learning through the arts.

Program Description: The Community Arts program provides grants, up to $5,000, in project support for groups wishing to offer quality arts activities, in any discipline, to communities within the seven-county metropolitan area of Minnesota. Grant requests may include costs for artists and other personnel, facility and equipment rental, postage, supplies, printing and other expenses necessary to carry out the project. In this program, MRAC assigns a "block" of funds in each county to ensure arts activities transpire throughout the region.







Program Description: Program Description: The Management Training Fund program provides grants, up to $600 (maximum $300 per person per training), for staff and volunteers of nonprofit arts groups to attend management-related workshops, seminars or conferences. This is a reimbursement program. Groups are reimbursed after the training is complete and after receipt of the completed evaluation form.

Program Description: The Management Consulting Fund provides grants, up to $1,500, to cover consulting fees related to small projects that strengthen the management, or administration, of the group. Projects must be learning oriented and engage the staff, board of directors, and volunteers. Completed work must result in organizational learning that the group can carry into the future. Projects must advance the group’s mission AND have the potential for significant impact.

Program Description: The Emergency Accessibility program provides grants, up to $600, toward unforeseen project costs related to access for persons with disabilities. The program is intended for one-time unanticipated costs that will allow artists, audience members, or staff with disabilities to participate in arts activities. It is not intended for routine accessibility needs that organizations should address as part of their program planning.


Kenwood Symphony Orchestra (KSO) has a proven strategy to maintain the integrity of musicianship in Minnesota. With members ranging from college students to retired professionals, KSO believes creating performance opportunities is the key to both growing musicianship and growing the robust music scene in Minneapolis.

Since 1972, KSO has maintained its grassroots approach by coordinating outreach events and concerts at staple institutions like St. Olaf Catholic Church, St. Eleanor Parish, and Washburn High School. The premier concert for the 2015-2016 Season will be held Saturday, October 31, 2015, at 7:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church. Kenwood Symphony Orchestra became a full symphony in 2003 and celebrated the appointment of Yuri Ivan as Music Director in 2007. Ivan completed his formal music training in Ukraine and his doctoral studies at University of Minnesota where he studied with Akira Mori and Craig Kirchhoff. A nonprofit organization financed primarily by grants and member dues, KSO holds community participation as an intrinsic part of its mission.



The concept of Wearable Arts, handmade pieces of garb or jewelry designed as artistic statements that use the human body as a canvas, has been around since the 1930s-1960s. Today, events like the WOW (World of Wearable Art) awards in New Zealand and The Wearable Art show in Canada draw many enthusiasts, artists and participants. In Progress (a St. Paul Media Art Studio) hosts Wearable Art every Sunday, July through August at its North-End studio.

Photographer: Namir Fearce

Through the blue archway, there is a burnt orange patio set and lemonade with brownies waiting for guests. The intimate patio seems to house every art tool ever created: watercolors, acrylics, stencils, small rollers, sponges, stamps, fabrics, and linoleum relief prints all await the blank canvas of free white t-shirts that beg for any artistic

"Education is an important part of our mission,” said President Anne Cheney. “We are in the schools, and a lot of our members are involved in community outreach as well.” Cheney has served as organizer, musician and now President of KSO. In two decades, she has witnessed the orchestra’s evolution from a small group, with less than 30 members, to a larger force that now collaborates with groups like Voices of Vienna and The Minnesota Ballet. Still, she remembers the "humble beginnings" when the Orchestra operated as a local adult education resource that struggled to raise funds for music and concerts. Like most nonprofits, KSO relied heavily on community support and held fundraisers in local churches. Cheney recalls a small group of musicians hurrying to prepare dinner in the church's kitchen while simultaneously tuning for a concert in the main sanctuary. The dinners weren't without incident; according to Cheney, at least one violinist narrowly escaped losing his middle finger after going all pizzicato with a kitchen knife. "That knife really dug down in there," Cheney recalled. Julie Pronovici, KSO Treasurer for six years, had never heard that story but wasn't surprised. The tale, she said, just reinforces the dedication that makes KSO successful. "Music is a journey,” Pronovici said. “And we all depend on each other."

adornment. Hmmm- Where to begin? Melissa, activity lead and resident teacher and artist can help with that. She gives a casual tutorial of the materials available and the process of art we're making, but most importantly she has a profound guiding question; “What’s your message; your story? What do you want to say?” Melissa’s question may give some pause, but it ignites the fearless youth, into artists. In the intimate space, the sun shines, and there is the small hum of inspiration; giggles; and admiration as everyone gets to work, shifting to creators of masterpieces of wearable. One young lady creates Mickey in linoleum to represent the immense influence that Disney has on her and other youth. Nalah, a pretty brown-eyed 10-year-old, creates a surprise gift for her teenage brother that displays a tree with disfigured letters in red and yellow that read, “Strange fruit.” Shortly into the activity, a wife and mother arrives with three bouncing, ebony-haired, chubby cheeked little girls. They surround Melissa with familiarity and affection as their mother works on a surprise for her husband - a custom 1989 t-shirt to announce tickets to see Taylor Swift. People drop in casually from 12:00 -2:00 pm, some with an agenda, most following instant inspiration. Everyone seems

The journey has taken KSO through decades of great musical performances. Still, the group has a goal of getting its music out to broader audiences while diversifying its members. In previous seasons, KSO practiced at the old Ramsey School and collaborated with the University of Minnesota's Brass Ensemble. Kenneth Freed, previously of the New York Philharmonic and now a member of the Minnesota Orchestra’s viola section, is a featured soloist with KSO. "We have a good diversity within the orchestra in terms of age and ethnicity,” Pronovici said. “But it could be more racially diverse." By diversifying the repertoire and continuing to offer access and collaborative opportunities, Cheney is hopeful the public will see that promoting art and musicianship in Minneapolis are KSO’s main goals. "We want to inspire musicianship and the art aesthetic in Minneapolis,” Cheney said. “MRAC is a huge part of our support that allowed us to keep our shows free for the community." That's right! Other than fundraisers, like next spring's MCAC XVII event, all KSO concerts are free. For more information on KSO and a performance schedule, check out: -Angela McDowell, Contributing Writer

right at home, which is precisely the aim of “In Progress community art studio”. In Progress accomplishes its goal of community engagement through an inviting and familyfriendly art activity, that leads to instant gratification - A Custom T-shirt. On September 19, 2015, In Progress held a community celebration and exhibit to showcase the wearable arts activity and other summer fun art activities such as Digital kids, candid photos of neighborhood children. Youth artists comfortably greeted visitors with pride and invited them into what seems like their second home. In Progress is an asset to the North End community and is inspiring many young people to express their unique perspective artistically. Stop by In Progress this October on Saturdays to make your wearable art or visit to learn more about this awesome community arts organization. -Wisdom Young, Contributing Writer




In 2015, MRAC supported 16 grants for projects designed to increase access to the arts for people with disabilities through VSA's ADA Access Improvement Grants for Metro Arts Organizations program.

2. In 1977, the Minnesota legislature established a system of eleven regional arts councils to distribute state government appropriations to small arts organizations around the state.


4. MRAC offers arts management training opportunities. The workshops are free, with required registration. To register, visit

8. In FY 2015, MRAC received 838 applications and awarded 457 grants, totaling $3,214,221, to arts organizations and projects including the VSA's ADA Access Improvement Grants for Metro Arts Organizations.



MRAC’s vision for the region is: Artists, arts organizations, and arts activities thrive; Art is integrated into the social fabric and identity of every community; Public value of the arts is understood and acted upon by community members, leaders and policy makers.

MRAC is the largest of the 11 regional arts councils in Minnesota.

The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) works to increase access to the arts in the seven-county metropolitan area communities by providing information, organizational support, and grants. 6. MRAC's goal is to provide grant applicants and other constituents with clear, thorough, prompt and respectful service and assistance. 7. MRAC hosts application workshops a month prior to each application's deadline. Participants learn about the grant program, application process, and how to write an effective MRAC grant application.

10. We Lend Legacy Amendment Signs! MRAC lends banner signs (33.5"w x 83"h) with the Legacy Amendment logo to MRAC Grantees. Please contact Raeisha Williams at


MRAC: When did you know you wanted to be a dancer? Megan: At some point, around age 12-13, I realized I wanted a career as a dancer; and by the age of 16, I was dancing professionally. My parents tried to talk me out of it. I attended the dance program at the University of Minnesota, at the same time I was a dancer with Joe Chvala and the Flying Foot Forum, a Minneapolis percussive dance company. I was attending school and Photographer: VPaul Virtucio

dancing with the dance company.

Photographer: VPaul Virtucio

MRAC: How long have you been dancing? Megan: Oh, I started dancing at the age of three. MRAC: What was your first solo a dancer? Megan: My first full solo was as a fellow with the McKnight Artist Fellowship, in 2003. As part of my fellowship, I commissioned Uri Sands to create a solo performance piece for me. I performed it during the McKnight "Solo" dance program in 2004, and as a part of "Dance in the Dark," a show I produced (along with Colleen Ueland & Brian Sostek) at both the MN Fringe Festival and at the Southern Theater. MRAC: Which do you prefer; Solo or Group? Megan: I like them both. There is a sense of community when you get to work on a piece with other dancers. There's a different challenge when dancing solo, which is much more internal. At this point in my life, I like to dig into that internal challenge of dance, but they both excite me in different ways. Let's say this, if I could only bring one form of dance to a deserted island, I would bring the duet form. The duet dance form provides both the challenge to work with intense personal specificity and the opportunity to be in communion and relationship with another. It also allows freedom to evolve constantly my performance and to experience new journeys with each show because my acting and performance energy does not have to “match� a group. A duet feels like dancing for a focused audience. It is very intimate, and I love the sense of control I have over what the audience perceives through my performance. MRAC: How did you get involved with dance? Megan: My mother! There are four girls total in the family, and we have

one brother. My mom insisted that all the girls dance. She wanted to be a dancer, and her mother didn't provide that opportunity. So, when she had girls, she ensured that we took dance classes. She wanted to raise strong girls who would be poised and stand before an audience with grace and strength. If you meet my sisters, you would see that it worked! MRAC: How did you get involved with Shapiro & Smith Dance? Megan: I went to the University of Minnesota, where Joanie Smith (A founder of the company) was a professor in the Dance program. After returning to Minneapolis from California, I learned that Shapiro & Smith Dance were holding auditions. After auditioning, I was welcomed into the company and performed with them for a season in 2001. My husband and I traveled the world for a few years, and upon returning to Minnesota, Joanie asked me to fill in for a principal dancer at that time. It went well, so she asked me to stay on. And here I am now; still with the company. MRAC: Did you rejoin the dance company as a principal dancer? Megan: No. All dancers work in the majority of the work. The first year, I was involved in one piece; the next year, I was involved in all performances that made sense for me to be involved in. If there was a dance that could

utilize my skills and technique, I was a part of the performance. MRAC: Any words of encouragement for rising dancers? Megan: Ahhhh (laughter) yes. Save your money and be informed! You want to get to know the artist that you wish to work for; track them down, take their classes, see their work. You must be informed of the work that is being produced in town. All dancers should take acting classes too! Dancers are very often told not to act when dancing, but there is still a sense of control that a dancer needs to have a great stage presence. So, I would say that skill needs to be developed as part of training. And I'm not joking; Save your money!

Figure out how to live a simple life, so that doesn't become a burden. As a dancer, even though you live in a low tax bracket you are still exposed to the larger representation of wealth in the country. It can be a trap to live beyond your means. Stay focused, on what you need and don't get caught up in trying to live beyond your means or with the Joneses. MRAC: What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dancer? Megan: My greatest challenge is the finances of being a dancer. It costs a lot, both in time and money, to maintain my body and physical well-being to be an active and healthy dancer. As a freelance dancer, who does NOT get the free class or body care/health care as a part of a salaried company contract, those expenses add up and are quite overwhelming. Also, there is a real catch 22 as

an experienced freelance dancer. The better you get, the less money you make. This is because you are being paid hourly to rehearse, and most choreographers consider a “fast learner” a real asset because then they have to pay for less rehearsal. In addition to being a principal dancer for Shapiro & Smith, I freelance for many other dance projects and over the last six years I have seen my total freelance dance income decline mainly because I am working with such skilled dancers that we need less time to be “stage ready;” It is an interesting dilemma. -Raeisha Williams, Contributing Writer

2015 ARTS ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS 2015 ARTS ACHIEVEMENT AWARDEES This year, we honor Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts and Young Dance with the Arts Achievement Award award. Each group was given a cash award of $5,000 for their outstanding achievements and commitment to the arts in MRAC's 7-county region. The nominations were reviewed by the MRAC Board of Directors based on how arts groups exemplify MRAC's vision for the region by: Causing artists and arts activities to thrive, and/or integrating the arts into the social fabric and identity of a community(s), and/or enhancing understanding of the public value of the arts.


A CULTURE FINDING ITS VOICE Featured Organization How does a person of African descent hold on to one’s heritage, history, traditions, and customs? According to Voice of Culture (VOC), it's through the art of storytelling. Kenna Cottman, educator, artist, mother, and North Minneapolis community member, has taken on the task of continuing the legacy of Voice of Culture (VOC), a Minnesota-based organization that focuses on its members participating in African dance, drumming and storytelling. VOC is more than a community resource for West African culture, as Cottman describes it: “it's a movement and a vehicle for social change.”

In 2008, Cottman's dance teacher was moving back to Angola and asked if she would carry on the mission and tradition of VOC. And Cottman has done just that. With her background in African dance and knowledge of West African culture, she proudly carried the torch and expanded VOC’s vision to become what it is today. VOC is a multi-generational group with members who are a part of the Twin Cities community. They are not a group who performs a “Madison Square Garden” show but a group that provides a space where African Americans can learn more about their heritage and freely express themselves through West African Art. Black liberation is used a lot in describing just how VOC operates. Cottman explains how several students come to observe a VOC performance or practice and are often taken aback by the freedom to express themselves. They are amazed at the space created for them to dance, to move, to listen and to learn. It is a space to feel free and to feel liberated to be who they are. In watching the performances of the VOC youth, you see the excitement in their eyes as the drums create the beat. The


movement of their feet, the waving of their hands, and the sway of their movements intrigues any spectator. There's community there, a sense of pride and honor to be able to partake in something that their ancestors created. Drummers make beats, fusing together current songs with traditional sounds and storytellers attach conscious lyrics, ensuring each activity has a purpose. The fusion brings together the past with the present allowing customs to come full circle. The future of the VOC, as Kenna describes it, is merely maintaining VOC’s goal: Having the ability to continue doing what they do; teaching, empowering, and involving the entire community. For African Americans who have lost the connection to their cultural heritage, VOC bridges the gap and breaks down any inaccurate ideologies of the culture. Young and old participants enter resistant and leave awakened to their abilities. VOC's mission is to create social change. Through the vehicle of West African culture, the voyage has already begun. ◊ -Lakeisha Reaves, Contributing Writer

In FY 2015, MRAC received 838 applications and awarded 457 grants, totaling $3,214,221, to arts organizations and/or projects including the ADA Access Improvement Grants for Metro Arts Organizations. These grants were funded by an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature, using money from the State's General Fund, and by the voters of Minnesota, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

MRAC also received 346 applications from individual artists in the Next Step Fund program and awarded 37 grants totaling $180,450 with funds from The McKnight Foundation. MRAC also provided 14 arts management training sessions and 32 grant application workshops. See more at:

MEET OUR STAFF Applications: 183

Kelly Affeldt Program Associate

Awards: 128

Bob Burns Program Director

Shannon Forney Program Director

Katie Kaufmann Grants and Operations Coordinator

Greg Nielsen Program Director

Jeff Prauer Executive Director

Raeisha Williams Communications and Events Coordinator


Metropolitan Regional Arts Council | 2324 University Ave W St. Paul, MN 55114 |

Triannual Newsletter, October 2105 - January 2016  

Triannual Newsletter, October 2105 - January 2016

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