-Minnesota State Arts Board - Minnesota North Star

Operating Support grant program

Operating Support provides general operating support to high quality, established arts organizations that produce, present, or exhibit works of art; to organizations that provide a broad range of services to artists; and to community arts schools and conservatories that make arts learning available to Minnesotans of all ages and abilities.

The Operating Support program recognizes that organizations with an established record of programmatic service and administrative stability should have access to funds to support their organizational goals and objectives, and to maintain their ongoing programs, services, and facilities without special emphasis on new initiatives as justification for funding.

First time applicants are encouraged to carefully review the Program Overview and Application Instructions and then call the program officer prior to beginning an application.

Program overview and application instructions

FY 2020 Program overview and application instructions — all applicants should read this document thoroughly before beginning the application form.

Application deadline and project period

FY 2020 applications must be submitted and accepted before 4:30 p.m. on Friday, January 18, 2019. For more information about the application timeline and the project period, see the calendar page.

General eligibility

The Operating Support program is intended to support organizations for which providing arts activities or services is the primary mission and purpose. To be eligible for the Operating Support program, applicants must be structured in one of the following ways:

  • A nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt arts organization with an arts focused mission; or
  • An arts affiliate, operating as a distinct arts focused program hosted within a Minnesota public or nonprofit 501(c)(3) nonarts institution

AND must be one of the following:

  • An arts producing organization,
  • An arts presenting organization,
  • A community arts school or conservatory, or
  • An artist service organization

AND must:

  • Be physically located in Minnesota, with the majority of its arts programming, services, or activities taking place in Minnesota, and must primarily serve and engage Minnesota audiences and participants;
  • Have been in existence and actively providing arts programming in Minnesota for two consecutive full years before applying to the Operating Support grant program for the first time;
  • Have two-year qualifying expenses, averaged over fiscal years 2016 and 2017, of $174,000 or more;
  • Receive at least ten percent of its total unrestricted revenue from charitable arts support, averaged over fiscal years 2016 and 2017;
  • Have at least one paid, professional, administrative staff person in a contract or salaried position.

Organizations meeting all of the above requirements may be eligible to apply. Complete eligibility information may be found, along with program definitions for the terms above, in the FY2020 Operating Support Program Overview and Application Instructions.

Multiyear funding: full and interim applications

The Operating Support grant program uses a four-year grant cycle. New applicants, or applicants that were not funded in the previous fiscal year, are welcome to apply in any application round.

A full application is required for new applicants and those returning applicants who have reached the end of a multiyear grant cycle. An interim application is required for returning applicants in each subsequent year of the multiyear commitment. The application requirements for full and interim applications are different; current grantees should refer to the FY 2019 returning grantee interim or full application list to ensure they submit the correct application.

Grant amount

Varies with minimum award amount of $15,000

Operating Support grants include two components: formula award and merit award. The formula award will vary, depending on the overall number of grantees and the total dollars available for this program, and will be based on the applicant's qualifying expenses, averaged over fiscal year 2016 and fiscal year 2017. The merit award will vary based on the number of grantees in the applicant's assigned budget group that are recommended for merit awards, the merit dollars available for this program, and the merit score assigned by the advisory review panel.

Resources for applicants

Overview presentation
Applicants who are new to the Operating Support program may want to view an online presentation that gives a more detailed overview of the program. The presentation is available in two formats: MS Powerpoint (with audio) or PDF (without audio). Be aware that the MS Powerpoint takes up to 30 seconds to open.

Help for working with these files.

Sample applications
The following applications were submitted by fiscal year 2019 grantees.
The files may take several minutes to download.

Grants awarded
Summaries of previously funded applications.

If you have questions or need assistance

If you have questions about the content of the application form or narrative, please contact:
Richard Hitchler, program officer
(651) 539-2653

If you have questions about the required financial documents, please contact:
Dave White, director, finance and grants administration
(651) 539-2669

If you have questions about the technical aspects of the application form, or questions about electronic submission, please contact:
Tom Miller, project manager
(651) 539-2660
E-mail is preferred.

All staff can be reached toll-free at (800) 866-2787.

How to apply

Application method

All applicants are required to use the WebGrants system to apply, and will submit all materials electronically. Everyone wanting to apply must be a registered user. New users need to register in advance in order to create an account and set up a user ID and password.

Two online tutorials are available to acquaint users with the WebGrants system:

Home | Contact Us | Grants | Other Opportunities | News | Vendor Information | Deadlines/Calendar | Regional Arts Councils