-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.

Prospective applicants, who are new to the Operating Support program, are strongly encouraged to call the program officer to discuss eligibility, program intent, and application requirements prior to beginning an application.

Program information

Fiscal year 2016 materials and links will be available six to eight weeks before the application deadline. Previous materials are shown below for reference only.

FY 2015 Operating Support Program Overview and Application Instructions—all applicants should read this document thoroughly before beginning the application form.

Grant amount

Varies, ranging from $15,000–$1,000,000

Operating Support grants include two components: formula funds award and merit funds award. The formula funds 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 2011 and fiscal year 2012. The merit funds award will vary based on the number of grantees in the applicant's assigned budget group that are recommended for merit funding, the merit dollars available for this program, and the merit score assigned by the advisory review panel.

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 2011 and 2012, of $160,000 or more;
  • Receive at least ten percent of its total unrestricted revenue from charitable arts support, averaged over fiscal years 2011 and 2012;
  • 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 FY2015 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 list of FY 2014 grantees to ensure they submit the correct application.

Application deadline

The FY 2015 deadline is 4:30 p.m., Friday, January 24, 2014.

The Arts Board will not accept applications that are not submitted and accepted by the online WebGrants system before the 4:30 p.m. deadline.

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:

Sample Applications

The structure for submission of Operating Support application materials has changed significantly from FY 2014 to FY 2015. For this reason, the FY 2014 sample applications shared here are abbreviated, and include only the full application narrative component. All other required application materials such as financial information and support materials have been omitted.

Please be advised that this sample narrative is only one piece of a complete application, and serves purely as an example of how several recently successful applicants chose to tell their organization's story in relationship to the Operating Support program's review criteria.

Information sessions

The Minnesota State Arts Board is offering two free information sessions about the FY 2015 Operating Support grant opportunity. They will be conducted by conference call/Webinar and will last one hour.

The sessions are identical and will focus on what's new for FY 2015, use of the Cultural Data Project, discussion of outcomes in an Operating Support program, and applicant questions. The sessions will be most useful for returning grantees. New applicants are encouraged to contact the program officer individually.

For more information and registration, visit the information session page.

If you have questions or need assistance

If you have questions about the program's intent, eligibility, or content of the application forms, please contact:
Bonnie Schock, program officer
(651) 215-1612

If you have questions about required financial documents, please contact:
Dave White, director, finance and grants administration
(651) 215-1622

If you have questions about the technical aspects of the application forms, electronic submission, or WebGrants please contact:
Tom Miller, project manager
Tom can be reached by phone but email is preferred
(651) 215-1611

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

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