SMAC grants published Feb. 21, 2024 – West Central Tribune

The Southwest Minnesota Arts Council serves 18 counties as a source of funds and technical assistance to enable local organizations, educational institutions and individuals to sponsor and/or create and promote arts in their communities. The office and gallery are at 509 West Main Street in Marshall. They are open 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays. Workshops and grant-writing webinars are free of charge, but advance registration is required. Call 800-622-5284, email

, or see the website at


Open office support: Second Tuesday of the month, between 10 a.m.and 2 p.m., in-person, for assistance with any grant-related questions. Or schedule an appointment with the grants administrator.

Virtual grant Q&A: Get your questions answered about SMAC’s grant programs from 7 to 8 p.m. March 7, via Zoom. Pre-registration required.

Advanced artist fellowship

These grants provide up to $7,000 in project funds to established advanced artists who exhibit creative excellence, a substantial body of work and significant recognition of their artistic accomplishments.

  • Eva Margaret,

     of Willmar, was awarded $7,000 to complete several pieces for a new body of work in paper clay and oil paint, which will be representations of visual and cognitive information received through psychic mediumship readings.

These grants provide organizations in the SMAC region with up to $7,000 in matching funds to stimulate and encourage the creation, performance and appreciation of the arts.

  • City of Sunburg was awarded $6,870 for expanding its community music program of providing free instruments, workshops, lessons and performance opportunities to all ages.
  • Kerkhoven Arts Council was awarded $7,000 for its summer youth musical theater program culminating in an outdoor musical production of “Beauty & the Beast, Jr.” during the Kerkhoven Town and Country Days festival.
  • Little Theatre Auditorium, of New London, was awarded $7,000 to adapt its theater space and add staff to accommodate three spring/summer recording arts and production training workshops offered to learners of all ages, culminating in a public in-person and livestreamed variety show produced and recorded by workshop attendees.
  • Minnesota Pottery Festival, of Hutchinson, was awarded $7,000 for its festival in July 2024, which hosts 35-40 potters from across the country. Organizers hope to reach new and diverse audiences to broaden the reach and impact of the festival.
  • New London Arts and Culture Alliance was awarded $4,550 for the production and publication of a booklet documenting the work of late potter Bill Gossman. The booklet will accompany retrospective exhibition events at the Little Theatre Auditorium in June and July 2024.
  • RiverSong Music Festival, of Hutchinson, was awarded $7,000 for its 2024 music festival in July, featuring high-quality, talented musicians in an intimate and accessible venue as well as a Music in the Park summer series.
  • Tyler Area Arts Council was awarded $5,375 for its production of the musical “Annie” for five performances in July 2024.
  • Willmar Area League of Women Voters was awarded $6,094 for engaging four southwest Minnesota artists to paint panels depicting the four seasons as experienced in Minnesota, supporting engagement and connection to the natural world as part of the Healthy Earth, Healthy Kids event in April 2024.

Artist Equity grants provide up to $4,000 to aid Black, Indigenous, and other artists of color with projects that will advance their skills and artistic career. Receiving a grant recently were:

  • Cynthia Zimmer, of Redwood Falls, was awarded $4,000 to make an improved workspace with adequate supplies for her beading, painting and other Native American arts. This improved workspace will lead to increased efficiency and a more creative environment.
  • Doris Stands, of Redwood Falls, was awarded $3,578 to purchase tables, chairs and lighting for her studio, a tablet and software for media arts, leather and leather working tools, and beading and painting supplies. She hopes to expand and improve her capabilities and venture into new art mediums by having the supplies and proper equipment.
  • Eileen Okeefe, of Morton, was awarded $4,000 to research and create Native American beadwork for a dancer whose style of dance is Men’s Traditional, which has a very specific regalia, including headband, wrist cuffs, leg bands, arm bands, side drops, a belt, moccasins and a vest.
  • Jason Johnson, of Redwood Falls, was awarded $4,000 to visit family beading artists to gain the skills and inspiration and purchase supplies to create three beaded winter-themed medallions.

These grants provide public schools with up to $4,000 for projects such as artist residencies, arts field trips and juried student art exhibits, among others. Receiving a grant recently were:

  • Bert Raney Elementary, of Granite Falls, was awarded $2,494 for 

    Ross Sutter

     to spend a week with fifth-grade students, teaching them to build and play a one-stringed dulcimer. Student will share what they learned with the community at their March 2024 concert.

  • Willmar Senior High School was awarded $2,300 for a jazz festival for regional schools in March 2024, featuring the Willmar-area Jason Minke jazz combo, who will hold clinics throughout the day. Clinics and performances are open to the public.
  • New London-Spicer Public Schools was awarded $609 for its robotics team to learn how to use printmaking methods for graphics on their team uniforms, robot, and signage that includes mechanics towels and fan hankies, improving the “Arts” in STEAM by integrating a visual design concept into their team appearance.
  • Yellow Medicine East, of Granite Falls, was awarded $4,000 for students to work with media artist Deacon Warner to create immersive StoryMaps, compelling short films and digital artwork to interlace the varied narratives of Native history, town history and students’ personal stories.

These grants are two-year grants for arts organizations with a current 501(c)(3) and at least two years of programming and financials, to be used for operating expenses. Receiving a grant recently were:

  • Bird Island 

    Cultural Centre,


  • Dawson-Boyd Arts Association

    , $8,043

  • Hutchinson Center for the Arts

    , $14,239

  • Little Theatre Auditorium,

     New London, $9,562

  • Milan Village Arts School,


  • Willmar Area Arts Council,


These grants provide organizations and city, county, or tribal governments with up to $20,000 for large-scale physical public art projects that will leave an arts legacy in southwest Minnesota. The project should result in sustainable arts access in the community, with a continuing impact over several years. Receiving a grant recently was:

  • The City of Granite Falls was awarded $17,500 for downtown planters featuring mosaic murals created by local arts students and a mural and sculptural piece to cover a large water pump station. The project will be led by local artists Tamara Isfeld, Dani Prados and Talon Cavender-Wilson.

Quick support for individual artists

These grants provide artists with up to $1,000 for activities such as purchasing supplies, attending classes and small artist-led community projects. Receiving a grant recently was:

  • Nikki Bettcher Erickson, of Willmar, was awarded $1,000 for a project bringing community members from all ages, ability levels and backgrounds together to learn more about performance/theatre, movement, music, creating theatrical props, and character building for the stage.

Quick support for organizations

These grants provide organizations with up to $2,500 for activities such as planning for an Art Legacy project, strategic planning or board training, costs to apply for 501(c)(3) status, small equipment purchases or small arts projects. Receiving a grant recently were:

  • The Bird Island Cultural Centre was awarded $2,500 to repair it furnace boiler so that activities can continue throughout the year, and attendees can remain comfortable.
  • MACCRAY School District, of Clara City, was awarded $2,500 to hire Spotlight Theatre/Nikki Erickson to offer a spring Junior Players production of “The Elves and the Shoemaker” for kids in grades 1-6.

West Central Tribune staff report
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The West Central Tribune newsroom can be reached via email: or phone 320-235-1150.

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