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More about that NEA money for artists; ‘Minnesota Orchestra at Home’ helps keep us connected

ALSO: The Loft’s Virtual WordPlay Festival is under way; online screenings from the MSP Film Society; Edina Art Fair rescheduled; and more.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced on April 8 how it will distribute the $75 million appropriation it received as part of the $2 trillion federal stimulus package.

Forty percent will go to state and regional arts agencies, 60 percent to nonprofit arts organizations across the US.

All nonprofit arts organizations applying for grants must have received an NEA award during the past four years (FY 2017-20). Sheila Smith of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA) explained why: “The reason for that is so the money can get out as quickly as possible. If you’ve gone through the rigorous process of application to successfully get a grant from the NEA, you’ve had their stamp of approval, so they can just send you more support.”

On April 10 the Minnesota State Arts Board (MSAB) announced significant changes to its FY 2021 grant programs. (All of the dollars available for FY 2020 have already been awarded.) Because “the economic impact of social distancing on the arts community is profound” and “this isn’t a time for business as usual,” MSAB has suspended all but one of its 10 grants programs, leaving only Operating Support.

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If you applied for an Operating Support grant, your application will be reviewed. If you applied for any of the others, including Artist Initiative, Arts Tour Minnesota or Minnesota Festival Support, your application will not be reviewed.

MSAB “will launch new grant programs that will provide more flexible support for artists and arts organizations for the coming year. More information about those opportunities will be available by early June.”

Three things to keep in mind during this time of upheaval, uncertainty and disappointment for those who have applied for grants outside of Operating Support: The MSAB exists to help artists. Operating support keeps the lights on. The word “flexible.”

Edina Art Fair rescheduled

For more than 54 years, Minnesota’s art fair season has begun with the Edina Art Fair. Traditionally held the first full weekend in June, it’s arguably the first and the biggest. It typically draws up to 300,000 visitors to the 50th and France neighborhood.

This year, the fair will move to Aug. 21-23. More than 280 local and national artists had been registered for the original dates. Most are expected to participate in August.

The Edina Art Fair will move to Aug. 21-23.
Courtesy of the Edina Art Fair
The Edina Art Fair will move to Aug. 21-23.
More details will be announced closer to the new dates.

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Checking in with Sheila Smith

The executive director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA) offered some insights into the NEA grants.

“There are three ways [NEA] money will come to Minnesota,” Smith said. “Some will go to the Minnesota State Arts Board. Arts Midwest will be a regranter. [Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest provides funding support to arts organizations in nine states, including Minnesota.] And money will come directly to Minnesota’s arts organizations.

“Our organizations are very good at competing for NEA dollars. We consistently get a much higher percentage of those dollars than you’d think we would, by per capita. I’m optimistic that lots of our state’s organizations will be able to access those NEA dollars.

Photo by Adam Kissick
“Everybody’s doing the best they can, and we need to recognize that. Everybody’s trying to do the right thing as fast as they can. The lack of information is troubling people. More will come out soon. People will feel better as more information comes out.”

MCA recently posted a link on Facebook to the Jazz Road Quick Assist Fund for jazz artists around the country who have lost work due to COVID-19. “There are special funds popping up all over the place,” Smith said. Both MCA and Springboard for the Arts are aggregating resources. Find MCA’s resources for artists and arts nonprofits here, and Springboard’s for individuals and organizations here.

Springboard continues to accept applications for its Personal Emergency Relief Fund. As of April 9, it has supported 585 Minnesota artists with $280,000.

Americans for the Arts is gathering data and stories with its “Covid-19 Impact Survey.” Two versions are available: one for arts organizations, the other for individual artists/creative workers. Smith encourages everyone to complete the survey. Eventually, “they’ll give us Minnesota-specific information.” That will be helpful.

The picks

Wednesday, April 15, at 5 p.m.: “A Drop of Midnight”: Virtual Book Talk with Jason Diakité and Rachel Willson-Broyles. Diakité is a world-renowned hip-hop artist who was born in Sweden to interracial American parents, yet fashioned a strong black identity in Sweden. Willson-Broyles is a language instructor at the American Swedish Institute who translated Diakité’s book into English. Presented by the ASI. Register here ($5).

Minnesota Orchestra at Home. Someone we read this weekend (it’s all kind of a blur) wrote about being “parched” for live music. If you miss the Minnesota Orchestra – their big, beautiful sound, the excellence of their playing, the sight of all those musicians (and, often, the Minnesota Chorale) on stage together – this ongoing video series will help. Of course it’s not the same as going to Orchestra Hall, but the intimacy and sincerity of the performances by musicians at home (and occasional other places) help keep us connected. So far, the series includes Erin Keefe and Osmo Vänskä, a brass quintet, Felicity James and Sifei Chang, Anthony Ross playing for his daughter, Erin, a dancer, and more.

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Checking in with Alex Soth. Weinstein Hammons Gallery is doing weekly Facetime check-ins, or “visual diaries,” with their artists. Speaking from his studio, where he’s alone, Soth talks about the connections between today and his latest book, “I Know How Furiously Your Heart Is Beating.” We ran into Soth at Southdale in late December, at the Verizon booth. We had a little chat, mostly about phones. It will be interesting to see what he does next. Want more? Here’s Paolo Ventura in Italy, making paintings of his quarantine and lockdown.

The Loft’s Virtual WordPlay Festival is under way. What was supposed to be a one-day, live-and-in-person authors-and-books extravaganza on Saturday, May 9, is now a month-long virtual celebration that began April 7 and will continue through May 9. More than 100 authors are participating. All events are free of charge. Go here to see what’s coming up when. Oh, look: Jack El-Hai on Thursday (April 16) at 1 p.m., talking about his latest book, “The Lost Brothers.” And Kate DiCamillo with Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl on Tuesday, April 21, with “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.” Links make it easy to buy authors’ books. Earlier events (Olympic Gold Medal winner Jessie Diggins, Benjamin Percy, Samantha Irby and others) have been archived.

Salma Hayek and Javier Bardem in “The Roads Not Taken.”
Bleeker Street
Salma Hayek and Javier Bardem in “The Roads Not Taken.”
New online screenings from the MSP Film Society: On now: “Best of CatVideoFest: Creature Comforts Edition.” A pay-what-you-want screening. Have cats ever been more popular than they are during COVID-19? “The Hottest August,” a portrait of New York City over one month in 2017. “The Woman Who Loves Giraffes,” a documentary about the world’s first “giraffologist.” Opening April 17: “Extra Ordinary,” a comedy about a lonely young woman in rural Ireland and a washed-up rock star. She has supernatural abilities. Finally: Sally Potter’s “The Roads Not Taken,” starring Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning, Salma Hayek and Laura Linney. FMI and tickets ($12) at the links. Your purchase(s) will directly support MSP Film.