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New funds for arts organizations; a conversation with Jonatha Brooke

ALSO: More changes for Momentum; outside the Jungle Theater: “Shine a Light”; and more.

Arts Midwest has announced that thanks to an anonymous donor, it will add $1.5 million to the United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund. The gift will support more small arts organizations in the Midwest, prioritizing those in rural communities and organizations led by and/or serving Indigenous people and people of color.

The United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund began in June 2020 with a $10 million emergency grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Grants from the original fund were for organizations with annual budgets between $250,000 and $10 million.

This time, the focus will be on supporting smaller organizations with pre-COVID-19 budgets between $50,000 and $249,000 in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin and the Native nations that share this geography.

COVID-19 has been devastating to the arts. It has worsened and exposed deep inequities present across the Midwest. Organizations may direct Resilience Fund grants to their most pressing needs and opportunities, from response activities to investments.

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Anyone may nominate an arts organization to receive an award. Fill out the online form by Friday, Aug. 28. Organizations may also nominate themselves. FMI.

More awards for artists

Springboard for the Arts has announced the new round of 20/20 Artist Fellows. Supported by the Bush Foundation and the Surdna Foundation, now in its third year, this is an unrestricted award with a professional development stipend given to BIPOC and Native artists who are creating tools, pathways and systems of support for artists in their communities.

For 2020-21, the review process was revised twice due to COVID-19, the killing of George Floyd and the uprisings that followed. With input from community members, staff, and past and present 20/20 fellows, Springboard increased the number of fellows, extended the deadline and made changes to the review process.

Ten Artist Fellows were selected: Amoke Kubat, Atlese Robinson, Ayolanda Evans, Chamindika Wanduragala, Chitra Vairavan, heather c. lou, Herb Johnson III, Joseph Allen, Ka “Oskar” Ly, and Maia Maiden. They are dancers, performance artists, teachers, writers, photographers, social activators and cultural producers. Each will receive an unrestricted $6,000 award that includes professional development support to continue their work.

With its own performance calendar shot full of holes and its staff hours cut way back, the Cedar continues to support artists as they create new work. The tenth round of the Cedar Commissions, funded by a grant from the Jerome Foundation, includes six emerging Minnesota-based composers and musicians, selected by a diverse committee.

The 2020-21 artists are AJ Isaacson, Beatriz Lima, Farrington Llewellyn (FarrWell), Tearra Oso, Hassan Shahid (Shahidi), and S U N A H (Schoua Na Yang). Each will receive $4,000 plus $500 for performance costs to compose at least 30 minutes of new musical work to debut at the Cedar in February 2021.

Cedar commissions

The Cedar Commissions are supported by a grant from the Jerome Foundation.

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More changes for Momentum

Momentum: New Dance Works continues to make changes beyond those announced less than a month ago.

On Aug. 14, after 14 years and a 9-month transition process, outgoing Program Director Michèle Steinwald literally handed over the Momentum files to incoming Program Director DejaJoelle.

Aneka McMullen
Aneka McMullen
The day before, the Cowles, Momentum’s fiscal sponsor, announced that Momentum was expanding its previously announced 2020-21 cohort from four to six dance artists. Aneka McMullen and Averie Mitchell-Brown will join Gabrielle Abram, Leanna Browne, Joni Light and Arneshia Williams.

Further, and perhaps most surprising to longtime Momentum fans, the program canceled its 2021 festival at the Walker’s McGuire Theater, with the Walker’s full support. It will now distribute more funds and resources to more artists. The focus has shifted from product (the festival) to artists and process.

Averie Mitchell-Brown
Averie Mitchell-Brown
A statement explained: “Momentum has been a wonderful platform that has helped sustain the Minnesota Dance ecosystem. Unfortunately, this ecosystem struggles to amplify and trust the voices of BIPOC community members. Refusing to continue in the legacy of oppression, the six commissioned Artists will intersect with other community based, BIPOC-led, programs and organizations, such as 612Jungle and Naked Stages at Pillsbury House Theatre, to have pivotal conversations and experiences that guide them to an ecosystem that is inclusive and focuses on the needs of BIPOC Artists.”

Momentum has been funded by the Jerome Foundation since 2001. To provide direct funding to more artists, the program has cut other budget spending and is seeking community support.

TPT issues a call for independent filmmakers

This is already a year unlike any other, and the presidential election is still to come. Twin Cities PBS (TPT) is looking for filmmakers for its new 2020 Project, a series of films that “will push Minnesotans to question, understand, and be inspired by the events of 2020.”

Each filmmaker will receive a commission of up to $20,000. Each will be required to work with TPT on an outreach and engagement plan to increase the reach of the project beyond broadcast television. This may include screening events, discussion guides and other educational components. TPT may offer in-kind production and post-production assistance.

Eligibility requirements: The filmmaker must be a Minnesota resident. The film must be nonfiction, 3-60 minutes long and a new work produced after March 2020. It must comply with PBS guidelines. Timeline: Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020: Applications close at 11:59 p.m. Early October: Selected filmmakers are notified. Mid-October: Film production plan is due. March 2021: Films are complete.

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Want to join a book club?

One run by someone who knows what he’s doing? Jeff Kamin has been producing and moderating Books & Bars for more than 15 years. (He has also been a senior producer for MPR and a Trivia Mafia host.) The public book club show used to meet in actual bars, but in the COVID era, Kamin has moved the series to Zoom with support from the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library.

Next up, on Wednesday, Aug. 26: Tara Westover’s “Educated.” Register here. Upcoming reads include “The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead (Sept. 9), “We Ride Upon Sticks” by Quan Berry (Oct. 7) and “The Glass Hotel” by Emily St. John Mandel (Nov. 19).

Bring your own beer and prepare for a lively discussion. As always, Books & Bars is free; tipping the host is the right thing to do. Events start at 7 p.m. FMI.

The picks

V is for virtual, L is for live and in person.

V Opens Thursday (Aug. 20) at 7:30 p.m. on Zoom: “Serving Black Futures: Loving Black Artists.” Illusion Theater’s Fresh Ink New Work Series concludes with an evening of Black poets curated by Keno Evol, founder and executive director of Black Table Arts. The poets are Lester Batiste, Donte Collins, Sarah Ogutu and Antonio Duke. Available for streaming through Aug. 30. Tickets are free but registration is required. Also, streaming for “In This Moment,” hosted by T. Mychael Rambo, has been extended through Aug. 30. FMI.

V Thursday (Aug. 20) at 7 p.m. CST online: 2020 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert. The nation’s highest honor in jazz, the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowships were awarded this year to Bobby McFerrin, Roscoe Mitchell, Dorthaan Kirk and bassist Reggie Workman. Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater will host, with Terri Lyne Carrington as music director and performances by jazz greats recorded from locations around the world. A live in-depth discussion and Q&A will follow. The concert will be broadcast on several websites including and, and an archive of the concert will be available following the event at FMI.

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L Starts Thursday (Aug. 20) in the Jungle Theater’s windows: “Shine a Light.” At the moment, the Jungle can’t put on plays the way it wants to. But it has a lot of windows. For the next 10 days, until Aug. 30, window displays will feature art by Sarah Bahr, Chelsea Warren, Mina Kinukawa and Catalyst Arts’ Bayou and responses from E.G. Bailey, H. Adam Harris, Isabella Star LaBlanc and Eric Sharp. Best viewed during the daytime.

Jonatha Brooke
Jonatha Brooke
V Tuesday (Aug. 25) at 7 p.m. on Zoom: Jonatha Brooke: Musical Metamorphosis: A Songwriter’s Journey into Musicals. Award-winning folk-rock singer-songwriter Brooke and Playwrights’ Center producing director Jonathan Cohen will talk about her move into musical theater – and how we can all stay resilient in these very challenging times. Free, but registration is recommended.

V Starts Tuesday, Sept. 1, online: Pen Out Loud Fall 2020 series. We’re including this in today’s picks because there’s a flash sale on until tomorrow, Aug. 20. Wow, what a line-up! All conversations are in direct response to the specific moment we’re in, culturally and politically. Sept. 1: Yaa Gyasi with Roxane Gay. Sept. 15: Ayad Akhtar with Ben Rhodes. Sept. 30: Claudia Rankine with Lauren Michele Jackson. Oct. 6: Marilynne Robinson with Alexander Chee. All are Tuesdays; all take place from 7-8 p.m. CST. FMI and tickets ($20 general admission; admission with book also available).