Two-Year Operating Support Grant

. County Seat Theatre Company, Cloquet, Carlton County, 2015 Two-Year Operating Support Grant Recipient

The Two-Year Operating Support Grant program is a matching grant program that awards up to $15,000 over a two-year period to high-quality, established federal nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) regional arts organizations to maintain their ongoing operating needs and services. This grant requires a 10% cash match of their ARAC request and applicants may not request more than $15,000.

The purpose of this program is to recognize that organizations with an established record of programmatic service and administrative stability should have access to operating funds, in addition to support for specific projects or new initiatives as justification for funding. This program 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 groups.

Regional arts organizations seeking support for operating expenses should consider applying to this program. This program is designed to give arts organizations access to funds to support their organization’s goals and objectives.

The Two-Year Operating Support grant program’s goal is to recognize that the arts are essential to a vibrant Arrowhead Region. Every applicant supported by this grant program must complete a Cultural Data Project Funder Report, as well as propose measurable outcomes to achieve the intended impact of the funding. Grantees will be expected to evaluate their activities and must be able to demonstrate achievements related to outcomes.

Examples of expenses the program funds might include:

  • Pay general operating expenses (rent, operational insurance, supplies, utilities, travel, etc.);
  • Hire paid staff for the first time or increase current staff time or salary;
  • Pay for board and staff training or long-range planning;
  • Purchase of equipment or small capital expenses necessary to the mission of the organization;
  • Pay for staff or consultant time to create a fundraising plan that is sustainable.

This is not a complete list of eligible expenses. For more examples of what funding may cover, please read the guidelines.


Who may apply?

To be eligible to apply to the Two-Year Operating Support Grant program, an arts organization must meet all of the following requirements:

  1. Your organization must be physically located in the Arrowhead Region, in one of the following counties: Aitkin, Cook, Carlton, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, or St. Louis.
  2. The majority of your programming, services, or activities must take place in Minnesota, and must primarily serve and engage Minnesota audiences and participants.
  3. Your organization must be an arts producing, arts presenting, or artist service agency, dedicated primarily to the arts.
  4. Your organization must have a history of at least one year of arts related programs and services prior to applying.
  5. Your organization must have at least one paid or designated volunteer staff person.
  6. Your organization must be a regional arts organization. Local chapters of state or national organizations are only eligible to apply if they are administratively independent or receive little to no funding from their parent group.
  7. Your organization must be a federally designated nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) and registered as a nonprofit in the State of Minnesota at the time of application, or may use another federally designated 501(c)(3) organization as a fiscal sponsor.

If you do not have 501(c)(3) status:

  • If your group has not yet received federal nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status, you may apply by using another 501(c)(3) organization as a Fiscal Sponsor. Please refer to our Fiscal Sponsor Guidelines for information on how to apply using one.
  • If your group has not yet registered as a nonprofit in the State of Minnesota, you will be required to do so within three years of receiving your first ARAC grant.

For complete eligibility requirements and a list of what this program will and will not fund, please read the guidelines.


Important Dates:

Application DeadlineBoard Approval MeetingEarliest Possible Starting Date
Applications must be submitted online by 4:30 p.m. on this date.Applications will be reviewed and approved by the Board on this date.Grant projects may not start prior to this date.
Friday, October 30, 2015Thursday, January 21, 2016
2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
February 1, 2016
Friday, October 28, 2016Thursday, January 19, 2017
2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
February 1, 2017

How to Apply:

Please read the guidelines completely before beginning your application, and feel free to contact the Director with questions.

Two-Year Support Guidelines

Applications must be completed and submitted using the ARAC Grant Portal. Submissions in any other format, including email, will not be accepted. Instructions for navigating the online system can be found in both the guidelines and by clicking on the ‘Apply Now’ button below.

  • The online application process will walk you through submitting your application.
  • To be eligible, your application must include all materials listed as required in the online application.
  • Applications must be received into the online system by 4:30 p.m. on the deadline date. Applications received after this time are ineligible and will not be reviewed. There are no exceptions to this policy.

Apply Now


Help with your application:

  • All applicants are encouraged to discuss proposal ideas and eligibility with the Director prior to starting a grant application.
  • Grant Writing workshops are held two weeks prior to the deadline. The dates and times are listed in the grant program guidelines and on our Grant Workshops page. Participants learn about the grant program, application process, and how to write an effective grant application. This is a good opportunity to get your questions answered prior to completing your application.
  • Applicants may request grant application ‘draft reviews’ no later than 2 weeks prior to the deadline. The Director will review your application draft and give feedback for you prior to submitting your application for the Board to review. Draft reviews must be requested by contacting the Director no later than 2 weeks prior to the deadline.

To see a list of previous Two-Year Operating Support grant recipients and their projects, visit our recent awards page.

If you received a grant prior to July 1, 2014 and still have a Final Report due, please contact the office to have a form sent to you.