Arts Community,

We wanted to let you know about changes that are coming to the programs of the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council and ways that you can weigh in on those changes. You’ll hear from me more in the coming weeks as our draft plans for our new year, which begins July 1, begin to be fully fleshed out.

The Arrowhead Regional Arts Council’s mission is “to facilitate and encourage local arts
development.” This mission statement grows from a conviction that the arts improve the
quality of life in the region.

Some of the most significant changes will be to our programs that fund individual artists. We are looking at a proposal to increase some grants amounts. And, we are also considering eliminating some programs as well as making it easier to get some funding for learning opportunities. Most immediate though, is that we’re discontinuing our Fellowship program and creating a new project grant for Distinguished Regional Artists. We originally were going to accept applications for our Fiscal Year 2020 Fellowship program in March; we’re still working out the changes to the new program and hope to announce the details in the near future.

We are fortunate that we have two primary sources of funding: The State of Minnesota and the McKnight Foundation. We have just been through two lengthy and exhaustive reviews of our programs and procedures. The results are generally positive. But we wanted to let you know there will be some changes to the way we operate and the programs we offer.

If you want to know more about the reviews, we invite you to look at a couple of documents. Minnesota’s Office of Legislative Auditor just completed a detailed program audit of the Minnesota State Arts Board and the state’s Regional Arts Councils. That study is available at:

In addition, the McKnight Foundation has just completed a variety of efforts to review their
own programs. They announced a new strategic framework for all of their programs in January:

For the arts community, it’s worth taking a look at how McKnight frames their approach to
supporting the arts:

Some of the changes that we will be making are simply a doubling down of policies that we’ve always had. For example, grantees who receive funds from the state’s Legacy funds are required – it’s in their grant agreements — to credit the voters of the state of Minnesota for passing the Legacy funding rules. Grantees also have to get permission to make changes in the work they said they were going to do – before they spend the money differently than they originally proposed. We’re just going to work harder to make sure our grantees follow those requirements.

In addition, some of the changes are also in making sure that we can show our funders how their money is being spent. We’re making a very clear line between our source of funds and our programs. And to make sure we’re doing everything that’s being asked of us by our funders, we’re creating a few new programs for artists, arts organizations, and communities.

We want you to know that we’re developing the new plans based on values that our funders and the community members we’ve talked to agree upon. Equity. Support for artists. The public benefit of the arts. Support for innovative programming. Support for traditions and heritage work.

We’ll unveil most of these changes at a meeting on April 3 at 5:30 p.m. at our offices. At that meeting, we’ll be asking for comments on what’s called our preliminary Biennial Plan for FY20-21. (That’s our roadmap for our programs and services for the two years that begin July 1, 2020; the state works on a biennial budgeting system that sets the dollar amounts for state programs on a two-year cycle.) We’ll make a copy of those changes available in advance so you can think about them as well. We’re basing the changes on a recently completed Needs Assessment that we’ve done in the region and mixing that in with conversations we’ve had in every corner of our region about the kind of work we can do to fulfill our mission.

Whether or not you can make the meeting, we welcome your input before or after the
meeting. Just know that after the public hearing on April 3, we’ll make changes to our plan
based on comments we receive, then present a revised plan to our board on April 18. (The public is also welcome at that time, the meeting is at 2 p.m. in the Ordean Building.) Then we must submit the plan to the Minnesota State Arts Board by May 15.

Please email me with ideas, suggestions, and comments. My email address is digby@aracouncil.org. You can also call our office with your ideas, suggestions, and comments. Our number is (218) 722-0952.

Drew Digby
Executive Director