Arts Alert: MCA Retains Jennifer Halcrow as Interim Director

Jennifer Weismann

National search begins for executive director 
to replace Sheila Smith after retirement

MINNEAPOLIS — January 27, 2021 —Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA) announces the appointment of non-profit arts consultant Jennifer Halcrow of Corvus North as its interim director beginning February 1. Halcrow will work together with Sheila Smith through the end of February, when Smith steps down after 25 years leading the organization.

Halcrow previously served on the board of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts from 1989 – 1995, including as board chair between 1993 – 1995 when she helped select Sheila Smith as executive director. Halcrow began her career in non-profit arts fundraising in 1987 and went on to work in education, health care and hunger relief, leading teams responsible for more than $135M in charitable gifts for beloved Minnesota organizations. Corvus North is the fundraising consulting business Halcrow founded in 2015 to help non-profit organizations during periods of growth and transition. 

“Arts advocacy is a personal passion — I have volunteered for nearly every advocacy event at the Minnesota Legislature since 1989. Growing up in Bemidji, Minnesota, I was lucky to be in a home filled with books and music, but I did not have many chances to see live performances,” says Jennifer Halcrow, new interim director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts. “Today, there are so many wonderful ways for Minnesotans to participate in the arts in every corner of our state thanks to the work of thousands of Minnesota arts advocates, artists and arts organizations. The Covid-19 pandemic has hit our arts community hard and our advocacy work is more important now than ever — and I am so honored to work with MCA during this important transition.”

“The arts and artists will play an important role in recovery from the pandemic in Minnesota,” says Mary Ann Aufderheide, MCA board co-chair. “Jennifer Halcrow is the perfect person to help guide MCA through this transitional time because of her deep experience in the arts and passion for advocacy.”

A search committee has been established composed of diverse members of the MCA board from across the state, and it will engage a consultancy who will advise on a national search. 

MCA, considered the strongest arts advocacy group in the United States, has relentlessly worked to increase state support for the arts across Minnesota. In 2008 it helped create and pass the Legacy Amendment, tripling arts funding in Minnesota that has kicked off an arts renaissance statewide. Under Smith, MCA also developed Creative Minnesota, a collaboration of statewide foundations and arts-supporting organizations to gather and analyze hard data to use for advocacy, education and policymaking.

The mission of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts is to ensure access to the arts for all Minnesotans. MCA supports Minnesota’s arts community by lobbying the legislature and Congress on behalf of the nonprofit arts and artists. MCA is best known for its Annual Arts Advocacy Day at the State Capitol, which this year will be an all-online arts Action Week from February 16-19, 2021. MCA strengthens our cultural community by achieving arts-friendly policy and by creating original research that can be used in advocating for the arts. For more, visit and