Arts Alert: Theater Reopening Protocols, State Funding Update, Interesting Links and More

NEWS: Theater Reopening Protocols, State Funding Update, Interesting Links and More

Webinar ? Sharing the Process:
Re-Opening the Performing Arts in Ireland With the Minnesota Theater Alliance

The re-opening of live performing arts across the State of Minnesota in the COVID-19 world will depend to a large degree on ensuring the safety of the back of the house, the front of the house, the actors, and the audience. Minnesotans have begun that discussion on live opening guidelines and the dialogue is continuing.

The Minnesota Theater Alliance, with Springboard for the ArtsLake Region Arts Council, the Forum of Regional Arts Councils, and Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, will host a webinar with Dr. James Gambone, Professor of Public Health at Capella University and a Minnesota theater producer and director; and Peter Jordan from SLUA, an Irish safety consultancy group working with Irish theater companies on safe opening guidelines. The purpose of the webinar will be to present the “Irish Model” for live theater reopening which will happen throughout Ireland on August 10th of this year.

This educational forum will be an opportunity to learn what our colleagues in Ireland are doing to ensure safe re-openings for their performing arts. The webinar will also allow Minnesota participants to ask questions and share their particular theater opening obstacles.

** Wednesday, July 29, 2020  |  10:00 – 11:30am ? Register here.
** Registration is required. Capacity expanded to 500 attendees!

ABOUT ZOOM WEBINAR: This event will take place via Zoom Webinar. Attendees will be able to engage with the webinar via chat and typed Q&A features, but not via microphone and/or camera. Attendees may also join by phone. If you have questions about the webinar technology, or anticipate barriers to participation, please reach out to for assistance. RECORDING: Online content is more accessible for some and less accessible for others. This session will be recorded for access after the event date for folks with limited bandwidth (internet or otherwise). CLOSED CAPTIONING: This event will be live captioned in the Zoom window and via StreamText in a separate browser window by Paradigm Reporting. Other links:Minnesota Theater Alliance Website Event (we will post the recording here about a week after) or Facebook Event.

State Arts Funding Update: Many Unknowns Ahead

The future is in flux for arts funding in Minnesota, with the state’s budget increasingly in crisis due to Covid, we expect there will be cuts ahead. We are focused on the Legislature and the state budget crisis and how that will affect arts funding.  Here’s what will happen in the near future:

  • Monthly Special Sessions: There will be a Special Session every month around the 12th to continue Gov. Walz’s Peace Time Emergency powers, which must be renewed every 30 days. With no end to the COVID-19 crisis in sight, this will probably go on through the end of the year. Each Special Session may be the time that the legislature decides to start cutting FY21 appropriations so that all of the cuts don’t have to happen in the last half of the year (the state’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30). But that means we have to be ready at any moment to jump to the defense of arts funding when cuts start to be imposed. Everybody should stay on alert.
  • August 11 Primary: Many legislators and first-time candidates are vying for legislative seats and there are several of interest to arts advocates, including Sen. Carrie Ruud, the Chair of the Legacy committee in the Senate, who is facing a primary challenger.
  • Monthly State Arts Board Meetings: The Minnesota State Arts Board (MSAB) will now be meeting every month in order to launch their new programs. The new programs are 1. Grants to MN organizations using NEA Care grant dollars, 2. Grants to organizations with state funds, 3. Grants to artists from state funds. The new programs will be open to MSAB and RAC grantees from the last three years, and the MSAB will be adopting a new scoring system that gives additional points to organizations and artists in Greater MN, led by people of color or disabilities to increase their chance of success. In addition, they’ve kept the traditional Operating Support program. At the MSAB meeting it was said that the hope is that all of the grant checks can get out by the end of this year. Notably, the MSAB and RACs are now budgeting a 14% reduction in Legacy funding due to the state budget shortfall, and are waiting to find out what the reduction in their General Fund allocation will be. It there is another big wave of COVID-19 which requires another state shutdown, there could be more cuts.
  • Budget Forecast: The next big state budget forecast that will tell us how badly the state budget is doing will come in late November. It will be the basis for what the cuts will be. (There had been discussions of an interim forecast coming out this month but that does not seem to be happening). It may be that the legislature will wait until this budget forecast comes out, after the election, so that they don’t have to make cuts during an election year, but we don’t really know. The 14% cut in arts funding, for now, could very well grow by then. Again, we don’t really know.
  • November 3 General Election: No matter who wins the election we will still have to fight together with a unified voice at the capitol to protect every dollar of arts funding. We must be prepared for this. As soon as we know when the debate will begin, we will inform the field.

NEA Our Town Grant Deadline is Aug. 6, 2020

Our colleagues at the NEA want to make sure all you know about the Our Town 2021 grant application and deadline.Questions about the NEA and their grants are to be directed to:

Our Town is the National Endowment for the Arts’ creative place making grants program. These grants support projects that integrate arts, culture, and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities by advancing local economic, physical, and/or social outcomes. These projects require a partnership between a nonprofit organization and a local government entity, with one of the partners being a cultural organization. Cost share/matching grants range from $25,000 to $150,000, with a minimum cost share/match equal to the grant amount. The application deadline is August 6, 2020.

In addition to previously eligible project types, Our Town FY2021 invites creative place making projects and innovative partnerships that respond to evolving and emerging local community needs. These may include efforts to support artists and cultural organizations in addressing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, artist unemployment, racial inequity, and other needs that may not be clear at this specific time. Check out the grant guidelines and view recently-recorded webinars to learn more about the application requirements.  

How to Apply and Prepare an Our Town Project Proposal: Led by NEA and LISC staff, this webinar offers an overview on how to apply to the Our Town Program.  NEA Staff review the application guidelines and offer advice to ensure your Our Town application is clear and compelling.

Inspiration for Prospective Our Town Applicants: This webinar gives a brief overview of the Our Town application process and features projects from Jacksonville, FL and inspiration from Seattle, Washington. 

More interesting links:



  • Government Arts Boost ‘Does Not Come Close To Meeting The Demand,’Says NEA Head.
  • Performing in a Pandemic: This webinar is a really, really good resource for artists, theaters, etc. trying to figure out how to safely rehearse and perform.
  • The New Must-Have Museum Souvenir: Face Masks. As cultural institutions across Europe reopen, many are selling face coverings featuring their artworks or logos as a way of making some much-needed income.