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New, easy approach to grants
This is the seventh year that the Knight Foundation, which gives about $100 million every year, has issued challenge grants, Scholl said.
Previous recipient cities include Miami, Philadelphia and Detroit, where successful ideas included a hip-hop Mardi Gras parade and using lumber from abandoned buildings to make guitars.
The grants feature perhaps the most streamlined and democratic application process in the history of arts funding: Anyone, from individuals to nonprofits to corporations, can apply. You just need to state your idea in 150 words or less.
“There are only three rules,” Scholl said. “It has to be about art, it has to benefit St. Paul and you have to find matching grants from the community.”
Coleman called the lack of bureaucracy a welcome departure. “There’s been a real push by foundations to demonstrate measurable results, but Knight sees that that’s not how arts impacts communities,” he said. “It’s about creating a vibrancy that sets the stage for other kinds of investments, like housing, that you can measure.”
Toni Pierce Sands, co-founder of TU Dance, grew up in St. Paul. She remembers taking the 16A bus with her sister to Minneapolis for dance classes. Now, TU will use its grant to fund dance classes for low-income St. Paul youths
“This is going to help us change the perception that St. Paul is Minnesota’s political capital and Minneapolis is the arts capital,” she said.
Kristin Tillotson • 612-673-7046