The city of Minneapolis wants to get more artists producing work around the city and launched its Cultural Districts Arts Fund on Friday that will offer nearly $700,000 in arts grants each year.

When Ben Johnson moved back to Minneapolis from Los Angeles in 2023 to become the director of Minneapolis' brand-new Arts & Cultural Affairs Department, he spoke about the city's seven cultural districts being its "crown jewels."

"I often think about, like, what would Prince's grants program be?" Johnson said. "That's the kind of program I want."

The new Cultural Districts Arts Fund began accepting proposals Friday and applications will be accepted through July 26. There will be a virtual information session for interested applicants on June 28, with information at

Three types of grants will be offered in seven Minneapolis cultural districts, including 38th Street, Cedar Avenue South, Central Avenue, East Lake Street, Franklin Avenue East, Lowry Avenue North and West Broadway.

The Cultural District Ambassador Program provides one award of $15,000 per district for a 12-month term. The districts' seven ambassadors will be charged with leading district efforts and using the award money for related expenses.

The Pop-Up Art & Culture Activations Program offers five $5,000 awards per district for a temporary new art project or activity. The eligible project timeframe is Aug. 20 through July 31, 2025.

The last and biggest amount is the Festivals & Cultural Spaces Activation Program, granting three to five (and possibly more) $16,700 awards per district. The eligible project timeframe is Aug. 20 through July 31, 2025.

That's $690,000 per year, or nearly $100,000 per district, Johnson said.

"I'm hoping that this reignites the creative risk-taking and intelligence and the new narratives of our community," he added. "So in many ways, this helps move the needle forward."

The department aims to invest in all areas of the city and not just downtown.

"We're also very interested in really supporting the creative community togetherness aspect of what these neighborhoods represent," he said.

The initiative is part of the cultural districts policy in the Minneapolis 2040 comprehensive plan, which has an emphasis on creating community-based ambassadors, supporting temporary arts activations and bolstering cultural festivals, events and spaces.

"Minneapolis is home to a diverse and flourishing arts community — it's an indelible part of our identity," Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said. "The Cultural Districts Arts Fund will allow us to work collaboratively with local artists to support their work, bring new art to Minneapolis, and bolster creativity."

Johnson vowed to advocate for arts and culture in Minneapolis.

"Our whole goal is to get the money in the hands of artists and creators as soon as possible," he said.

Committees will make final selections in early August and notify winners in the following weeks. The program is set to renew annually.