As a non-profit organization, the CMAB is governed by a nine-member volunteer board of directors, recruited from Region 7W to fund grant proposals and provide professional development services to arts and community organizations, school, government units and individuals.


The CMAB use the services of volunteer advisors who review and evaluate grant applications for certain programs, make funding recommendations, advise the board on policies and other services when needed.

Needs Assessment Result Summary

The needs assessment process consisted of surveys, listening sessions, a hybrid arts-event/community conversation, as well as notes from one-on-one meetings, final report feedback and conversations between CMAB staff and members of the community.  Electronic and hardcopy surveys were distributed between August and December of 2018. 41 surveys for organizations and 78 surveys for individuals were completed.
Between November and December, listening sessions were held in one location in each of the region’s four counties, with two held in Stearns County. The turnout to these four sessions, held in Buffalo, Becker, Avon, Sauk Rapids and St. Cloud was significant with 96 total attendees.  A new approach to needs assessment took the form of a partnership named Community Arts Alive. CMAB worked with a committee representing multiple arts interests to host an event designed to give diverse community members an opportunity to be inspired (by visiting artist Vanessa German), be creative (through workshops in sculpture and improv theatre) and to be thoughtful about the place and future of arts and creativity in our personal and collective cultures.

Based on needs assessment data, the following needs have been identified as a high priority for artists and organizations in Region 7W:

  • Networking and continuing education opportunities– A very high turnout for all CMAB listening sessions demonstrated a desire for networking and resource gathering opportunities, many in attendance met new artists (and stayed well past the end of the event).  Survey responses also supported this as a significant need in the region. Two artist networking organizations, the Elk River Arts Alliance and Visual Arts MN, have disbanded within the past 5 years. Multiple listening session attendees and survey respondents commented that the loss of these groups leaves them without a place to find resources and connect.
  • Marketing Support– Private orgs, and freelancers (expensive) provide this service in our region., a regional arts and culture calendar is maintained by CMAB and a number of regional partners.  CMAB’s media specialist serves as the administrator for this website.
  • Reaching New and More diverse demographics-Small and growing consulting groups- not specific to the arts (Filsan Consulting, Cornerstones Center, etc)
  • In terms of grant funding available for local arts organizations – United Arts, previously a supporter of several St. Cloud based organizations through general operating funds, closed its doors in August 2016 after 31 years in business.  During the recession, the City of St. Cloud cut most of their funding in support of arts organizations serving the area and has yet to re-establish the support.

Limited opportunities for groups to request support for the arts is provided by the Central MN Community Foundation, Three Rivers Foundation in Elk River, Bernicks, Centracare and some other large corporations and law firms as well as individual donors are regular supporters of the arts. CMAB resources play an essential role in leveraging these donor funds in support of the arts.


At the March 14th Board meeting, Directors were presented with a summary of achievements from the previous biennium, including outcomes related to the previous biennial plan’s priorities, summarized results from the FY19 needs assessment activities (surveys, listening sessions and one-on-ones) and suggested priorities and program changes per needs assessment data.

CMAB directors were asked to complete an electronic survey regarding suggested changes and adjustments to programs and services prior to a planning session scheduled for April 11th.

For the second time, a snowstorm prevented directors from meeting in person to discuss needs assessment feedback and shifts to CMAB programs and services in the FY20-21 biennial plan.  As a way to ensure this discussion could take place within the allotted planning timeline, the decision was made to hold a remote meeting via GoToMeeting.  During that meeting directors discussed and voted on 8 specific adjustments to programs and services and provided input and approval on 4 priorities to guide and focus CMAB’s work in the following biennium.  This meeting was recorded and the proceedings will be used to complete the final draft of the plan.

CMAB planning timeline:

  • Needs Assessment – August 2018-January 2019
  • Reflection and Assessment of Programs and Services December 2018March 2019
  • Board and Staff Planning – April 11th
  • Drafting of Biennial Plan, March 2019-April 2019
  • Public Meeting – May 2nd
  • Adjustments – May 2 – 8th
  • McKnight Proposal Due – May 8th
  • Board Approval (*McKnight) – May 9th
  • Submit Biennial Plan to the State Arts Board – May 15th

The following 10 grant programs have been developed in response to the identified needs consistently communicated by CMAB constituents through final reports, survey feedback, individual meetings and conversations, listening sessions and other CMAB sponsored or partner events. In the upcoming biennium, there are no grant programs being created or eliminated. Adjustments are planned to broaden or adapt programs to better meet needs indicated as high priorities and to improve accessibility to CMAB funds and applicant experience. We are proud of the quality and scope of CMAB grants and services and determine that a minimal amount of critique indicates general satisfaction with CMAB’s response and estimation of arts needs in Region 7W. Efforts were made in the most recent needs assessment activities to reach individuals who do not have an established relationship with CMAB in order to ensure we are not missing needs present for those who don’t currently seek CMAB funding.

The 25-year arts legacy outcomes are broad in scope and it is our belief that most quality arts programming feeds into these aspirations in a variety of ways. The program outcomes listed beneath each individual grant program represent more specific and measurable steps on the path to achieving the larger vision of all five of the 25-year outcomes:

  • The arts are interwoven into every facet of community life
  • Minnesotans believe the arts are vital to who we are
  • People of all ages, ethnicity, and abilities participate in the arts
  • The arts thrive in Minnesota
  • People trust Minnesota’s stewardship of public arts funding




    • Project Grant
      Funds to increase access to arts focused events throughout the region; Maximum grant of $7,000 with a 25% match required; Portion of match may be specific types of in-kind.
      Evaluated on Artistic Merit and Quality, Community Need, Ability, Outcomes & Evaluation.
      Funded by: General Fund, Arts Access, Arts Ed, Arts and Cultural Heritage
      Program Outcomes:
      • Regional residents experience increased access to the arts via a reduction in geographic, cultural and/or physical barriers.
      • Regional residents experience a change in knowledge, attitude, behavior or condition due to public art, arts festivals or arts events
      • Regional residents build connections to their own and others’ cultural heritage through regional arts and cultural events and/or activities.
    • Artist in Residency Grants
      Funds in support of a unique arts experience that ties in to a lesson plan or curriculum. The intention of any residency proposal must be to increase interaction between students, community members and professional artists. Maximum grant $3,500 with no match required.
      Evaluated on Artistic Merit and Quality, Community Need, Ability, Outcomes and Evaluation
      Funded by: Arts Access, Arts Ed, Arts and Cultural Heritage
      Program Outcomes
      • Regional residents learn new arts skills & techniques.
      • Regional residents gain awareness and appreciation for a variety of artistic disciplines and mediums.
      • Regional artists build their capacity through professional development.
    • Community Art Support Grants
      General operating support for Nonprofit Arts Organizations with a minimum of two years of service to the community. Funds of up to $10,000 or 20% of the last fiscal year’s annual operating expense will be awarded per fiscal year in a two-year granting cycle. A minimum request amount of $3,000 is available to all applicants regardless of annual operating expenses. These funds may be used for administrative, operating and other expenditures that advance the mission of the organization. Program is available in even-numbered fiscal years.
      Evaluated on Artistic Merit and Quality, Community Need and Org. Ability.
      Funded by: Arts Access
      Program Outcomes:
      • The capacity of those providing arts experiences is increased or strengthened by changing, expanding, or enriching the ways in which they connect to their communities through the arts.
      • Regional residents experience increased access to the arts via a reduction in geographic, cultural and/or physical barriers.
      • The infrastructure of arts organizations is strengthened through access to operating funds, professional development and best practices sharing.
      • Minnesota’s Arts Sector grows in reach and impact through programs and strategies that improve the health and operations of regional arts organizations.
    • Student Arts Scholarships
      Funding for students pursuing an arts-related major in college; $1,500 maximum; Students must be seeking their 1st undergraduate degree and may be awarded a maximum of 4 Student Arts Scholarships in a lifetime.
      Evaluated on Artistic Merit and Quality and applicant Ability.
      Program Outcomes:
      • Regional artists expand and improve their work and the way in which they create it.
      • Regional residents learn new arts skills & techniques.
      • Regional artists build their capacity through professional development.
    • Organizational Development Grants
      Funds to support a broad range of activities and purchases that contribute to organizational sustainability, growth and improvement. Proposals may include, but are not limited to staff and board development, workshops and conferences, resource development, financial planning, volunteer management, equipment purchases and to fund a portion of a new staff position. Emerging arts organizations may apply for funds to support the process of obtaining 501c-3 status. Applicants may receive up to $2000 in grant funds during a CMAB fiscal year.
      Evaluated on Artistic Merit and Quality, Need and Ability.
      Funded by: General Fund and Arts Access
      Program Outcomes:
      • The capacity of those providing arts experiences is increased or strengthened by changing, expanding, or enriching the ways in which they connect to their communities through the arts.
      • Minnesota’s Arts Sector grows in reach and impact through programs and strategies that improve the health and operations of regional arts organizations.
      • The infrastructure of arts organizations is strengthened through access to operating funds, professional development and best practices sharing.
    • Public Art Grants
      Funds for the creation and installation/implementation of temporary and permanent art works that are free and open to the public. There is no maximum grant amount for this program. Grants are based on project needs and available resources. Requests must include 20% matching funds from non-CMAB sources.
      Evaluated on Artistic Merit and Quality, Need, Ability and Outcomes and Evaluation.
      Funded by: Arts Access, Arts Ed, and Arts and Cultural Heritage
      Program Outcomes:
      • Regional residents experience a change in knowledge, attitude, behavior or condition due to public art, arts festivals or arts events
      • Regional artists connect to new audiences and/or build relationships that provide artistic growth.
      • MN Folk and traditional artists/arts’ audiences are expanded.
      • Public schools



Grants & Services Supported with funding from The McKnight Foundation

    • Individual Artist Awards
      To reward, recognize and encourage outstanding individual artists, up to four artists will be chosen to receive $5,000 each. The CMAB will promote the artists’ work through media, various events and on the CMAB website.
    • Artist Career Development Program
      provides grants up to $4,000 for the purpose of career development and artistic achievement. Successful proposals will communicate a clearly defined set of activities that respond to a compelling challenge or opportunity for the individual applicant.
    • Artist Learning Grant
      Provide funding of up to $500 for artists to attend a class, training or workshop and/or purchase equipment and supplies in support of professional development.
    • Teaching Artist Grant
      provides up to $1,800 for individuals on the CMAB Teaching Artist Roster to conduct arts learning activities in community settings including but not limited to K-12 schools.
    • Trainings
      • Grant Writing and opportunities workshops– Held in various locations throughout the region to inform current and potential applicants about CMAB grant opportunities and how to apply. In an effort to encourage new applicants and increase the accessibility of CMAB programs, we are developing a new multi-session workshop that will more closely guide applicants through the process of applying to a CMAB program. Funded by State, Legacy & McKnight funds.
      • Teaching Artist Roster Program – Held in even-numbered fiscal years, this program provides a cohort of 5-7 regional artists with an opportunity to reflect on their relationship to art making and connect with opportunities to provide arts education by sharing their work and their process. Artists apply to this program through a format very similar to other CMAB applications. Selected applicants are interviewed before being invited to participate in the program. Funded by the McKnight Foundation
      • Individual Artist Workshops – focused on a variety of topics driven by artist input, available presenters and community needs, open to the public and typically free of charge, participants can register to guarantee a seat. In FY20 CMAB will be contracting local artists to organize and facilitate workshops with topics determined by needs assessment feedback. This outreach is funded by The McKnight Foundation.
      • Organizational and Community Development workshops – Based on the most recent needs assessment feedback the topics for organizational workshops/networking events in the coming biennium will be: Fundraising & Development, Marketing and How to expand Audiences/Being accessible and inclusive. Some of these learning events will take the form of a networking/best practices events held in partnership with regional organizations. Public Art and Art in Community Development Workshops – provided by Forecast or Michelle Kiley (local public art and community development consultant) – held in one or two regional communities with local partnership/ buy in/support in planning, recruiting and scheduling (Avon and St. Cloud both expressed interest in this type of opportunity during listening sessions).
    • Promotion
      • Teaching Artist Showcase- Teaching Artists are invited to demonstrate, display their work, lesson plan examples, examples of student work and present any promotional materials they may have in an art-fair type setting. The showcase is promoted specifically to teachers and organizations, which may host an artist in residency, but also to the general public. Teaching Artist Showcases are produced and promoted in partnership with the Paramount Center for the Arts and Resource Training & Solutions. Artists on the CMAB Teaching Artist Roster are invited in advance of other teaching artists to provide them with priority to claim the 6 – 8 first-come first-served table spots. Funded by The McKnight Foundation.
      • Individual Artist Showcase – Each year at the June art crawl in St. Cloud, CMAB features artists who have received individual awards and grants from the CMAB funded by The McKnight Foundation. Artists are provided an 8-foot table and surrounding space, signage with their name and artist statement and printed postcards advertising the event. Artists can sell and promote their work with no commission fee. Funded by The McKnight Foundation
      • Artist Registry – artists may create a profile and be listed on an artist registry on the CMAB web site
      • – an interactive community arts and culture calendar where artists and organizations may post event listings for free. CMAB administers this website and ensures that all events funded by CMAB are listed on the calendar.
      • Media Releases – sent promptly to various media outlets to announce upcoming opportunities and grant award decisions.
      • Panel Gifts – CMAB staff purchase small items from regional artists, which are provided as gifts for grant panel reviewers. Items purchased must remain under a maximum price point and a limited amount of work is purchased from any single artist. We love this practice because it serves local artists by supporting and promoting their work, gives the CMAB a way to thank panel volunteers who leave with a memorable piece of art that they select and the opportunity to learn about an artist in our region.
      • CMAB website – Our homepage features photos of samples of work from Individual Artist Award winners and projects from the region.


Work-Plan Priorities

    1) Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) will be listed in the CMAB budget as an ongoing line-item to assure continued attention in advancing this priority
    2) Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) process will continue with staff and board- action items/shifts will be determined after the initial results and recommendations from IDI are presented.
    * 25-year arts legacy outcomes addressed


    • The arts are interwoven into every facet of community life
    • Minnesotans believe the arts are vital to who we are
    • People of all ages, ethnicity, and abilities participate in the arts/
    • The arts thrive in Minnesota

    Measurable Outcome
    •The makeup of CMAB board, panels, volunteer committees, and applicant pool will continue to diversify to reflect the demographics of the region.
    •Individuals and Organizations in Region 7W from historically underrepresented demographics will see an increase in access to CMAB resources and opportunities.
    Plan for measuring results
    •DEI spending will be tracked through the monthly financial reports to CMAB directors.
    •Annual review of demographics for CMAB applicants (funded and not), grant panel members and directors will continue to be collected, enabling the CMAB to track annual progress on DEI per this specific measure at the end of the FY20-21 biennium.

    1) Make key adjustments to assure compliance with the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) recommendations-
    a. additional questions in final report to track HOW Community Arts Support grant funds were spent
    b. Adjust program outcomes to align with statewide goals and to provide more clarity and better modeling of GOOD outcomes.
    2) Publish CMAB policies on the new website
    * 25-year arts legacy outcomes addressed


    • People trust Minnesota’s stewardship of public arts funding

    Measurable Outcomes
    • Grantees and applicants have increased access to CMAB rules and policies.
    • Grantees and applicants gain access to model statements that support the creation of more meaningful and impactful outcomes.
    • Reported CMAB program outcomes align with recent outcomes adopted by all RACs.
    • Grantees report more specifically how CMAB grant dollars have been spent.
    Plan for measuring results
    •CMAB staff will report a decrease in time spent answering grantee questions re: policy and rules.
    •Reports will be created showing the total number of proposals that have achieved specific outcomes named in CMAB applications (and MN RACs) AND how CMAB dollars were specifically spent in funded proposals.
    •Board members and regional residents will observe new program outcomes published in CMAB guidelines and integrated into application forms.

    Actions 1) Create a Disability Access committee to advance CMAB’s organizational knowledge on current barriers to accessing the arts in Region 7W.
    2) Survey applicant organizations to learn how they provide access for people with disabilities.
    3) Identify strengths and weaknesses in organizational accessibility
    4) Share resources for improving access to the arts in our region.
    5) Determine how CMAB programs can encourage applicants to increase disability access.
    * 25-year arts legacy outcomes addressed


    • The arts are interwoven into every facet of community life
    • People of all ages, ethnicity, and abilities participate in the arts
    • People trust Minnesota’s stewardship of public arts funding

    Measurable Outcome
    •Residents of Region 7W who live with disabilities see an increase in opportunities to engage with and create art.
    •Region 7W organizations make physical, programmatic and policy changes designed to increase access to the arts.
    Plan for measuring results
    •Members of a Disability access committee will provide recommendations and feedback re: regional access to the arts.
    •CMAB grants that support activities and improvements that contribute to disability access will be tracked through intake and final reports.
    •Region 7W organizations will be surveyed to determine current accessibility practices.

    1) Schedule satellite office hours in varying locations throughout the region
    2) Workshops focused on topics driven by needs assessment responses in support of Artists, Community Arts Development and Organizational Development.
    * 25-year arts legacy outcomes addressed


    • The arts are interwoven into every facet of community life
    • People of all ages, ethnicities, and abilities participate in the arts

    Measurable Outcome
    •Regional residents see an increase in opportunities for professional development, networking and advancement.
    •CMAB staff is more geographically accessible to potential applicants.
    Plan for measuring results
    •Attendees at remote outreach opportunities will be documented and surveyed (at group meetings and workshops).
    • Feedback from individual meetings re: accessibility and professional development needs will be recorded and used in ongoing needs assessments and planning.


Grant Making and Monitoring Process

    Applications are submitted primarily through CMAB’s online grants system. However, staff will make accommodations when this mode presents a barrier. Applications and program guidelines are available online a minimum of 30 days prior to a program’s deadline.
    CMAB Opportunity and Grant Writing Workshops focus on informing regional residents of available programs and assist in understanding the application process. They are held in a variety of locations each year. A four-installment webinar series is available on the CMAB website to guide applicants through the process of developing projects and applying for CMAB grants.
    Applicants are encouraged to contact the CMAB office for one-on-one assistance if needed. Artist working sessions are scheduled at the CMAB office prior to major grant deadlines to encourage applicants to seek additional support when needed. The CMAB website lists all draft review deadlines, application deadlines, and board review dates.
    Before an application is submitted, a draft review can be requested. Requests must be submitted via email ( or fax (320-968-4291) on or before the posted draft review deadline for a program. A review of the application does not guarantee that the request will be funded. Draft reviews are optional.
    Once the CMAB receives the application, staff will verify eligibility. Applications will be electronically assigned to the CMAB Board of Directors or volunteer Panel Reviewers at least two weeks prior to the in-person meeting date. Review of eligible applications typically takes place within one month of the deadline. All applicants will be notified of the Board’s decision.
    During the review process a scoring system is used. Each application will receive a score from each reviewer on a scale from 0 (low) to 30 (high). An applicant must attain an average score of at least 15 to be considered for funding.
    In final review (for Project Grant and Community Arts Support applications) final average scores may be adjusted down 10% based on an applicant’s grant history Applicants that have not previously been awarded funds from the CMAB will receive a 10% increase in their final average score.
    *Grant history considerations include contract violations, and serious grant audit findings. Directors will consider grant history up to two fiscal years prior to the year of the application.
    Awarded grantees must sign a contractual agreement within 30 days of notification. Failure to provide any required documents can result in the cancellation of a grant commitment.
    Note: If funds are refused within 45 days of receipt of grant notification, they will be offered to the next applicant in rank order. Returned funds or funds refused after 45 days will be applied to future grant rounds.
    Note: If an application is approved, the funds must be expended within 12 months of the approval date.
    All grant contracts contain the following content modified to fit the appropriate program:
    A. Authorized Use of Grant Funds
    The proposal indicated above was recommended and approved for funding by the CMAB directors based on the information and description contained in the grant application. Grantee is authorized to use the grant funds only to carry out the proposal in accordance with the specification contained in the grant application. Any changes to the content of the proposal or the proposed budget must be requested in writing and approved in advance by CMAB staff.
    Such changes not reviewed and approved in advance may constitute a violation of the grant contract. This fiscal year all awarded project grants will need to complete all activities and expenditures by June 30, 2020.
    B. Unauthorized Use of Grant Funds
    Upon a finding by the CMAB that the Grantee has made an unauthorized use of grant funds or that the Grantee received grant funds but failed to submit required reports, and upon demand by the CMAB for repayment, the Grantee agrees to promptly repay such amounts to the CMAB.
    CMAB Acknowledgement: Because it is so important for the public to understand that tax dollars are returning to their communities and due to Minnesota state law requirements, the correct funding acknowledgement statement must appear on all internally generated advertising and promotion referencing the funded event such as programs, posters, flyers, press releases, etc. Oral acknowledgement is always recommended, but required during any event that does not have a printed program and during interviews with the news media
    A final report must be submitted within sixty (60) days of the project’s completion for the payment of any remaining grant funds. Failure to submit a final report without prior request for an extension may result in the applicant being ineligible to apply for any future CMAB grants until the final report is received.
    Grant applicants that have been denied funding may appeal the board’s decision.
    Appeals must be based on alleged procedural errors. There is no right of appeal based on the size of the grant awarded or disagreements with panel/director’s assessment of the application relative to the CMAB published review criteria. Applicant may make an appointment with CMAB Staff for assistance in determining a valid appeal.