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.


Prior to the January 25th Board retreat, CMAB Directors were presented with a summary of the results from needs assessment activities (surveys, final report feedback and one-on-ones) and suggested priorities and program changes per current needs assessment data.

During the meeting directors discussed and arrived at a consensus regarding specific adjustments to programs and services and provided input on work-plan priorities to guide and focus CMAB’s work in the following biennium. This meeting was recorded, and the proceedings were used to complete the final draft of the plan.
CMAB planning timeline:
•Needs Assessment –Electronic surveys, October 2022 – December 2022 needs assessment process,
•Reflection and Assessment of Programs and Services – staff reflection on individual meetings and communications, final report feedback review and outreach activities ongoing-January 2023
•Board and Staff Virtual Planning – January 25
•Draft of the FY24-25 Biennial Plan, Posted online February 6 – 24
•Public Meeting – March 7th via live video meeting- noon – 1pm & 5 – 6pm.
•Adjustments based on feedback– March 7 – 9th
•Board Final Approval of the Plan– March 9th
•Submit Biennial Plan to the MN State Arts Board – April 1st
•Biennial Plan Review by Advisory Committee – Date TBD

Needs Assessment Result Summary

While we are seeing the arts sector begin to recover, it has been slow, and most arts organizations and artists have experienced a lasting impact due to the pandemic. The new tools and strategies we have discovered as we navigate through unprecedented challenges have assisted the CMAB in reaching new audiences over the past two years.  The needs assessment process consisted of surveys, notes from one-on-one meetings, final report feedback and conversations between CMAB staff and members of the community.  Electronic surveys were promoted on social media October through December of 2022. Two surveys were available, one for the arts community and one for the general-public. Surveys were advertised through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, targeted emails, on the CMAB website and E-news, as well as all regional media through a press release. Paid boosts increased the visibility of the surveys to a wider demographic than those who currently follow the CMAB Facebook page.
Current Needs Assessment activities reaffirm that the following four themes continue to be relevant issues in our region:
· Continuing grant funding for local arts organizations, artists and others
· Networking and continuing education opportunities
· Marketing support
· Reaching new and diverse demographics
In addition, more recent assessments have surfaced the following needs:
· Opportunities for Artists to share, display and sell their work– An overwhelming number of comments in the most recent needs assessment survey speak to a lack of opportunities for artists to find places to display or sell work, as well as the challenges of driving traffic to a gallery or retail space.
· Share resources and skills with other groups/artists– Individuals are interested in ways to connect.  Some would like to find artists with complimentary skills to collaborate with, some are looking for professional, social and moral support from others in their field.
· Support for creating digital content– work samples, web presence, online classes, online gallery- This need was present prior to the shifts to social distancing and avoiding gatherings but has only increased as more artists see a need and opportunity to present their work in online platforms.

Work Plan for grants, programs and services

The following 11 grant programs have been developed in response to the identified needs consistently communicated by regional residents through final reports, survey feedback, individual meetings and conversations, and other partner events. As we look forward to a full recovery that is beginning to emerge for our artists and arts organizations, we are also focusing on ways to support the work of rebuilding audience trust and comfort as well as looking to harness the new tools and strategies we have discovered as we navigated and persisted through the unprecedented challenges over the past few years.

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. Efforts are currently underway 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. A survey for individuals who are less familiar or are not familiar with CMAB, or perhaps even the arts community was conducted. We asked our board members and regional partner organizations to help us distribute this survey to people within Region 7W who we do not regularly communicate or engage with through our current programs and services.

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 $8,000, a 10% match requirement.
      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.
        Evaluated on Artistic Merit and Quality, Community Need, Ability, Outcomes & Evaluation.
        Funded by: General Fund, Arts Access, Arts Ed, Arts and Cultural Heritage
    • Arts Access Grants
      provides up to $5,000 in funding to cultural community groups and nonprofit organizations in support of arts-focused activities that increase Minnesotan’s access to the arts and celebrate diverse cultural expression. Eligible applicants must be from historically under-represented groups and located in Benton, Sherburne, Stearns or Wright counties.
      Program Outcomes
      • Regional residents build connections to their own and others’ cultural heritage through regional arts and cultural events and/or activities.
      • 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 the cultural event and/or arts 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.
      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.
        Evaluated on Artistic Merit and Quality, Community Need, Ability, Outcomes and Evaluation
        Funded by: Arts Access, Arts Ed, Arts and Cultural Heritage
    • 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. Due to impacts from the global pandemic, applicants in FY24 will be allowed to submit financial documents from the fiscal year with the highest total operating expenses dating back to FY18
      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.
        Evaluated on Artistic Merit and Quality, Community Need and Org. Ability.
        Funded by: Arts Access
    • Student Arts Scholarships
      Funding for students pursuing an arts-related major in college; $2,000 awards; Students must be seeking their 1st undergraduate degree and may be awarded a maximum of 4 Student Arts Scholarships in a lifetime.
      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.
        Evaluated on Artistic Merit and Quality and applicant Ability.
        Funded by: General Fund and Education Legacy Fund
    • Arts Organization 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 $10,000 in Arts Organization Development funds within a CMAB fiscal year.
      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.
        Evaluated on Artistic Merit and Quality, Need and Ability.
        Funded by: General Fund and Arts Access
    • 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.
      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.
      • Evaluated on Artistic Merit and Quality, Need, Ability and Outcomes and Evaluation.
        Funded by: Arts Access, Arts Ed, and Arts and Cultural Heritage
    • Flex Funds
      Once the CMAB has the exact appropriation numbers from the MN Legislature, additional funds beyond those currently budgeted will be used to allow flexibility in grantmaking over the course of the year. These funds will be available to add value to any program or proposal that is determined meritorious and/or serves one of the CMAB priority goals in the FY24-25 plan.



Grants & Services Supported with funding from The McKnight Foundation

    • Individual Artist Awards
      Provides awards of $3,500 each to outstanding individual artists living in region 7W The CMAB will promote the artists’ work through media, various events and on the CMAB website. Artists may receive up to $5,000 in Individual Artist Awards in a lifetime.
    • 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 $2,000 for individuals on the CMAB Teaching Artist Roster to conduct arts learning activities in community settings including but not limited to K-12 schools. Grantees may receive up to $2,000 in Teaching Artist Grant funds in a fiscal year.
    • Trainings
      • Grant Writing and opportunities workshops– Held virtually until further notice, and then 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 offer multi-session workshops to guide applicants through the process of applying to a CMAB program. Funded by State, Legacy & McKnight funds.
        Various webinars and workshops are recorded and archived online for applicants to view on demand.
      • 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. Facilitators of the program are contracted out. 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 FY24-25 CMAB will continue contracting local artists to organize and facilitate workshops with topics determined by needs assessment feedback. Portions of this effort is a partnership with the Regional Public Library. This 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: Marketing and How to build accessible and inclusive events. Some of these learning events will take the form of a networking/best practices events held in partnership with regional organizations.
    • 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 have been 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 – The CMAB recognizes the time and effort volunteer panel members contribute to the granting process by providing each with a stipend for their services in the amount of $100 – $150. 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 of $30-$40 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 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.
      • Social Media – Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram are used to announce events, grant opportunities, trainings and accomplishments are shared daily on the CMAB social pages. We also have panel trainings and grant writing information available via YouTube.


Work-Plan Priorities

    1) Maintain a Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) budget – trainings and key expenditures.
    2) Continue the practice of paying stipends to grant reviewers for CMAB grant programs.
    3) Continue to create informational materials in Spanish, Somali and Hmong & other languages as needs are identified.
    4) Continue to host virtual and in-person gatherings to discuss ways in which the arts develop a sense of community.
    5) Continue to engage board members in the IDI (Intercultural Development Inventory process, discussions, and reflection about equity.
    * 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
    • As a result of targeted outreach, compensation for grant review work and other inclusive practices, 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, and geographic areas will continue to see an increase in access to CMAB resources and opportunities.
    • Regional Artists, Arts Organizations and engaged community members see an increased awareness around issues of race and equity as it relates to their work. 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 each biennium.
    1) Focus outreach and needs assessment efforts to connect with regional residents who are not currently engaged with CMAB
    2) Continue to operate under the spirit of the open meeting law
    3) effectively promote and provide access to regional grant award map and the CMAB annual report summarizing and highlighting grants awarded.
    * 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
    • 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.
    1) Share resources with regional arts providers aimed at improving access to
    2) the arts in our region
    3) Ongoing website development to enhance access to CMAB staff and services
    4) Explore the addition of closed captioning for virtual meetings and video presentations
    * 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..
    • Region 7W organizations will be surveyed to determine current accessibility practices.
    • Create summary of reflection and actions resulting from regional disability consultant meetings
    1) Schedule in-person satellite office hours in varying locations throughout the region
    2) Workshops focused on topics driven by needs assessment responses
    3) Continue Artist/grantee working sessions scheduled virtually prior to grant deadlines
    * 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
    • Minnesotans believe the arts are vital to who we are
    Measurable Outcome
    • Regional residents find opportunities and support from CMAB to connect in person and virtually to share best-practices and networking on common themes.
    • CMAB staff is more geographically accessible to potential applicants through virtual accessibility as well as through future gatherings and meeting opportunities.
    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. During FY22 and possibly 23 an additional criterion of Pandemic Sustainability & Recovery and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is included in review of the Project Grant and Organizational Development programs. This changes the total score for those programs to 35 but does not change the minimum average requirement of 15.
      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.
      CMAB Directors and panel members shall not participate nor vote in any deliberation relating to issues and proposals in which they have an identifiable conflict of interest. Prior to commencement of deliberation, a CMAB Director/panel member who has a conflict of interest shall disclose orally to the board/panel that a conflict exists.
      CMAB staff sign a form at the start of each Fiscal Year to indicate any conflicts of interest they may have with regional organizations Any evaluators who serve on a review panel complete conflict of interest forms specific to the roster of applications they are evaluating.
      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.
      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 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, 2025.
      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.
      Additional contract provisions require applicants to use the required funding acknowledgement statements in all funded activities and promotions. Specific acknowledgments are included based on the funding source for a given grant award
      C. Acknowledgement
      Grantees are required to acknowledge Central Minnesota Arts Board support by using the appropriate credit line and logo(s) in all printed materials, news releases, films, videos, electronic transmissions, permanent installations and Web sites. When written credit is not applicable, grantees must give verbal acknowledgement before each event or performance and in media interviews. Evidence the acknowledgement was provided is required in all final reports.
      80% of the grant award shall be distributed to the Grantee or Fiscal Agent thirty (30) days before the start date listed in the proposal unless there have been contingencies placed on the grant as specified in separate communications by the CMAB to the Grantee or Grantee’s Fiscal Agent. The remaining 20% of the grant award will be released upon completion AND acceptance of the Final Report for this project.
      CMAB funded events are added to, a regional arts and culture calendar accessible to anyone interested in learning about arts events in the region. CMAB has a policy that supports Staff & Board member attendance at CMAB funded events by reimbursing the cost to attend for the board/staff member and one guest. Feedback from attendees on the outcome of the event is requested prior to reimbursement.
      Changes in dates, staff/artists involved in the project, location, or any other significant change while keeping the original objectives of the project must be approved by the CMAB Executive Director or the director’s designee. Amendment forms are assigned, reviewed, and approved or denied.
      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.
      CMAB has a grassroots relationship with applicants since all staff (and board members) engage in responding to questions, attendance at events, grant writing workshops, assisting in the completion of proposals and other interactions throughout the year. We trust our grantees to describe what they are going to do and then follow-through to the best of their ability. If serious discrepancies are brought to our attention between the various reviews, public comments, or any other red flag, an audit is ordered that requires grantees to provide receipts and other means of verification on the actual use of the grant.


VIEW the FY24-25 Projected Budget