Congratulations to all who received a Minnesota State Arts Board grant! I see several dear friends on the list, including Rick Robbins, Rebecca Kanner, and Bronson Lemer, who will get money to support valuable literary projects. I can’t wait to see what they produce!
I received an MSAB grant in 2014, which allowed me to travel throughout Minnesota in support of my memoir. I did readings and signings from Lanesboro to Detroit Lakes, from Worthington to Grand Marais. I literally reached all corners of the state thanks to the support of MSAB.
My MSAB grant tour:
But one thing I noticed in looking at this year’s grant recipients: All of the 28 literary award recipients, save for two, are from Minneapolis/St. Paul or a metro suburb. (Actually, those two are the only outstate ones from all 63 grants awarded in all disciplines).
Now, what I don’t know: perhaps almost all of the applicants came from the metro area. Maybe the awards went proportionally to the areas from which people applied. This is what I want to believe. I do not want to believe that the judging and evaluation was somewhat skewed or biased in favor of metro applicants.
I live near Mankato, where a crazy amount of talented writers live. I mean crazy talented — agented writers, published writers, writers who teach. Multiply that to other outstate cities where I know talented writers live — Northfield, Marshall, Morris, St. Cloud, Duluth, Grand Marais, Moorhead. Did those writers not apply? Maybe that’s the case.
Perhaps what is needed is a better representation of all Minnesotans on the judging panels. Here I will say: I had an opportunity to sit on a panel this year, but declined it because I had to finish my dissertation at the same time. I have a responsibility to give back to the literary community in this state, and I didn’t bear that responsibility this year.
I would like to believe the arts board panels take into consideration a fair representation of ALL Minnesota writers, in order to accurately reflect the name and mission of the organization. After all, this is one of MSAB’s guiding principles:
“Statewide approach—The needs and interests of the entire state will be considered when determining how best to allocate funds.” (Full text here).
I call on my fellow rural writers to do two things in the future:
- Apply for MSAB grants. A friend of mine sat on the music panel and he said there were very few outstate applicants; perhaps this was the situation for literary arts as well.
- Apply to sit on a judging panel.
Let’s show the entire state that we exist 🙂
You make a good point about rural Minnesota needing better representation in MSAB funding. But I’d like to add (as one of the fortunate writers who was funded this year, as well as in a couple of previous years), that although I am listed as being from Minneapolis, which is where I live, where I’m FROM is rural Minnesota, and that is also the territory, both physical and emotional, that I write about. Maybe some of the other funded writers are also rural ex-pats, you never know.
Very true, good point! I love the idea of those rural voices coming through no matter where the person currently lives. Congratulations on the funding!!
Lisa M. Bolt Simons said:
I agree with Rachael, Audrey!
Minnesota Prairie Roots said:
You raise a lot of questions worthy of answers.
As a rural Minnesota (is Faribault rural?) blogger/poet/photographer, I’ve never applied for a grant. How daunting is the process?
Apply! If you give yourself plenty of time, the process is not daunting at all. I don’t recommend doing it at the last minute 🙂 There’s definitely a bit to pull together, but absolutely doable.
Minnesota Prairie Roots said:
Thanks for the encouragement.