McKnight Artist & Culture Bearer Fellowship

Pillsbury House Theatre Announces the 2024 Recipients of the McKnight Community-Engaged Artist Fellowship: Alyssa Baguss and Sam Gould. 

MINNEAPOLIS (06/02/2024) – Pillsbury House Theatre is proud to announce the two recipients of the 2024 McKnight Fellowships for Community-Engaged Artists: Alyssa Baguss and Sam Gould. Identifying and supporting exceptional mid-career Minnesota artists, the McKnight Fellowships for Community-Engaged Artists provide recipients with a $25,000 award, resources to meet with local and national arts and cultural professionals and works with the fellows to support their professional development and new creative initiatives. These fellowships are funded by a generous grant from the McKnight Foundation and administered by Pillsbury House Theatre. For more information about the fellowship program and future opportunities, visit our website at The 2024 McKnight fellows were selected from a group of 30 applicants by a panel of arts professionals of varying backgrounds whose careers intersect with community-engaged artistic practice in different ways. This year’s jurors were; Amara Tobar-Smith (Oakland, CA), Gaye Chan (Honolulu, HI), and Emmanuel Abreu (NYC, NY).   


Alyssa Baguss is a Minneapolis based artist and creative director who spends her days producing public art experiences that you didn’t even know you wanted. Her work includes drawings, large scale installation, and interactive public happenings that exist in galleries, parks, on bodies of water, and even flying through the skies over Minneapolis. She is a joy seeker who loves spending her time making in her studio, leading creative teams, and connecting the public to nature, each other and themselves. She is the first artist to act as a park director within the Three Rivers Park District at Silverwood Park, a regional center for the arts and environment in Saint Anthony, Minnesota. Silverwood serves over 500,000 guests annually through a public sculpture garden, indoor art gallery, event center, and art and environmental science experiences year round.  

Alyssa is a multi-year recipient of the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative and Creative Support Grants, the 2017/18 Jerome Foundation Fellowship for Emerging Artists, a part of the Minnesota Artist Exhibition Program at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 2019, and Forecast Public Art Mid-career Artist Project and Professional Development Grants 2020 & 2021.  

Sam Gould is an artist, writer, and editor, co-founded the cultural collaborative Red76 (2000 – 2015), an artistic and social configuration at the forefront of the burgeoning movement that became known as Social Practice. Focused on ideas around publication as an act of public making, his work often centers aspects of sociality, education, and encountering the political within daily life. In 2015 he established Beyond Repair, an “expanded publication,” functioning as a long now site of questioning and social collaboration with the aim to move past the rhetoric of “people and places that need fixing,” and towards a space of reflective self-determination and collaborative creation among his neighbors in Minneapolis’ 9th Ward. In the orbit of Beyond Repair he co-founded (w/ Duaba Unenra), and is director of, Confluence: An East Lake Studio for Community Design in March 2020. An incubator for Social Craft, Confluence Studio believes “People make place. Neighbors make neighborhoods.” 

 He has taught and lectured extensively within the United States and abroad. His collection of essays on a shifting cultural landscape, America Composes Itself, was published in the fall of 2023 by Publication Studio – Hudson. 


amara tabor-smith (she/they) is based in Unceded Huichin Ohlone territory/ Oakland, CA. She is a choreographer, performance maker, cultural worker, and the artistic director of Deep Waters Dance Theater. Her interdisciplinary site-responsive and community specific performance making practice utilizes Yoruba Lukumí spiritual technologies to address issues of social and environmental justice, race, gender identity, and belonging. amara’s work is rooted in Black, queer, feminist principles that insist on liberation, joy, home fullness and well-being. She is a 2024 Guggenheim Fellow and a 2023 awardee of the Religion in the Arts Award from The American Academy of Religion. Other grants and awards include Rainin Arts Fellowship, Dance/USA Fellowship, United States Artists Fellowship, Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Fellowship, Creative Capital, MAP Fund and A Blade of Grass. amara received her MFA in Dance from Hollins University and is currently a teaching artist in residence at Stanford University. 

2021 Nov. 30 DET – Honolulu Star-Advertiser photo by Jamm Aquino/
Gaye Chan smiles while arranging foraged plants and vegetables on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, in Kaneohe. Chan runs a free store in front of her house, and gives away plants and seeds; she also gets donations of plants from others who come by. She is part of an informal network of Free Stores, established by nonprofit Eating in Public in 2003, which advocates against capitalism and government control of land.

Gaye Chan is a conceptual artist who moves between solo and collaborative activities that take place on the web, in publications, streets as well as galleries. Past exhibition venues include the Anchorage Museum of Art (Anchorage), Art in General (New York City), Articule (Montreal), Artspeak (Vancouver), Asia Society (New York City), EFA Project Space (New York), Flux Factory (Bronx), Gallery 4A (Sydney), Honolulu Museum of Art (Honolulu), San Jose Museum of Art, SF Camerawork (San Francisco), Southern Exposure (San Francisco), and YYZ Artist Outlet (Toronto). 

 Chan co-founded EATING IN PUBLIC (EIP) in 2003 in Hawai‘i to nudge a little space outside of the State and capitalist systems. Following the path of pirates and nomads, hunters and gathers, diggers and levelers, EIP gathers at people’s homes, plant free food gardens on private and public land, set up free stores and other autonomous systems of exchange, generally without permission. Unlike Santa and the State, EIP gives equally to the naughty and the nice. EIP does not exploit anyone’s labor nor offer any tax deductions. EIP is, in all the word’s various definitions, free. EIP has initiated over 1,000 projects. On rare occasions, they take part in art exhibitions in the forms of distribution centers or how-to demonstrations. 

Emmanuel Abreu is a New York City based photographer and videographer who has been collaborating with the community of Washington Heights/Inwood since the start of his career. Some of his work has been featured on media outlets like the local Manhattan Times, New York Times, and Local Blogs, as well as sites like HuffPost and Gothamist. He is a co-founder of a community bookshop, Word Up, in NYC where he along with the collective that runs it facilitate spaces and events with the neighborhood and beyond. He’s also the founder of Uptown Photowalk, a monthly community photography meet up that has hosted events for more than 7 years. As an activist he tries to make sure that his various skill sets are used to further pursue a more just world, even if he won’t be around to see it. 


The McKnight Foundation’s Arts & Culture program is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. Established in 1981, The McKnight Artist and Culture Bearer Fellowship Program is a single program awarding 48 fellowships across 15 disciplines. The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation, advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive. Established in 1953, the McKnight Foundation is deeply committed to advancing climate solutions in the Midwest; building an equitable and inclusive Minnesota; and supporting the arts in Minnesota, neuroscience, and international crop research. The Foundation has approximately $2.3 billion in assets and grants about $90 million a year. 



Pillsbury House + Theatre’s mission is to create challenging theatre that inspires enduring change towards a just society. Through the theatrical season and other community engagement programs, Pillsbury House + Theatre (PH+ T) illuminates the differences that make each person unique and the hopes and dreams that bring people together, within an artistic environment that promotes understanding and leads to positive action. 


Founded on the belief that Minnesota thrives when its artists and culture bearers thrive, the McKnight Foundation’s arts and culture program is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. Support for individual working Minnesota artists and culture bearers has been a cornerstone of the program since it began in 1982. The McKnight Artist & Culture Bearer Fellowships Program provides annual, unrestricted cash awards to outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists in 15 different creative disciplines. Program partner organizations administer the fellowships and structure them to respond to the unique challenges of different disciplines. Currently, the foundation contributes about $2.8 million per year to its statewide fellowships. For more information, visit

This fellowship is limited to Community-Engaged Artists who are at a stage beyond emerging. Community-Engaged Artists, as defined for the purposes of this fellowship, are artists who use their artistic practice to engage relationship aimed at producing social or cultural transformation. And this intention drives choice and process throughout the conception, design, stewardship, and implementation of their work.

The fellowship program supports established mid-career artists by providing significant financial assistance, by creating opportunities to meet with local and national arts and cultural specialists, and by working with the fellows to engage in professional development or pilot new creative initiatives.

The Pillsbury House Theatre-administered fellowship program uses an independent jury of arts specialists to competitively award two (2) fellowships. The fellowship runs for one year, *June 1, 2024– May 31, 2025, and includes:

    • · $25,000 (unrestricted) Fellowship funding may be used to enhance any aspect of the artist’s life, such as overhead costs, the purchase of materials, travel, and other living expenses. Awards are subject to state and federal income tax guidelines.
      · $3,000 in additional funds for a pilot initiative leading to the development of new community engaged work.
      · Access to PH+T’s facilities and equipment.
      · Support from PH+T staff and menu of community resources and services.
      · Fellowship mentorship; Fellows will select a national expert in the field to be in dialogue with throughout the term of their fellowship.
      · 8 hours of consultation time, support, and resources from Springboard for the Arts
      • · Access to national/international Artist Residency programs developed between McKnight and the Artist Communities Alliance.


    The 2024 application and submission date has passed. We will reopen the application and submission process for the 2025 program year in January of 2025.

    PAST GUIDELINES (*subject to change in 2025)

    View / download the PDF of the McKnight CEA Fellowship Guidelines

  • If you have any questions about eligibility please contact Mike Hoyt, Program Administrator 612-787-3655



This is NOT a project grant, therefore applicants do not have to outline or propose what new work they wish to produce or engage in if awarded a Fellowship.


Community Engaged Artists, as defined for the purposes of this fellowship, are artists who use their artistic practice to engage relationship aimed at producing social transformation. This intention drives choice and process throughout the conception, design, and implementation of their work.


No! The Fellowship is open to all Minnesotans, and artists from all areas of the state are encouraged to apply.


For the purposes of this fellowship, a mid-career artist is someone who has a body of work that demonstrates a sustained level of accomplishment, commitment, and artistic excellence. They will have at least eight (8) years of professional experience implementing community engaged art. Community engaged projects, public exhibitions, or initiatives undertaken as part of a degree-seeking program at an institution of higher learning will not be considered, i.e. senior or thesis exhibitions, juried student shows, etc.


A three to five member panel consisting of experienced and well-respected arts professionals selects the McKnight Fellows. The jurors are professionals with an appreciation for and knowledge of diverse community-engaged art practices. All panelists are from outside Minnesota. PH+T intentionally seeks to build a review panel that includes members representing diverse racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, geographic perspectives and worldviews. The McKnight Community-Engaged Arts Fellowship panelists remain anonymous during the selection process. The names of the panelists are revealed once the fellowship recipients are announced.


The jury will look at your applications using an online jurying platform via Submittable. This means they will see each image individually at its full size (not as the small preview you see when you submit your application). Images will be viewed in the order you submit them (i.e., Image 1 will be first, Image 10 will be last). Title, media, and other information you submit with the images will be displayed with each image, and the jury will be able to view your résumé and artist statement as well.


No. It is possible that your color settings will differ very slightly from each juror’s settings, but it will not make any appreciable difference to the jury’s review of your work.


Saving your Image as a JPG:
If your image is saved in a format other than JPEG (.tiff, .psd, .pict, etc.) it will not work. You can save your image as a .jpg in multiple ways. In Photoshop and most other image editing programs, you can go to File > Save As in the menu. Name the file, keeping the extension .jpeg. Under “Format,” select “JPEG.” You’ll get a box called “JPEG Options,” which lets you set quality. In general, a higher quality setting (10 or 12) is better, so long as the size does not exceed 5 MB

To Reduce File Size:
The steps will vary depending on the photo editing program you are using; see Resources section for photo-editing software options. Below are generalized instructions for Photoshop:
1. If possible, it is best to start out with an original uncompressed image file that has been prepped – cropped, adjusting contrast, adjusting color, sharpen, etc. Jpeg files work fine if a raw or tiff is not available.
2. Open the file in Adobe Photoshop.
3. Go to Image – Image Size to open the Image Size dialogue box.
4. Set Resolution to 72 ppi (pixels per inch; Uncheck “Resample Image,” before you change the resolution. Afterwards, recheck ”Resample Image.”
5. Click OK.
6. Save As or Save for Web. Go to File > Export > Save for Web (Legacy) to open the Save for Web dialogue box.
7. Make sure the Setting is JPEG
8. Quality should be between 70-90
9. Make sure sRGB is checked.
10. Click Save
11. Save Optimized image as JPG in a folder that is easy to find on your computer.
12. Name it something easy to remember, like mcknightimage1.jpg.
13. Click Save (leave all other options as is, i.e., format, settings, slices)
14. You are now done with the first image. Now repeat these steps for the rest of the images you plan to upload to your application.

  • Apply

    How to Apply

    2024 Applications are closed. The application and submission process for the 2025 McKnight Community-Engaged Artist Fellowships will open in January of 2025. 

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