McKnight Community-Engaged Artist Fellowships



The goal of the McKnight Fellowships for Community-Engaged Artist program is to identify talented Minnesota community-engaged artists whose community engaged work is of exceptional artistic merit. The 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 transformation. And this intention drives choice and process throughout the conception, design, and implementation of their work.

The fellowship program supports established artists by providing significant financial assistance, by creating opportunities to meet with local and national art professionals, by organizing a public discussion series, and by working with the fellows to pilot new creative initiatives.

The Pillsbury House + Theatre-administered fellowship program uses an independent jury of arts professionals to competitively award two (2) fellowships. The fellowship runs for one year, *June 2023 – May 2024, 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 Discussion Series; Fellows will select a national expert in the field to be in dialogue with throughout the term of their fellowship, culminating in a public discussion about community engaged practice.

· 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.


We strongly encourage all interested applicants to review the full guidelines prior to submission.

View / download the PDF of the McKnight CEA Fellowship Guidelines


Please read carefully. Applicants who do not meet all of the following criteria and expectations will not be considered and should not apply.

Please read carefully. Applicants who do not meet all of the following criteria and expectations will not be considered and should not apply. The intent of the McKnight Artist and Culture Fellowship Program is to recognize and support artists and culture bearers who are beyond emerging and have sustained experience in their area of practice. Fellows demonstrate accomplishment, commitment, and excellence that contributes to their field and that impacts and benefits people in Minnesota Artists who are eligible for these fellowships:

1. MN Residency: Applicants must have or maintain MN residency for at least one year prior to application (i.e. since March 27, 2022) and for the duration of the fellowship year.

2. Exclusive Application: Applicant may only apply to one McKnight Artist and Culture Bearer Fellowship discipline within a program year.

3. Applicants are beyond emerging and have sustained experience: Are mid-career with a body of work that demonstrates a sustained level of accomplishment, commitment, and artistic excellence. 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.

4. No Full-Time Student Status: Applicants may not be enrolled full-time in any academic program.

5. No Conflict of Interest: Applicants may not be staff, board, or immediate family of the McKnight Foundation or Pillsbury House + Theatre/Pillsbury United Communities. For the purposes of McKnight Artist and Culture Bearer Fellowships, program partner faculty and independent contractors are not considered staff and may apply, even to a Fellowship from an organization for which they work.

6. Prior Recipients: Wait 5 Years and New Body of Work: Anyone who received a fellowship in any discipline in or before 2017 is now eligible to apply and must demonstrate growth in creative practice and a new body of work.

7. Program Participation: Be willing to participate in all aspects of the fellowship program, including some meetings, scheduled dialogue with national experts, and a culminating public discussion about their work.

*The Fellowship Program Director screens applicants to ensure eligibility.
If you have any questions about eligibility please contact Mike Hoyt, Program Administrator 612-787-3655

Info Sessions


More information coming soon! A pre-recorded info session is below.

McKnight CEA INFO 2023.mp4 from Pillsbury House Theatre on Vimeo.



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.


How to Apply

Applications are open from January 30, 2023 through March 27, 2023 at 11:59PM CST.

How to Apply: Upload all work samples and documents via Submittable.


    Please note that the link will only be active during the specified application period: January 30, 2023 through March 27, 2023 at 11:59PM CST..

2. Create an account for your online application with Submittable. When you click the “Apply Now” button below, it will take you to the Submittable “Sign In/Sign Up” page. You will be prompted to create a Submittable account or to log in if you already have an account.

3. To create your account you will need to provide your email address, a password, and your first and last names. Once you create your account, you will be taken to the “Welcome to Submittable” page. This page contains information about Submittable. To enter the McKnight Fellowship application, click “Continue.” If you already have an account, once you sign in you will be taken directly to the application.

4. Organize your application materials. We strongly recommend that you assemble all of the application components in advance. 5. Upload your application materials. Required fields are marked with an asterisk. When you are finished, do not forget to click the “Apply” button to submit your application. You must agree to the Terms of Use by checking a box prior to submitting.


While the McKnight Artist Fellowships are traditionally awarded to single artists, we recognize that there are many community-engaged artists who work as collaborative teams. If you are applying as a collaborative, make sure each artist involved meets the eligibility requirements. The images you submit should be of work created by the collaborative, not by the artists individually. Please include one résumé for the collaborative, plus one résumé for each of its members, in a single multi-page document. The Fellows Program Director can help guide groups interested in applying as collaborative teams.

2022 Fellows

Announcing the 2022 McKnight Community-Engaged Artist Fellows!

Pillsbury House Theatre is proud to announce the 2022 recipients of the McKnight Fellowships for Community-Engaged Artists: Douglas R. Ewart and Olivia Levins Holden.

The 2022 McKnight fellows were selected from a group of 26 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 Carlton Turner, Lead Artist and Director of Mississippi Center for Cultural Production, and Dave Kyu, Artist and Director of Programs Asian Arts Initiative.



DOUGLAS R. EWART (photo credit Chelese L. Ewart), Professor Emeritus at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1946 and immigrated to Chicago in 1963 where he studied music theory at VanderCook College of Music, electronic music at Governors State University, and composition at the School of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Professor Ewart’s extremely varied and highly interdisciplinary work encompasses music composition (including graphic and conceptual scores as well as conventionally notated works), painting and kinetic sound sculpture, and multi-instrumental performance on virtually the full range of saxophones, flutes, and woodwinds, including the flutes, pan-pipes, rainsticks and percussion instruments of his own design and construction for which he is known worldwide. Professor Ewart’s work as composer, instrument maker and visual artist has long reflected his understanding of the importance of sustainable and natural materials, particularly bamboo, which serves not only as primary physical materials for many of his sculptures and instruments, but also crucial conceptual elements of some of his most important recordings, such as the widely influential Bamboo Meditations at Banff (1993) and Bamboo Forest (1990).

His visual art and kinetic works have been shown at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Ojai Festival, Art Institute of Chicago, Institute for Contemporary Art (Philadelphia), Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, and his work as performing instrumentalist have been presented in the Caribbean (Jamaica, Cuba, and Haiti), Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Holland, UK), Japan, Bali, South America, Scandinavia, and Australia, as well as the United States and Puerto Rico, and recorded on numerous labels, including his own Aarawak recording company. Professor Ewart is the leader of such important musical ensembles as the Nyahbingi Drum Choir, Orbit, Quasar, StringNets, and the Clarinet Choir.

Among his many honors, Professor Ewart was awarded the Jamaica Musgrave Silver Medal for Outstanding Merit in the Arts, Education, and Culture 2019, and was personally presented with the Outstanding Artist Award by Chicago’s first African American mayor, Harold Washington. He has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bush Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, a U.S.–Japan Creative Artist Fellowship, the Jerome Foundation, and others.

OLIVIA LEVINS HOLDEN (photo credit Nedahness Rose Greene) is a queer, mixed Boricua muralist, organizer, artist, and educator living on Dakota homeland, Bde Ota Othunwe, Mni Sota Makoce, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Olivia’s work explores many ways that the arts can transform and support movements, tell stories, plant seeds, and combat toxic narratives. They center processes of community involvement and collective design, drawing from conversations and people’s history to create collaborative murals and public art, believing that the process is as essential as the final artwork. Since 2009, they have created and led the creation of 26 permanent murals in Minneapolis, California, and Puerto Rico, including Minneapolis murals Waves of Change/Oleadas de Cambio (2015), Defend, Nurture, Grown Phillips (2019), Wiidookodaadiwag/They Help Each Other (2019), and Ritmos y Raices de Resistencia (2021). With her artist collective, Studio Thalo, Olivia creates live-painted mobile murals to reflect conversations and events.

Olivia also serves as the Art of Radical Collaboration (ARC) Program Lead at Hope Community, Inc where she has trained artists and led community murals with youth and adults through the Power of Vision (POV) Mural project since 2017 and facilitates the Transformational Creative Strategies Training (TRCSTR). She was a 2015 recipient of the Forecast Public Art project grant and has served as a facilitator and mentor for project-based learning through programs such as Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES), Latinx Muralism Apprenticeship, Studio 400, and is a founding member of the Creatives After Curfew collective. She holds a BA in History from Smith College.


CARLTON TURNER, Lead Artist / Director of Sipp Culture (photo credit Kevin Edwards) is an artist, agriculturalist, researcher and co-founder of the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production (Sipp Culture). Sipp Culture uses food and story to support rural community, cultural, social and economic development in his hometown of Utica, Mississippi where his family has been for eight generations. Carlton currently serves on the board of First People’s Fund, Imagining America, Project South and the National Black Food and Justice Alliance. Carlton is a member of the We Shall Overcome Fund Advisory Committee at the Highlander Center for Research and Education and is the former Executive Director of Alternate ROOTS. He is also a founding partner of the Intercultural Leadership Institute, a current Interdisciplinary Research Fellow with the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, and was named to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts YBCA100. He is also a former Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow and former Cultural Policy Fellow at the Creative Placemaking Institute at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design in the Arts.

DAVE KYU, Artist and Director of Programs Asian Arts Initiative (photo credit Max Grudzinski) was born in Seoul, South Korea. Kyu’s work explores the creative tensions of identity and community in public space. At Asian Arts Initiative, he oversees public programming, and continues to coordinate advocacy efforts in Chinatown and Chinatown North. Previously, he commissioned public art on behalf of the City of Philadelphia as the Percent for Art Project Manager. Dave also co-authored Campfire Stories, a collection of short stories that interrogate the meaning of place for America’s National Parks.



2021 Fellows

Announcing the 2021 McKnight Community-Engaged Artist Fellows!

Pillsbury House Theatre is proud to announce the 2021 recipients of the McKnight Fellowships for Community-Engaged Artists: Mankwe Ndosi and Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay.

The 2021 McKnight fellows were selected from a group of 38 applicants and 4 finalists 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 Sharon Bridgforth, Rosten Woo and Vicky Holt-Takamine.



Mankwe Ndosi is a Culture Worker, Musician, and Composer. She uses creative practice to nurture and re-examine social patterns and relationships with her community, ancestral legacies, and the earth.  She is an artist who embeds creative practice into transformative relational work. A member of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) Mankwe melds the improvising and compositional strategies the AACM is known for with the black women’s ritual performance legacies of Laurie Carlos and Ntozake Shange. Her efforts have included producing a series of Great Black Music concerts highlighting black women composers, arts-rooted community wisdom sharing gatherings, serious play in racial equity workshops, and group healing workshops to support personal transformation from the inside out.

Her twenty years of creative community work has included program development, design, facilitation, teaching, and nonprofit leadership including three years supporting independent producing artists as the Director of the Center for Independent Artists. Her work is aimed at nurturing creativity and healing justice through the interconnection and liberation of our personal and social structures, practices, and mythologies.

Ms. Ndosi has a Bachelor’s degree in social and political theory focused on economics and women’s studies from Harvard University. She also has extensive experience in facilitation and peer counseling and is actively training in trauma healing.  Mankwe is a connector, a listener; a synthesizer, and a translator, a forager, a dirt-lover, a gardener, a cook, and a medicine maker focused on forgotten and marginalized plants, people, and ways of knowing.

Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is a Lao poet, playwright, cultural producer, and social practice artist. CNN’s “United Shades of America” host W. Kamau Bell called her work “revolutionary.” Governor Mark Dayton recognized her with a “Lao Artists Heritage Month” Proclamation. She’s a recipient of a Sally Award for Initiative from the Ordway Center for Performing Arts which “recognizes bold new steps and strategic leadership undertaken by an individual…in creating projects or artistic programs never before seen in Minnesota that will have a significant impact on strengthening Minnesota’s artistic/cultural community.”

She’s the author of the children’s book WHEN EVERYTHING WAS EVERYTHING and is best known for her award-winning play KUNG FU ZOMBIES VS CANNIBALS. Her plays have been presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (NY), Theater Mu (MN), Lower Depth Theater (LA), Asian Improv Arts (IL), and elsewhere. Other awards include grants and fellowships from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Bush Foundation, Andy Warhol Foundation, MAP Fund, Playwrights’ Center, Forecast Public Art, MRAC, MSAB, and others. In June 2020, she received a prestigious Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence award.



Sharon Bridgforth is a Doris Duke Performing Artist and writer that creates ritual/jazz theatre. A 2020-2023 Playwrights’ Center Core Member and New Dramatists alumnae, Sharon has received support from Creative Capital, MAP Fund and the National Performance Network. An Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Initiative’s Choreographic Fellowship program, Sharon has been in residence at: Brown University’s MFA Playwriting Program; University of Iowa’s MFA Playwrights Program; The Theatre School at DePaul University; allgo, A Texas Statewide QPOC organization; and Northwestern’s Department of Performance Studies. Widely published, Sharon is Host of the Who Yo People Is podcast series. One of the many artists mentored by Laurie Carlos, Sharon has worked in the Twin Cities regularly since 1995 and has proudly called Pillsbury House + Theatre home since 2005. More at:

Rosten Woo is a designer, writer, and educator living in Los Angeles. He produces civic-scale artworks and works as a collaborator and consultant to a variety of grassroots and non-profit organizations. including the Little Tokyo Service Center, the Los Angeles Poverty Department, the Black Workers Center, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, as well as the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County. His work has been exhibited at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Triennial, the Venice Architecture Biennale, Netherlands Architectural Institute, the Exploratorium, and various piers, public housing developments, tugboats, shopping malls, and parks. He is co-founder and former executive director of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), winner of the 2016 National Design Award for institutional achievement. His book, “Street Value,” about race, design, and urban retail development, was published by Princeton Architectural Press. He is currently engaged in a Stanton fellowship researching civic memory and the civic imagination.

Vicky Holt Takamine is a renowned kumu hula (master teacher of Hawaiian dance). Vicky ʻūniki (graduated through the rituals of hula) as a kumu hula from hula master Maiki Aiu Lake in 1975 and established her own hālau, Pua Ali’i ‘Ilima, (school of Hawaiian dance) in 1977. She earned her BA & MA in dance ethnology from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.  In addition to teaching at her own school, Vicky taught at the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa and Leeward Community College for more than 35 years. In 2001, Vicky established a non-profit organization, PA’I Foundation, to serve the needs of her Hawaiian community and those who make Hawai’i their home. She has received numerous awards including the 2016 Doris Duke US Artist Fellow.



2020 Fellows


Pillsbury House Theatre is proud to announce the two inaugural recipients of the 2020 McKnight Fellowships for Community-Engaged Artists: Cecilia Cornejo Sotelo and Rory Wakemup.

Designed to identify and support outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists, the McKnight Fellowships for Community-Engaged Artists provide recipients with $25,000 stipends, public recognition, professional development, one-on-one mentorship, and an opportunity to participate in a public discussion about their practice. Community-Engaged Artists use their artistic practice to engage relationships aimed at producing social transformation. This intention drives choice and process throughout the conception, design, and implementation of their work. 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 2020 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 Kemi Ilesanmi, Executive Director of The Laundromat Project, NYC; DeWayne Barton, founder and CEO of Hood Huggers Intl., Asheville NC; and Roberto Bedoya, Cultural Affairs Manager for the City of Oakland, CA.


Cecilia Cornejo Sotelo is a Chilean-American documentary filmmaker, artist, and educator based in Northfield, Minnesota. Known for placing community members at the center of the creative process, she uses a range of approaches and production methodologies to engage them as active participants and co-creators of meaning. Locally rooted yet globally minded, Cecilia’s work examines notions of belonging and the immigrant experience while exploring the traces of historical trauma on people and places.  Cecilia’s work has screened at MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight, Melbourne Latin American Film Festival, L’Alternativa (Barcelona), Cine Las Américas, InVideo (Milan), Athens International Film Festival, Festival de Cine Pobre (Cuba), Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival and many other venues.

She is the recipient of Minnesota State Arts Board and Jerome Foundation grants for her most recent film, Ways of Being Home (2020), made in collaboration with the Latinx community of Northfield, and received funding from Carleton College and the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture for the multi-platform project The Wandering House. She holds an MFA in Film and Video from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and teaches filmmaking at Carleton College and at St. Olaf College, both in Northfield, Minnesota.



The Wandering House, 2018 Cecilia Cornejo



Rory Wakemup is the Artistic Director and visionary behind Wakemup Productions. A proven leader, gifted teacher, and sought-out community activist with infectious enthusiasm and optimism, he is creatively driven to change the narrative of what it means to be Native American in the 21st century, alleviating effects of racism, and awakening all people to their inherent ancestral indigenous values. An enrolled member of the Bois Forte Anishinabe (Chippewa tribe), his life’s work is to support the recovery of his community and be part of a legacy of healing. He does this through the power of participatory and multidisciplinary art. With his more than 300 post-secondary credits in studio arts and Native American topics, Wakemup practices (and teaches) in any form of studio-related and visual arts medium.

As a deeply collaborative, multi-disciplinary, multi-sector artist, this stable base of support will provide him more opportunities to focus on the work and himself.  As a professional whose work connects four disparate professional networks: indigenous arts, indigenous youth leadership development, local government, and organizing, this award will support his work positioned for what it is, where it is. He holds a MFA in Glass/Sculpture from the University of Wisconsin and a BFA from the Institute of American Indians.

Darth Chief, Mascot Hunter 2018 Rory Wakemup


Kemi Ilesanmi is Executive Director of The Laundromat Project, which advances artists and neighbors as change agents in their own communities. She has previously worked at Creative Capital Foundation and the Walker Art Center. In 2015, she was appointed by the Mayor to the NYC Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission. She is on the board of the Joan Mitchell Foundation and The Broad Room. A graduate of Smith College, NYU, and Coro Leadership NY, she is also a Sterling Network Fellow.






DeWayne Barton is a native of Asheville, N.C. He grew up in Washington, D.C. and is a Gulf War Veteran. He is co-founder of the Burton Street Community Peace Gardens, the founder and CEO of Hood Huggers Intl. and Hood Tours.  Hood Hugger International, LLC builds greater communication, connection and wealth in systemically marginalized neighborhoods in the Affrilachian region through the arts, environment, and social enterprise. DeWayne was recently appointed by the governor to sit on the board of the NC Arts Council.






Roberto Bedoya is the Cultural Affairs Manager for the City of Oakland where he most recently shepherded the City’s Cultural Plan – “Belonging in Oakland: A Cultural Development Plan.” Through-out his career he has consistently supported artists-centered cultural practices and advocated for expanded definitions of inclusion and belonging in cultural sector. His essays, advocacy, and policy work has reframed the discussion on cultural policy to shed light on exclusionary practices in cultural policy decision making. He is a Creative Placemaking Fellow at Arizona State University.

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