In this issue:

  • SMAC COVID-19 Updates from Executive Director Nicole DeBoer

  • Updated Fiscal Year 2021 SMAC Calendar

  • Updated Grant Changes for Fiscal Year 2021

  • SMAC 2020 Prairie Star & Prairie Disciple

  • SMAC Gallery Updates

  • Call for Artists: Dakota Community Artist-in-Residence

  • In Memoriam: Bill Gossman

  • SMAC Outreach & Resources for the Arts

Pictured: Artwork by Lisa Bergh , "Imposter Syndrome" (flash paint on paper, 3'x 3' x 2", hung directly into the gallery wall) from the exhibit Loosely Based on a a True Story, presented at the Macrostie Art Center in November 2019. Lisa received a SMAC Individual Career Artist grant to work on this body of work. Photo was taken by Jacinday Davis.
A Letter from SMAC Executive Director
Blessing in the Chaos
| Jan Richardson |

To all that is chaotic
in you,
let there come silence.

Let there be a calming
of the clamoring,
a stilling
of the voices that
have laid their claim
on you,
that have made their home in you,
that go with you
even to the
holy places
but will not
let you rest,
will not let you hear your life
with wholeness
or feel the grace
that fashioned you.
Let what distracts you cease.
Let what divides you cease.
Let there come an end
to what diminishes
and demeans,
and let depart
all that keeps you
in its cage.

Let there be
an opening
into the quiet
that lies beneath
the chaos,
where you find
the peace
you did not think
and see what shimmers
within the storm.

Jan Richardson, from The Painted Prayer Book
Let me be honest, I was absolutely stumped with how to start this letter.

I stalled and hoped a message would come. But news of sadness, grief and anger poured in from the Metro. Surely that wasn’t the message I wanted. I stalled some more and wallowed in that sadness, grief and anger. I let my head take over – and that’s not a good thing. My head thinks way too much.

This morning, Friday, was the deadline to get this letter written and into the SMAC JUNE Newsletter.  Alone with my coffee I sat here staring at a blank page.

My husband, who works nearly an hour from our house, called and said he had forgotten his laptop (what?!) and could I please meet him halfway. So, begrudgingly, and still caught up in my gray thoughts I headed down Hwy 68. As I drove, I saw an old farmer standing in a bean field looking at the amount of growth that has occurred – and probably planning for rock picking. I saw two ducks sitting on different nests in a swampy slough full of budding cattails just off the two lane highway. The sun was out and it created sparkles on the water there. In the far off distance the underbelly of morning clouds shown purple and pink and provided a backdrop for the many wind mills up on Buffalo Ridge happily turning in the endless prairie breeze. I was uplifted in that 25 minute drive and INSPIRED and I thought, “Oh gosh, I need to paint this.”
That was the message I was waiting for.

Artists and creatives take inspiration from the smallest things in life and lift themselves up. That inspiration can, in turn, lift others up. Grief and sadness and anger can be funneled into all disciplines of art that give people pause; give people hope; give people reason to move forward with clarity and purpose. We, artists & arts organizations, are an essential part of humankind. We must keep doing our art, keep sharing our art – because it heals.

So keep doing and sharing your art, in any way possible. The Southwest MN Arts Council is here to support you in that endeavor.
SMAC board and staff continue listening and paying attention to your stories of loss and resilience in the face of this pandemic and time of fear. We hear your concerns about the future. Know that we are committed to supporting artists, arts organizations, and groups who create art and provide arts access in our communities. *Check out our new monthly virtual conversations where we welcome you to join a call and share your thoughts and strategies for sharing art. Next conversations: June 16 & June 18.

As we approach the start of our fiscal year on July 1, 2020 - we are planning for cuts to our budget as much of our grantmaking is based on funding through state sales tax revenues. Regardless of the funding amounts that will be revealed at the end of the legislative session, our mission remains as it has since 1974: to ENCOURAGE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE ARTS in the 18-county region of Southwest Minnesota. *Check out the article in this newsletter on some of the grant strategies and changes we have already employed.

The SMAC office is being staffed but only by one staff member at a time and with varying hours. For this reason, it is important to use our general email ( to communicate and, if needed, set up time for an in-person visit or phone call to discuss your needs.
We encourage any grantee that has had to change plans because of COVID-19 to contact us immediately to talk about changing the details of their grant to allow them more flexibility in how they use the funds. We plan to be as flexible as possible in this regard. We will work with any grantee to find appropriate solutions to the extent that the law will allow.
SMAC offers a couple ways to share your art and art-related events. On our website ( we have an ARTS CALENDAR that showcases both in-person and virtual arts events. We are so encouraged to see the many ways our arts organizations are moving to virtual/online methods to provide arts access to our communities. SMAC also offers an Artist Registry and an Arts Organization Registry on our website that allows artists and organizations to have their own ‘webpage’ for sharing their art and events. It is free to take advantage of these opportunities and if you have questions, simply contact SMAC staff (
As artists, creatives and arts supporters we can lead the way in finding inspiration and ultimately, hope.
Be well ~ Keep doing art,
~ Nicole DeBoer
SMAC Exec. Dir.
SMAC will continue to communicate about our own changes and updates through social media channels ( Facebook and Instagram ), email and our website .

We encourage you to utilize the the Springboard for the Arts Resource page at: Lists of helpful online resources for the Minnesota arts community can also be found on our webpage as well as by searching " Resources " or " Opportunities " on our News & Events posts on our website:
Changes to SW MN Arts Council grant programs for Fiscal Year 2021
(July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021)

Cash match requirement suspended
For Fiscal Year 2021, no cash match will be required of organization applicants in any grant program. 
Separate round for Art Legacy Projects
Art Legacy Projects will be budgeted for and considered separately from Art Projects. A new separate application round with a deadline of March 3, 2021 has been added for Art Legacy Projects. (Art Projects will continue to have three deadlines for the year.)
Grant rounds delayed or consolidated
(*All grant programs are tentative depending on funding*)
Since we don’t yet know what funding will be available to us from the State of Minnesota and the Arts & Cultural Heritage (Legacy) fund, we have delayed and/or consolidated several grant rounds:

  • The deadline for the first round of Art Project applications is usually in late July, but for this year has been moved to September 9, 2020, with an earliest project start date of November 1, 2020.

  • There will only be one round (instead of two) of Equipment & Facilities Improvement grants, with a deadline date of February 10, 2021.

  • There will only be one round (instead of two) of Individual Artist: Community Collaboration grants with a deadline date of January 13, 2021.

  • Grants with monthly deadlines normally starting August 1 – including Art Legacy Project Planning, Arts Organization Development, and Arts Organization Start-Up – are on hold until further notice.
Request amounts
Grant request amounts for the following programs have been decreased:

  • Art Legacy Projects: $20,000 (was $25,000)
  • Arts Organization Development: $2,500 (was $5,000)
Project start date definition
Clarifications have been made to the definition of “project start date.”

  • Auditions cannot take place before a grantee’s start date.

  • No advertising (whether paid or not) can take place before a grantee’s start date. Grantees still may post basic information such as event dates.

Project end dates
The latest allowable end date for most grant programs will be April 15 of the following year – Fiscal Year 2021 applicants will need to finish their projects by April 15, 2022. 
Artist resume requirements
In applications, when providing information about artists’ experience and qualifications:

  • Individual Artist applicants may now submit either their resume or a narrative that includes similar information. 

  • Organization applications may submit either resumes or bios for artists involved in their projects.
Guidelines for schools
The following clarifications have been added to the Arts in the Schools guidelines:
  • Arts in the Schools grant projects may occur during the school year or during the summer for projects that involve artist residencies, arts-related field trips, juried art shows or pre-packaged theatre projects. 

  • Community education that is governed by a school district should apply for Arts in the Schools grants. Community education that is governed by city government should apply through Art Project grants.

  • Arts in the Schools applicants may request up to $4,000 for each distinct, stand-alone residency.
Guidelines for Individual Artist grants
The following clarifications have been added to the guidelines for Individual Artist grants:

  • Individual Artist applicants must reach the minimum age of 18 by the time of signing their contract, specifically by the earliest project start date for the grant round.

  • Publishing activities and costs are allowed for Individual Artist grant projects.

  • For Community Collaboration projects, the applicant must be one artist, not a pair or group of artists. 

Applications restructured
Application questions have been reorganized and consolidated to make things easier for grant writers and reviewers.
Updates to scoring criteria
Applicants will no longer receive separate scores for their outcome evaluation plans. In each grant program, the requirements for Outcome Evaluation have been combined with other criteria. See program guidelines and evaluation criteria documents for these updates and other small adjustments made to scoring and criteria. 

Southwest Minnesota Arts Council Awards Local Artist and Arts Educator totaling $6,000
The Southwest Minnesota Arts Council is pleased to announce Tom Wirt of Hutchinson (McLeod County) as the recipient of the 2020 Prairie Star Award

The  Prairie Star Award   is given out every other year and it  recognizes an individual artist whose body of work has made a significant contribution to the arts over an extended period of time, who has been recognized by his or her artistic peers, and who has best exemplified the highest quality of work in the SMAC region. In recognizing these individuals publicly, the awards will raise the profile of the arts in their communities and throughout the SMAC region.  The public is invited to join SMAC in publicly honoring Tom Wirt at our Annual Celebration of the arts and artists in our southwest Minnesota region. This Fall the celebration will be held in Jackson County. Please watch our website and other media channels, like  Facebook   and  Instagram   , for more details!
After the nominations were evaluated and scored by the SMAC Board of Directors it was determined that Tom Wirt had the highest score for the Prairie Star Award. SMAC Executive Director, Nicole DeBoer, then planned a surprise presentation of the award to Tom on Wednesday, May 20th, outside of his studio in Hutchinson. Local supporters showed up with a parade of cars and signs for Tom Wirt, who said "  I am stunned and more than grateful for what was a total surprise. Thank you to everyone...I am truly humbled. And thank you to SMAC and the  Hutchinson Center for the Arts   and all the folks continuing to keep the arts going while we're out for a bit. Your help can help keep all of them going." Pictured: Nominator Greg Jodzio with his sign while surprising Tom Wirt with a socially distanced celebration and the Prairie Star Award.

Tom Wirt was nominated by Greg Jodzio, a member of the Hutchinson Center for the Arts Board as well as a member for the Hutchinson Public Arts Commission and the Hutchinson Rotary. Greg writes, “Tom's beautiful, high-fired, hand-thrown functional pottery for everyday use features all-ceramic stoneware, oven cookware, and flameware stove-top pots. His penchant for inventive pots for special uses and recipes has made a name for him around the country.” He also adds, “Not many people have impacted the Minnesota rural art community more than Tom. He has been instrumental creating art and art awareness from Hutchinson in McLeod County and beyond. He brings business acumen to art defining the term ‘artrepreneur’”. Click here to continue reading .
The Southwest Minnesota Arts Council is pleased to announce Julia Iverson of New London (Kandiyohi County) as the recipient of the 2020  Prairie Disciple Award
The  Prairie Disciple Award  provides awareness and recognition of one individual per year from southwest Minnesota, whose activities and involvement have substantially contributed to the arts over an extended period of time. The accomplishments of arts advocates working in the region are often not widely known or appreciated. In recognizing these individuals publicly, SMAC believes theses awards raise the profile of the arts in their community and throughout the 18-county SMAC region. This year the award was dedicated to be given to an educator/teacher only.  The public is invited to join SMAC in publicly honoring Julia at our Annual Celebration of the arts and artists in our southwest Minnesota region. This Fall the celebration will be held in Jackson, MN. Please watch our website and other media channels, like  Facebook   and  Instagram   , for more details!

After the nominations were evaluated and scored by the SMAC Board of Directors it was determined that Julia Iverson had the highest score for the Prairie Disciple Award. The nominators for Julia planned a socially distanced surprise presentation of the award on Wednesday, May 20th, outside of her home in New London. A parade of vehicles honking and showing signs showed up to congratulate Julia from a distance as well.

Julia Iverson was nominated by Loni Bultman and Bonnie Smith. They gave the following highlights of Julia’s teaching resume: Julia Iverson was born in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, but has been a resident of the New London area for the past 40+ years. During her years in this area, Julia has been active in the community as a teacher, an artist and a promoter of the arts through various organizations. Julia graduated from the University of Minnesota with a master’s degree in Art Education. She has taught every age from kindergarten through college and beyond. Her first teaching job was in Minneapolis Public Schools as an Elementary Art Coordinator. Since then she’s taught in St. Louis Park, the University of Michigan, St. Cloud, and finally in 1980 she began teaching in our region for Willmar Public Schools and Ridgewater College as the Art Teacher and Gifted Program (1980-1985) and then in New London-Spicer Schools in the Elementary Art Gifted Program (1986-1996). Julia also had a business in Jewelry Design and did commercial art for a greenhouse, fabric shop and toy store but she always returned to her first love of teaching. In her own words, "I teach my students to appreciate all that is unique, different and interesting in life without making judgments about those sights, sounds and experiences.”

Loni goes onto say that the Spicer/New London area is becoming a destination for the arts, thanks to one of its primary promoters, Julia Iverson. She says, “Our nominee has devoted her entire life to an education of the arts by means of her long teaching career, gallery owner/exhibitor, panel judge and generous donation of original paintings to local businesses, churches and multiple charities. She is involved in the Rural Arts Initiative, New London Water Days, Charles Dickens Christmas, Music Festival and innumerable area workshops...Julia also organized a group of aspiring artists in ‘Creating Art Together’ (CAT) which now has 50 members. Up to 30 of these members gather every Wednesday and work in several mediums and range from beginners to professional. Julia has always supported young art talent in the New London-Spicer School. The Julia Iverson Scholarship fund which awards a $500 scholarship each year to an outstanding senior from the New London-Spicer Schools was established in 2015…Give Julia an art project and watch it turn into a delightful experience, and guess what - you always learn something from this ‘forever teacher’”. Click here to continue reading .
Due to safety precautions, the office and gallery are currently running with limited staff. To ensure that we will be here when you visit, please schedule an appointment or call/email ahead. 800-622-5284 or Thank you!
In the gallery: Danielle Wedeking

Danielle received a SMAC Developing Individual Artist Grant (now called an Emerging Individual Artist Grant) to professionally frame her multimedia drawings. Danielle's exhibit, titled Personal Magic , will run from May 18th to July 2nd, 2020.
We have posted a virtual video tour of Danielle's exhibit here:
If you are interested in purchasing a piece, please contact SMAC staff: *100% of the sales always go to our exhibiting artist!*

Mark your calendars to join in for a virtual artist talk with Danielle Wedeking on Thursday, June 11 at 5 pm. Please join Danielle's Artist Talk from your computer, tablet or smartphone: You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (224) 501-3412, Access Code: 982-647-557
legacy logo

These activities are made possible by the voters of Minnesota thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. Additional funding provided by the McKnight Foundation. Minnesota thrives when its artists thrive. The McKnight Foundation supports working artists to create and contribute to vibrant communities.
Grant Support *Virtual* Open Office:: the second Tuesday of the month

NEXT EVENT:  Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Email the SMAC office,, to setup a time to meet via phone or web conference anytime between 10 am to 2 pm for assistance with any grant-related questions. We can also accommodate group meetings digitally. These monthly events are a chance to get some work done and possibly talk with others in the arts community. Receive one-on-one guidance in: finding the right program, learning how to apply, preparing work samples, preparing budgets for proposals and more.

Plan to share your ideas or questions with us! SMAC staff will be available to help with any questions related to your applications, projects, final reports, or eligibility.
Supporting Artist-Led Solutions to COVID-19 Related Challenges

Open to Dakota artists and culture bearers based in Southwest Mnisota, Pezihutazizi Oyate (Upper Sioux Community) & Cansa’yapi (Lower Sioux Indian Community).

Apply online by Sunday, June 7th at 11:59pm CST

Department of Public Transformation (DoPT), Dakota Wicohan , and Racing Magpie have collaborated to co-design the Dakota Community Artist-in-Residence (CAIR) program -- a pilot project supporting artist-led solutions to community challenges during the COVID-19 crisis. For the pilot Dakota CAIR program, two Dakota artists based in the 18-county Southwestern Mnisota region, Pezihutazizi Oyate (Upper Sioux Community) and / or Cansa’yapi (Lower Sioux Indian Community) will be selected and supported in sharing their work in digital forums and social distance formats. The two selected CAIRs will work for two weeks “at-home” to utilize their artistic practice to design and implement a creative project that will address a need identified by their local community.

The two selected artists will receive support and funding — a stipend of $1000 ($500 per week) and a project budget of $400 — to work with their local community from their place of residence for two weeks (June 19th-July 3rd).

This project was co-designed by Dakota Wicohan, Racing Magpie, and the Department of Public Transformation, with support from the Southwest Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (SWRSDP) and with a grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council.

Dakota CAIR design work by Marlena Myles:
Co-Designed by:
Supported by:
For more opportunities and resources be sure to check our the
latest news posts (updated DAILY!) on SMAC's website:

In Memoriam: Bill Gossman

In 2010 Bill Gossman was awarded SMAC's Prairie Star Award . To view the article announcing his award, please
Virtual Meetings Attended by SMAC Staff

Innovation in the time of COVID-19:
Forecast released a  toolkit with strategies for adapting in-person arts-based activities  during the COVID-19 pandemic. A member of SMAC staff attended the webinar companion piece of this project, which can be viewed here: . Forecast has already launched the first iteration of this toolkit but they will continue to develop it based on open-source input from you and examples of how you are adapting your in-person arts-based projects.  Visit their website to download the toolkit and share your input and examples:
This toolkit is about learning to:
  • Continue a project or event with your collaborating artists
  • Engage a community in a time of physical distancing
  • Innovate and move forward rather than freezing a project
  • Keep artists working during this time
SMAC Monthly Virtual Conversations for Organizations, Artists & Creatives dealing with the arts

On May 12th SMAC held an open virtual conversation for organizations dealing with the arts. Organizations represented on the call included The Marshall Area Fine Arts Council , The Wilder Pageant Committee , The Lake Benton Opera House and the Meander Art Crawl . On May 14th SMAC held an open virtual conversation for individual artists and creatives where attendees discussed the current arts atmosphere, how their art has been impacted and future grant possibilities. You are invited to join in on the next open conversations on June 16 & 18, times TBD. Please watch our social media channels ( Facebook and Instagram ) and our website for more updates & details.

Mark Wilmes from the Lake Benton Opera House shared that there are many performers that are interested in performing virtually and now they are just researching the best ways to move forward to create seamless shows/video and performances. If you are interested in speaking or partnering with Mark and the Lake Benton Opera House Board about ideas and resources, please reach out:

William Richards from the Wilder committee shared resources from the Event Safety Alliance's "Re-Opening Guide" for event professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic . The Wilder committee continues to move forward with planning; they've completed virtual auditions. They're looking into options of recording some live performances mixed with previously recorded videos and interviews. If you would like to learn more about or discuss the technology aspect of creating and sharing arts media live and virtually, William is open to being contacted at . A nother resource he discussed briefly was seeing what local broadcasting resources are available through schools, churches or local channels; you might be able to form a partnership to broadcast more widely though a system that is already being used.

Jan Loft from the Marshall Area Fine Arts Council said they've taken the time their art center has been closed to completely re-arrange the gift shop. Once it is safe, organizations may be able to considering grand re-openings campaigns and fundraisers to help get back the money and interest that may have been lost during the shut down.

Kristi Fernholz of the Meander Arts Crawl discussed the difficulty in planning ahead for future events during this time and for that reason they are pivoting their timeline, producing brochures later than usual, etc. They are also considering offering a mix of in-person events & sales with virtual opportunities. A lot of questions were raised in terms of dealing with sponsors. The group discussed different strategies: could images, links or information from sponsors be shared on virtual channels, such as the website and video for their advertising dollars? Even if the event were canceled, sponsors could still get the recognition through a thank you on the marketing announcement to communicate the cancellation. Ask sponsors to consider honoring their normal amount to keep the organization alive until next year even if this year's events are canceled; or in the event of cancellation, ask them to consider letting the organization keep those funds for next year's event. And remember to acknowledge the current situation, both for your own organization and for them (acknowledge your need while also communicating that you understand that their own financial situation may be complex) and make sure to keep lines of communication open.

Executive Director Nicole reported that the MN State Arts Board will be unveiling Bridge Grants for organizations and individuals; these grants are meant to be more flexible spending dollars to keep operations afloat during the pandemic. Geographic equity will be a priority in these funding considerations so we highly encourage our organizations and individuals to apply. Please watch our media channels ( Facebook and  Instagram ), email and our  website for more information on the details of these grants; when we know more, we will communicate as quickly as possible. And as always, she reminded grantees to keep SMAC in the loop on any grant changes by emailing .

You are invited to join in on the next open conversations on June 16 & 18, times TBD. Please watch our social media channels ( Facebook and Instagram ) and our website for more updates & details.

For more opportunities and resources be sure to check our the latest news posts on our website (updated DAILY!):
We want to hear from YOU !

Are you interested in attending future virtual conversations with SMAC? Please answer a short 2 question poll so we know what times work best for you!
Connecting with Rural Arts & Cultural Workers Digitally
“Off the Clock” is a group for rural arts and cultural workers to digitally connect and collaborate with each other, share stories, and inspire action. A monthly digital Happy Hour is hosted on the second Tuesday of each month at 5:00pm CST. Everyone is welcome to join and event details can be found   here . SMAC staff have joined in these conversations multiple times. On the last call, participants discussed these questions:

  • Who or what have you been taking care of during this time? Who or what's been taking care of you? And what might still need care-taking?

  • Who do you need to listen to in order to be successful? Who needs to listen to you in order to be successful?

  • How do we ask to be listened to? When/How do we leverage power to be heard?

Please feel free to utilize this group to connect, ask questions and share information with your cross-country rural colleagues. And, thanks for all you do!
For more opportunities and resources be sure to check our the
latest news posts on our website (updated DAILY!):

Check out our regional arts calendar!

We are continuing to post virtual arts events in our region on our website calendar. If you have events to let us know about, please email the details to!
From May 1 to May 20, 2020

Contributors: Crow River Singers, Hutchinson Mary Jane Mardesen, Rushmore • Prairie Winds Concert Band, Willmar Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra, Willmar • Marilee & David Strom, Windom

Supporters: Joe Paddock, Litchfield • Nicole DeBoer, Marshall • Jean Replinger, Marshall

Sustainers:  R olland C. Digre DDS, Hendricks

Patron: Gary & Nancy Geiger, Willmar

Would you like to become a contributing member of SMAC or renew your membership?
You can do so online or by mail, for an individual membership, business membership, or organizational membership. For more information, visit:
B ig Stone - John White
Jackson - Kristen Kuipers
Lincoln - Mark Wilmes
Meeker - OPEN
Pipestone - Erica Volkir
Rock - Shawn Kinsinger &
Louella Voigt
Chippewa - Georgette Jones
Kandiyohi - Cheri Buzzeo
Lyon - Michele Knife Sterner
Murray - Carisa Clarke
Redwood - David KelseyBassett
Swift - Alison Nelson
Cottonwood - Anna Johannsen
Lac qui Parle - Lauren Carlson
McLeod - Greg Jodzio
Nobles - Brett Lehman
Renville -Anne O'Keefe-Jackson
Yellow Medicine -Betsy Pardick
SW MN Arts Council STAFF
Executive Director - Nicole DeBoer
Grants/Financial Administrator - Caroline Koska
Marketing Coordinator/Receptionist - Krystl Louwagie