Profiles of GIA Members

The McKnight Foundation

Published in: GIA Newsletter, Vol 9, No 1 (Spring 1998)

Karen Masaki

William L. McKnight, for many years president and chairman of the board of the 3M Company, and his wife, Maude L. McKnight, founded The McKnight Foundation in 1953. The Foundation's assets totaled $1.5 billion in 1996 and its grantmaking in that year totaled $68.3 million. The Foundation has no affiliation with the 3M Company.
In the area of the arts, McKnight's grantmaking totaled $7.4 million in 1996, with grants ranging in size from $5,000 to $400,000. The goals of the arts program are "to improve the quality of the arts in Minnesota and to improve access to the arts for all citizens of the state."

Minnesota-based nonprofit organizations and government agencies are eligible for Foundation support. Organizations may apply for general operating support, capital support, and project support. Grants in 1996 were distributed for arts education and criticism, dance, film and video, literary services, museums, music, performing arts, theater and dramatic art, and visual art.

While no direct grants are made to individuals, practicing artists may apply for McKnight-funded fellowships through a number of Minnesota organizations. These fellowships cover a range of disciplines including ceramic artists, choreographers and dancers, composers, interdisciplinary artists, musicians, photographers, playwrights, screenwriters, theater artists, visual artists, and writers.

The Foundation funds smaller organizations with annual operating budgets under $60,000 through the COMPAS Community Arts Program, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, and regional arts councils throughout the state.

McKnight is the "largest private funder of the arts in Minnesota," having contributed approximately $60 million to arts organizations over the past fifteen years. In 1996, the Foundation pledged $33.5 million in arts funding through the year 2000.