McKnight Visiting Composer Residencies 


ACF is intentional in its interchangeable use of the terms artist, music creator, and composer as we recognize not everyone identifies themselves by one of these terms.

Download a PDF of the complete guidelines, HERE.

The American Composers Forum (ACF) is pleased to announce the 2021 McKnight Visiting Composers Residency Program. This program is made possible by the generous support of the McKnight Foundation.



  • ACF will select two music creators for an artistic residency in Minnesota.
  • Artists work with the ACF team to design and produce a residency that integrates with the Minnesota community in a unique way.
  • Visiting composers spend approximately 30 days in Minnesota over an 18-month period, building relationships and working on projects.
  • New work may be part of the residency, but the focus is on the exploration of an artist within a Minnesota community. ACF believes in the power of music creators to be storytellers, connectors, or catalysts through their art. This program invites artists to respond to or reflect on the unique qualities of people and communities in our home state.


  • Music creators working in any style are encouraged to apply.
  • You must be living outside Minnesota.
  • You must have a US Social Security Number or US Tax ID.
  • You are not staff, board, or immediate family of the McKnight Foundation or fellowship administrative partners. The administrative partners are Minnesota Center for Books, Northern Clay Center, The Cowles Center, American Composers Forum, Pillsbury House Theatre, Textile Center, FILMN°RTH, MacPhail Center for Music, The Playwrights’ Center, Highpoint Center for Printmaking, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and The Loft.
  • Recipients of 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 McKnight Visiting Composer Residency and/or McKnight Fellowships in any discipline are not eligible.


  • Up to two residencies of $10,000 will be awarded. All funds are distributed directly to the selected music creator across four installments. Awards are subject to state and federal income tax guidelines.
  • Consultation, time, and resources from the ACF.


ACF staff review all applicants for eligibility and completeness. A curatorial committee of five music creators and/or advocates from outside Minnesota chosen for their familiarity with diverse musical approaches will review applications and select residency recipients.

Past curators have included: Marcos Balter, Susan Botti, Gavin Chuck, Ken Field, Douglas Geers, Carolina Heredia, Amy Knoles, Elainie Lillios, Gilda Lyons, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Fang Man, Donovan Mixon, Osnat Netzer, Marilyn Shrude, and Beth Wiemann.

ACF staff members who oversee the McKnight Visiting Composer Residency program do not contribute to the decision-making process or the selection of the McKnight Visiting Composer. The role of the staff is to provide clarity for the review process and to ensure that the curators’ review and the discussions proceed in accordance with the program guidelines.


ACF encourages applicants from the full range of musical styles and is committed to supporting a diverse pool of artists who demonstrate compelling artistic work. Accordingly, awards for our programs will represent, as far as possible, artists and projects that are diverse in musical approaches, gender, race, ethnicity, and geography.

Curators will assess the:

  • Creative potential, imagination, and effectiveness of the proposed project.
  • Consistent quality of applicant’s previous work.
  • Anticipated value of the residency project for the composer’s artistic work and ensemble and/or designated community.


The curators’ decision will be announced in July, 2021. Results will be posted on ACF’s website and applicants will be notified by email. After the 2021 McKnight Fellowships for Composers and Visiting Composer Residencies are announced, all applicants will have the opportunity to set up a phone appointment with ACF’s Vice President of Artist Services for feedback from the panelists.

How to Apply

The music creator applicant completes or uploads the following in the Online Application Form via the SlideRoom Application System. For an overview of SlideRoom, visit .

The online application can be found here: