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The McKnight Foundation’s Arts program is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. Established in 1981, the McKnight Artist Fellowships provide annual, unrestricted cash awards to outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists in ten areas. Eight arts organizations oversee the administration of the fellowships and structure their own program to respond to the unique challenges of different creative disciplines: ceramic arts, choreography, dance, media arts, music performance, playwriting and theater arts, visual arts, and writers; administered respectively by the Northern Clay Center, The Cowles Center, FILMN°RTH, MacPhail Center for Music, The Playwrights’ Center, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and The Loft Literary Center.

The American Composers Forum encourages applicants from the full range of musical styles, and is committed to supporting a diverse pool of artists whose work demonstrates strong artistic merit. Accordingly, awards for our programs will represent, as far as possible, artists and projects that are diverse in genre, gender, race, ethnicity, and geography.

 Current Participants

2019 panelists were composers Gavin Chuck (Chicago, IL), Elainie Lillios (Bowling Green OH), and Gilda Lyons (Rhinebeck, NY)

Aleksandr Brusentsev
Aleksandr Brusentsev
James G. Everest
James G. Everest
Asuka Kakitani
Asuka Kakitani
Stefon Bionik Taylor
Stefon Bionik Taylor
Aleksandr Brusentsev photo by Joe Sarah; James G. Everest photo by Erin Westover; Asuka Kakitani photo by Hanayo Takai; Stefon Bionik Taylor photo by Brandon Sweet



The intent of this program is to recognize and support midcareer artists living and working in Minnesota who demonstrate a sustained level of accomplishment, commitment, and artistic excellence.


The McKnight Fellowships provide recognition and financial support for midcareer composers working in any musical genre. The program is designed to award composers whose work is of exceptional artistic merit, who have created a substantial body of work over a period of time, and who are at a career stage that is beyond emerging.


  • Four fellowships of $25,000 in unrestricted funds will be awarded. Awards are subject to state and federal income tax guidelines.
  • Fellows also have an opportunity to work for one month in one of five artist residency communities partnering with the American Composers Forum OR fellows can create a self-designed professional development project in lieu of participating in one of the five artist residency communities. Each project or residency will be planned in consultation with ACF’s Vice President of Programs. ACF will allot  planning for this residency occurs during the fellowship year, and Fellows have up to two years to implement the plan. The budget for the residency or self-designed professional development project is up to $2,500 and up to $500 in travel. These funds will go directly to the residency program.
  • Between 2019 – 2020 ACF will produce the first McKnight Composer Fellows Biennial Festival. The biennial festival will be an intensive full day event designed to connect Fellows more directly with audiences, collaborating artists, and McKnight Fellows from other disciplines. ACF will present a curated event for the cohort of the 2018 and 2019 McKnight Composer Fellows on a single stage over the course of an entire day. The 2018 and 2019 Composer Fellows will have an opportunity to feature their music and share their artistic stories in one of the two separate salon-style concerts during the one-day event. Each of the 2018 & 2019 McKnight Composer Fellows will be given a budget up to $2,000 to hire musicians and/or defray cost for the presentation of their work. These funds will go directly to the hired artists or production cost specifically for the Fellow’s programed work. ACF’s Vice President of Programs in consultation with the 2018 & 2019 Composer Fellows will hire all musicians and coordinate the production of the one-day McKnight Composer Fellows Biennial Festival.

 Download and review the Guidelines Here

Watch “Telling Your Story: What we write about when we write about ourselves” presented by Noah Keesecker, Program Director  – Artist Development for Springboard for the Arts. Noah walks you through some thoughts to consider when selecting between the Bio, Resume, and List of Experiences for the 2019 McKnight Composer Fellowship application process.





Google Drive:



William Lackey, ACF VP of Programs, will conduct five 60-minute 2019 McKnight Composers Fellowship Application Workshops online to go over the application process. These sessions will be offered online via Zoom.

Zoom video tutorials can be found here:

McKnight Fellowship for Composers Information Session Dates and Times

Tuesday, January 29:            12:00 – 1:00 PM CST             Register HERE for this date.

Thursday, February 7:           2:00 – 3:00 PM CST               Register HERE for this date.

Saturday, February 16:          11:00 AM – 12:00 PM CST     Register HERE for this date.

Monday, February 25:           12:00 – 1:00 PM CST             Register HERE for this date.

Saturday, March 9:                2:30 – 3:30 PM CST               Register HERE for this date.

If you are not able to participate in one of the online session you are welcome to schedule one-on-one meeting in person at the ACF office or over the phone, with William Lackey about your application before completing it online. To schedule a meeting, please call 651.251.2833 or e-mail


2018 Panelists: Marcos BalterAmy Knoles, and Osnat Netzer

Joshua Clausen
Joshua Clausen
Scott L. Miller
Scott L. Miller
JC Sanford
JC Sanford
Tiffany M. Skidmore
Tiffany M. Skidmore


2017 Panelists: Fang Man, Ken Field, and Marilyn Shrude

deVon Russell Gray
Linda Kachelmeier
Linda Kachelmeier
Andrea Mazzariello
Andrea Mazzariello
Jake Runestad
Jake Runestad


2016 Panelists: Susan Botti, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Douglas Geers

Asako Hirabayashi
Asako Hirabayashi
Sergey Khvoshchinsky
Sergey Khvoshchinsky
David Means
David Means
Joko Sutrisno
Joko Sutrisno








  • 2015: Abbie Betinis, David King, Reinaldo Moya, Peter O’Gorman
    Panelists: David Dzubay, Aruán Ortiz, Zeena Parkins
  • 2014: Alex Freeman, Jocelyn Hagen, Michelle Kinney, George Maurer
    Panelists: Amir ElSaffar, Stacy Garrop, and Daniel Trueman
  • 2013: Randy Bauer, Scott Miller, Joshua Musikantow and David Evan Thomas
    Panelists: Anne LeBaron, Nicole Mitchell and Sven-David Sandstrom
  • 2012: Viv Corringham, Christopher Danforth, Douglas R. Ewart and Steve Tibbetts
    Panelists: Nancy Galbraith, Graham Reynolds, Huang Ruo
  • 2011:Elizabeth Alexander, Justin Merritt, Jeremy Wagner and Spencer Wirth-Davis
  • Panelists: Linda Dusman, J.D. Parran and Jack Perla
  • 2010: Neal Hagberg, Jocelyn Hagen, Ann Millikan and Peter O’Gorman
  • Panelists: Fernando Benadon, David Conte and Mary Jane Leach
  • 2009: Abbie Betinis, Mankwe Ndosi, Schuyler Tsuda and Janika Vandervelde
  • Panelists: Derek Bermel, Jennifer Bilfield and Newman Baker
  • 2008: John E. Bower, Brent Michael Davids, Philip Fried and Noah Keesecker
  • Panelists: Mark Applebaum, Margaret Leng-Tan and David Stock
  • 2007:Douglas Ewart, Douglas Geers, Adam Wernick and Preston Wright
  • Panelists: Susie Ibarra, Matthew Levy and Steven Stucky
  • 2006:Mary Ellen Childs, Viv Corringham, Edie Hill and Aaron Kerr
  • Panelists: Milford Graves, Belinda Reynolds and Neil Rolnick
  • 2005:Yawo Attivor, Carol Barnett, Eric Barnum and Thomas Scott
  • Panelists: Fred Frith, Anthony deMare and Ileana Perez Velazquez
  • 2004:Ruth MacKenzie, Mike Olson, Matthew Smith and Ying Zang
  • Panelists: Jason Hwang, Alex Shapiro and Kevin Stahlheim
  • 2003: Michael Croswell, Jeffrey Brooks, Janika Vandervelde and George Cartwright
  • Panelists: Eleanor Hovda, Robert Moran and Roger Kleier
  • 2002: Brent Michael Davids, James Harley, Barb Ryman and Preston Wright
  • Panelists: Joel Chadabe, Melissa Hui and David Cleary
  • 2001:Steve Heitzeg, John O’Brien, Scott Miller and Edie Hill
  • Panelists: Chinary Ung, Eve Beglarian and Philip Bimstein
  • 2000: Erik Belgum, Douglas Ewart, John Jindra, David Means and Victor Zupanc
  • Panelists: Bill Brooks, Tamar Diesendruck and Adolphus Hailstork
  • 1999: Chris Bates, Dan Kallman, Anne Kilstofte, Monte Mason and Carei Thomas
  • Panelists: Ellen Christi, Allen Strange and Regina Baiocchi
  • 1998:Maura Bosch, Jeffrey Brooks, Doug Little and Carl Witt
  • Panelists: John Duffy, Fred Ho and Judith Shatin
  • 1997: Mary Ellen Childs, Anthony Gatto, Michael Karmon, Schoen Oslund and Gary Wolber
  • Panelists: Sebastian Currier, Anne Deane and Gustavo Matamoros
  • 1996:Keith Bradshaw, Jan Gilbert, Edie Hill, Michael Nelson, Richard Paske and Russell Platt
  • Panelists: Orlando Garcia, James Tenney and Augusta Reed Thomas
  • 1995: Ellen Lease, David Means, Kevin Schmidt, Gary Schulte, Lorren Stafford and Zhang Ying
  • Panelists: Warren Burt, Fran Richard and Lois Vierk
  • 1994:John Baboukis, Jeffrey Brooks, Craig Carnahan, Anne Kilstofte, Ethan Torrey, Janika Vandervelde and Victor Zupanc
  • Panelists: Bun-Ching Lam, Susan McClary and Larry Polansky
  • 1993:Marc Anderson, Tristan Fuentes, Marjorie Hess, William Lang, Carleton Macy, Lori Westmoreland-Schoenfeld, Paul Siskind and Steve Tibbetts
  • Panelists: Mary Ann Feldman, Steven Mackey and Larry Polansky
  • 1992:Mary Ellen Childs, Douglas Ewart, Cary John Franklin, Henry Gwiazda, Paul Koonce, Charles McHugh, Monica Maye and David Evan Thomas
  • Panelists: Robert Paredes, Jeanette O’Connor and Vincent Plush
  • 1991:John Devine, Jan Gilbert, Eleanor Hovda, Daniel Kallman, Homer Lambrecht and David Means
  • Panelists: Carman Moore, Ingram Marshall and Marion Brandis
  • 1990: Carl Bergmann, Jeffrey Brooks, Arthur Campbell, Mark Hellum, David John Olsen and Eric Stokes
  • Panelists: Cindy McTee, Martin Bresnick and Elinor Armer
  • 1989: Marc Anderson, Michelle Kinney and Ellen Lease
  • Panelists: Reggie Workman, Alice Parker and James Mobberley
  • 1988:Miriam Gerberg, Jan Gilbert, Eleanor Hovda and Sarah Peebles
  • Panelists: Kenneth Gaburo, Alan Otte and Carol Plantamura
  • 1987: Mary Ellen Childs, Randall Davidson and Philip Rhodes
  • Panelists: Michael Fleming, Ed London and Nancy Shear