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General Application Instructions

SEMAC funding comes from the State of Minnesota, particularly the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund. All SEMAC grant categories are competitive. SEMAC is not a bank, without room for a sense of entitlement from applicants. There is never enough money to go around. Applicants compete for limited funds each fiscal year, and the fact is, not all will succeed. A quality application is the key to success.

Familiarize yourself with the following General Application Instructions, containing hyperlinks to specific items in the Glossary of Terms, another great resource. Additional specific instructions for a particular grant category will appear throughout the application itself.

For specific instructions on project budgets or spending plans, go to Creating a Budget.

Technical Advice

  • Part 1 (the LOI) is due no later than 11:59pm on the Grant Deadline, while Part 2 (the bulk of the application) must be submitted within ten days after the Grant Deadline. The LOI may be submitted at any time between the application window opening and the Grant Deadline. See the Calendar for current and upcoming due dates and grant deadlines.
  • To receive emails regarding this application, including auto-generated notifications, make sure that administrator(at) is listed as a safe sender in your mail server. Also make sure to monitor the email account you login with, because it is your primary point of contact with SEMAC.
  • The forms are divided into sections. You may collapse or expand any section by clicking the gray-shaded section heading.
  • With limited exceptions, all question fields are required. If a field does not apply to the proposed grant activity, enter n/a or 0 as directed for that field.
  • If you inadvertently skip a required field, the system will not allow you to submit until that field contains a response. This safety feature does not apply to optional fields that don’t have a red asterisk.
  • Character count limits include spaces but do not include line/hard returns.
  • The grant interface does not accept outside formatting such as bullet points, although an optional rich text editor is available on most text questions. Make sure to cut and paste as plain text, and then add formatting if desired.
  • File uploads such as PDFs and work samples will be required. Only one PDF file may be uploaded per question, so make sure everything requested in that question is included in a single PDF file.
  • Issues regarding access to, or troubleshooting on, the grant interface must be resolved by calling the SEMAC office during regular business hours. Post-deadline appeals will not be considered.
  • SEMAC does not accept late applications. This is in fairness to applicants that did submit before the deadline. No exceptions.
  • A note on submitting forms (LOI, Part 2, follow ups): If a SUBMIT is successful, a confirming email will be sent to the email address you log in with. If you do not receive that email, do not assume that the submission was successful.

Some Things to Avoid

  • Don’t ask for items that are not arts-related or for expenses already incurred, such as grant writing.
  • Don’t preach to the choir. Do not waste characters trying to convince reviewers of the value of the arts or of your specific art form. Simply answer the questions.
  • Don’t use acronyms not defined in the application; and don’t use technical language with which only artists in a particular discipline are familiar.
  • Don’t refer to the grant activity as entertainment, approach it as a fundraiser or talk about proceeds going to another cause.
  • Instructions for several fields use the words MAY NOT or WILL BE DISQUALIFIED. Unless corrected before final submission, applications that contain these mistakes will not make it to the review stage. These include:
    1. Adding unsolicited information to any field
    2. Budget errors and omissions, including math errors
    3. Requests for Disallowed Expenses, including Out of State Travel.

Some Ways to Improve Your Odds

  • Make sure the grant activity is planned well ahead, with clear timelines, objectives, and outcomes stated in the application. Remember that the entire grant activity must take place between the Start and End Dates submitted in your application.
  • Every time you insert a URL, make sure the link actually works. Misspellings or links to unfinished pages reflect poorly on the applicant. A common URL error is the inadvertent addition of a space or two after the address, so cut and paste carefully. This caution also applies to the URL listed on the Organization Info summary on the Applicant Dashboard.
  • Most Instagram and Facebook sites require an account to view content. Please make sure that viewing of any URL you list in your application is not restricted to account holders.
  • Get outside feedback. Ask someone unfamiliar with the proposal to read the application. If you want reviewers to understand your project and artistic vision, make it obvious in the narrative, budget, and URL fields. Reviewers unfamiliar with your work are not responsible to dig deep to discover what you meant to say.
  • Proofreading is essential. Do proofread before submitting, and use a calculator. The grant interface does not have a spell checker. Even if your web browser does spell checks, make sure to look carefully for spelling errors. Nothing speaks louder than math errors or incorrect spelling.
  • By request and up to one week prior to the final submission deadline, SEMAC staff may be available to review proposals during regular business hours.
    • Email staff(at) to request a review. You do not need to submit before asking, and staff do not review PDF or hard copies. Requested reviews will be conducted online and responses will be by email.
    • Staff assistance does not guarantee funding.

Final Cautions

  • Applicants are responsible for reading all the information and requirements explained in hyperlinks throughout the grant application. If a requirement is unclear or if you have trouble finding an explanation, review the SEMAC website, particularly the Glossary of Terms, or contact staff(at) for clarification.
  • The same rules apply to every applicant. SEMAC strives to clarify those rules on all applications and on the SEMAC website. If something isn’t clear and you have not received a response to email, phone during regular business hours. Be proactive; if you do not get a response, call again.
  • Things changeDo not rely on past procedures. While SEMAC has always been accountable to the Minnesota State Legislature for the proper expenditure of state tax dollars, arts funding is now coming under greater scrutiny than ever before. Consequently, applications require more specific information about proposed grant activities, and Grantees will be held to that information.