Rural Arts Program

In recognition of Laura Jane Musser's life-long commitment to excellence in the arts, and with awareness that pivotal and life-changing experience can occur for individuals through introduction to and participation in the arts. The Laura Jane Musser Fund hopes to encourage and excite a wider population to appreciate, learn, and participate in the arts.

In pursuit of this goal, the Musser Fund hopes to assist nonprofit arts organizations to develop, implement or sustain exceptional artistic opportunities for adults and children in the areas of literary, visual, music and performing arts.


  • Increase access to the arts through scholarships, hands-on activities, community venues, workshops, discounts and other innovations
  • Demonstrate capacity to engage their community in the creation of art
  • Demonstrate support from their community (through volunteerism, membership, in-kind, or other types of support).


  • Arts organizations that are physically located in rural communities with populations of less than 20,000
  • Nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations
  • Organizations that  have been in existence for at least one year at the time of application

Arts organizations physically located in rural communities (population 20,000 or less) in the following geographic areas:

  • Colorado - All counties
  • Hawaii - All counties
  • Wyoming - All counties
  • Michigan - Alcona, Arenac, Berrien, Clare, Chippewa, Crawford, Genesee, Gladwin, Gogebic, Houghton, Ingham, Isabella,  Kalamazoo, Keweenaw, Lake, Luce, Mecosta, Missawkee, Montmorency, Muskegon, Oceana, Ogemaw, Osceola, Oscoda, Roscommin, Saginaw, and Van Buren Counties.
  • Minnesota - Aitkin, Becker, Cass, Clay, Clearwater, Hubbard, Itasca, Koochiching, Mahnomen, Morrison, Todd, and Wadena Counties.

General Operating Support:

  • Grants up to $10,000 per year
  • Applications are accepted for one year of funding at a time. It is possible for organizations to apply for and receive funding for up to three consecutive years. Grantees may not reapply for funding for at least one year after three consecutive years of funding.

Capacity-building Projects:

  • One-time projects that would significantly improve an organization's ability to address the priorities outlined here in the Musser Fund Rural Arts funding initiative
  • Grants may be up to $25,000
  • Organizations are only eligible to receive one capacity-building grant from the Laura Jane Musser Fund
  • An organization may not apply for both general operating and capacity-building project support in the same year

Each organization is eligible to receive up to three consecutive years of fundingfrom the Laura Musser Fund. Both types of Rural Arts grants count towards this three-year limit (general operating support and capacity-building project support).


  • Capital Campaigns
  • Arts Festivals and Conferences

Proposals will be available online February 20, 2015 through March 20, 2015. Funding decisions will be announced in July of 2015. 

Please construct your application with the following attachments (see below for inclusions).  We suggest you read through the inclusions below PRIOR to beginning your online application.

  1. Short Overview (2 pages or less) - please use the template in white box above
  2. Proposal Narrative (please limit your narrative to a total of 5 pages)
  3. Personnel Lists
  4. Budgets (as listed below)
  5. Letters of Support
  6. IRS Status 501(c)(3) Letter 

To Apply: click here.

Short Overview (2 pages or less - see template above):

  1. Explain how your organization encourages and excites a wide population to appreciate, learn and or participate in the arts.
  2. Explain how your community will be engaged in the creation of art, during the grant period
  3. List and explain how the community as a whole will support your organization (through volunteerism, membership, in-kind or other types of support).
  4. If applying for project support, explain how your project will boost or improve the organization's ability to meet the goals outlined in the Musser Fund Rural Arts guidelines.
  5. If funded by the Musser Fund in the previous grant round, please list highlights or accomplishments during that grant period.

Please carefully construct this overview, as it is the first information about your project viewed by the Musser Fund.

Proposal Narrative (5 pages or less)

  1. Background: Summarize your organizational background and its history in your community.
  2. Arts Participants: Describe, using qualitative and quantitative descriptions, the community members you reach with your arts programming.
  3. Community Support: Describe the ways that the community supports your organization.
  4. Goals and Activities: Describe the goals of the organization and the activities planned during the grant period. 
  5. Outcomes: Describe specifically, the outcomes expected during the grant period.
  6. For capacity-building project proposals: Identify and explain the project goals, activities and timeline.

Personnel Lists:

  • Staff - Please include a staff list identifying the organizational leaders and the experience they bring to the organization.
  • Board of Directors - Please include a list of the members of the Board of Directors, including their affiliations and their terms.


  • Organizational Budgets – for the previous year and for the current year. For the previous year, please submit your actual budget expenses and revenue detail. For the current year, please submit a year-to-date budget that includes expense and revenue detail, revenue sources, amounts, and what is secured and what is pending.
  • Project Budget - If you are applying for a capacity-building project grant, please provide a project budget that includes expense and revenue detail, revenue sources, amounts, and what is secured and what is pending.

Letters of Support: 

  • Please include letters of support from at least two (but not more than four) community members (independent individuals and/or representatives of entities in your community) that support your organization’s work in your community. Please make sure the letters are signed, and when appropriate, on letterhead. The Fund is only able to consider letters that are part of the online proposal when it is submitted.

IRS Status

  • Please include a copy of your 501(c)(3) letter from the IRS.