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.

The Musser Fund hopes to assist nonprofit arts organizations in rural communities 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. (Arts organizations that support programs in rural areas but are not physically located in those rural areas are not eligible. Organizations that are not primarily arts organizations but provide some arts programming are also not eligible.)
  • Arts organizations with organizational budgets less than $750,000
  • Nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations. (Organizations with fiscal sponsors are not eligible.)
  • Organizations that have been in existence for at least one year at the time of application 


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

  • Colorado - All counties
  • Hawaii - All counties
  • Wyoming - All counties
  • Minnesota - Aitkin, Becker, Cass, Clay, Clearwater, Hubbard, Itasca, Koochiching, Mahnomen, Todd, and Wadena Counties. 
  • New York - Delaware, Green, Otsego, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Ulster counties.
  • Texas Rio Grande River Valley (Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, and Willacy counties), Deep East Texas (Angelina, Houston, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity, and Tyler counties), and the Brazos Valley (Brazos, Burleson, Grimes, Leon, Madison, Robertson, and Washington counties).


  • 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 two years after three consecutive years of funding.

Grantees that request second and third years of support will be asked to report on their progress toward the goals they articulated in their previous year's application, especially in the following areas:

  • Increasing access to their services
  • Increasing their organizational sustainability
  • Increasing support from their community 


  • Capital Campaigns
  • Arts Festivals and Conferences
  • Advocacy 



The online application will be available February 11 through March 11, 2020.  Funding decisions will be announced in July of 2020.

Please construct your application carefully. We suggest you read through the questions and inclusions below PRIOR to beginning your online application.

The Laura Jane Musser Fund requires all of its grantees to provide evidence, through current policies or acknowledgement, of their anti-discrimination policies or practices.

To apply please click here.


Organization Information

  1. Organizational Mission. (Character limit: 750)
  2. Brief Organization description (three sentences or less). (Character limit: 1,000)
  3. How many years has your organization been a registered non-profit?
  4. Date of your fiscal year end.
  5. Total organization budget in the current fiscal year.
  6. Please describe the rural nature of your community.
  7. How many Board members do you currently have?
  8. How many Board meetings did your organization hold in the last fiscal year?
  9. How many full-time staff does your organization employ?
  10. How many part-time or contract staff worked with your organization in the last fiscal year?

Organization Support 

Please answer the following questions using data from your organization's last fiscal year. We are gathering this information to gain a sense of how your community participates in supporting your organization.  Please feel comfortable to enter zero in the question fields where that is the appropriate number.  Please enter “N/A”, in the fields where your organization does not collect the requested information. This is a “fill-in-the-blank” section of the online application.  

  1. Did your organization have paid memberships?  If so:
    • How many paid memberships did you have?
    • What was the price of memberships?
  2. How many individual donors did you have? (only include individual members in this number if they made a donation above the price of membership)
  3. What was the total amount donated by individual donors?
  4. How many volunteers did you have?
  5. Approximately how many total hours did those volunteers serve in your organization?

Participants in Organizational Arts Programming

Please answer the following questions using data from your organization's last fiscal year. We are gathering this information to gain a sense of you your community participates in your programing. Please feel comfortable to enter zero in the question fields where that is the appropriate number. Also, please feel free to enter "N/A", in the field(s) where your organization does not collect the requested information. 

  1. How many performances did your organization host or produce?
  2. How many people total attended those performances?
  3. How many people from your identified community participated in these performances as performers and/or stage technicians?
  4. How many short-term activities did you host? (for example, gallery shows, one-time workshops, one-time classes) 
  5. How many people total participated in these short-term activities?
  6. How many arts classes for adults did you host? (classes that met at least two times)
  7. How many adults participated in these classes?
  8. How many arts classes for children and youth did you host? (classes that met at least two times)
  9. How many children and youth participated in these classes?

Narrative Section 

  • Specifically, how does your organization work to increase access to the arts in your community? (Character limit: 1,500)
  • How does your organization work to engage your community in the creation of art?  (Character limit: 1,500)
  • What are the ways that your community supports your organization?  (Character limit: 1,500)
  • What is your organization's special strength(s)?  (Character limit: 750)
  • Looking toward the next 18 months, what do you foresee will be your organization's most important area of development, and what are the plans to support this development?  (Character limit: 1,500)
  • In the next 18 months, what do you think will be your organization's greatest challenges, and what are the plans to address these challenges?  (Character limit: 1,500)
  • How would your organization use a grant of up to $10,000 to support the organization's planned developments, or to address the identified challenges? Please explain how these steps would be sustainable or long lasting.  (Character limit: 1,500)
  • Indicate whether your organization has anti-discrimination practices or policies and provide a description of any diversity component of your organization's work.
  • If you have received a Musser Fund Grant in the past 2 years, please list the goals you identified for that grant period and provide a brief summary of your progress toward those goals, especially in the following areas (when relevant):  (Character limit: 1,500)
    • Increasing access to the arts
    • Increasing organization sustainability
    • Increasing support from the community
  • If you received a Musser Fund Grant in the past 2 years and your audience, overall participation, organizational capacity, and/or budget have (has) increased or decreased significantly, please provide brief follow-up information explaining the factors involved in the changes (and possibly the impacts of those changes).  (Character limit: 1,500)


Description of Arts Program(s) Offered By Your Organization 

Outline of your most important participatory arts programs (you may include up to three separate programs).  Please use the following format when you outline each program:

  • Program Name
  • Three sentence program description
  • Frequency, duration and length of the program (for instance; one-time per week, for two hours, over three months)
  • Total number of participants in this program in the last completed fiscal year
  • Age of participants (adult, child, youth, older adult)
  • Price that each participant paid to take part in the program
  • Number and structure of any scholarship or discount
  • Describe any actual, especially important outcome or community impact of this program

Personnel Lists:

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

Letters of Support: 

  • Please include signed letters of support from at least two (but not more than four) community members that support your organization’s work in your community, on letterhead, if appropriate. NOTE: These letters of support are very important to the Musser Fund application process and should be from community members and arts participants. These letters should not be from individuals who are paid or unpaid staff, contractors, or Board members of the organization. The Fund is only able to consider letters that are part of the online proposal when it is submitted. 


  • If there is other information you feel would be helpful in reviewing your proposal, you may enter or upload it in the proposal. If you submit a supporting document, please explain why you have chosen to include it in your application.


The following budget attachments must be submitted as pdfs.

  • Please upload your organization's projected budget for the current year. Include expense and revenue detail, revenue sources, amounts, and what is secured and what is pending.
  • Please upload a final budget (or profit and loss statement) for the most recently completed year.  Include budget vs. actual, revenue, expense and source detail.
  • Please upload your organization's balance sheet from the most recent complete year.  If your organization does not create a balance sheet, please upload your organization's most recent 990 tax form.  

Anti-discrimination Policy:

  • If your organization has a written anti-discrimination policy, please provide it.

IRS Status:

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