ND Be Legendary, Council on the Arts logo
Welcome to Prairie Arts, North Dakota Council on the Arts' monthly
newsletter, containing statewide and national art-related news.
In this Issue:
View newsletter in browser


UPDATES - Kim Konikow

Head and shoulders of NDCA Executive Director Kim Konikow, closed smile with black shirt, grey-blonde shoulder-length hair
- WELL, 2024 has started off with a bang – busy as ever. We have added partitions to our Bismarck office to accommodate staff, including a new Executive Director’s office. The Board is in the process of final interviews, and we hope to announce a new director in February. Oh, My! In addition, we have a Board meeting coming up, as well as a staff retreat, holiday dinner (didn’t happen in December!) and a full-on office clean-up. It will be nice to gather and be social!

- Arts Across the Prairie is in full swing. Something is happening in six of ND’s eight regions! A new RFQ (Artist Request for Qualifications) has just been posted for a beautiful site near Gackle, fully representing the Stakeholder’s discussions of “Flyways, Byways and Waterways” in Region 6. Please let Brenna Lahren or Melinda Padilla Lynch know if you are interested in joining the process! 

- NDCA’s annual grant season opens soon! We will roll out grant guidelines and applications over the next month and hope you will apply, or share out the information. There is a program for everyone, and the staff is happy to help you find the right fit. Visit our Grants at a Glance webpage to learn more.

Our passionate guest contributor Fred Edwards Jr has given us wonderful insight into his work, as well as an overview of Martin Luther King Jr. Day with his group Umoja55. We hope you are enjoying – and learning – from these monthly writings shared by diverse community members that make up our rich, ND cultural community.

Please take note of the vast number of grant opportunities that exist outside of NDCA – especially from the National Endowment for the Arts through Challenge America, GAP and Arts Here. If you are curious, sign up for a webinar, reach out to NEA staff, or even NDCA staff. Don’t be afraid of the process; there are funds available for organizations for which YOU are eligible.

Lastly, put this on your calendar!!!
You are invited to attend the Arts Across the Prairie Inaugural Statewide Convening to this 2-day event (May 13-14, 2024) for all program stakeholders and community members, including Regional Councils, ND Artists, and Arts Across the Prairie supporters. The convening will feature plenary speakers, breakout sessions on placemaking, and provide valuable insights into building relationships across both county and regional lines.

Stay warm, Be well.                                                                           .Back to top..

Indigenous printmaker Linda Whitney in between two of her colorful works show Native patterns
NDCA announces new exhibits on display at the Capitol

North Dakota Council on the Arts (NDCA) is exhibiting a unique collection of mezzotints - prints made from engraved copper or steel plates - by indigenous artist Linda Whitney on the 18th, or observatory floor, of the ND State Capitol through April 2024. Whitney is a printmaker and professor emeritus of Valley City State University who lives in her studio with a three-legged rescue pup. Her mezzotints have traveled throughout North America and Europe, and to Australia, New Zealand, Serbia, Nicaragua, Russia, India, and China. Her work was given one of four international awards at the International Mezzotint Festival in Ekaterinburg, Russia in 2019. 
Watercolor works by Alicia Leingang showing miscellaneous flowers
In addition, a collection of painted works by Bismarck artist Alicia Leingang is on display in the Governor's Staff offices on the ground floor of the Capitol. Leingang explained, "My watercolors reflect the things I find beautiful, which mostly consist of the outdoors/nature. Through my work I find peace. I hope to share a slice of that with those who, like me, enjoy getting lost in the natural world." This exhibit can be viewed by request only; stop in the Governor’s office on the first floor. 
Featured Artists at the Capitol

North Dakota Poetry Out Loud 2023 competition at ND Heritage Center in Bismarck
SAVE THE DATE:  2024 Poetry Out Loud ND State Competition February 26

NDCA will hold the 2024 Poetry Out Loud (POL) State Finals on Monday, February 26th, starting at 9:00am, at the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum. There will be two rounds of oral recitations in the morning, with a final round of competition after lunch to determine the new 2024 ND State Champion. Approximately 19 high school students from across the state will be competing for a cash prize of $200 and the opportunity to advance to the 2023 Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, DC where they could win the grand prize of $20,000.

The competition, presented in partnership with The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. POL helps students master public speaking skills and build self-confidence, while also learning more about both classic and contemporary poetry. During the months of September – January, schools are invited to hold classroom and school wide contests, with each school's top student advancing to the state competition. 

*The ND POL State Competition is FREE and open to the public.                   .Back to top..
ND Poetry Out Loud

THE PULSE of Arts Across the Prairie - Placemaking in Rural ND:

A first of its kind, statewide program implementing the fabrication
of eight large-scale art installations – one in each geographic region in the state –
that reflect the unique history, landscape, and cultural heritage
as defined by Stakeholder Groups in these regions.
  • Region 1 “Love Where You Live” – Artist Thane Lunde (above left with Divide County Community Development Director Kaycee Lindsey, right) visited potential sites for his installation. A location for Thane Lund’s land-work is still in flux; any suggestions you might have (up to two acres) are welcome.
  • Region 2 "Living Waters, Painted Skies" – The top candidates chosen from the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process are submitting their proposals, January 31, 2024. The stakeholders will select an artist at the beginning of February. 
  • Region 3 (Towner, Rolette, Cavalier, Ramsey, Eddy, Benson counties) - An online Stakeholder meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 11th, 12 pm CT. Email Melinda Padilla Lynch if you are available!
  • Region 4 "Endless Sky - Dynamic Layers" – The AAP team and artist James Peterson are creating a call for local contractors to assist with fabrication and installation this summer. 
  • Region 6 "Flyways, Byways, Skyways" – The stakeholders have selected a site just outside of Gackle.  . 
    • The Request for Qualifications from experienced artists/create teams was announced January 8 with a submission deadline of January 26. Potential applicants are encouraged to join an Informational Webinar on Friday, January 19, 2023, 3-4 pm CT. Email to by Thursday, January 18 to receive a Zoom link.
  • Region 8 "Rugged and Unforgettable" – The Stakeholders have narrowed down their site search to two areas off Old Hwy 10. 
Email Melinda Padilla Lynch for more information and to find out how you can participate in this first-of-its-kind, placemaking program.
Arts Across the Prairie


L to R: Josh Zeis, Jay Ray, Mike Nelson, "Chris Kringle's Jingle Joggers" ; Santa Run, Bismarck, Dec. 202
by Jaime Lawler Photography

National award-winning ND snow sculpting team
sheds light on unique artform

Circular red, black, white and light blue logo for Team North Dakota Snow Sculpting with a white bearded man in the center holding a large chisel-type shovel on his shouldersTeam ND Snow Sculpting, consisting of Fargo artists Jay Ray (captain), Mike Nelson, and Josh Zeis (right), competed in the US National Snow Sculpting Competition in Lake Geneva, WI, for the past two years, taking 3rd place in 2022 and 1st place in 2023. Among other competitions in 2024, the team will compete in the World Snow Sculpting Championship in Stillwater, MN, January 17-21, and will defend their national title in Lake Geneva, WI, January 31-February 3. 

At a presentation held in Bismarck in conjunction with the Santa Run on December 9, 2023, the artists explained the reductive process, displayed their custom-made tools, showed samples of their work, and shared what they have learned about carving snow in changing weather conditions. They explained that while snow sculpting is fun and rewarding, it is physically hard work. It comes with long and odd hours, cold conditions, and often uncomfortable carving positions. Though the three have no plans to retire anytime soon, it is their goal to train and recruit new artists who share their passion so they can eventually pass the chisel on to the next generation.
Team ND Snow Sculpting Story
Fred Edwards Jr. (center) ; Umoja55, Fargo, January 2023

Culture bearer experiences healing and builds
grassroots community through art

Contributing Editor Frederick Edwards Jr.

Creative director, teaching artist, and driving force behind Umoja and Fred’s Dissonance, Frederick Edwards Jr. shares his story and how it empowered him to establish these programs that foster narrative justice and community empowerment.

“I'm passionate about education. With a master's in education and a bachelor's in psychology, I'm dedicated to making learning a lifelong adventure. But education isn't what got me here, art did. Art saved my life. I am a multi-media artist who utilizes social problems and social solutions to become conversations worth having, an art piece worth exploring, a heart worth mending. I have been able to heal from many past traumas and help others heal through Poetry and Black Box theater, to be specific. I am grateful for the opportunities that have come my way due to the craft of spoken word poetry, which include but are not limited to, youth development, writing, curriculum, event curation, movie directing, and much more. I have been honored to become a bridge between those with resources and those who have been historically underrepresented. As the Founder of Fred's Dissonance and the Creative Director of Umoja Writing Workshops, I honor the ancestors who labored and then walked in order for me to fly.”
Frederick Edwards Jr. Story


NDCA commemorates and celebrates the life and artistry of Norik Astvatsaturov

Armenian folk artist Norik Y. Astvatsaturov passed peacefully at the age of 76 in Wahpeton, ND on December 30, 2023, after a long battle with cancer. He and his family fled Baku, Azerbaijan due to ethnic killings and religious persecution. They arrived and settled in Wahpeton on January 31, 1992. Norik would ask rhetorically, “Can you just imagine how we would have lived, had this country [USA] rejected us?”  

He and his family lived well. An extraordinary metal repousse artist, he worked tirelessly to teach and share his Armenian art and its message with Americans and the Armenian diaspora nationally and internationally. His work is known not only for extraordinary technique with simple tools but for the meaning and feeling he infuses into his art. He once said, “Technique without meaning is lifeless.”  

He has taught, given workshops, presented at festivals, universities, exhibited, and was a recipient of fellowships from NDCA, the Fund for Folk Culture, the Bush Foundation and the prestigious US National Endowment for the Arts “National Heritage Fellowship.” In 2017, Norik was awarded an “Arshile Gorky” medal from the President of Armenia that recognizes achievements in the arts within the Armenian Diaspora. 

Above all, he loved his family and friends. We are richer for knowing him.
NEA Press Release - Norik Astvatsaturov


In our ongoing reporting from Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6):

Entrepreneurs & Innovation
  • The arts open new avenues of thinking, force people out of their comfort zone, create collaborative and non-hierarchical spaces, and encourage imagination.
  • Communities can strengthen their creative economies by investing in the arts, creative workers, and arts and culture organizations.
Night-time Economy
  • Attracting visitors to a community IS economic development.
  • A remarkable 79% of the American public believe that the arts are “important to their community’s businesses, economy, and local jobs.” (Source: Americans Speak Out About the Arts in 2023)
ND Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 survey results


Grants for Arts Projects (GAP)

GAP provides expansive funding opportunities to strengthen the nation’s arts and cultural ecosystem. Grants are available for arts projects in a wide variety of artistic disciplines. Each discipline has identified the types of projects that are of greatest interest within this program as well as the characteristics of competitive applications. Applicants may request cost share/matching grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.

Sign up or view the recording for one of the various FREE GAP guidelines webinars on the NEA's website.

Application deadline: Feb. 15, 2024  

Challenge America Grants

Challenge America offers support primarily to small organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved groups/communities. The program features an abbreviated application, a robust structure of technical assistance, and grants for a set amount of $10,000. Grants require a cost share/match of $10,000 consisting of cash and/or in-kind contributions. Total project costs must be at least $20,000 or greater.

Sign up for a FREE guidelines webinar on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 2:00 pm CT.

Application deadline: April 25, 2024
NEA Grant Programs
artsHERE word on top of transparent background showing people of all ages painting a mural on an outdoor wall

NEA artsHERE expands access to arts participation

ArtsHERE will provide non-matching grants up to $130,000 for organizations that are already demonstrating a commitment to equity within their practices and programming. Grants will fund specific projects to strengthen grantees’ capacity to sustain meaningful community engagement and increase arts participation for underserved groups/communities. Check eligibility requirements and APPLYthis is an amazing opportunity for existing nonprofit arts and culture organizations in North Dakota.

Statement of interest deadline January 19, 2024.                                        .Back to top..

NEA Big Read 2024 showing a table with books on top and people sitting and standing nearby

NEA Big Read Program

Intent to apply applications are open for grants to support NEA Big Read projects between September 2024 and June 2025. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read is a grant of up to $20,000 to support community reading programs each designed around a single NEA Big Read book selection with many goals designed to build stronger connections in each community. 

Deadline EXTENDED: Jan. 17, 2024

Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants

Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants

Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants provide matching funds ranging from $10,000 - $25,000 for one-year projects or up to $50,000 for two-year projects to support community-based arts engagement programming for military and veteran populations—including family members and caregivers.

Application deadline: Jan. 17, 2024                                                  
NEA Initiatives: Big Read & Creative Forces


Ongoing NDCA Grant Programs

Artist in Residence

  • ""Bring artists into classroom
  • Educational institutions
  • Up to $2,500 reimbursement
  • Deadline: 6 weeks prior to project start date
  • Project Dates: July 1, 2023 - June 30, 2024

Special Projects

  • Community art events in all disciplines
  • Organizations & Individuals
  • Up to $1,500
  • Next Deadline: Jan. 23, 2024 (ongoing program)
  • Project Dates: March 1  - June 30, 2024

Professional Development

  • Arts-related learning activities (U.S. or abroad)
  • Organizations & Individuals
  • Up to $1,000
  • Next Deadline: Feb. 20,  2023 (ongoing program)
  • Project Dates: May 1 - June 30, 2024
Arts Events & Activities: More Opportunities:    
  • McCanna House in Northeast North DakotaThe North Dakota Museum of Art is accepting applications for the 2024 McCanna House Artist-in-residence season. Artists working in music, theatre, literature, or the visual arts are encouraged to apply. Open to artists in all stages of their career. A wonderful opportunity.
    • Application deadline January 15, 2024
  • 2022 Best in Show photo titled: "Ice On Rocks, winter at Government Bay on Lake Sakakawea" by Laura Gardner with the words Governor's Photo Contest on topShakespeare in American Communities grants funds ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 to theater companies to support productions and educational activities for young audiences throughout the US.
    • Application deadline January 25, 2024
  • 2022 Best in Show photo titled: "Ice On Rocks, winter at Government Bay on Lake Sakakawea" by Laura Gardner with the words Governor's Photo Contest on topGovernor Burgum and the ND Tourism Division, in partnership with AAA of ND and NDCA, invite you to enter the ND Governor’s Photo Contest for Travel & Tourism. This year’s competition highlights the unique characteristics of the four seasons: spring, summer, fall and winter.
    • Application deadline January 31, 2024Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge
  • Golden Haiku logo with vector image of branch with flowers blooming on the endsGolden Triangle BID’s Golden Haiku Competition - poets are invited to submit up to two original, self-authored haiku. Winning poets will receive prizes and recognition. This year’s theme is “Transforming Paths."
    • Submission deadline February 5, 2024
*Learn about ongoing and new opportunities on NDCA's website and Facebook page.

NDCA Website

NDCA Facebook Page


NDCA ADA door with mat to overcome the lip
Test your ADA features

The automatic front door of the NDCA office in downtown Bismarck was installed in order to be ADA accessible but when Trevor Vannett tried to enter with his wheelchair, the lip on the metal threshold stopped him. To overcome the steep angle, we placed a thick mat against the lip so the wheels of the chair would be able to take a more gradual path.

Even if all of the correct steps are taken to make a business, event, or website accessible, it's important to put those accessibility options to the test. Ask someone who uses a wheelchair to come for a visit. Find an online company that will test your website for accessibility. Invite people with limited sight and/or hearing to attend a dress rehearsal and test out your assistive devices before your event goes live. Accessibility matters.
Accessibility Resources


   .Back to top.. 
Copyright © 2024 North Dakota Council on the Arts, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp