Legacy Listening Sessions


Meetings with potential applicants for History and Historic Preservation Grants using Legacy Funds saw solid participation.

Meeting attendance

Duluth, July 15, 2009: 17 people attended

Anoka, July 15, 2009: 30 people attended

Willmar, July 20, 2009: 50 people attended

Rochester, July 20, 2009: 40 people attended

Moorhead, July 30, 2009: 27 people attended

Meeting PowerPoint and Summary Feedback

Legacy Listening Sessions

Statewide Summary

July 15-30, 2009

What People Liked

  • Articulation by grant amount: Favorable reaction to three levels of funding to meet range of needs was expressed at each location. Large grants will enable larger projects that were not possible in the old State Grants-in-Aid program because of limited funding.
  • Responsiveness: Fast Track grants represent potential quick turnaround and instant results for the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
  • Longevity: Funding should be around for 25 years
  • Review Process: The review process was seen as appropriate at each level, and many were delighted to see the inclusion of Peer Review on Large grants.
  • Familiarity: The proposed program has many of the characteristics of the State Grants-in-Aid program, including specific grant categories.
  • Comprehensiveness: There are new types of eligible projects including collaborations, pre-development and scholarships. There is openness to more types of projects in the future.
  • Strong Legislative support for history programs as demonstrated in Legacy appropriations.

Larger Concerns:

  • New Construction: With no ceiling on large grants, most acknowledged that new construction could consume substantial portions of the available funds, yet some would like the legislature and the Minnesota Historical Society to consider how new construction might be made available.
  • General Operational Support: These funds don’t address operational needs
  • Quality vs. Quantity: Attendees counseled that the HRAC should focus on quality projects, rather than trying to impress the legislature with a large number of projects.


  • Participants were unclear about how partnerships might work. They encouraged partnerships to be part of grants in general, and wanted to know how to access the separate partnership money.

Thematic Questions:

  • Clarity of Terms: Participants want to know what the terms significance, sustainability, Legacy, impact, new, and “wow factor” mean. With buildings, significance is easily determined by whether or not the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Additional Evaluation Criteria: Historic significance, uniqueness, urgency. Suggest more additional evaluation criteria.
  • Outcomes: Many wanted to know how to measure and evaluate outcomes. Several urged evaluation to measure against past performance of the applicant and not against other applicants.

General Grant Questions/Issues:

  • Timelines: Attendees wondered about these both for the 2010/2011 biennium and beyond June 30, 2011. Many would like to see the Legislature provide opportunity for multi-year commitments as some have phased projects in mind.
  • Distribution: Dividing the money equitably between the three levels, between regions of the state, between various sizes of organizations. Overwhelmingly attendees asked that the Fast Track grant cap be increased from the proposed $3,000 to $5,000. Many also indicated that they were thinking of applying for multiple grants in all three levels. Others noted that at least some money upfront will be necessary for  larger projects for some applicants with little cash reserves.
  • Access: several participants wanted to make sure that the Minnesota Historical Society understood that smaller grassroots organizations that could really benefit from these grants may not have heard about the program. Some expressed support for online applications as previous programs relied on lots of paper. Others encouraged a pre-application process to help shape proposals.
  • Priorities: Many noted that priority should be given to those applications that incorporate clear standards and accountability into proposed projects.
  • Disclosure: Several people asked about the necessity to continue to describe their entire project when they are only applying for one aspect.
  • Match: Much discussion time was spent on match at most of the meetings. Most were glad to know that match was not necessary in this program, but also were delighted that if they proposed some match that would work in their favor.

Straw Poll on how to divide money between the three grant levels:

  • Fast Track             30%
  • Medium                35%
  • Large                   35%


  • Most of the discussions about the new Historic Resources Advisory Committee centered on the differences with the previous Grants Review Committee, selection process, term limits, work load, conflicts of interest, and meeting locations.

General Questions/Concerns/Issues:

  • A few attendees asked about the continuance of the State Grants-in-Aid program.
  • Some participants desired to partner with arts, libraries, Department of Natural Resources, and others with access to additional funds from the Legacy Amendment.
  • Participants generally requested to know who the one person at MHS responsible for Legacy program was.
  • Several urged the legislature to continue to include exhibits in future legislation.

Images from meetings

Rep. Mary Murphy, chair of the Minnesota House of Representatives committee that drafted the legacy amendment appropriation, spoke with attendees in Duluth about the thought process through which the Legislature wrote the bill.

Rep. Mary Murphy addressing meeting in Duluth.

Bill Svrluga of WJS Consulting facilitated each meeting in which participants refreshed their memory about the Legacy Amendment and considered a draft of proposed grant guidelines.

Consultant writing audience suggestions on a tablet

Engaged audiences offered sound advice to ensure that Legacy money would be spent appropriately and effectively on projects of enduring value.

Audience listening intently

The Minnesota Historical and Cultural Grants Program has been made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on November 4, 2008. Administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.