Bush Foundation ends Artist Fellowships

The Bush Foundation which has long been a funding source for Minnesota's arts community (including Minnesota Public Radio) announced today it's ending its popular Artist Fellows program.

In emails sent to current fellows and grantees Bush Vice-President Pam Wheelock announced the creation of what will now be the Bush Fellowship Program.

The Bush Fellowship Program is informed by and replaces all fellowship programs that came before it, including the Bush Artist Fellowship and the Enduring Vision Awards.

We've made this change to our fellowship programs because we believe that economic, social and demographic forces across the three states are challenging people to develop creative and innovative solutions. The Bush Fellowship Program can be instrumental in building an individual's capacity and confidence to advance needed community change in partnership with others to solve these tough problems. Our history with the fellowship programs provides ample evidence that the commitment and courage to lead others in seeking solutions to our tough problems rests in individuals in every part of our community. We need "all hands on deck" every social entrepreneur, business owner, artist, public sector employee, community volunteer, and the like to embrace the opportunity to learn and grow so others in our communities can have the hoped for future. This Fellowship Program offers the support needed to achieve that shared vision.

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The foundation will begin taking applications for the new Fellowships in December.

According to the Foundation website since 1965 its Fellowship Programs "have supported more than 2,200 accomplished artists, physicians and leaders in deepening their skills and pursuing training for greater leadership."

The change does not come as a huge surprise. Bush ended its medical fellowships last year, and announced a refining period for the fellowship programs beginning in July.

The Foundation's Director of Engagement and Communication Scott Cooper told me this afternoon he expects about 35 people to be accepted for the first intake of fellows under the new program next year. They will receive $50,000 to $75,000 depending on the fellowship, each which will be specifically designed. He also expects they will come from all walks of life, including artists.

"Our goal is to help expand the capacity of communities to address the challenges they are facing and we are trying to figure out the best way to do that. And we had had several different fellowship programs grow up for specific audiences and it seemed that was no longer necessarily the right way to go."