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Call for Artists: The 2019-2020 Cedar Commissions

Download a PDF Version of the 2019-2020 Call For Artists

The Cedar Cultural Center, a non-profit performing arts organization and all-ages music venue located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is looking for the next round of artists to take part in the 2019-20 Cedar Commissions!

If this application process presents barriers to you based on language, location, or disability, The Cedar will accommodate special application requests to the best of our ability. Please contact Alana Horton at ahorton@thecedar.org or 612-338-2674 x 104.  

What is the Cedar Commissions?

The Cedar Commissions is a program that commissions six early career/emerging Minnesotan composers and musicians each year to create and perform new music. Since the program’s launch, The Cedar has commissioned 50+ artists of diverse styles and backgrounds. The Cedar Commissions is made possible by a grant from the Jerome Foundation.

What do Cedar Commissions Artists do?

Cedar Commissions artists must create 30+ minutes of new music for The Cedar’s stage between September 2019 and February 2020. We define new music as music that has not been previously written, composed, recorded or performed. Artists debut their new work at a live public concert at The Cedar in February 2020. Artists are required to attend six cohort meetings which are held each month at The Cedar from September to January. Finally, artists must participate in a wrap-up meeting in March 2020 and complete an evaluation.

What do Cedar Commissions Artists receive?

Cedar Commissions artists are each paid $3,500 in September 2019. They also have access to an additional $1,000 stipend intended to be used for additional technical and performance expenses. Whatever remains of this stipend is paid out to artists after their final performance in February 2020. Additionally, artists receive artistic mentorship, administrative and marketing support from Cedar staff, and high-quality professional photos and video of their final performances.  

Who is eligible for a Cedar Commission?

Applicants from ALL musical genres and styles are eligible

  • The Cedar is committed to supporting a diverse cohort of artists that reflects its stewardship of global music, relationships, and community. Indigenous people and people of color are encouraged to apply.

You must be an early career/ emerging artist to be eligible

  • Early career / emerging artists have a focused direction and goals, even while still developing their artistic “voice;” have yet to be substantially celebrated within their field, the media, funding circles or the public at large; and are vocational (as opposed to avocational, academic, amateur or educational) artists. Read more about this definition at jeromefdn.org/defining-early-career-emerging-artists.

You must apply as a lead artist, not as a group to be eligible.

  • The Commissions is intended for individuals, not groups or bands. You can work collaboratively with other musicians as part of your project, but your application needs to have one name on it.

  • Only one application per lead artist is allowed.

  • Collaborators (musicians or bandmates) can be listed as part of more than one project.

Applicants must live in the state of Minnesota to be eligible.

Who is ineligible for a Cedar Commission?

Applicants living outside the state of Minnesota, and full-time, degree-seeking students are not eligible for The Cedar Commissions. Previous Cedar Commission recipients are ineligible for two years following their commission year.

How do I apply for The Cedar Commissions?

Submit the following by Monday, June 3rd 2019 at 11:59 PM by email to ahorton@thecedar.org.

1) Up to two pages describing your project

Panelists read a lot of proposals. It is to your advantage to answer the following questions clearly, succinctly, and legibly.

1) What is your project idea?

  • Please clearly outline your idea for the Cedar Commissions. The strongest project ideas have a clear focus, are rooted in your previous artistic work, but clearly “push” or “stretch” you as an artist.

  • Explain how receiving a Commission will help you explore innovative new territory, ideas, or collaborations that wouldn’t be possible without this grant.

  • Note: Your project idea must primarily focus on the creation, writing, or composition of new music, not on recording, audio production, or purchase of equipment. These activities may be included in your project budget, but should NOT be the primary focus of your project or budget.

2) How feasible is your project?

  • Please include a rough timeline for completing your project, and explain how you plan to budget the Commission funds in order to successfully complete your project idea.

  • Note: All works will be performed along with two others projects in an evening-length performance. New work must be no more than 45 minutes in length and stageable within The Cedar’s space.

3) How will this project further your career as an emerging artist?

  • Please explain how receiving a Commission will support the next step of your career as an emerging artist.

  • Note: Jerome defines “emerging artists” as artists who have a focused direction and goals, even while still developing their artistic “voice”; have yet to be substantially celebrated within their field, the media, funding circles or the public at large; and are vocational (as opposed to avocational, academic, amateur or educational) artists.

2) One page describing your artistry

Please include the following information:

  • We want to know about your background as an artist. Please let us know about your previous composition experience, previous performance experience, and any other relevant artistic and musical experience (this may include any private lessons, formal education, mentorship or apprenticeships, etc.)

  • Feel free to format this information in the form of a resume, or submit a page of written narrative.

3) Two audio or video work samples

totaling no than 5 minutes in length

  • Strong work samples should represent your musicality and capability as an artist.  

  • Samples may be hosted on any 3rd party site (YouTube, Vimeo, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.)

  • The total length of the 2 work samples combined must be less than 5 minutes. If your work sample is one part of a longer piece, please note start and end times of the sample in the body of your submission email.

How are Cedar Commission Artists chosen?

Artists are selected through a review process. A review panel made up of local musicians, former Cedar Commission artists, community members, and Cedar staff look at every application and review them based on four criteria:

1) Project Idea

  • Do we have a clear understanding of what this project is, and what the artist is trying to do?

  • Is this idea strongly supported by the artist’s past work?

  • Is this idea exploring innovative new territory, ideas, or collaborations that wouldn’t be possible without receiving a Cedar Commission?

  • Does this project idea primarily focus on the creation, writing, or composition of new music (not audio production, recording, purchasing new equipment, etc)?

2) Feasibility

  • Do we feel that the artist has outlined a realistic timeline and budget to complete this idea?

  • Will the new work be 30-45 minutes in length and stageable within The Cedar’s space?

3) Emerging Artist

  • Does the artist demonstrate how they are an emerging/early career artist based on this definition?

  • Does the artist demonstrate how this project will support the next step of their career?

  • Do we think this project will push or stretch the artist?

4) Work Samples

  • Do the work samples give us a strong idea of the artist’s musicality and capabilities?

  • Do the work samples support the rest of the artists’ application?

When will the 2019/20 Cedar Commissions Artists be announced?

All applicants will be notified as to whether or not they have received a Commission no later than July 15th, 2019. Public announcement of Commissions artists will take place on August 1st, 2019. The Cedar is committed to providing feedback on applications as requested.

How can I get support on my application?

Watch an Online Cedar Commissions Application Webinar

Attend Minnesota Music Coalition’s

Grant Writing for Musicians and Composers” Panel

At The Landmark Center, Room 326  | 75 W 5th Street, St. Paul, MN

Wednesday May 15th from 6-7:30pm

The Cedar Cultural Center, American Composers Forum, and MN Music Coalition are partnering to provide a Workshop Wednesday focused on grant writing. We're inviting musicians and composers to join us for a panel featuring Minnesota artists who've received grants along with staff from Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and Springboard for the Arts.

$5 / Free to MMC & American Composers Forum members & students

More Information Here

Attend an in-person Cedar Commissions Application Workshop

At The Cedar Cultural Center | 416 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis MN

Saturday, May 18th from 10am-Noon

Application workshops are designed to help potential applicants learn about the program and how to write and submit an effective application. Workshop will be streamed live on Youtube and archived. We'll go over the application guidelines, do a few hands-on brainstorming activities, and leave plenty of time for Q&A.

Free - RSVP Here

If you cannot attend any application workshops, questions may be emailed to Alana Horton at ahorton@thecedar.org.

The Cedar Commissions is a flagship program for local emerging artists made possible with a grant from the Jerome Foundation. Since the program began in 2011, the Commissions have showcased new work by over 50 Minnesotan emerging composers and musicians, including Dessa, Aby Wolf, Adam Levy, Maria Isa, Joe Horton, Joey Van Phillips, Gao Hong, Dameun Strange, and many more. Artists receive mentorship and financial support to create 30+ minutes of brand new music.

Goals of The Cedar Commissions:

  • Facilitate the creation of innovative new work by Minnesota-based emerging artists/composers. The Cedar Commissions provide artists an opportunity to push the boundaries of their work through thoughtful and intentional next steps.

  • Provide audiences a platform to discover new music. The Cedar Commissions offers an exciting opportunity to reach, serve, and engage new communities with unique music and performance they have never seen before.

  • Increase artist exposure. By presenting The Cedar Commissions annually, The Cedar is building an audience for emerging artists. Our press coverage has also grown steadily, helping to raise awareness about the work to the wider public.

  • Foster and develop artists’ work and creativity. The Cedar Commissions provides artists with the resources, opportunities, and flexibility to explore new creative pathways and collaborations, cultivating and improving the artists’ skills and talent.

Get a taste of the program by reading about the eighth annual Cedar Commissions, which featured new works by Antoine Martinneau, Brianna Lane, Jo Kellen, Kashimana, Yigitcan Eryaman and Tarek Abdelqader.


ARTISTS in order of appearance:


Tarek Abdelqader

In "Authenticity and Identity," Tarek Abdelqader presents a fusion of Palestinian folk music and contemporary jazz. Inspired by a mixed cultural heritage and diverse musical influences, Abdelqader’s performance blends instrumentation to include Middle Eastern percussion and saxophone with a standard jazz rhythm section of guitar, bass, drum set, and keyboard. These compositions avoid strict adherence to a single, homogenous tradition. Instead, they aim to show that distinct cultural identities – and musical styles – can coexist in harmony.


Antoine Martinneau

Local musician Antoine Martinneau and collaborators will perform a piece named On Love and Labor. Using his love of hip-hop as inspiration, the piece reflects on Martinneau’s emotional relationship to making a living and his search to find a sustainable balance amidst fear of poverty and the daily struggle of combating chronic mental illness. Combining live instrumentation, turntables and spoken rhymes, he will tell a story filled with ups and downs with beats to bob your head to.

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Brianna Lane

Awareness Month is a contemporary musical theater piece illustrating life with invisible chronic illness. This piece will take the audience through one months time living with chronic Lyme, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), depression, and anxiety. This piece will bring to light what we don't see from people living with invisible chronic illness and how compassion is key.  "Be kind for everyone is fighting a hard battle” -Ian Maclaren


ARTISTS in order of appearance:


Yigitcan Eryaman

Composer, guitarist and songwriter Yigitcan Eryaman’s piece explores Minnesota seasons as experienced through a Turkish man’s eyes and ears. Minnesota's seasons are colorful, intense, and varied, and induce the necessary combination of feelings and mental processes in a composer’s mind to spur new music. Accompanied by buzuki, darbuka and violin, with classical guitar and voice at the lead, Eryaman draws on this seasonal inspiration as well as his cultural perspective to create a palette of beautiful new sounds.



Phantom Cries exposes the true trials of conception, pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum depression, recovery, loss, early motherhood, and the glorious epiphany that everything is different. Composer and vocalist Kashimana Ahua has created ten songs exploring some common misconceptions surrounding pregnancy while shedding a light on the increasing maternal and infant mortality rate especially among women of color in the United States. Phantom Cries is giving voice to the voiceless through ten vocally driven songs supported by bass and percussion in an effort to encourage difficult conversations and real action.


Jo Kellen

Is having fun in public a risk? Jo Kellen thought maybe their relationship to identity could help explore the question. Serious Glee, Kellen’s multimedia song cycle, combines music, puppetry, and projections to consider the complexity of personal autonomy. With the help of percussionist Toby Ramaswamy and cellist Hilary James, Kellen’s compositions come to genre-bending fruition. Dance punks and freak folk fans will feel right at home. Hattie Ball’s disorienting projection design and Leah Nelson’s puppets dance alongside the music to create a surreal, darkly fun atmosphere. Expect optometrists, cowboy landlords, and a weirdly encouraging tall person.

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