COMPAS (Community Programs in the Arts) to Pass the United Arts Fund Baton

Community Shares of Minnesota to Administer the Granting Program, Beginning March 3, 2014.

St. Paul, Minn. (February 28, 2014)— COMPAS Executive Director Dawne Brown White and Matt Hunter, Executive Director of Community Shares of Minnesota, jointly announced today that the two non-profits are transitioning the duties of administering United Arts Fund monies in the Twin Cities from COMPAS to Community Shares of Minnesota.

Since 1954 Minnesotans have had the opportunity to conveniently support the arts through direct contributions or payroll deductions paid to the United Arts Fund. Over the past sixty years, employee donations from many Minnesota public and private sector employees have been collected on behalf of the United Arts Fund, with donated funds then distributed to local arts organizations through a competitive granting process.  Past recipients of United Arts Fund funding include the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra education programs, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater, Penumbra Theatre, Zenon Dance and dozens of other community organizations creating art in virtually all media.

COMPAS, a nationally recognized provider of hands-on arts education programs in schools, libraries, hospitals and other community locations, has been administering the United Arts Fund program since 1998. Managing the United Arts Fund granting program includes soliciting employee donations through presentations made at area workplaces, vetting grant requests received from artists and arts organizations, grant making, monitoring and following up with grant recipients.

According to COMPAS executive director Dawne Brown White, “United Arts Fund is a critical resource in supporting local arts organizations.  We’re honored to have administered the program these many years and look forward to focusing on our core competency: pairing professional, trained artists with schools and other community organizations throughout Minnesota to infuse learning opportunities with writing, performing, music and visual art.”

The transition of administrative duties of the granting program from COMPAS to Community Shares of Minnesota is a winning solution for everyone. “At Community Shares Minnesota,” explains Matt Hunter, “we already have in place the employer relationships, the human resources and the organizational focus needed to effectively and efficiently manage the United Arts Fund.”  Streamlined administration costs for the Fund ensure a greater percentage of every dollar donated goes directly to the recipient artists and organizations.

Community Shares of Minnesota currently raises workplace donation funds for its 40-member social justice nonprofit organizations. These organizations focus on long-term solutions to social justice issues to create a fair, just and equitable Minnesota. The local non-profit is part of a national network of organizations that connect, fund and raise awareness for community groups that are focused on long-term solutions to social justice and other community needs and concerns.

“The arts are an important tool in confronting social justice issues,” continues Hunter. “The addition of the United Arts Fund means we will be able to partner with even more community arts initiatives than we currently do.”  Already, Community Shares of Minnesota partners with and distributes funds to Asian Media Access, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, and Pangea World Theater, all of which also receive grants from United Arts Fund.

Through a cooperative agreement, contributors will see no difference in their United Arts Fund interactions during 2014. COMPAS will continue to process and distribute all United Arts Fund donations through the end of the year. Community Shares of Minnesota will begin to renew contracts with public and private workplace giving campaigns for 2015 donations and will assume full management of the United Arts Fund in January 2015. 

Arts Midwest, a current United Arts Fund recipient, provides intensive capacity building to multiple Minnesota arts organizations through its ArtsLab program. Program Director Sharon Rodning Bash commented on United Arts Fund’s transfer, “To maintain high quality programming, arts organizations rely on general operating funding like United Arts Fund supplies. We are pleased that Community Shares of Minnesota also recognizes how important this funding is to build the capacity of Minnesota arts organizations, and will provide continuity of support to the arts sector.”

White concluded, “COMPAS has been a major provider of arts education statewide for forty years.  We’re grateful for the public’s generous support of the arts in Minnesota, and want to thank those who commit to donating to the arts through payroll deduction plans.  How fortunate we are to have the United Arts Fund in our community and to have Community Shares of Minnesota leverage their resources to maximize each and every dollar contributed to the arts through the United Arts Fund.”


COMPAS engages students, teens, hospital patients and older adults in creating art. All programs are led by professional musicians, visual artists, performers, and writers. Established in 1968 and incorporated in 1974, COMPAS is an experienced innovator in creative, art-filled learning. From its first Poets in the Schools program to the current Arts Education programs, COMPAS has been recognized for excellence by the National Endowment for the Arts and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, among others. Last year approximately 50,000 Minnesotans participated in COMPAS-delivered programs, and more than a quarter million people participated in programs supported by the United Arts Fund.