Friday, May 1, 2009


How to Get an Artist Grant

Valerie Atkisson / ArtBistro
January 28, 2009

Grants are a great boon to artists. They can help you reach your career goals. The money awarded from grants can support you while you work on a specific project. Do you have a great idea, but cannot afford to make your work? This is what grants are for. There are travel grants to enable you do research for you work. The amount awarded, stipulations, and application procedures for each grant vary widely. Some grants are privately funded and some are publicly funded. Some are given for a specific project that you propose and some are given outright for the work that you do.

Grants are very competitive to get, but as one artist / mentor of mine advised me, “Don’t give up until you have applied ten times.”

How to Apply

Jackie Battenfield, artist and business practices specialist has the following advice about artist grants:

“If you aren’t in it you won’t win it. How many times have you rejected yourself by not following through with an application? If you are eligible for a grant, then it is your responsibility to your work to apply for it. Don’t let this year’s rejection keep you from reapplying next year. Panel’s change, your work develops and you may become the perfect match for the grant.

Many grants are rejected because the applicant has not followed the guidelines. Read the guidelines carefully. If they are online, print them out and use a marker to highlight the most important information. Confirm that your application includes exactly what is requested.

Make sure your proposal is a good fit for the grant. Research former grant recipients to better understand the range of work and projects supported by the funder. If you are uncertain about how your work fits within their guidelines, call or email the organization to set up an opportunity to speak with them.

Briefly outline your proposal and any questions related to their guidelines. The grants officer may be able to provide additional information or help steer your application to stress one aspect of your project over another. You can also ask for advice from previous grant recipients. They too can provide “insider” information.

Your work samples (images, video clip) and project description will be the most important parts of your proposal. Make sure they show off your work to its best advantage. Have others proofread your application before it goes out to address the quality of your images and the clarity of your writing.”

Research the Grant

It is important to research and follow the guidelines of what the panel is looking for in terms of work samples.

The Guggenheim Fellowships offered by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation is a very sought after artist grant. They specify a work sample that covers several years of your career. “A crucial part of the application process is based on the Committee of Selection’s review of each artist’s slides. The Foundation urges artists to send the highest quality slides of their work. It is recommended that while representative examples of your work over a period of years may be included, your most recent creative effort should be emphasized.”

Other grants may be looking for work samples that are geared towards a proposal of what you will do with the grant.

Top 3 Tips for Artist Grant Applications from NYFA

Amber Hawk Swanson from NYFA gave the following advice:

The New York Foundation for the Arts is a national organization whose mission is to empower artists at critical stages in their creative lives.

The most comprehensive resource for individual artists seeking grants is NYFA Source. This database is free and accessible online from NYFA’s website. It tracks over 8,500 programs available to US artists and covers all disciplines. It also contains listings of publications geared specifically to individual artists. After using NYFA Source to search for grants and to find publications that are relevant to funding for artists, keep in mind the following three artist grant application tips:

Read the guidelines carefully and review application questions before getting started. Organizations often host seminars for their prospective applicants. These information seminars are intended to discuss the program’s guidelines, provide further details about the decision and selection process, and answer any other relevant questions from artists. They can be a fantastic “inside look” at the granting organization’s process and attendance is highly recommended. If the grant for which you are applying does not host a seminar and you have a question about what is required that is not answered in the guidelines, contact the Program Officer or contact listed by the organization in the guidelines.

In the project narrative or comparable statement component of a grant application, answer exactly what is asked in the guidelines and pay attention to word count and other formatting restrictions. Keep in mind that a jury often has hundreds of applications to review so be concise and make your statement relevant to the mission and priorities of the granting organization. While composing your statement, ask yourself, “Why should they award me a grant?” Ask someone else to read your statement to be sure it is clear and to ensure that you are emphasizing your project’s relevance to their granting organization.

Apply to the Grant that Fits

There are also some grants that offer assistance on need-based requirements. The Pollock-Krasner Foundation is one that is need-based. “The Foundation welcomes, throughout the year, applications from visual artists who are painters, sculptors and artists who work on paper, including printmakers. The Foundation encourages applications from artists who have genuine financial needs that are not necessarily catastrophic. Grants are intended for a one-year period of time. The Foundation will consider need on the part of an applicant for all legitimate expenditures relating to his or her professional work and personal living, including medical expenses. The size of the grant is determined by the individual circumstances of the artist.”

What ever you need there is a grant for it. We have a database of grants and scholarships on ArtBistro that you can search. Search them here. Another good source to search is Cranbrook’s Library

Applying for grants can be time consuming, but one you have done it several times, the process will get faster. If you are organized and work out a system of starting early to meet deadlines you will find the process more enjoyable. Setting aside some of your studio time for this on a weekly basis will give you the best results.

Good luck!

- this article may be found at

  © Blogger template Brownium by 2009

Back to TOP