How To Apply For An Artist Grant

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For the inspired creative professional, an artist grant provides an amazing opportunity to spread your wings as a creator. The reality, however, is that securing funds for your project is highly competitive and time-consuming. So, how do you make sure that your idea gets the opportunities it deserves?

artist grant
Chuck Close, a recipient of the National Endowment For The Arts Grant

If you have an outstanding creative vision, your grant application plays a critical role in demonstrating the artistic merit of your project. Once awarded, you are allocated funds to help build your project, even if it is not commercially viable.

With this funding, you can afford greater access to materials, studio space and anything else needed to create the project. For this reason, the first step of this process is to ensure that your idea is fully developed and planned. Once you are 100% confident that every aspect of your plans is solid, you may proceed with applying for a grant.

Select a Grant Provider

There are many different organizations and foundations which support the arts and provide grants for worthy artists. It’s up to you to decide which ones are the most suitable for your type of work.

Here are some recommendations you may consider:

Franklin Furnace Fund
Franklin Furnace Fund awards grants between $2,000 and $5,000 to performance artists, allowing them to produce major works anywhere in the State of New York.

Sea of Ice by James Casebere
Photograph “Sea of Ice” by James Casebere, a recipient of the NYFA grant

New York Foundation For The Arts
New York Foundation for The Arts seeks to empower emerging artists from a variety of disciplines to help with the critical stages of professional development. NYFA serves individual artists by providing financial and informational assistance. However, you should keep in mind that the categories may change each year.

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Read Over The Guidelines And Instructions Carefully

artist grant

Once you have chosen where to apply, you will download the application form, which is available on the organization’s website. Read through all the guidelines and instructions to make sure you are eligible to receive the grant. You do not want to end up spending hours of your precious time filling out forms, only to later realize that you do not qualify for the grant.

Moreover, some organizations may require specific supporting documents, references and other background information to support your application. Ensure that you carefully read and understand the requirements for the submission process. You can also consider creating your own personal checklist to organize all your documents.

What support material should I select for my artist grant application?

In order to strengthen your grant application, you should collect support material which complements and highlights your strengths and accomplishments. The inclusion of this information is really your chance to shine, especially since each year, the selection committee receives thousands of grant applications from across the country. Even the most cleverly written application may not be accepted if the submitted support material is not up to par.

The reason why this part of the application is so vital is because the committees actually base their rating of artistic merit upon these documents. As a result, these documents must be a strong indication of your value as a creator-– anything that appears too weak or has little relevance to the planned project or activity will be rejected.

Useful Article: How To Create A Professional Portfolio

It’s useful to choose material that reflects the journey of your artistic development and achievements. It should also reveal the promise and confidence you possess. You can include some early work to show the committee where you have come from artistically, but you should mostly include your recent work. Your choice of work samples should also relate to the greater purpose of your grant application.

You should make sure to present the support material in the most professional way possible. If you’re including images, for instance, they should be in the best quality. Detailed guidelines about image format are always provided in the application form’s support material section. Do not deviate from the instructions—not even slightly!

The Artist Resume

Your resumé or CV is a vital part of the support material section. It shows the peer assessment committee evidence of your professional maturity as an artist. These documents should include pertinent information about your education, training or any public exhibitions that have showcased your work.

Useful Article: The Artist CV

What should I write in the application?

There is no exact science to writing your application. It’s best to take a straightforward and clear-cut in how you express your goals. You should certainly include what you have done in the past, what you are currently doing and what you hope to accomplish with the grant. The peer assessment committees tend to favor applications that are concise and personal. However, once again, there is no perfect or guaranteed formula for writing a successful grant application.

Artist grant application forms

The ultimate objective for the written part of the grant application is to get the peer assessment committee excited about your proposed project and interested in  supporting it. This means you should clearly outline what your intended project is about, how it fits the scope of your practice and its expected impact on your artistic growth. If you believe that your project will not only advance you personally, but may also influence society in a powerful way, you should discuss these plans as well.

To help strengthen your application, here are a few checklist points to keep in mind:

Back up all your claims with concrete facts

This means you should avoid broad statements such as, “This grant will help my voice be heard” and instead use statements like, “ This grant will allow me to build awareness about animal cruelty”

If your application is NOT online, make sure your application is legible

Keep in mind that the presentation of the application reflects your professionalism.

Respond to every assessment criterion of the program—do not skip any steps.

Include relevant background information

You should never presume that the peer assessment committee will “read between the lines” or is familiar with your artistic approach.

Be short and sweet

Nobody wants to read a dissertation on your life-long dreams as an artist

Lastly, you must always keep in mind that grant applications are extremely competitive. Yet, with every competition, there is always a new batch of applicants, a different peer assessment committee and a varied amount of funding available. So, just because you did not receive the grant, does not mean your work lacks merit. If this is the case, you simply need to reconsider your application and perhaps try again or apply for a different grant.

Looking to develop your artistic career and build a presence in New York City and worldwide? Book an online career development consultation meeting today.


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