Emergencies Happen. And When They Do, This is the Grantmaker to Call

During the making Citizen Kane, Orson Welles injured his ankle and had to direct from a wheelchair. He also gashed his hand and "drank so much tea he was 'the color of tannic acid.'" 

In the annals of what could go wrong in the making of a movie, we think these unexpected developments, relatively speaking, aren't so bad. (The color of tannic acid, by the way, is a rusty peach.)

But Orson's misadventures underscore a grim reality across any type of artistic pursuit: sometimes things don't go according to plan. It's precisely this logic that undergirds the Foundation for Contemporary Arts' Emergency Grants program, which provides provides grants of up to $2,000 to: 

Innovative visual and performing artists who have unanticipated, sudden opportunities to present their work to the public when there is insufficient time to seek other sources of funding; or who incur unexpected or unbudgeted expenses for projects close to completion with committed exhibition or performance dates. 

"Wow," you may think, "It's almost as if the program was created by artists who themselves have experienced unexpected expenses!" And of course, you'd be correct. The foundation was started by John Cage and Jasper Johns in the early 1960s.

Since the foundation's inception, more than 2,500 grants have been awarded to artists and arts organizations, totaling over $11 million. To date, over 900 artists have made these grants possible by contributing paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and photographs to multiple fundraising exhibitions held over the years. Check out our take on the foundation's other grant offerings here.

As for the Emergency Grants, eligible applicants must be:

  • Living, working, and paying taxes in the United States
  • Committed to a performance or exhibition opportunity and be able to provide specific dates at the time of application, and  
  • An individual artist or an individual representing an artist collective, ensemble, or group

Curators, producers, workshop organizers, organizations, or arts presenters are not eligible to apply.

Applications are reviewed monthly by a volunteer committee of established artists. The foundation recommends applying within six to eight weeks of the performance or exhibition date.

For complete program guidelines click here.