Visit the Puffin Foundation website and you'll immediately be greeted by 10 different photos of puffins. That alone is worth the price of admission. But, as you probably could have guessed, there's more. The Teaneck, NJ-based arts organization is now accepting grant applications for the fields of Video/Film, Fine Arts, and Environmental Issues. And based on the foundation's impressive track record, individuals and arts organizations alike should pay close attention.
The foundation's mission statement is both inspiring and tantalizing. It seeks to "open the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artists and art organizations who are often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to their race, gender, or social philosophy." (We used the word "tantalizing" because we'd be very curious to see what types of "social philosophies" are considered outside the mainstream. We'll actually get to that in a second.)
Furthermore, the foundation isn't named after, say, a former oil baron named William F. Puffin. It's named after the pelagic seabird, which serves as a powerful metaphor for the foundation's mission. The once-endangered puffin was returned to its native habitats through the efforts of a concerned citizenry. The foundation's name, therefore, signifies the group's efforts to work with other "concerned groups and individuals to ensure that the arts not merely survive, but flourish at all levels of our society."
Before we take a closer look at the application criteria, here are just a few past grant winners:
- Beth Grossman, whose street performance, "Searching for Democracy: An Act of Civil Obedience," consisted of her "scribing the United States Constitution with a quill pen on moneybags from failed banks."
- Writer/Activist Beverly Bell of Albuqueque, NM received a Puffin grant for a book which addresses the inequality, poverty, and environmental degradation fostered by economic globalization.
- Alliance of Ethics and Art, Inc., whose 2013 film, "The Power of Good Will: African-Americans and Jews Together for Civil Rights," explored how both groups fought for equality during the course of American history.
All in all, the foundation supports dynamic, intriguing, and thought-provoking work. Here are some helpful tips pertaining to their 2015 grant cycle:
- Requests for application packets must be received by December 6th. Completed/returned applications must be postmarked by December 27th.
- Notification on grants approved and declined will be sent starting January 1st and continue through June on a rolling basis.
- There is no online application. The only way to apply is via standard mail.
- The foundation is interested in "art that educates the public on topical issues." A cursory look at past winners on their website effectively illustrates what they're looking for.
- Only citizens and permanent residents of the US may apply.
- Applicants can be individuals or organizations. However, the Foundation will not consider grants from organizations whose annual budget is $1 million or more.