Attention Midcareer Artists of All Stripes: Check Out the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation's Fellowships

Call me crazy, but it seems like we as a society tend to respect composers more than performers. Consider it yet another legacy of the Beatles. Before they came around, many of the popular artists of the day—Elvis, Frank Sinatra, etc.—sang tunes written by other people. And there was (and is) nothing wrong with that.

The Beatles changed that dynamic. Here was a band that wrote and performed their own songs—and the rest is history.

This distinction between creator and performer is a fine one, but one that has real-world implications. Let's face it: On the totem pole of artistic respectability, creators are a carved wooden head above interpreters.

All of which brings me to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for Artists and Scholars. The fellowship explicitly articulates the distinction between creative and performing arts. To the latter, the foundation understands the performing arts to be those in which an "individual interprets work created by others."

And when it comes to performing arts, the foundation isn't interested. It is now accepting applications for its mid-career Guggenheim fellowships to "composers but not conductors, singers, or instrumentalists; choreographers but not dancers; filmmakers, playwrights, and performance artists who create their own work but not actors or theater directors." Got that?

If the fellowship sounds vaguely familiar, it's because I once profiled Maud Casey, a University of Maryland creative writing professor who previously received a fellowship. Casey epitomizes what the foundation is looking for—a mid-career fiction writer too busy to take time off and fully immerse herself in her creative work.

Well, the application window for the next round of grants is open, so what are you waiting for? Here are some other important details:

  • Fellowships provide grants to selected individuals over a period of between six and twelve months.
  • Fellowships are not available for the creation of residencies, curriculum development, or any type of educational program, nor are they available to support the development of websites or blogs.
  • Grant amounts vary, and the foundation does not guarantee it will fully fund any project.
  • The Foundation receives between 3,500 and 4,000 applications each year. Although no one who applies is guaranteed success in the competition, there is no pre-screening. All applications are reviewed.
  • Approximately 200 Fellowships are awarded each year.
  • Application deadline is September 19, 2015.

For more information and to apply, click here.