Visual arts grantmaking is divided into many composite pieces. There exist grants for individual artists, for nonprofits, and for art conservation efforts, among others. Many areas of funding are subdivided into traditional, nontraditional, and experimental work or into categories such as painting on canvas, works on paper, and so forth. 

A large portion of the major grantmakers in the visual arts operate in New York City, but not all. A good number are based in other urban centers around the country and on the West Coast in Los Angeles, San Diego, and other cities. There may not be quite as many grantmakers in the visual arts as in the performing arts, but there are definitely a number of large foundations that give considerable support in this area. You just have to find the one that's right for your artistic mission.

FUNDERS

ANGELL FOUNDATION

Angell donates generously to arts nonprofits that help disadvantaged youth discover art. Arts-education programs, afterschool workshops and scholarships for aspiring art students are a few examples of what it likes to fund, but it only awards grants in California and New England. 

ANNENBERG FOUNDATION

Annenberg is willing to “…take measured risks” in its fine arts grantmaking. We don’t know what the foundation considers to be risky, but at least it presents an open mind in its grantmaking.

ANONYMOUS WAS A WOMAN

Anonymous Was A Woman provides unrestricted grants to female artists over age 40, in recognition of those artists’ accomplishments, growth and quality of work. These grants are a big deal at $25,000 for unrestricted funds.

AYRSHIRE FOUNDATION

The foundation sees “community culture” as a vital aspect of positive change, and visual arts as a key component of community culture. But it only funds in some geographic areas. 

BAY & PAUL FOUNDATIONS

Supports visual arts education through two funding streams, one concentrating on museum-based conservation and preservation, another on applied visual arts ed for adults and children.

LEON BLACK FAMILY FOUNDATION

Most grantseekers won't get far here, but Black is a serious collector and arts philanthropist in New York City and beyond.

BLACK ROCK ARTS FOUNDATION

Black Rock funds interactive, participatory visual art experiences. Keep that in mind when submitting a letter of inquiry. The foundation has two grant programs, its Civic Arts Projects and Grants to Artists Program.

BNSF RAILWAY FOUNDATION

The BNSF Railway Foundation funds various artistic and cultural institutions. 

LOUIS L. BORICK FOUNDATION

Borick funds nonprofit art organizations that increase access to arts education, art institutions, and museums.

DANIEL AND ESTRELLITA BRODSKY FAMILY FOUNDATION

This couple's foundation backs the arts in New York City, with a particular focus on Latin American art. The foundation supports major New York institutions, including the Met, MoMA and New York Botanical Garden.

MARGARET A. CARGILL FOUNDATION

Cargill supports a variety of arts-related projects; however, it prioritizes funding Margaret Cargill Foundation supports projects related to folk and Native American arts.

CHARTWELL CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

The philanthropic vehicle of Jerrod Perenchio, former chairman and CEO of Univision, and his wife Margaret. Supporting the arts is a top priority, but the couple gives very selectively. 

STEVEN A. AND ALEXANDRA M. COHEN FOUNDATION

Finance billionaire Steve Cohen and his wife have an interest in art and a vast fortune. And while their foundation mainly funds in Connecticut and New York City, they've recently been reaching westward to Los Angeles. 

CREATIVE CAPITAL

Creative Capital grants are limited to $50,000. But getting a Creative Capital grant means that you will get a ton of help with professional development, financial management and marketing—services with immeasurable value for artists. 

DORSEY & WHITNEY FOUNDATION

This foundation of a national law firm describes itself as “an enthusiastic supporter of cultural programs and initiatives.” An open application process and its commitment to offering general support to arts organizations are compelling reasons to introduce your visual arts program.

MAX AND VICTORIA DREYFUS FOUNDATION

Funder created upon the death of famed music publisher Max Dreyfus, who worked with American greats like George Gershwin and Cole Porter. The foundation provides modest grants that make a big difference. 

EHRENKRANZ FAMILY FOUNDATION

The couple's arts philanthropy focuses largely on New York City, with a focus on photography and contemporary art. They are huge art collectors.

ENTERGY FOUNDATION

Entergy funds early childhood education organizations that work with low-income and underserved communities.

FIDELITY FOUNDATION

The Fidelity Foundation views arts and culture, including the visual arts (and especially support of museums), as a primary focus of its philanthropic pursuits. It takes a rigorous business-model approach to the types of projects it funds.

FIRSTENERGY FOUNDATION

The FirstEnergy Foundation gives very modest amounts to a long list of organizations, but is a steadfast supporter of visual arts organizations, particularly of museums and arts centers.

FLORA FAMILY FOUNDATION

The Flora Family Foundation makes substantial investments in arts and culture throughout the U.S., and this includes visual arts—though the foundation emphasizes this arena to a lesser degree than others. 

FOUNDATION FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS

The FCA supports a wide range of visual artists, including photographers, sculptors, performance artists, and more. Expect stiff competition for the small number of unrestricted grants offered here.

GEORGIA-PACIFIC FOUNDATION

Philanthropic arm of the major paper manufacturer supports visual arts through its community enrichment focus; unique in that all giving funds general operating support.

EUGENE AND MARILYN GLICK FAMILY FOUNDATION

Makes modest grants to a wide range of organizations, primarily but not exclusively in the Indianapolis area. No web presence, so best to reach out to the board.

HEARST FOUNDATIONS

Grants from the Hearst Foundations benefit existing, high-achieving organizations with budgets over $1 million. Its focus on culture includes a substantial commitment to visual arts, and museums in particular.

ELIZABETH FIRESTONE GRAHAM FOUNDATION

This funder only supports contemporary visual art, specifically emerging or under-recognized artists, with a focus on promoting their work. 

GETTY FOUNDATION

The Getty Foundation's set of initiatives is in constant flux. Some are core to its priorities and are maintained longer than others.

GRAHAM FOUNDATION FOR ADVANCED STUDIES IN FINE ARTS

This funder is about as niche as they come. It backs visual artists and arts organizations engaged with architecture.

ELIZABETH GREENSHIELDS FOUNDATION

The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation supports early career artists in painting, drawing, sculpture, and printmaking.

JOHN SIMON GUGGENHEIM MEMORIAL FOUNDATION

This foundation does not award grants. Rather, it awards a large number of fellowships to fine artists and those working in other disciplines around the world. Guggenheim awarded around 200 fellowships in 2012.

EDWARD C. JOHNSON FUND

The Edward C. Johnson Fund gives out tens of millions of dollars annually. It prioritizes the arts, with a preference for institutions in the Boston area. Beyond its direct arts giving, the family supports lending art to museums. 

KNIGHT FOUNDATION

Knight’s Fostering the Arts Program is big, making over 100 grants to artists in all disciplines around the country. Knight awards grants for a multitude of artistic endeavors including music, exhibitions, lecture series, dance and museums.

MARIE-JOSEE AND HENRY KRAVIS FOUNDATION

The foundation of a billionaire collector couple isn't open to grantseekers, and mainly gives in New York. But the couple's arts philanthropy is expanding.  

LANNAN FOUNDATION

Lannan Foundation prioritizes contemporary artists who are in their “mid- to senior-career stages,” and more generally supports work to create a broader audience and awareness of contemporary art.  

LEON LEVY FOUNDATION

Levy’s Arts and Humanities Program supports multiple disciples of fine art. Almost all of its grants in the arts fund art institutions and museums in New York City and the immediate surrounding area. Unsolicited proposals are not accepted.

HENRY LUCE FOUNDATION

Luce’s American Art Program awards grants in decorative art and fine art as well as scholarly art programs and dissertations in painting, sculpture, prints, drawings, photography and architecture. Luce’s grantmaking is limited to the United States.

MACY'S

Macy’s makes substantial grants in the area of arts and culture, and visual arts are at the forefront of this giving (especially museums). Some of this funding comes from the foundation, but much more is given directly by the corporation.

ANDREW W. MELLON FOUNDATION

The Mellon Foundation principally funds projects that focus on Art History, conservation, and museums.

JOAN MITCHELL FOUNDATION

This funder mostly backs painters and sculptors, with lucrative grants and residencies available for different career phases and professional circumstances. Applications are typically by invitation only.

NATIONAL YOUNGARTS FOUNDATION

Emerging visual artists 15 to 18 years old are eligible for National Youth Arts Foundation grants. The NYAF’s goal is to cultivate and develop the next generation of artists with mentorship, scholarships, and other opportunities.

LILLIAN ORLOWSKY AND WILLIAM FREED FOUNDATION

This foundation has a very specific grant focus—American painters aged at least 45, not well known, and in financial need. It’s niche to be sure, but if you fit the bill, there’s nothing else like it.

POLLOCK-KRASNER FOUNDATION

The Pollock-Krasner Foundation gives grants to painters, sculptors, and artists who work on and with paper, including printmakers.  

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG FOUNDATION

Rauschenberg supports grants smaller and mid-sized visual arts groups, projects, and organizations. 

SAKANA FOUNDATION

Founded by Bay Area couple Bill and Sakurako Fisher, the Sakana Foundation supports museums, theaters, dance, and more.

SPRINT FOUNDATION

Sprint largely awards its visual arts grants to smaller and local museums, arts, and culture centers. 

SURDNA FOUNDATION

Surdna's arts support falls under its Thriving Cultures Program, which supports "efforts to encourage teens to explore the arts, involve artists in community development projects and foster the growth and success of local artists as economic engines and agents for social change."

CARL AND MARILYNN THOMA ART FOUNDATION

Thoma's visual arts grants support curatorial research and planning, arts writing, publications, exhibitions and performances, lectures, symposia, and educational events.

EMILY HALL TREMAINE FOUNDATION

Tremaine supports projects that help to expand career opportunities of visual artists, as well as skills building, networking, and learning programs for curators.

UNION PACIFIC FOUNDATION

This funder places a consistent emphasis on culture and the arts. Funding for the visual arts is at the top of the foundation's arts giving list.

UNITED STATES ARTISTS

United States Artists gives out as many as 50 unrestricted $50,000 grants directly to artistic creators each year. Support for visual artists is at the forefront of this giving. This is a very competitive grant.

U.S. BANCORP FOUNDATION

A significant grantor of visual arts organizations in 25 states—particularly museums. The foundation views arts and culture support as part of a larger context of community development and uplift.

ANDY WARHOL FOUNDATION

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts fosters "innovative artistic expression and the creative process by encouraging and supporting cultural organizations that in turn, directly or indirectly, support artists and their work."

WELLS FARGO FOUNDATION

Supports arts and culture in the 44 states where Wells Fargo does business. Support for visual arts (particularly museums) is a major focus.

WESTERN STATES ARTS FEDERATION

Grants go to organizations in western states that present the work of visual artists who also reside in western states. Within this geographic range, many opportunities are available.

VIA ART FUND

The VIA Fund supports individual artists, curators, and small to mid-sized nonprofit organizations working the contemporary arts space.