Creative Capital: Grants for Visual Arts

OVERVIEW: Creative Capital was originally founded in order to "reinvent cultural philanthropy" by applying the principles of venture capital to arts funding. It invests in the long term by forming ongoing relationships with the projects it supports. Creative Capital takes an entrepreneurial long-view of its funding, so its support goes way beyond just funding worthy recipients. Additionally, all of its grants have an open application process, so anyone who meets the eligibility criteria can apply.

IP TAKE:  Creative Capital is one of the most unique and dynamic grantmaking institutions in the arts today. Securing support from this foundation enables all manner of connections and backing beyond the initial grant, and there are much fewer barriers to entry than most funders. The visual arts grants are highly competitive, but grant seekers are invited to reapply the next year if they are not selected.

PROFILE: Founded in 1999, Creative Capital seeks to inspire “a deep connection and commitment to artists” and help “those working in all creative disciplines realize their visions and build sustainable practices.” It supports five main areas of the arts: Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Literature, Film/Video (also known as "Moving Image"), and Emerging Fields.

Creative Capital’s project financing process includes an individualized approach that provides grantees with "sequential financial support and tailored advisory services to enable their project’s success and help them build sustainable careers." Since this process is uniquely comprehensive, the application cycles for each area are done on a yearly rolling basis, and each grant round opens near the beginning of each February. It also holds open calls for grant applications from U.S. citizens. Applicants cannot be students and must be at least 25 years old and a working artist with at least five years of professional experience.

Each grant recipient also gets a three- to seven-year commitment that involves a high level of engagement between Creative Capital and the artist for that period. The commitment includes things such as advisory services, consultations with Artist Services staff, access to its network of arts consultants, Artist Retreats, phone-in clinics, and various promotional activities. Creative Capital values these career development services at around $45,000, for a total commitment to each recipient of up to $95,000 per project.

Creative Capital also offers the Arts Writers Grant Program. The Arts Writers Grant supports writers whose work "addresses contemporary visual art," particularly those who write directly about and promote contemporary works of visual art. The breakdown of grant amounts for various areas is $15,000 to article writers, $30,000 for blogs, $50,000 for books, $15,000 for new media, and $30,000 for short-form writing. Past grantees can be found here.

It gives 20 grants each year - roughly 3% of applicants are selected to receive a grant. However, grant seekers can apply more than once and the jurors are different each year. Evaluators consider the quality of the writing as well as the originality and/or urgency of the project.

Since its inception, Creative Capital has given over $40 million in financial and advisory support to over 400 projects, representing over 500 different artists. And since competition can be so fierce, it can be helpful to read eligibility criteria and founder Ruby Lerner's blog post on Creative Capital's grantmaking process. Grant seekers can apply here.


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