Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation: Grants for Visual Arts

OVERVIEW: The Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation supports contemporary visual art by providing grants to partially fund catalogues and other publications that document exhibitions by emerging or under-recognized artists.

IP TAKE: The Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation has found a niche market. It only supports contemporary visual art, but it does so in the context of supporting emerging or under-recognized artists. Even more specifically, it does this by offering support as a partial funder for exhibition catalogs and other publications that document these artists’ work. It is specific, but if it suits grant seekers’ needs, this is a great opportunity.

PROFILE: The Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation “is dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of contemporary visual art, primarily through the support of catalogues and other publications that document exhibitions of work by emerging or under-recognized artists.”

First: The foundation does not define “contemporary visual art,” so it most likely refers to the “baseline” definition of art established in the 1960s/70s. Additionally, the foundation specifies that it will not support projects solely featuring the work of deceased artists.

Second: The foundation supports catalogs and other publications created to exhibit, market, archive, and raise awareness of art.

Third: The foundation prioritizes “emerging” and “under-recognized” artists. What levels of exhibition and recognition might occur while an artist is still legitimately “emerging?” What does it mean to be “under-recognized” as an artist? The foundation adds a bit more to enrich our understanding of the latter and states that it prefers to “support artists from marginalized populations” and “provide exposure to contemporary art where it may not otherwise be seen.”

The vast majority of Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation grants fund catalogs featuring the work of an artist/curated art group, but these publications must exist in conjunction with a showing supported by a non-profit exhibiting organization. The foundation also earmarks a limited subsection of its funds for publications related to the exhibiting organization and its more general programs or collections. The foundation also favors certain types of exhibiting nonprofit organizations and states that it is particularly interested in supporting catalogs “produced by organizations outside the nation’s cultural centers.”

Grants from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation generally fall in the $5,000 to $15,000 range. The foundation will not be the sole funder of these publications; it explicitly states that it “is unlikely to provide grants exceeding one third of the proposed publication budget,” so grant seekers should be sure to have a game plan for the rest of their funding when they approach this grantor.

The Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation has funded catalogs for Jessica Rath at the University Art Museum (Cal State University Long Beach); Diana Al-Hadid at the Weatherspoon Art Museum (University of North Carolina Greensboro), Luis Gispert for a traveling exhibition organized by Independent Curators International, Maximilian Goldfarb at the Lost Coast Culture Machine in Ft. Bragg, CA; and Gaylen Hansen at the Museum of Art at Washington State University (St. Louis, MO). The foundation has also supported publications for work presented at Suyama Space in Seattle, WA; Athica in Athens, GA; and Plains Art Museum in Fargo, ND, among others.

The foundation has an open application process that starts with an LOI, then possibly a full grant application. Proposed project dates must fall within one year of the foundation’s funding cycle; grant applications are reviewed semi-annually by the foundation’s trustees.

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