Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation: Grants for Visual Arts

OVERVIEW: The Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation is solely dedicated to supporting contemporary visual art. It does this by providing grants that partially fund catalogues and other publications that document exhibitions of work 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, and even more specifically by offering support as a partial funder for exhibition catalogs and other publications that document these artists’ work. It’s specific, but if it suits your needs, this is a great opportunity.

PROFILE: The Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation sums up its mission well, declaring that it “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.”

Within that one sentence, it’s easy to see how specific this foundation’s granting is, and therefore how specific your needs as a visual artist or presenting organization need to be in order to qualify for this foundation’s funding. But if the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation’s specific mission is a match to your needs, this is a terrific opportunity for the contemporary visual arts community. 

First: This is for contemporary visual art. The foundation’s website doesn’t provide a definition, so it is most likely referring to the “baseline” definition of art that is created from the 1960s/70s up through today. The foundation provides additional information in this regard as framed by what it will not support: projects solely featuring the work of deceased artists.

Second: The foundation supports catalogs and other publications that are created in conjunction with the exhibition of the art itself, and in service of marketing it, fostering awareness of it, and creating a lasting archival legacy of it.

Third: The foundation is dedicated to “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, also stating that it likes 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 are given specifically for 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. They 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, stating that 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 does not like to 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 be sure to have a game plan for the rest of your funding when you approach this grantor.

In recent years, the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation has supported 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 Elizabeth Firestone Graham 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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