Ford Foundation: Grants for Visual Arts

OVERVIEW: With more than $11 billion in assets, the Ford Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the United States. It prioritizes addressing inequality and fostering social change. 

IP TAKE: The Ford Foundation supports artist-driven projects that emphasize creativity but nevertheless remain grounded in issues of social justice.

PROFILE: Created in 1936 by the automaker Henry Ford and his son Edsel, the Ford Foundation has historically approached visual arts grantmaking almost exclusively from a social justice angle. It seeks to “reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement.” In 2015, the Ford Foundation underwent a significant organizational restructuring, but the foundation’s work is still driven by the core view that “inequality, in all its forms, is the greatest impediment to just, fair, and peaceful societies;” all seven of its program areas are directed toward this issue.

The Challenging Inequality funding area includes a Creativity and Free Expression program. This program seeks to explore “how cultural narratives affect and shape our reality, and how the arts, journalism, and film can contribute to fairer and more just societies.” It supports projects from individuals and organizations that draw attention to underrepresented groups and strengthen marginalized peoples.

Operating within the Creativity and Free Expression program, JustFilms supports film, video, and emerging media projects that “inspire imaginations, disrupt stereotypes, and help transform the conditions that perpetuate injustice and inequality.” View recently produced films from this program here to see what types of projects JustFilms supports.

Grants typically range from $100,000 to $500,000, but may go as low as $50,000 or as high as $3,000,000. Ford’s grants database for examples of recent grants in this area.

Arts grant seekers can submit project ideas via this online form. Ford usually responds to submissions within 45 days. JustFilms has its own online application form, and its inquiry requirements differ from other Creativity and Free Expression programs.


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