Creative Capital: Grants for Film

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 takes a venture capital approach to its funding in that its grants are seen as long-term investments, not just hand-outs, so grant seekers can expect a lot of follow-up support if they receive one of these grants. The caveat: Grantees must be a professional artist with at least five years of experience.

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 offers grants of up to $50,000 in five main areas: 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 so 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 receives 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.

Each third year Creative Capital awards around 20 or so film and video grants, and all grants awarded are to individual artists, not organizations. The competition for Creative Capital is also among the top tier of talent. For example, among past recipients, Deborah Stratman's work has been featured at the Museum of Modern Art, Cam Archer's film Wild Tigers I Have Known was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, and Nina Menkes work has been screened at a number of film festivals, including Sundance and the Toronto Film Festival.

Creative Capital awards 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 work 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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