Individual Mandate: How Artist Trust in Washington State Provides Support

 photo: sirtravelalot/shutterstock

photo: sirtravelalot/shutterstock

When we write about the many different types of foundations around the U.S., one thing we always take note of is the list of things that these groups do not fund. For example, many foundations don't back capital projects, like new buildings. Others don't fund public policy advocacy. And the vast majority of foundations don’t fund individuals.

Individual funding is perhaps more of a pressing need in the arts than anywhere else because so many artists fly solo rather than joining an organized group. We write often about the handful of national funders that support individual artists, like the Herb Alpert Foundation. But there are also some local and regional funders who operate in this space, including Artist Trust, which is a Seattle-based organization that largely focuses its giving on the state of Washington. This isn't an endowed foundation, but rather a funding intermediary whose backing comes from foundations and individual donors, as well as some corporations. 

Artist Trust has not just one or two grantmaking programs for artists, but a total of eight funding opportunities, not to mention resources for jobs, workspaces, and housing listings. Here’s a bit more about these eight individual artist opportunities for artists in Washington State:

1. Grants for Artist Projects

These grants support projects including development, completion, or presentation in any discipline for new work and are $1,500 each. There are 61 of these grants expected to be awarded this year.

2. Fellowships

The funder also provides 10 or more fellowships of $7,500 each year to professional artists based on merit. The fellowships can go to artists working in any discipline, which is fairly characteristic of how Artist Trust works.

3. Conductive Garboil Grants

Conductive means “having the property or capability of conducting,” and garboil means “tumult, disturbance, or disorder.” Conductive Garboil grants go to artists who challenge creative discourse and push art to challenge society. These are unrestricted $3,000 annual grants, and only King Country residents are eligible for these awards rather than the entire state of Washington.

4. LaSalle Storyteller Awards

Artist Trust also awards an annual unrestricted $10,000 for its LaSalle Storyteller Award to literary artists who use storytelling as part of their craft and work in fiction. Only one of these awards is given each year.

5. Twining Humber Awards

Meanwhile, the Twining Humber Award is $10,000 and goes to one female visual artist over the age of 60 who has been creating art for at least 25 years. Those years don’t need to be consecutive, however.

6. James W. Ray Venture Project Awards

James W. Ray Venture Project Awards are $15,000, and two of them are given annually to Washington artists developing individual and collaborative projects. Raynier Institute & Foundation provides funding for this award, which is administered by Artist Trust and as a component of the Artist Trust/ Frye Art Museum Consortium.

7. James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Awards

James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Awards are $50,000 each, with one award going to an artist each year for exceptional originality. This is the largest award that Artist Trust gives, and its funding also comes from the Raynier Institute & Foundation.

8. Arts Innovator Awards

Finally, the Arts Innovator Awards are funded through the Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation and give an unrestricted $25,000 to two Washington artists who are taking risks and pushing boundaries. Demonstrating innovation through experimentation is the key to securing this particular award.

Each of these opportunities has its own unique guidelines and deadlines, so check the funders For Artists/Money page for the most up-to-date information of what’s available right now. Unsolicited grant requests are accepted. You can also read more here about past grantees to get a better sense of where the money goes.