Lannan Foundation: New Mexico Grants

OVERVIEW: The Lannan Foundation is committed to supporting innovative and even controversial approaches to the visual and literary arts. The foundation also awards grants for programs related to indigenous Native American communities and that promote cultural freedom. With at least $223 million in assets, Lannan focuses grantmaking not only on Santa Fe, but also throughout New Mexico and nationwide.

FUNDING AREAS: Contemporary visual art, literature, indigenous communities, cultural freedom

IP TAKE: Unlike many foundation’s funding processes, Lannan actually encourages grantseekers to directly contact a relevant program director and discuss a prospective project before doing anything else. Lannan believes that this arrangement enables a nonprofit to learn firsthand the current interests and aims of the foundation and for the foundation staff to learn of new developments in their program areas. Visit the foundation’s staff page to confirm your first point of contact.

PROFILE: The Lannan Foundation is a family foundation that’s committed to cultural diversity and creative freedom through supporting artists, writers, and Native American activists. Unlike some foundations that focus exclusively on metrics and financial returns on investments, Lannan recognizes the unquantifiable value of the creative process and is willing to take risks for ambitious and experimental thinking.

J. Patrick Lannan, Sr. was an entrepreneur and financier who established this foundation in 1960. He was a scholar and liberal thinker who saw the value of innovative and controversial forms of visual and literary art, and he had an extensive collection of contemporary and modern American and European art. Lannan passed away in 1983 and left a sizeable chunk of his estate to the Lannan Foundation.

Lannan began making arts grants in 1986 and has supported over 400 projects of more than 200 arts organizations across the country since that time. The foundation began awarding literary grants in 1987 to support nonprofit publishers, literary centers and organizations that bring literary works to wider audiences. The Indigenous Communities program was established in 1994 to support Native Americans working to preserve their institutions and traditions, and the first Cultural Freedom Program prize was awarded in 2003.

Today, Lannan grantmaking is focused on contemporary visual art, literature, indigenous communities, and cultural freedom. The foundation also grants monetary awards and fellowships to individuals who write poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and about cultural freedom. Lannan’s art program is focused on exhibitions, scholarly publications, and special projects for nonprofits that empower contemporary artists in mid-to-senior career stages. Literary grants are awarded to nonprofits that create and promote works that reflect and challenge our understanding of the world.

Grants are only awarded to nonprofit organizations, and awards and fellowships are only given to individuals. Lannan does not accept unsolicited applications or nominations for awards or fellowships. However, the foundation does accept unsolicited letters of inquiry from nonprofit organizations for grants. Before submitting an inquiry, review the program areas, identify the most relevant program director, and call that director to discuss your proposed project.

Keep in mind that Lannan grants are very competitive and only a few organizations are selected to submit a full proposal in each program area. Grants to unsolicited letters of inquiries and proposals are rare, but they do happen from time to time.

At the end of a recent year, the Lannan Foundation reported over $208 million in assets and over $13 million in total giving. Those figures are down from recent years. Past grants have often ranged between $25,000 and $250,000. Although the foundation maintains a national focus overall, New Mexico and Santa Fe typically see a substantial amount of support. Lannan's Readings and Conversations Program, for example, brings a wide range of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry writers to Santa Fe.

To learn more about Lannan, you can listen to the foundation’s podcast, which includes recordings of events from the Readings and Conversations program, as well as rare video interviews and selected past events. General inquiries can be directed to 505-986-8160 or


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