Creative Capital Goes Beyond Grant Making

What would you do with a $50,000 grant from the Creative Capital Foundation? For most, the first thought would be to buy more supplies, rent more studio space, make more art. Lather, rinse, repeat. But what happens when grantees already have the supplies and the space? How do they manage their remaining grant funds to get the most out of their money? Call their benefactor, that's what they do.

Creative Capital offers grants of up to $50,000 for artists working in all disciplines (See Creative Capital: Grants for the Arts). Beyond the money, the foundation offers multi-year financial and advisory support to their artist grantees. Why? To ensure that their projects are successful and their careers carry forward well into the future. The foundation calls this the "fluid trajectory of the creative process." Don't we all kind of wish we could call on a financial advisor and career counselor any time we wanted…for free? 

At Creative Capital, this is a fact. They aren't talking about making grantees write down their goals on a life-goals board and nailing it to their ceiling so it's the first thing they see when they get out of bed. What they are talking about is requiring each grantee to write down their specific set of career goals and chart their progress with a foundation staff member (Read Creative Capital founder and executive director Ruby Lerner's IP profile). In these individual sessions, the grantee and the staff member discuss where the artist is, where he or she is going, and where he or she wants to be. What's more is that the foundation supports artists and their projects from concept, production, premiere and beyond.

To prepare for life beyond a project's premiere, the foundation offers a Professional Development program to help grantees hone their skills in fundraising, public relations, strategic planning, and marketing. Once the artists are ready to be pushed out of Creative Capital's protective nest, they will have acquired the skills, tools and the ability to effectively continue their careers on their own.

Many artists searching for grants are well aware that some of the best and largest grants out there are by invitation only. In the art world, competition is brutal — especially during an economic downturn — and getting an invite is difficult if not impossible to come by. At Creative Capital they have an open application process. Yes, open application. The only other eligibility requirements that potential grantees must meet are they must be permanent U.S. citizens or legal residents, 25 or older, have at least five years professional art experience and they can't be full-time students. That's it.