When Massachusetts artists contact us (MCC) to ask about grant support for individual artists, our first response is, of course, to strongly encourage they investigate our Artist Fellowship Program (note: online application and guidelines for the 2009 cycle, which accepts applications in Crafts, Film & Video, Music Composition, Playwriting, and Sculpture/Installation, will be available on our website October 2008).
However, we thought it might be useful to list some of the other grant opportunities we share with artists looking for funding for their ongoing work.
First, a caveat: not every grant opportunity listed here will be right for every artist. Before applying, you need to ask yourself whether that particular grant is a good fit and thus worth taking time and energy away from your work. Also, this is by no means a comprehensive list, so feel free to let us know about other funding opportunities for individual artists.
Local Cultural Council Grants
We already mentioned our Artist Fellowships Program, which offers unrestricted grants for individual artists, based on an anonymous review of recent artistic work. Another MCC program that includes support for individual artists is the Local Cultural Council Program. Whereas Artist Fellowships provide direct support to the artists themselves, Local Cultural Councils award smaller grants (typically averaging $200-$500) for projects that benefit a specific Massachusetts community. There are 351 cities and towns that support community cultural activity. You must explain in your application how your project will benefit that particular community and engage its residents. Funding criteria and priorities vary from town to town, so the best way to see if your project is right for a particular community is to contact that LCC (here are a list of LCC contacts). If you have questions about the program in general, feel free to contact the MCC’s Communities Department. The next postmark deadline is October 15, 2008.
Beyond the MCC’s programs are a number of other opportunities for local artists.
For the past 15 years, LEF Foundation has played a key role part in fostering and promoting contemporary art in New England. If you follow our ArtSake blog, you may have read this post about changes in LEF Foundation’s funding support to artists and their projects. The Contemporary Work Fund, which has supported artists in different media including performing arts, visual arts, and music, is in its final year. The next cycle (2009), its last, will accept applications for project support in visual arts and new media. After that, LEF will focus on supporting independent documentary film through its Moving Image Fund.
Individual artists applying for LEF grants will need to find a nonprofit organization to act as fiscal sponsor. More information, including how to apply, here. Letters of inquiry for applying to the final Contemporary Work Fund cycle are due (in-office) on September 26, 2008. Guidelines for the Spring 2009 cycle for the Moving Image Fund will be posted on LEF’s website November 2008.
Mass Humanities offers pre- and post-production and distribution grants to film projects that support humanities themes (check out Executive Director David Tebaldi’s post on The Public Humanist blog about what makes a good humanities film). Similar to the LEF application process, individuals will need a fiscal sponsor to apply. For example, At Home in Utopia, a film by Michal Goldman (Film & Video Fellow 07), received Mass Humanities funding by applying through the Filmmakers Collaborative. As with other programs, the best way to see whether this funding is right for your project and to learn more specifics is to contact the organization.
Founded in response to the decline of NEA funding for individual artists, Artadia offers unrestricted grants to visual artists in specific communities. In 2007, Boston was added as one of those communities, and a group of 10 visual artists/collaborations received awards ranging from $1500 to $15,000. Another grant application cycle is planned for winter/spring 2009.
Another way to find grant opportunities is through searchable grant databases, which allow you to set your own search criteria so you can find opportunities that truly fit your needs.
The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston offers a “comprehensive index of arts-related employment opportunities, internships, civic engagement partnerships, grants, residencies, exhibitions, competitions, public art commissions, artist workspaces, and related community resources,” called artSource.
NYFA Source is a searchable database of national grant opportunities, sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts. Don’t be alarmed that the site is hosted by a New York organization; the database includes opportunities from throughout the country. You can set your own search criteria, which is useful for filtering out those that don’t apply.
So, that’s a start.
I think we probably all have the same wish: that there was simply more, more funding sources, more funds from those sources. Expect to see this post reappear in new drafts as the arts funding landscape changes – hopefully with more opportunities.