Working Artist Org is a privately run and backed charitable project founded in Tacoma Washington in 2008. According to their mission statement, the institution is “devoted to the acknowledgment and promotion of great contemporary art and artists.”
Working Artist Org Purchase Award Overview
Working Artist Org is somewhat unique amongst grant-makers. While they maintain an open submission process through which they provide monetary awards to individual artists, their grants are framed as a purchase award rather than unrestricted grants. Artists who win a Working Artist Org grant receive $1,000 in exchange for providing a piece of artwork to the Working Artist Org art collection.
Their website explains the process in greater detail:
If selected as our winner, we ask that the award recipient be willing to exchange one of their original works or smaller series of original works for inclusion in our collection, in return for our award. Work considered by the artist as of equal value, and available for acquisition can be negotiated upon receipt of the award. We do pay the artist’s shipping costs. Please send us your best work for review.
This is certainly an interesting concept that other institutions should consider adopting.
Notable Working Artist Org Grant Winners
In the roughly 10 years since the inception of Working Artist Org, they have supported a dynamic range of artists, who would primarily be classified as early career emerging. Some notable recipients in art include:
As always, you should take a hard look at past winners to gauge if this is a potential option for you prior to applying.
Working Artist Org Application Details
Working Artist Org is one of a few institutions to come along in recent years and re-imagine the grant application process. They have truly thrown out the old way of applying for grants. Their application process couldn’t be easier: simply email them your website or 5 images of your work and then submit a $25 fee. There is no application form and statements and CVs are option, you only include them if you feel they will help your application.
An important note here is that the application for artists and photographers uses the same simple process, but they are judged separately. This is good for both sides as it limits the overall competition by separating submissions into two camps which are reviewed independently, thus increasing the likelihood of winning one of these awards.
Who Juries Working Artist Org Purchase Awards?
Similar to the Pollock Krasner Grant, Working Artist Org does not publicize who juries their purchase awards. This somewhat unfortunate because it means you are applying blind in a sense as you do not have the opportunity to research the curatorial perspectives of the jury and you cannot be certain of their status in the larger art world. For this reason, it is especially important to spend time reviewing the work of past recipients (which is fortunately very easy as all past winners are directly linked on Working Artist Org’s homepage).
Applications Accepted on a Rolling Basis
Another fantastic feature of Working Artist Org’s granting model is their quarterly submission deadlines. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis with winners being announced four times per year. This is good news for artists seeking immediate support because the application cycle, from date of submission notification, never exceeds more than three months. Again, this is a refreshing contrast to old-guard institutions like Creative Capital and The Guggenheim Fellowship who force you to spend upwards of a year just to apply for their awards.
If you are looking for your first grant, Working Artist Org can be a good place to start.
Simple application process (no statements, CVs, or paperwork required)
Rolling deadlines mean you can apply at any time of the year
Quick turnaround from submission date to notification of winners
Deep archive of past recipients shows a wide range of perspectives
Dedicated awards for artists & photographers
No public jury means you do not know who is seeing your work, limits your visibility with new arts administrators
Not an unrestricted award-you must provide them with an artwork in exchange for the grant
Young Space (stylized YNGSPC), is a strong, exciting new curatorial voice making major waves in the critical, international discourse. Founded by independent curator Kate Mothes as a way to connect with artists and exhibitions during a postgraduate stint at the University of Edinburgh Scotland, yngspc began its life as a blog, but has since evolved into a full online platform offering a range of opportunities for artists, from exhibitions in physical gallery spaces to online feature, and more recently, unrestricted artist grants.
The mission at Young Space YNGSPC is refreshingly concise:
To promote, support, and collaborate with emerging contemporary artists, encourage transparency, and to engage artists, students, and the community in meaningful dialogue through unique content and projects.
yngspc has certainly delivered on that mission. To get a sense of the range of curatorial projects Mothes has undertaken, visit the exhibition archive. Some standout projects include Memory Place at Hastings College, the online exhibition Salad Days, and Conveyor a two day pop-up exhibition at the Morgan Fine Arts Building in Brooklyn.
And what about the grants?
Young Space Grant Overview
Young Space Grants are made available on a rolling basis as funds become available. Unfortunately, they are nomination only, but the process is totally transparent, unlike other nomination based awards like the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grants.
Here’s how it works: at set times when applications are open, you may nominate up to three individual artists who you know demonstrate a need for financial assistance. Application are then reviewed by Mothes and awards are made based on the strength of the work, not on the length of your CV. More institutions should fund artists this way!
Social Media Check
When you’re assessing which grants to apply for, it’s important to think about the fringe benefits that come with the award, such as publication opportunities, online interviews and features, and social media shoutouts-the types of added support that will help you get your work in front of a larger audience, grow your network, and ultimately lead to new opportunities. In many cases, these extra benefits bring as much or more value than the actual cash amount of the grant.
This is an area where Young Space absolutely thrives.
First, and most impressive, is @yngspc which currently reaches over 85K viewers. Any artist who maintains their own Instagram account (who doesn’t have Instagram at this point?) knows how difficult it is to build an engaged audience of this size.
It is worth applying to one of Young Space’s many opportunities simply to be considered for a feature on their Instagram channel. To be clear, when it comes to reach, Mothes is absolutely crushing old-guard institutions like The Guggenheim and Creative Capital when it comes to leveraging social media to provide massive exposure for the artists she supports. Her success is particularly impressive when you consider the Young Space platform is self funded by a staff of one.
To put it in perspective, The Guggenheim Fellowship doesn’t have an Instagram and their Twitter following is a measly 2,900. Creative Capital (@creative_capital), with their deep pockets and abundance of venture funding, has barely exceeded 10K Instagram followers. Artadia (@artadia), after 20 years of giving grants, can only reach 4,700 viewers on Instagram. Of course, those institutions claim to offer exposure for the artists they support, but their meager social followings tell reveal the reality of their reach, which is, in most cases, quite limited. This begs the question: exactly what are all these old school institutions, with their huge staff lists and rich board members spending their time doing?
Notable Artist Supported by Young Space
While the Young Space grant page doesn’t list past winners, you can get a sense of the type of work the platform supports by viewing the often updated artist section where you will find features, online studio visits, and interviews. Some notable participants include:
As always, take a deep dive on on the YNGSPC database to familiarize yourself with the types of projects they tend to support. This will increase your chances of putting together a winning proposal if you can find ways to implement similar presentation strategies as past winners.
Massive social media following equals huge exposure for artists
Anyone can nominate up to 3 artists to receive need based grants
Active online presence creates additional avenues for artists to share their work
Simple application procedures
Diverse range of past winners
Modest grant amounts compared to old guard institutions
The namesake of painter Adolph Gottlieb, a first generation Abstract Expressionist, The Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation was founded in 1976 with the intention of supporting artists who are at mature point in their practice and who also demonstrate financial need. According to their website:
We offer grants to individual visual artists through two programs: an annual Individual Support Grant and a separate program to assist visual artists in cases of catastrophic events through an Emergency Grant program. We also maintain an archive on the art and life of Adolph Gottlieb and organize exhibitions of his art and that of others.
The Foundation defines maturity as artists who have been engaged in a studio practice for a minimum of 20 years. Moreover, the awards are specifically made available to painters and sculptors. This limited scope is a boon for potential applicants because it means your odds of winning an award far exceed similar grants with larger applicant pools.
Notable Gottlieb Foundation Grant Winners
The Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation has a long history of giving grants to artists working primarily in painting sculpture. Some notable recipients include:
Unfortunately the Foundation does not maintain a full database of past grant winners on their website, but you can explore the 2018 grant winners.
How Much is a Gottlieb Foundation Grant?
Gottlieb Foundation grants are not only incredibly generous at $25,000, but in 2018 the Foundation awarded support to 12 individual artists. This totals $300,000, a truly remarkable sum.
Applications are accepted online and are relatively straightforward, but given the fact that artists must demonstrate financial need, you should be prepared to submit a financial disclosure outlining your income and expenses. In the age of big data and Facebook leaks, the thought of providing financial information to an arts organization may give some applicants pause, but this is a reputable agency with a long history of supporting artists primarily working in painting, with an emphasis on abstraction.
What is the Gottlieb Grant Application Like?
Relative to some of the other institutions, like Creative Capital and Artadia, the Gottlieb Foundation Grant application is simpler. To apply for an award, you must register a profile on the Foundation website and complete a 4 part application:
Images with a list of captions
One exciting aspect of the Gottlieb Foundation Grant application, which clearly differentiates it from every other agency, is that artists are allowed to submit a large number of images. The minimum requirement is 25, but you can submit up to 40. If you have ever struggled to pair down your work to fit an application (who hasn’t?), or if you tend to work in large series, the Gottlieb Grant is definitely for you.
In addition to the images (and unfortunately, just like the Pollock-Krasner Grant), you will need to supply copies of your prior year tax returns, and those of your spouse as well. The Foundation uses these to determine financial need, a major factor of their award process, but approach this with caution. Make sure to take the time to redact sensitive information like your social security number prior to sending in these forms. And NEVER send your only copies!
Gottlieb Foundation Emergency Grants
In addition to individual artist grants, The Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation also offer Emergency Grants to artists who have financial need which has arisen due to an unforeseen, catastrophic incident. There is no deadline for these applications. If you find yourself in a catastrophic situation, apply for a grant at any time.
Foundation on Social Media
@gottliebfoundation currently has just over 1,000 followers. Again, similar to some of the other old guard institutions, you should not expect a lot of exposure for your work across the Foundations social channels; however, the Foundation’s blog is regularly updated with in depth articles covering aspects of maintaining Adolph Gottlieb’s work, such as exhibition making and archiving. While this is not social media per se, it is a great resource if you are curious about what goes in to maintaining an archive at a high level.
Generous $25,000 grants
Submit 25 – 40 images, great for mature artists working in large series
Available to artists with at least 20 years of mature work behind them
Emergency Grants awarded on a rolling basis
Financial disclosure required of all applicants increases the time required to apply
Similar to The Harpo Foundation, The Puffin Foundation Ltd. provides grants to individual artists and arts organizations that have historically been excluded from mainstream opportunities. Their mission outlines this succinctly:
The Puffin Foundation Ltd. has sought to open the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artists and art organizations who are often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to their race, gender, or social philosophy.
Puffin Foundation Grants Overview
The namesake Puffin, a once endangered species which was brought back from the brink of extinction by a coordinated effort of concerned citizens, is the mascot for this generous foundation which aims to do something similar: to join with other concerned groups and individuals to ensure that the arts not merely survive, but flourish at all levels of our society.
How Much is a Puffin Foundation Grant?
Grant amounts from The Puffin Foundation vary, averaging $1,250 for individuals. The maximum award amount is $2,500, which places The Puffin Foundation grants in league with some of the other institutions we have covered, making this a fantastic starting point for early career and emerging artists in pursuit of their first or second major award.
Before you request an application, take note that you will have to mail a printed, hard copy of your portfolio to the Puffin Foundation along with the paper application form. In the digital age, this seems downright archaic. Producing a printed portfolio is not only time consuming, but it is probably going to cost you money as well, considering that not many artists these days maintain printed portfolios.
The volume of paperwork involved in these applications is more inline with The Guggenheim Fellowship, yet the award amounts remain modest, so do your homework and thoroughly review past grant winners prior to taking on the administrative burden of applying for this award.
The Foundation on Social Media
Currently at 300 followers, the Puffin Foundation Instagram is not an avenue through which artists should expect much exposure, although for an institution with such an old-school application process, I commend their effort in launching a new channel. Keep your eye on the feed because it regularly features events and updates from the foundation’s newly launched Puffin Cultural Forum, which is bringing exciting new program to Teanack, New Jersey.
Puffin Foundation Grant Winners
The Puffin Foundation has possibly funded some of the most wide ranging projects out of all the grant-makers reviewed by Artist Grant Resource. Some examples of past recipients include:
Artadia Awards holds a unique position among granting agencies. In addition to generous award amounts, they work on a model which limits applications to a select number of major US cities. According to their website
Artadia is a national non-profit organization that supports visual artists with unrestricted, merit-based awards and fosters connections to a network of opportunities. In the past 18 years, Artadia has awarded over $3 million to more than 300 artists throughout its participating award cities of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.
While Artadia’s program cities comprises an unsurprising list of major arts hubs, if you are fortunate enough to reside in one of their grant cities, Artadia is a great opportunity, especially for emerging artists or artists seeking their first grants. Given the limited scope of applications, the chances of receiving an Artadia Award is higher than institutions like the Pollock-Krasner Foundation for example, where applications are drawn from a national/international pool.
Notable Artadia Awards Winners
Unlike some of the stodgier institutions (re: Guggenheim Fellowship), Artadia Awards genuinely follows through on its mission to “identify innovative visual artists and support them with unrestricted, merit-based financial awards.” Some notable recipients over the years include:
For a complete list of past winners and visit their comprehensive database of past awardees to get some ideas for how to put together a strong portfolio.
How Much are Artadia Awards?
Artadia Grants are $10,000, a generous amount! On top of that, the cash awards are unrestricted, meaning you can spend them in any way that will be most beneficial to you. Additionally, their grants are a great way for artists to make robust, meaningful connections with curators and arts administrators due to the two-tier application review procedure.
What is the Application Process to win Artadia Awards?
To win an Artadia Grant, you first submit images via an online portal. The online applications are then reviewed by a panel which makes a preliminary shortlist of 5 artists (check their database for an idea of the types of administrators that make up their initial review panels).
If you are fortunate enough to make the shortlist, you will have the opportunity to conduct in person studio visit with final review panel which is made up of local artists and curators. This one on one presentation is a fantastic, unique element of the Artadia process and should really be embraced by more organizations as it elevates the potential exposure for all artists involved.
On the flip side, the only 5 artists are chosen for the shortlist and then, from that 5, only 2 artists receive awards in each city. So, this application process, while potential beneficial to a a select few, does require quite a bit of time to complete, without the promise of any actual support. Potential applicants should bear in mind the cost of time committed to these complicated applications and weigh that against the list of past recipients to determine if this is a potential path for them to receive a grant.
Generous $10,000 Grants
City based grants for artists in major metro areas ideally lowers overall competition as it limits the size of the applicant pool
2 tiered application review increases opportunity for exposure through in person studio visits
Truly diverse group of past winners bodes well for unique artists who do not conform to trends
2 tiered application requires a long time commitment
Founded by Aaron Siskind, influential photographic artist and IIT Institute of Design faculty member, the Aaron Siskind Foundation provides the annual Siskind Fellowship to artists working in photography and related photo based media. According to the website:
Siskind directed that his estate become a resource that would support contemporary photography and reward and encourage excellence in its practitioners. Since his death in 1991, the Aaron Siskind Foundation has been one of the few American organizations providing cash grants to individual photographic artists on a yearly basis. The Individual Photographer’s Fellowship (IPF) review panel examines the work of upwards of 1,000 applicants each year, awarding a varying number of grants in amounts of up to $10,000.
Siskind Fellowship Overview
Given the Siskind Foundation limits the scope of their grants to artists who self define their practice in terms of medium specificity, these Fellowships represent a fantastic opportunity to photographers and lens based media practitioners because the narrow scope limits the number of potential applicants, thereby raising the likelihood of winning a grant.
If you are an artist working primarily in photography, you owe it to yourself to apply for the Siskind Foundation Individual Photographer’s Fellowship because you will be competing only against other photographers, rather than with grants like Artadia or Creative Capital, where you will have to distinguish your work against the entire breadth of artistic practice throughout the world today (that’s a tall order!).
Siskind Fellowship Grant Application Details
The application process is simple enough, with applicants submitted work via the Foundation’s Slideroom portal. The main encumbrance here is the clunky interface of Slideroom’s outdated media manager. As I’m sure most readers have experienced, Slideroom’s backend is borderline intolerable. The process of simply adding captions to your images is so overwrought they should really redesign the system from the ground up with an eye toward saving busy artists time. On the plus side, once you set up a Slideroom profile and labor through the process of adding a full portfolio, you can apply to additional calls with the same set of images.
The Fellowships application itself requires 10 images of recent work representative of your practice, an artist statement up to 250 words, and a resume/cv up to 500 words. With the exception of bad Slideroom design, the overall time commitment to complete the Siskind Foundation Fellowship is much shorter then the majority of old guard institutions like Creative Capital and The Guggenheim Fellowship. Regards to the Siskind Foundation for making a more streamlined process. It really stands out in terms of grant applications and is more inline with The Harpo Foundation and The Hopper Prize.
If you’re busy (who isn’t?) and qualify based on medium specificity, definitely apply for one of these Fellowships before sinking months of irrecoverable time into admin heavy applications like the Guggenheim Fellowship, or the Pollock Krasner Grant that requires tax documents, or the especially pretentious “letters of inquiry” barrier to application favored by Creative Capital.
Siskind Fellowship Winners & Grant Jurors
As with any grant, you should always research past Fellowship recipients to make sure your work stands a fair chance of receiving a Grant. Some notable Siskind Foundation Grant winners include:
Historically, Fellowship winners work in very traditional methods, with a central theme of a number of winning portfolios being photo-journalistic style, documentary approach to photography. This is likely a result of the Foundation’s tiered approach to judging, where applications are first screened by a set of judges (such as former/current photo editors Elisabeth Bondi and Natalie Matutschovsky, to name a few). This tends to skew winners into the photo-journalism realm, so studio based photographers should keep that in mind before submitting an application.
Unfortunately, the Aaron Siskind Foundation does not advertise their judges until after grant winners are announced, so you don’t have the opportunity to research their specific interests prior to submitting an application. As such, you should spend even more time unpacking previously winner’s portfolios to gain insight into how to go about putting together a winning submission.
Prestigious Fellowships limited to Lens Based Art
Generous awards up to $10,000
Judges often have backgrounds in journalism which tends to reward traditional, documentary photographers over more experimental practices
While medium specificity is great for photographers, artists working with photography in studio based or experimental lens based practices seem to have less of a chance when reviewing past winners
The Harpo Foundation occupies a unique position within the world of arts organizations. According to their mission:
The Harpo Foundation was established in 2006 to support emerging visual artists. The foundation seeks to stimulate creative inquiry and to encourage new modes of thinking about art. We view the definitions of art and artist to be open-ended and expansive.
This modest statement only gives a partial picture of the organization, which stands out for the breadth of its support program, history of supporting unique, critical voice, and dedicated residency fellowships that benefit Native American Artists.
Harpo Foundation Background & Program Overview
Founded and endowed by an individual artist, The Harpo Foundation, awards 7 – 10 grants annually to emerging visual artists age 21 and older. In addition, unlike the majority of the other agencies on our list, the Harpo Foundation also maintains two residency programs, one for emerging artists and another for Native Americans.
The Native American Residency Fellowship is unique amongst residency programs. It provides two residency fellowships to Native American visual artists at the Vermont Studio Center. This is an amazing opportunity for Native American artists to not only find immediate time, space, and support to make work, but it also places their work in a critical, inter-cultural dialog.
As if that were not enough, The Harpo Foundation also provides what they describe as New Work Project Grants. These grants are available to non profit institutions working to support the production of new work by visual artists and/or collaborative teams who are under-recognized by the field. This production may happen in the context of an installation, public intervention, residency, or exhibition.
How Much is a Harpo Foundation Grant?
Grant amounts vary, $6,000 on average, but in some cases may be as high as $10,000. It is important to note that while the applications are straightforward, grant winners are required to provide a report detailing how funds were used within 10 months of receiving their grants. This is somewhat unfortunate, because it means that if you win an award, you need to turn around the money quickly. I know a lot of artists who work on much longer timelines and therefore may need more than 10 months to fully utilize their award, but this is a fair compromise given the level of support and inclusivity evidenced by the institution’s history of helping distinct artistic voices.
Harpo Foundation Grant Winners
So who wins Harpo Foundation grants? What type of work do they support? Fortunately for prospective artists, the Foundation maintains a list of past recipients which includes a range of exciting and unexpected prospects. Some notable winners include:
Unlike some of the larger agencies we have profiled who clearly focus their selection criteria heavily on the length of your resume and accomplishments in academia, The Harpo Foundation genuinely seems intent on supporting artists at varying career levels. The range of grant winner’s work also departs heavily from commercial art. These are both great signs for young artists, emerging artists, of even mid-career to advanced artists who engage in a critical discourse that may be too edgy for old-guard institutions like The Guggenheim Foundation to support without first receiving tons of recognition.
If you are looking for your first grant, The Harpo Foundation is a great place to start.
7 – 10 grants per year
$6,000 – $10,000 grant amounts
great for experimental, critical voices
Dynamic roster of past recipients suggests awards are based on merit, not resumes
Exciting range of programs makes Harpo Foundation one of the most inclusive institutions
Many different types of opportunities, including residency fellowships
Paperwork for winners: recipients must file follow up reports detailing how funds were used
Founded by Lee Krasner, pioneering abstract expressionist and partner of Jackson Pollock, in 1985, The Pollock Krasner Foundation was set up for the sole purpose of providing financial support directly to individual artists. Of all the institutions profiled on our site, Pollock Krasner Grant recipients are perhaps the most wide ranging. In fact, according to their website
The Foundation is pleased to report that since its inception in 1985, it has awarded over 4,400 grants totaling over 71 million dollars to artists in 77 countries.
This is an astounding contribution to the success of untold artists. Thankfully, the foundation maintains a continually updated database of grant recipients. Those considering applying for these grants should familiarize themselves with the work of past recipients, as PKF grants are most often awarded by artists dedicated to the medium of painting (with periodic exceptions).
Notable Grant Winners
The Pollock Foundation Grants have gone to a wide range of exciting artists across the globe. Some notable recipients include:
The Pollock Krasner Grant amount varies from $5,000 to $30,000 depending on need and circumstances. The foundation does not specify in exact terms how they define what constitutes need and circumstances, nor do they make clear exactly who reviews applications, so artists should research past recipients to determine if their work and resume would warrant a grant.
Grant Application Specifics
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis online which is great news for artists seeking funding, but keep in mind response times can be up to 9 months. It is nice to see an organization offer this level of flexibility. Busy artists needn’t worry about meeting application deadlines, you can simply apply when you are ready.
On the surface, the application itself seems simple. The website states the application process only requires an application form, a cover letter, a current resume including an exhibition record, and ten digital images of current work with a corresponding identification list. In reality, after you sign up for a profile on the PKF Grant website, you will find, like the Gottlieb Foundation, you also must submit financial statements and contact information for recommendation letters.
This information is not made available in the FAQ, they only request it from you once you set up a profile and the website and begin your application. In the age of data breaches, you should always vet the people who are collecting your information and for what purpose. Clearly, the Foundation is using this information to determine financial need amongst applicants, but it begs the question-who among us, as working artists, doesn’t already have major financial need?
You should also consider the likelihood of actually winning one of these grants and weigh that against the need to call in a recommendation (pro tip: use your best recommenders sparingly-they are busy people!).
Who Juries the Pollock Krasner Grant?
According to the website, The Pollock Krasner Foundation Grants are selected via this process:
“Officers and Directors are advised in the selection process by a distinguished Committee of Selection comprised of recognized specialists in the fields of the Foundation’s concern.”
When evaluating funding option, it is always a good idea to research the jurors ahead of time. It is unfortunate the foundation does not provide more transparency surrounding the selection process because it would really help busy artists determine whether they should apply or not.
While the Pollock Krasner Grant application requires a lot of paperwork plus a detailed financial disclosure, they are a fantastic funding option for artists with strong resumes and a practice clearly based in traditional painting.
Emerging artists, artists seeking their first grants, and artists working in more cutting edge media may want to first consider applying for more attainable awards from such entities as Artadia, The Hopper Prize, or The Harpo Foundation prior to stepping up to the PKF. Getting one grant is often the hardest. It is more realistic to win larger grants after you have already received some, especially with traditional institutions like the Pollock Krasner Foundation, The Guggenheim Foundation, and the Gottlieb Foundation, where it is clear that your resume will play a huge rule in determining whether you win a grant.
Grant amounts from $5,000 to $30,000 (based on need as determined by the Foundation)
Great option for media specific artists working in painting
Rolling deadlines mean you can apply any time you’re ready
Extensive archive of past winners includes famous art stars and emerging artists alike
You must submit financial statements & tax documents in addition to your work
Complicated application process requires you to create a profile on their website
Jurors are not made public. Who is actually reviewing your application? Who decides grant winners?
The Hopper Prize is a granting agency, digital archiving platform, and contemporary arts journal that gives 10 grants per year in the amount of $1,000.00 to artists working internationally. Twice per year, during Spring and Fall, 5 artists are each awarded grants.
Updated September 6, 2022
Since my original article in 2019, The Hopper Prize has begun giving larger grants. They now provide $3,500 awards (4 of these every year) in addition to $1,000 grants (8 of these every year). These increases are meaningful, as they clearly show a push to provide greater support to individual artists, particuarly useful in a time when many funding resources have been reduced or simply disappeared.
According to The Hopper Prize, they welcome applications from artists residing internationally, with no restrictions on media, genre, or subject matter. Their website clearly states:
We view the field of visual arts in its broadest and most inclusive sense and therefore make our awards available to artists engaged in artistic practices spanning all methods of production.
Hopper Prize Overview
One notable strength of The Hopper Prize program is that it provides a means for emerging and mid-career artists to get the attention of up and coming institutional curators. Each award cycle is juried by a new team of curators who are publicized prior to the application deadline, allowing artists to evaluate each juror’s unique curatorial voice prior to submitting their application.
Past jurors have held positions at the Contemporary Art Museum (St. Louis), DePaul Art Museum (Chicago), The Bass Museum of Art (Miami Beach), and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and these curator’s individual perspectives are clearly on view in the diverse range of artists they have chosen to receive grants.
This is a stark and welcome level of transparency when compared to some other institutions, such as the Pollock Krasner Grant, which does not publicize their review panels at all (and thus intentionally obfuscate the process–who exactly is reviewing your application when you send in your work?), or the Siskind Foundation, who does not list panelists until after the awards are given, thus making it impossible for potential applicants to perform any sort of due diligence prior to undertaking an application. If you don’t know who is reviewing your work, you are essentially applying blind, and this can really hurt your chances.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to focus your application efforts on opportunities that include fringe benefits that extend beyond the monetary award itself, such as the massive social media exposure offered by an organization like Young Space. The opportunity to have your work reviewed by high level, forward thinking curators is an excellent added benefit of applying for The Hopper Prize. Seriously, we all know how difficult it is to get a curator’s attention, so you should take any chance you get. Keep your eye on their open calls as the curatorial teams change twice per year.
Hopper Prize Grant Winners
In addition to 5 grant winners per season (10 annually), the curators for The Hopper Prize select a shortlist of 30 artists whose work is archived on their website, with past recipients demonstrating a broad range of exciting perspectives. In addition, these artists hail from diverse geographic regions, so artists outside of the major hubs like NYC and LA clearly have a shot at these grants.
This database provides additional visibility for those selected, extending the opportunities that may arise from these awards, and furthermore serves as a great resource for future applicants seeking a window into what makes a strong application. And because the archive is organized by grant cycle, it provides a seasonal overview of contemporary art practice happening across the globe. As with all opportunities, potential applicants should review the work of past winners along with juror biographies prior to submitting their work.
Following up on my original post, it has been very interesting to check in on the career trajectories of some of these past grants winners. These artists have gone on to shows at major galleries, including Dietch Projects, Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, Bank Shanghai, Rena Bransten Gallery, Nathalie Karg Gallery, Hashimoto Contemporary, MASS MOCA, Huxley-Parlour Gallery, and many others.
Social Media Check
So where does The Hopper Prize rank on the social media scale? Currently at 19K followers, @hopperprize is one of the most active and engaged social media channels out of all the grant-makers I have covered, with the sole exception being Young Space.
Another update from my original post, @hopperprize now has 68K followers. Going purely by these numbers, their reach has tripled, which reiterates my point about this being a great platform for artists, especially emerging, to have their work disseminated. Like it or not, social media following matters and reaching a large audience with your work is more important now than ever. Social platorms like this are one of the most time efficient ways to get your ourput in front of a global, diverse audience, which, in turn, leads to the greater probability of creating connections and crossovers that may lead to beneficial outcome such as inclusion in exhbitions, publications, and collections.
Again, this is an example of a fantastic fringe benefit that comes with applying for one of these awards. The importance of an artist’s Instagram reach cannot be understated in this new era of image circulation. And as an artist with an Instagram account knows (that should be all of us!), building a following is becoming increasingly more difficult.
It is an incredible value to have the opportunity to potentially reach an audience of this scale, and the impact of being featured on a channel like this will undoubtedly accelerate the growth of your own network. And much like Young Space, The Hopper Prize regularly features artists from their applicant pool, so even if you don’t win an award, this is a great opportunity for added visibility.
Insights Into Contemporary Art Journs: An Additional Avenue for Exposure
Again, always review the fringe benefits offered by an organization before you apply. The Hopper Prize excels in this area. Clearly their social media presence dwarfs older institutions, and on top of that, they also offer an additional publication opportunity for artists through their Journal which includes in depth interviews with artists, including Tahnee Lonsdale and Angela Ziqi Zhang to name a few.
The interviews are long form and provide a look at how these artists approach their practice. Definitely explore the articles to gain a better understanding of strategies to use when applying for these grants.
Hopper Prize Application Details
If you’re like me and you’ve applied for numerous grants and exhibitions and are frankly sick of how time consuming the process is, you will appreciate the streamlined Hopper Prize application: the submission process is easy enough that you can get it done in about 20 minutes. The application allows you to submit up to 10 images of your work and contact information. Everything else is optional (no need for letters of recommendation, budget sheets, project proposals, financial statements, etc.). This is great news not only because it saves you time, but it also means the jurors will judge your work based on its merits, not on the length of your CV like most other institions (hello Guggenheim Fellowship!).
In addition, the grants are unrestricted, meaning you can spend the prize money any way you need and, unlike a lot of institutions, there are no follow ups or financial reporting requirements after the fact to show how you have used the funds.
A simple application process that gets your work in front of great curators and has the potential for excellent fringe benefits is a boon for artists working today, who are juggling increasing competition.
Let’s face it, we are working in a highly competitive environment that has clearly outpaced the less competitive times of our older peers and mentors who were lucky enough to land full time teaching jobs, which they then used to support their practice. Times have changed. The era of abundant full time teaching positions, accessible galleries and curators, and less competition has come to an end. We are living in a world drastically different from our teachers and if you want to succeed, you have to acknowledge that and focus your efforts strategical on opportunities that have your best interests in mind.
Just think about the reality of what an artist has to take on today: you not only have to make incredible work to stand out in a saturated field, but to get the exposure you deserve, you must also function as your own social media and marketing expert. There are only so many hours in a day, and the most important thing is to spend time making work. Everything else is secondary, so it is refreshing to see the Hopper Prize acknowledging the fact that we live in a hyper busy world by creating a simple application process to facilitate meaningful connections with curators, provide visibility across a number of channels, and support a diverse array of artists with direct financial assistance.
4 awards annually in the amount of $3,500
8 awards annually in the amount of $1,000.00
Great route to get your work in front of excellent curators
Creative Capital is a granting agency with a long history of not only supporting artists with financial awards, but additionally providing career services over the long term. The Creative Capital Grant is primarly for those artists interested in emerging technologies. Or, in the words of the foundation, artists who “shape the future.”
Investing in Artists Who Shape the Future: Creative Capital supports innovative and adventurous artists across the country through funding, counsel, and career development services. Our pioneering venture philanthropy approach helps artists working in all creative disciplines realize their visions and build sustainable practices.
The full archive of past winners provides not only a fascinating overview of cutting edge artistic production of the past several decades, it is also a useful guide for those considering applying.
Creative Capital Grant Amounts & Application Tips
Creative Capital Grant amounts are not fixed and in fact range depending on your proposal. Awards are advertised to range up to $50,000, although the majority of funded projects receive much less. Still, this is a substantial amount, but be prepared for a lot of paperwork.
The application process itself doesn’t actually start with an application. Instead, Creative Capital requires you to first write a letter of intent outlining a rough grant proposal. If the institution deems your letter of intent to have merit, they will then allow you to proceed to to an actual grant application.
For an agency predicated on supporting artists whose practice incorporates emerging technology, they have chosen to stick with a surprisingly archaic, time consuming application process. Given the variable grant amount, you can not be sure exactly how your project will be funded until you have completed a number of administrative heavy application tasks. This makes it needlessly difficult to determine how much time to put into your application.
Creative Capital grants are notoriously difficult to apply for, so as a busy artist, you definitely need to factor in the time all of the upfront work required of these applications and weigh the value of your time against the likelihood of actually receiving one of these awards.
Social Media Report
Updated August 23, 2022
When I wrote this original article in 2019, I was critical of Creative Capital’s weak social presence, especially givem their focus on technology. As it stands, they have grown their Instagram to 49K as of this writing. That might sound like a lot of progress on their end, but if you take a look at the lack of engagement they are receiving from their posts (average about 80 likes per post – that’s a 0.1% engagement rate) a few things become clear. First, they are not adept at messaging to their target audience. If they were effective in actually providing continued support to their artists, they would find a way to produce more engaging content. Second, it is highly probably, again, given the utter lack of engagement ont their posts, they have simply purchased bot followers. This is a common practice in the social media marketing realm and something you need to vet when you are evaluataing the potential reach of an institution’s social feed. I do not mean to suggest that Creative Capital knowingly purchased bot followers, they could have hired out their social media management to an outside firm who decided buying followers would be easier than growing a feed organically. It is impossible though, not to at least consider this possibility when you take into account their poor engagement statistics.
Original social rundown from 2019
Let’s be clear: in the art world, social media is defined by your Instagram presence. So where does Creative Capital rank in terms of Instagram? As of this writing they have just surpassed 10K followers. For an institution that has been around for 20 years, especially one that is ostensibly focused on technology, this is, to put it simply, weak. Their reach is dwarfed by much younger institutions like Young Space, Hopper Prize, and Working Artist Org.
Max awards of up to $50,000 (although the majority of projects receive substantially less)
Best suited for artists with a techno centered art practice
Complicated applications must begin with a letter of intent
Often given to artists whose practice could be described as incorporating a flavor of the month approach to technology
Convoluted process with front loading of work – you have to outline your grant plan in writing before they will even allow you to fill out an application
Requires reccommendation letters, financial reporting, and multi year follow ups
Weak social media presence for an institution focused on technology, call into question the depth of their reach and