Creative Capital Grants: An Opportunity for Tech-Centric Art Practice

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.

Creative Capital Grant Winners

Reviewing previous grant recipients, it is clear that technology is a core component of most winner’s studio practice, including Fukushima Texture Pack, Contra Internet, and Upgrade Available, to name a few.

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 Grants
© Cornell Alston & Kaneza Schaal

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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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

Connect with Creative Capital

Was this information helpful? Do you know an artist that would benefit from this info? Like This Post & Help Us Share it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.