Harpo Foundation Grants: Fellowships, Residencies & Awards Endowed by an Individual Artist

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.

© Karyn Olivier, Harpo Foundation Grant Winner
© Karyn Olivier

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:

Before you apply, spend some time exploring winning projects and proposals in the Foundation’s comprehensive database of past grant recipients.

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.

TL;DR

  • 7 – 10 grants per year
  • $6,000 – $10,000 grant amounts
  • great for experimental, critical voices

Pros

  • Straightforward applications
  • 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

Cons

  • Paperwork for winners: recipients must file follow up reports detailing how funds were used

Connect with Harpo Foundation

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