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10 Awesome Art Grants

by Candice Mancini
Online Education Columnist

Most artists can relate to the difficulty of making a living out of art. Luckily, plenty of artists do not abandon their talents for more lucrative paths, to the benefit of their communities. Art grants do more than provide funding to artists for their work: they help to keep the arts alive in our world and encourage artists to stick with the path they have chosen.

We've listed 10 cool art grants that provide resources and reassurance to artists and that help keep communities vibrant and beautiful. Listed in alphabetical order, these art grants support many types of art, including visual, performance, film, literature, dance and theatre. We discovered awards ranging from $1,000 to hundreds of thousands. The information here on deadlines, award amounts and requirements may change with time. Find out about an array of art grants, and pass the news along to inspire the creative people in your life:

  • Awesome Foundation Grant: Although this foundation began in Boston, it funds creative projects from all over the world. The Awesome Foundation provides no-strings-attached $1,000 grants. The only prerequisite is that the project is awesome. The foundation has provided funding for school outdoor recess equipment, hip hop music production for kids, rooftop waltz performances across Chicago, and a mural in the town of Woodburn, Oregon. The monthly awards are described as "micro-genius grants for flashes of micro-brilliance."
  • Brooklyn Arts Council Community Arts Grants: With over $350,000 a year in funding, BAC grants are reserved for individuals and organizations with a Brooklyn residency. It is also required that projects take place in Brooklyn and engage a Brooklyn audience. Awards range between $1,000 and $5,000 and projects are judged on criteria such as benefit to the community as well as the feasibility, clarity and artistic merit of the proposal. Would-be participants can check out seminars on how to apply, held across the borough.
  • California's Center for Cultural Innovation's Investing in Artists Grant Program: The CCI created this grant to provide funding for professional artists in California who spend at least 10 hours a week on their art. Eligible applicants need to be trained in performing, visual, literary, media, design, crafts or cross-disciplinary fields of the arts. Amounts vary; awards could reach $6,000 for a tools and equipment grant, or $10,000 for an innovation grant. CCI grants are open to both emerging and established artists, and deadlines vary, depending on the medium of art.
  • College Art Association Professional-Development Fellowships: The CAA -- a group dedicated to promoting the visual arts -- offers grants to support aspiring artists and art historians who are enrolled in MFA and PhD programs across the U.S. The purpose of the $5,000 grants is to help with the transition from student to professional. Grantees can use the funding as needed: for job searches, the purchasing of materials or other endeavors that could help graduates begin their professional careers. Winners of the awards -- or an honorable mention -- walk away with a complimentary one-year membership to the CAA and a free pass to the annual convention.
  • Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund: Since its launch in 1961, GFTA has awarded over $320 million to hundreds of San Francisco non-profit cultural organizations. Supported by a portion of the city's hotel room tax, GFTA has backed projects related to civic activities, dance, literary arts, media, music, theater, parades and visual arts. The goal of the fund is to support both existing and emerging art, in traditional and experimental forms. Literary arts honorees for 2012-2013 include the Center for the Art of Translation, Playwrights Foundation, Poetry Center and more.
  • Guggenheim Fellowships: The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation offers fellowships to encourage research and artistic creation, to provide a block of free time dedicated to art. Intended for advanced professionals, Guggenheim Fellowships are granted to those who already have made significant contributions in their fields, whether that means a writer's publications, the performances of a composer's work or exhibitions of an artist's pieces. Amounts are determined by the proposed project and the deadline is generally in September; about 200 grants are given a year.
  • National Endowment for the Arts - Our Town Grants: Through these "creative place-making projects," the NEA helps neighborhoods to fill their streets with art. With grant amounts ranging from $25,000 to $200,000, the NEA funds projects to rejuvenate public and private spaces. Proposals may include designs for bridges, plazas, structures and streetscapes or even written words used as art. Prior initiatives include school-based writing projects, public art installations, live-work spaces for artists and cultural centers for towns. Projects involve public or private partners, including non-profits and arts groups, and applications are submitted through Grants.gov.
  • Native Arts & Cultures Foundation Artist Fellowships: The NACF strives to encourage creativity in Indigenous artists from six disciplines: visual arts, filmmaking, music, dance, literature and traditional arts. Traditional arts include pottery, basket making, textile weaving, jewelry making, beadwork and regalia making. Grants of $20,000 provide opportunities to study, reflect, experiment and discover. Grantees must be members of American Indian, Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian communities to qualify, and the artists' work should be "evolving and current."
  • The Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grants: These grants are reserved for visual artists who are painters, sculptors and artists who work on paper, including printmakers. The foundation does not fund grants for other artists, such as commercial artists, photographers or filmmakers. Artists must be exhibiting their current work in settings like galleries or museums, and they should have a significant amount of experience as professional artists. Grants are awarded on the basis of artistic merit and financial need, and the amounts of grants are determined individually.
  • Terra Foundation for American Art: Based in Chicago, the Terra Foundation supports projects across that world that focus on American art dating from circa 1500 to 1980. The goal is to create a deeper understanding of historical American art through exhibitions and academic programs in various locations as well as Chicago programs for the public and K-12 education. Award amounts range from the thousands to the hundreds of thousands. Subjects for prior grants encompassed the history and practice of American printmaking, surrealism throughout the Americas, and diverse projects related to the Chicago Humanities Festival.