How to Get Artist Grants & Funding in 2019

How to Get Artist Grants & Funding in 2019

The question 'how can I get an artist grant?' is often encountered by artists applying for a grant.

Grants in business can be supportive to your income, helping you pay for studio spaces, artwork tools, and sometimes even rent. 

With the perfect grant opportunity, you can concentrate on your work without feeling as much financial pressure around paying bills.

However, what happens if you apply many times and you don't get any responses in regard to the grants and funds? It is normal to feel disappointed, especially when you believed that you were perfectly fit for that opportunity.

In this case, the frequently asked question repeats itself: 'how can I get a grant?'

Although there is no way to guarantee selection for artist funding, there are some ways to ensure you are on the right path to win the opportunity. 

In this article, we are going to take a look into the process of applying for artist funding or grants. Understanding the process will improve your chances, so we will look at look at how 3 grant-giving organizations work:

Each artist grant opportunity is completely different.

Different grant opportunities mean different grant applications and so for each one, the process of getting artist grants may be different. 

Some organizations mainly concentrate on the photos the artists take for their artworks. Others take into account artists' resumes and experience, while others still consider only the merits artists possess. 

"We focus completely on artwork photos," said the director of, Dennis James. "It does not matter if artists have been trained or are self-trained. People usually become artists in different ways and for many reasons. However, all ways and reasons are in the end often fruitful."

We discovered that The New York Foundation for Arts Grants Program, operates similarly. In the first phase, only work samples of applicants are considered and reviewed. 

The executive director of the Artadia Awards, Carolyn Ramo says, “images matter a tremendous amount. CV matters very little as we give merit-based awards, there is almost no consideration of exhibition history. A statement is considered mostly during the last conversation, if at all, which is why we ask that it be brief. Each juror is different though and some do read the statements carefully.”

Just like university applications, job applications, etc. the ideal thing to do is to discover as much possible as you can about the specific artist grant application process, then load your application accordingly with the best of the best that you have.

As a side note, conduct research and be sure that the grant for which you are applying is perfectly suitable for you and your qualifications. 

Organizations providing grants are not mysterious.

Reach out to the organization (in-person or via their websites) to review and understand qualifications and what they’re looking for. Why? Because interviewers won't spend time checking applications that don’t fit the award's requirements.

All of the organizations we contacted couldn't agree more on this matter.

"I don't believe that grant makers are transparent. And artists are always welcome to ask whatever they want; a hundred percent of the questions are answered in our application, though," says Artadia Awards' director.

"We believe that it is important to have access to our applicants and to provide the information they are in need in order to submit strong applications," express Berry and Calandro.

It has become easy for artists to consider elusiveness as a justification to heal the shock of rejection, but artists who have shouldered responsibility of putting the work into their applications increase their odds of getting the award in the end.

In order to provide information on its selection process, Artist Grant has requested some of its winning artists' permission to post some of their work photos and website links on the pages of its social media so that future applicants can follow in their footsteps. 

Submit only what you are required to submit, no more no less.

While you may think it's a good idea to submit extra materials in your application, grant providers in fact do not agree.

Applicants should always go through the instructions and requirements of the application description, and submit the documents and materials accordingly. Otherwise, the organizations will legitimately disqualify your application. 

Here is a good tip by NYFA:

Ask your friends or fellow artists' to give you a hand in reviewing your applications. Having a second eye often helps; it can also hint at what might be missing.

Equip your application with images 

Another significant point highlighted by grant givers is that regardless of the documents and materials you submit, you are advised to submit impressive images of your work.

Such a point should not be ignored, for art is what the grants are wholly about.

Since artists must communicate their artworks visually, the images section in the application is deemed the most significant section compared to other sections.

The Artadia director says, "every application is reviewed for 30 to 50 seconds, depending on the total number of applications submitted."  Regarding NYFA, the image samples submitted by applicants are reviewed quickly one by one. Make sure your images stand out and represent your artwork well.

The jurying process

There are usually a lot of questions about jurying because applicants are curious about the selection process.

One of the prominent questions in this matter is: “are there any specific criteria from which the jury works?”

Another frequently asked question: “does the grant-giving organization depend only on the tastes and personalities of the jurors?” 

Obviously the selection process will differ by organization and juror, but the best institutions strive to balance skill, fairness, and uniqueness. Research your grant opportunity jurying by look at the past grants or shows, reviewing the website, and reaching out.

Try to submit your application as soon as you can

Artists are advised not to wait until the last minute to submit their applications. Most grant givers don't extend the deadlines at all, so it’s risky to wait in case there are issues with your application. We recommend that applicants submit their applications within the first 6 days of the grant announcement.

Never give up on applying

The rejection of applications should not be taken personally. Just because you haven't been selected does not mean you do not deserve the chance of getting a grant. 

Keep applying whenever there is a grant announcement and apply for as many grant giving institutions as possible. Getting your artwork out there will give you more chances to reap the rewards.

Services that provide listings of grants and opportunities for artists