If you’re intimidated by the idea of applying for art grants, you’re not alone. Long applications and complex criteria can make even the seasoned professional artist shy away. But dipping your toes into the water could pay off in a big way: the average cash amount among the 25 grants included in our list is just over $5,000.
Art grants fall into one of three broad categories. The first is for general business development and growth, in which the grant is awarded to an artist for the purpose of growing their overall art business through a variety of means, sometimes including a mentorship or “incubator” program in addition to a cash award.
The second type of grant is project development. These grants generally provide funds to research, develop, and complete a specific project such as a show, installation, or particular series or collection of works. These grants are often awarded to artists working in various modes of activism or works with a high level of benefit to the community.
The third category is unrestricted funds. Professional and project-development based grants typically cannot be used for immediate financial needs like rent, but unrestricted funds take the shape of a simple no-strings-attached cash award. A few require the artist to demonstrate immediate financial need, while others are simply awarded to artists excelling in their field.
In compiling this list, we’ve made an effort to include mostly nationwide grants that accept applications from artists anywhere in the United States. See our tips below for how to search for grants that are specific to your region.
Once you’ve found a few grants you’re interested in applying for, check out this guest post from professional arts grant writer Claire Willett: How to Write Grants for Your Art Business.
Top Professional Development Grants for Artists:
- Individual Artist Fellowship Program– Oregon Arts Commission. This grant offers between $3,500 and $5,000 for individual artists based anywhere in Oregon working in visual arts. The criteria considered include the aesthetic quality of the applicant’s submitted artwork; the artist’s sustained professional achievement; and the potential for the artist’s future contribution to the field.
- Creative Capital Award– Creative Capital. The Creative Capital Award offers up to $100,000 to “artists who are working at the vanguard of their fields, or who have ideas to propel their artistic practices forward.” To see the full criteria and application process, visit their website.
- Radcliffe Institute Fellowship Program– Harvard University. The Radcliffe Institute Fellowship Program is a residency fellowship available to distinguished visual artists, taking place at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. Fellows receive a stipend as well as an additional $5,000 for project expenses. While focusing on a specific project, this fellowship in particular is a significant career accelerator due to the exposure to a network of highly successful mentors and peers.
- Individual Support Grant– Gottlieb Foundation. This $25,000 award is available to artists working in painting, sculpture, or printmaking. Successful applicants will be able to demonstrate that they have been working in a mature phase of their art for at least 20 years.
- Professional Development Grants– (Your State Arts Council). Professional development grants are available through regional and state arts councils to artists around the country. The linked grant above, as an example, is specifically for artists working in the greater Portland Metro area of Oregon, including Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties. They vary from $100-$2,000 per award. Research your own regional arts & culture organizations for grants similar to this one.
- Art-Business Accelerator Fellowships– The Clark Hulings Fund for Visual Artists. The Clark Hulings Fund for Visual Artists provides grants for artists working in paper mediums, paint, and sculpture. Rather than a cash grant, this award provides a free year-long online educational program and business incubator including online courses, coaching, and workshops. CHF also promotes and sells art by the Fellows via group shows and their online art portfolio.
- Grants for Visual Artists– The Harpo Foundation. The Harpo Foundation provides up to $10,000 for self-described underrepresented visual artists over 21 years old, working in any medium. Grants are made to support the development of artists’ work and a grantee may use their award to support any activity toward that purpose, so this award may also be used for specific projects and not only professional development.
- Lyndon Emerging Artist Program– Contemporary Craft. This grant is for craft artists working in ceramics, wood, metal/jewelry, glass, found materials, mixed media, fiber or a combination of these materials.The award provides a $1,000 cash grant and a year of marketing and promotion for artists producing excellent work but not yet well represented in traditional galleries.
Top Project Development Grants for Artists:
- A Blade of Grass Fellowship for Socially Engaged Artists– A Blade of Grass. The Fellowship is designed to support artists that are using great art to enact a social change in the world. Criteria include projects with artistic value, a plan to enact social change, and a high quality of engagement practice. The award is $20,000 to enable the artist to continue their project, and includes a required expenses paid 2-day orientation retreat in NYC to engage a cohort of peer artists and A Blade of Grass staff and board.
- Awesome Grant– The Awesome Foundation. The Awesome Foundation is a minimally-regulated organization that produces autonomous “chapters” all over the country. Each chapter is seeded by private individuals who award monthly $1,000 cash awards to artists of their choosing. The criteria varies by chapter. Projects that receive the award have included initiatives in a wide range of areas including arts, technology, community development, and more. See the website for more details on the chapter nearest you.
- Global Art Grants– Burning Man. Don’t worry… you don’t have to trek out to the Playa for this grant. In fact the Global Art Grant awarded by Burning Man requires that the art NOT be present during the annual festival. The primary criteria is that the art produced is that which can be touched, heard, or experienced and is highly interactive and encourages community involvement. The average grant falls between $3,000- $6,000.
- ArtsLink International Fellowships– CEC Arts Link. CEC ArtsLink gives art grants to international artists to help them come to the U.S. to collaborate with an American artist or organization. Their criteria for choosing an artist include the artist’s plans for sharing the benefits of the experience with artists and institutions in their home country. For a complete list of participating countries, visit the website.
- Open Call Mentorship– AFIELD. The AFIELD mentorship is for 3 individuals engaged in social and artistic experimentation. They are granted $1,500 in seed funding to develop their initiatives as well as mentorship for 18 months.
- Individual Artist Grants– Ruth & Harold Chenven Foundation. These individual grants provide $1,500 to artists who are living or working in the United States and engaged in a new craft or visual arts project.
- Project Development Grant– Center. This grant supports fine art or documentary projects in-progress that have not yet been widely distributed or published. This grant includes a $5,000 cash award as well as feedback and various professional development opportunities.
Top Unrestricted Grants for Artists
- The Hopper Prize- HopperPrize.org. The Hopper Prize welcomes applications from artists of all ages and experience levels working in any and all disciplines, including painting, photography, sculpture, drawing, video, documentary, performing, experimental, conceptual, and installation practices.
- Emergency Grants– Foundation for Contemporary Arts. The Foundation for Contemporary Arts offers emergency unrestricted funding for visual artists who have found themselves with either an unexpected opportunity to show their work, but without the funds to produce the exhibition, or a scheduled exhibition and sudden extra financial need in order to make the show happen. The grants range from $500-$2,500 depending on the need.
- The Anything Art Grant– Spectro Art Space. The Spectro Art Space Anything Art Grant provides $250 & $500 awards to artists working in any medium who can express their passion for their work in a way that gets the awards jury excited too.
- Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant– The Pollock-Krasner Foundation. The Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant requires that artists working in paint, paper, or printmaking can provide a demonstration of financial need. The award is ongoing throughout the year, and varies according to need. Qualifying artists will have been working professionally for a significant period of time.
- Individual Awards– Sustainable Arts Foundation. This unique award is specifically for working artists who are also the parent of at least one child. The award offers $5,000 for artists with a strong portfolio of polished work, working in Book Arts, Drawing, Fiber Arts and Textiles, Illustration, Installation, Mixed Media, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, and Sculpture.
- Artadia Awards– Artadia. Artadia offers up to $10,000 to artists living and working in one of 6 partner cities- Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Fransisco, Atlanta, and Houston.
- Artist Grant– Artist Grant.org. The $500 unrestricted Artist Grant is offered 4 times per year for visual artists working in any medium.
- Interim Financial Assistance– The Haven Foundation. The Haven Foundation awards emergency funds based on need to artists working in any medium. Qualifying artists will have recently experienced an unforeseen emergency or triggering event that has significantly and adversely affected their ability to produce, perform and/or market their work.
- Individual Support Grant– The Gottlieb Foundation. The unrestricted Individual Support Grant offered by the Gottlieb Foundation offers $25,000 to qualifying artists working in the visual arts, including sculpture. This grant is exclusively for mature artists who have been developing their craft for at least 20 years.
How do I research art grants?
Our extensive list only scratches the surface of the grants available to artists all over the world. The catch is that many grants have very restrictive criteria. If you attempt a Google search, rather than simply searching “artist grants” try adding your city, region, and state in separate searches to narrow it down. You can also try these search terms to get better, more specific results:
“artist grants + (medium)”
“artist grants + (art subject)”
“artist grants + (emerging or mature artist)”
Making a list of all the unique descriptors that apply to your art and to you as an artist can be helpful for deciding on search terms. There are many grants available for minority artists as well as those engaged in various types of activism, so if that describes you be sure to include those details in your search criteria so you don’t miss out on available opportunities.
If you are looking for a grant for a group or organization project, include that in your search term. Otherwise, searching “individual artist grant” will help to eliminate group grants that don’t apply to you.
Grant applications can be long, involved processes with multiple steps over many months. Try searching for grants for the next calendar year in order to find larger grants currently accepting new applications.
If you are searching for a specific grant from among the three criteria we identified: professional development, project development, or unrestricted (or emergency), be sure to include those terms in your search as well.
Have you ever been awarded a grant for your art business? What kind of difference did it make for you? We’ve love to hear from you in the comments.
Give yourself the best possible chance by learning how to excel at grant applications- check out our post How to Write Grants for Your Art Project.