2015 Award Guidelines
Creative Capital is an impact-driven arts organization that supports adventurous artists across the country through funding, counsel and career development services. Our pioneering approach, inspired by venture-capital principles, surrounds artists with the resources they need to realize their visions and build sustainable practices. Since 1999, Creative Capital has committed $35 million in financial and advisory support to 465 projects representing 579 artists, and our Professional Development Program has reached nearly 10,000 artists in more than 400 communities.
We see ourselves as a permanent laboratory pursuing the most effective ways to support individual artists, with a process that attempts to mirror the same imaginative spirit that we value in our artists.
Our selection process includes three steps: inquiry, application and panel review. We work with arts professionals from across the country in a concerted effort to select a roster of projects reflecting a nation of work. We strive to support diversity in all its forms—gender, race/ethnicity, geographic distribution, art forms and creative process, age, and experience. We also pride ourselves on a final roster that often features artists discovered and rediscovered.
What Makes Us Different?
- Creative Capital is one of the only national nonprofit organizations that gives awards to individual artists through an open application process.
- We are a premier provider of risk capital in the arts, taking chances to support artists' ideas that are bold, original and genre-stretching.
- Our individualized approach surrounds artists with the financial and advisory resources they need to realize their artistic visions and build sustainable careers.
- We make a commitment to work with each artist over a three- to seven-year period that involves a high level of engagement between Creative Capital and the artist.
What distinguishes Creative Capital from more traditional funders?
Now in our second decade, Creative Capital continues to consider itself the premiere provider of risk capital in the arts—taking chances on projects that are singularly bold, innovative and genre-stretching. We want to support the latest thinking in the field: ideas of scope and ambition expressed through audacious combinations of form and content; varied projects that engage or even create new technologies; and works that take traditional approaches into new territories, teaching us something new about the world and ourselves. We often provide early support for projects that initially have challenges receiving funding from other sources.
We have pioneered a comprehensive approach to working with artists over the course of a funded project for three to seven years. We remain engaged with projects beyond the initial award of $10,000 with additional financial support of up to a total of $50,000 as well as targeted advisory services, tools, resources and relationships that help our artists maximize this opportunity and create successful projects. The first year of our support is a particularly intense period in which we lay a firm foundation for our artists and their projects. We’ve also learned that many opportunities for project expansion often occur after a project’s premiere or a book’s publication, and we continue to work with artists well after the work has come into being. We hope these services provide long-term tools that artists can use to be more in command of their own careers, helping them thrive for years to come. To learn more about our comprehensive four-part system of support, please visit http://creative-capital.org/theprogram/approach.
As part of our commitment to reciprocity, each artist agrees to share with Creative Capital a small percentage of any net profits derived from the project. This provision offers artists a means to give back to the arts community, assisting others in attaining the success they have achieved. The principle of sharing proceeds is essential to the concept of Creative Capital; however, potential profitability is not a criterion for selection. We recognize that many of the projects we fund will be taking risks and might not recoup their original investment. Creative Capital will work with all of our artists to explore mutually beneficial alternatives to support the continued work of the organization.
What kind of work/artist does Creative Capital support?
Creative Capital is interested in artists who:
- Demonstrate bold, inventive and singular ideas in project form and content
- Are at a catalytic moment in their creative practice and approach to their career
- Are deeply engaged with and rigorously committed to their art form
- Have potential for significant artistic and cultural impact
- Understand the professional landscape of their field
We are proud of the many ambitious artists and ideas funded in our first decade and will continue our commitment to projects that transcend discipline boundaries. We also hope to attract idea-driven and groundbreaking proposals in heretofore under-represented areas in our roster, such as architecture/design, gaming, non-traditional opera, spoken word and genre-defying literature. Lastly, we are always open to poetically resonant, visually pleasurable and intelligently humorous work. No matter what genre or discipline, the most competitive projects will take risks and articulate an original vision.
We invite you to learn about previously funded projects at http://creative-capital.org/artistprojects. Please note that we are actively interested in many kinds of projects that may or may not be represented there.
Creative Capital seeks to support artists who are at a catalytic moment in the development of their artistic practice. This can be any pivotal point at which an artist is ready to examine his/her creative and/or professional approach. Artists at such a stage are poised to take advantage of Creative Capital's comprehensive system of support, especially our intensive system of advisory and professional support. For more information on our pioneering model, please visit http://www.creative-capital.org/aboutus/whatwedo.
Ours is a demanding award that requires a high level of engagement between Creative Capital and the artist, especially in the first year of the award, but also extending as far as one to two years beyond the premiere of the project. Therefore, we seek to partner with artists who exhibit a genuine comprehension of and excitement for how our support can have an impact on their artistic and professional growth. Our mission is, in part, based on a model of community building and mutual generosity. The Creative Capital community is a valuable network of creative and professional individuals who share knowledge, resources and support. Thus, we value artists who are generous toward their peers and professional colleagues.
Please note: This is a one-time award, so we urge you to consider whether this is the right project at the right time for you to take full advantage of what we have to offer. We also suggest that you not submit the same project more than twice for consideration.
Do you have any early advice about work samples?
While detailed instructions for submitting work samples will not be available until the application phase launches in June, please note that all work samples will be submitted online.
When will you next offer grants for projects in Emerging Fields, Literature and Performing Arts?
We will be funding those disciplines again in February 2018.
What kind of projects does Creative Capital NOT support?
This is not an ideal award for artists just beginning their creative practice, thus our requirement for five years experience in your field. In addition, we do not fund documentation or cataloguing of past work, nor do we fund projects whose main purpose is promotional or educational.
How does Creative Capital find the work it supports?
Creative Capital identifies prospective applicants in three main ways:
- Open call for Letters of Inquiry
- Recommendations by artists and arts professionals
- Active solicitation by the Creative Capital staff
- All submissions are reviewed using the same evaluation process.
Who is eligible for a Creative Capital award?
An artist must be:
- A U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident
- At least 25 years old
- A working artist with at least five years of professional experience
An artist cannot be:
- An institution (If you are an artist who is a principal in a 501(c)(3) organization, you should apply as an individual artist. If you are selected for funding, the award may be made payable to you through your organization.)
- A full-time student in a degree-granting program or its equivalent
- A current employee, consultant, board member or major funder of Creative Capital, or an immediate family member of such a person
- An active or alumni artist of Creative Capital
- An applicant or collaborator on more than one proposed project
What about collaborative projects?
We accept proposals for collaborative projects and work by collectives. Please choose one collaborator or collective member to serve as the main contact for the project. Each collaborative team may have up to five members in total and each of their names, roles and bios should be included in the project proposal. Each and all collaborators must meet the above eligibility requirements. Creative Capital defines "collaborator" or "collective member" as someone who is considered to be a co-owner of the project and generative part of the team, not someone who provides services on a "work for hire" basis. Please note that each artist/collaborator can apply with only one project in any single award year.
Collaborative projects fall within one of two categories:
Requirements for submission are the same for either type of collaboration.
- Ongoing Team or Collective Collaborations: Two to five people who have an established history of collaboration, sometimes organized under a group name, all of whom are committed to the completion of the proposed project
- One-Time Collaborations: A working arrangement between two to five people who have agreed to stay in partnership while completing the proposed project
- Please note that one-time collaborators will need to make a very strong case regarding their commitment to work together for the entire three to seven year length of the award in order to be competitive.
- If granted an award, all parties in the collaboration will be required to sign a letter of agreement stating their intention to finish the project together.
How many awards will Creative Capital make and in what amounts?
This year, Creative Capital will support approximately 23 projects in Performing Arts, 17 projects in Emerging Fields and six projects in Literature at initial levels of $10,000 each. Including follow-up monetary support, a project may receive as much as $50,000 in direct financial support during the life cycle of the award, with the average amount closer to $35,000. This is in addition to advisory and professional services with an average value of $40,000, bringing the potential support per project up to $90,000.
What are the review criteria?
All proposals are evaluated based on:
- The artistic strength, vision, originality and potential impact of the proposed project
- The professional capabilities of the applicant
- The feasibility of the project
- The potential impact of our funding and services on the project and for the artist
What is the review process?
There are three steps:
- Emerging Fields: We anticipate up to 1200 letters of inquiry will be submitted.
- Literature: We anticipate up to 500 letters or inquiry will be submitted.
- Performing Arts: We anticipate up to 1500 letters of inquiry will be submitted.
- Emerging Fields: Approximately 300 artists will be invited to submit full applications with work samples and full budgets.
- Literature: Approximately 100 artists will be invited to submit full applications with work samples and full budgets.
- Performing Arts: Approximately 300 artists will be invited to submit full applications with work samples and full budgets.
- Emerging Fields: Approximately 100 proposals will be advanced to panel review, and 17 will be recommended for funding. The roster will be subject to final approval by the Creative Capital board.
- Literature: Approximately 35 proposals will be advanced to panel review, and six will be recommended for funding. The roster will be subject to final approval by the Creative Capital board.
- Performing Arts: Approximately 100 proposals will be advanced to panel review, and 23 will be recommended for funding. The roster will be subject to final approval by the Creative Capital board.
How may artists benefit from this process even if they don't get an award?
We have attempted to design a system that serves artists at every step.
The questions on the inquiry form and application are tailored to be artist-centered.
- At least two arts professionals learn about your work at each stage, and for proposals that advance to the panel stage, eight to ten arts professionals will have been exposed to your work by the end of the process.
- In Spring of 2016, our On Our Radar site will include artist and project information for applicants who advance to the application phase of the process. On Our Radar is a searchable database open to others in the field—curators, programmers, artists, potential resource providers—who may want to support the work. This information will be shared only with the applicants' permission.
- Upon request, we offer a summary of the panel discussion regarding the proposed project to artists who make it to the panel stage but do not ultimately receive an award.