Our Grantmaking Process: How do we select our grantees?

We are so proud of the fact that Creative Capital is one of the only national nonprofit organizations that awards grants to individual artists through an open application process. This means that anyone can apply, as long as you meet our basic eligibility criteria. In February, Creative Capital received over 2,700 Letters of Inquiry for grants in Emerging Fields, Literature and Performing Arts. In January 2013, we’ll announce the 46 funded projects in our next class of grantees. Yes, it really does take almost a year to determine the projects that will receive Creative Capital grants!
Applicants, funders and others in our network often ask us how we go about winnowing thousands of applications down to only 46 funded projects. The short answer: very thoughtfully, and with a lot of help.

Creative Capital actively solicits new applicants through an open call for Letters of Inquiry, using web-based outreach, in-person info sessions and partner organizations to help us spread the word. This year we worked with seven Program Consultants who advised us in our grantmaking process, in addition to 19 Recommenders in different parts of the country who suggested artists and artist organizations in their geographic region to notify about the grant deadline.

Creative Capital’s selection process for awarding grants has three phases: inquiry, application and panel review. Last year, we began recruiting more than 100 arts professionals from across the country to review this year’s submissions. By the deadline of March 1, we received 2,704 Letters of Inquiry for the 2013 grants, a 30% increase from the previous grant round for these disciplines. In the spring, 30 Readers reviewed and scored the Letters of Inquiry to determine which artists were invited to submit a full application.
By the end of May, 705 artists’ projects were selected to advance to the next phase, and the artists were given four weeks to submit a full application, including work samples. In July and August, 15 Evaluators will review and rank the applications and decide which artists will advance to the panel round. In the fall, Panelists in Emerging Fields, Literature and Performing Arts will review approximately 200 submissions and vote on which projects will be recommended to Creative Capital’s board of directors as recipients of 2013 grant awards.

Artists often ask how the Readers, Evaluators and Panelists evaluate the applications. Submissions are evaluated on the artistic strength, feasibility and potential impact of the proposed project, as well as the professional capacity of the applicant and the likelihood that the artist would benefit from Creative Capital’s support.
We also work to engage risk in our grantmaking process, striving to embrace fresh, new ideas by artists from diverse backgrounds and at various career stages. In each phase of the review process, readers, evaluators and panelists are asked to rate the applications in a variety of ways that helps maintain a broad mix of projects in each round. In addition, a select number of “wild cards” are also allowed to advance, a process that ensures that some of the more exciting and unexpected projects remain under active consideration.
Last year, after our three-phase review process for grants in Film/Video and Visual Arts, in January 2012 Creative Capital awarded grants to 46 new projects representing 56 artists. These outstanding grantees range in age from 27 to 78 and encompass established, mid-career and emerging artists from 15 states across the country. We look forward to working with them as their projects progress, and to welcoming the 2013 class of Creative Capital grantees in January!
Thank you to Other Means for designing our fancy new infographics!

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