Our Award Selection Process: What Happens Next?

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 more than 3,700 Letters of Inquiry for grants in Visual Arts & Moving Image—our biggest applicant pool to date! The applicants hailed from 49 U.S. states and Puerto Rico (Mississippi artists, we want you!), along with U.S. citizens living in 26 other countries. In January 2015, we’ll announce the 46 funded projects in our next class of awardees. Yes, it really does take almost a year to select the next class of Creative Capital Artists!
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 and online 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 22 colleagues in different parts of the country who suggested artists and artist organizations in their geographic region to notify about the award 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 February 28, we received 3,716 Letters of Inquiry for the 2015 grants, a 16% increase from the previous grant round for these disciplines. So what’s next?
This spring, 40 Readers will review and score the Letters of Inquiry to determine which artists were invited to submit a full application. By the end of May, around 700 artists’ projects will be selected to advance to the next phase, and the artists will be given four weeks to submit a full application, including work samples. In July and August, 35 Evaluators will review and rank the applications and decide which artists will advance to the panel round. In the fall, seven Panelists in each discipline will review approximately 200 submissions and vote on which 46 projects will be recommended to Creative Capital’s board of directors as recipients of 2015 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.
Thank you to all of the program consultants, referrers, readers, evaluators and panelists who help us through this important process, and good luck to all of the applicants! We look forward to introducing you to the 2015 class of Creative Capital Artists next January.
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This is an updated version of a post we originally shared in 2012.

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