20 Years of Creative Capital

The origins of Creative Capital date to the late 1990s, after the National Endowment for the Arts ended the majority of its grants for individual artists. In response, Archibald Gillies, then President of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, brought together a group of visionary individuals committed to supporting artists in a new way, with Ruby Lerner at the helm.

Drawing inspiration from the rapid growth of the tech industry, these founding leaders developed a new model for cultural philanthropy that adopted elements of the venture capital ethos, in particular the ways in which entrepreneurs in other sectors were being holistically supported. Bringing together financial project support with workshops, mentorship, and networking opportunities, the model was designed to help artists become self-sufficient in the long term and to achieve success on their terms, however they define it. The organization became Creative Capital.



New York Times article on Creative Capital launch

On May 3, 1999, the front page of The New York Times announced the launch of Creative Capital.



The Chronicle of Philanthropy clipping on Creative Capital launch

On May 6, 1999, The Chronicle of Philanthropy published an article on the launch of Creative Capital.

New York Daily Newspaper clipping on Creative Capital launch

On June 6, 1999, New York Daily Newspaper announced the launch of Creative Capital, with an image of founder Ruby Lerner and then-president of the Andy Warhol Foundation, Archibald Gillies.

Creative Capital and Los Angeles Review of Books Look Back on 20 Years of Groundbreaking Art

Creative Capital has invited 12 arts writers to explore key moments in the history of the Creative Capital Award in celebration of our 20th anniversary. The essays include a variety of voices and subjects, looking at many of the projects we have supported that proved groundbreaking and prescient, reflecting and responding to a world in a constant state of flux.

Creative Capital is pleased to partner with Los Angeles Review of Books who will publish these essays once a month.

Read the essays

Creative Capital Awards Through the Years

The first cycle of the Creative Capital Awards in 2000 was given to 81 artists representing 75 projects, which premiered across the country. Awardees in this class included Xenobia Bailey, Barbara Hammer, Daniel Alexander Jones, Ralph Lemon, and Meredith Monk. Since 1999, Creative Capital has awarded more than $50 million in funding to 783 artists and 631 projects. Creative Capital Awardees impact global arts and culture and have gone on to receive additional prestigious honors, including: 127 Guggenheim Fellowships, 17 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships, 3 Academy Awards and 13 nominations, 1 Booker Prize, and countless other accolades, a testament to the quality of work Creative Capital has helped make possible.

2001 2002 2005 2006 2008 2009 2012 2013 2015 2016 2019

Shaping the Future of Art — Artists Reflect on their Creative Capital Award

As Creative Capital celebrates its 20th anniversary, we are looking back at some of the 631 projects supported over the past two decades—including film, visual art, performance, literature, technology, social practice, and everything in between. In each piece, artists reflect on their projects and their insights, struggles, accomplishments, and how Creative Capital helped shape their practice.

Bandaloop, 2000 Vicky Funari, 2000
Nancy Davidson, 2001 Sam Green, 2001 Elisabeth Subrin, 2001
Critical Art Ensemble, 2002

More essays and videos will be added as they are published.

How can art change the world today?

Sheryl Oring. Photo by CarlosDavid.

Creative Capital has a long-standing commitment to meet artists where they are, evolving along with changes in the culture, the way that artists function, and economic realities. Most recently, that commitment has manifested as a new, annual award cycle, which Creative Capital announced in tandem with the beginning of its 20th Anniversary celebration year at the 2019 Artist Retreat.

Awardee Sheryl Oring asked people at the 2019 Creative Capital Artist Retreat to discuss what we can accomplish with art, and she recorded their answers and images using her signature typewriter and a polaroid to celebrate Creative Capital’s 20th anniversary. Creative Capital was founded when arts funding in the US was at stake as a result of the culture wars of the 1990s, and 20 years later there’s still a critical need for artist support. So, how would you use art to change the world?

See the responses