Creative Capital supports forward-thinking and adventurous artists across the country by providing up to $50,000 in project funding, counsel, and career development services. Our pioneering venture philanthropy approach helps artists working in all creative disciplines realize their visions and build sustainable practices.
To select the Creative Capital Awards, we work with arts professionals from across the country in a concerted effort to reflect a nation of boundary-blurring art. We strive to support diversity in all its forms—including disciplines, gender, ability, race, ethnicity, geographic distribution, art forms and creative process, age, and experience.
The application for the Creative Capital Awards is open to artists, collectives, and collaborations working in all disciplines now through March 8, 2021 at 4pm ET.
Disciplines We Support
- Architecture & Design
- Artistic Activism
- Augmented Reality
- Bio Art
- Cultural Organizing
- Dance Film
- Data Visualization
- Digital Media
- Documentary Film
- Drawing & Illustration
- Ecological Art
- Experimental Film
- Graphic Novel
- Internet Art
- Jazz Performance
- Literary Fiction
- Literary Nonfiction
- Multimedia Performance
- Music Composition
- Music Performance
- Musical Theater
- Narrative Film
- Performance Art
- Public Art
- Social Practice
- Sound Art
- Video Art
- Virtual Reality
A dynamic visual project that creates the illusion of movement through a series of photographed frames or the use of computer software.
The use of design for practical constructions including buildings, public spaces, interiors, furniture, clothing, typography, and graphics.
Practices that seek tangible change in social, political, environmental, or economic conditions.
An artwork that uses responsive technology to integrate images into the user’s real-world view.
Work involving living organisms and life processes.
Practices that use humor to consider social norms and challenging topics.
Artwork created by hand with a skillful technique or methodology.
Practices that mobilize community members and reflect their cultural expressions.
A live performance following the movement of one or more bodies.
An artwork capturing movement that is staged and performed for camera.
A graphic interpretation of facts or statistics that presents new ways of understanding information.
A blend of technology and content that is often responsive, and delivered on an electronic device.
Creative nonfiction that uses moving images to question or expand the notion of truth of an actual event, era, or life story.
Visual art that uses line to create an image with dry or digital media.
A practice that directly engages natural ecosystems and processes, often to interrogate relationships between the environment and its inhabitants.
A film project that re-evaluates cinematic conventions and explores alternatives to traditional narratives or methods of working.
A digital or analog activity with an established set of rules involving skill, chance, or endurance.
A text that uses images to advance its narrative structure.
A project creating the mechanical equipment necessary for conducting an activity, distinguished from the theory or software that make the activity possible.
An artwork comprised of multiple parts that create or alter a physical environment.
Artwork that uses the internet as a medium and distribution platform.
A live or recorded performance of original jazz music.
Works of imaginative prose such as novels, story collections, or those cast in hybrid forms.
Prose works that include narrative nonfiction, cultural criticism, essay, memoir, and work cast in hybrid forms.
Artwork that blends multiple interfaces such as video, sound, text, or interactive content.
A live performance created with multiple interfaces such as video, installation, and interactive or immersive elements.
The writing and production of an original song or instrumental music piece.
A live performance of an original score.
A staged performance that expresses ideas and emotions through the integration of theater and vocal performance.
A film that tells uses characters and a plot to tell a story.
An extended dramatic composition in which all parts are sung with instrumental accompaniment and typically include arias, choruses, and recitatives.
A primarily flat object covered with pigmented media or other tactile materials.
A performance that integrates various live and static arts including acting, poetry, music, dance, painting, video, and sculpture.
Images created using lens-based technologies.
Written or spoken literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language to engage meaning.
A project in any media that has been planned and executed with the intention of being publicly accessible.
An inanimate figure in movement manipulated by human control.
A work of art that operates in three dimensions.
A genre of participatory art which often focuses on the engagement of individuals, communities, institutions, or a combination of these.
Programs used to direct the operation of a device for storing, processing, transmitting, and displaying data.
Audible work that does not follow the conventions of music or voice recording.
A project that is presented through a live, dramatic performance.
A moving image created independent of cinematic and theatrical conventions and often shown in a visual arts context.
Visual technologies that immerse the user to alter their senses and perceptions.
- Alternate & Future Worlds
- Built Environment
- Civic Practice
- Climate Change & Sustainability
- Community & Place
- Criminal Justice
- Data & Surveillance
- Educational Systems
- Environment & Ecology
- Gender & Sexuality
- Humor & Satire
- Internet & Networks
- Labor & Consumption
- Language & Communication
- Media Culture
- Memory & Personal History
- Race & Ethnicity
- Religion & Spirituality
- Social Justice
Projects that reimagine our present and past to speculate on possible futures.
Projects that explore the politics, abilities, and limitations of movement and embodiment.
Projects that explore how architectural entities define social life, often in site-specific investigations.
Artists, community partners, and local residents co-design and collaborate on projects that enact positive structural change and challenge oppressive systems, imagining a world where these changes have already unfolded.
Projects that employ adaptive design, political activism, and aesthetic techniques to address the realities of our ongoing climate crisis.
These artists address people and localities to create spaces for dialogue, sharing of tradition, and exploring issues of gentrification and displacement.
Projects that address all aspects of mass incarceration, the prison industrial complex, often presenting ways forward.
Projects that address data of all kinds, calling attention to the gravity of data mining, state surveillance, and personal privacy.
Projects that center narratives by disabled persons and communities, while considering strategies for equal access, opportunity, and well-being.
Projects that aim to reshape and decentralize the forms in which knowledge is structured and shared.
Combining scientific investigations with artistic expression, these projects are at the forefront of interrogating and interpreting our relationship with the ecosystem, and inspiring sustainable ways of life.
Projects employing the cultural and communal values of food to think through questions of tradition, labor, scarcity, and fair access.
Projects that unpack sexual norms, social roles and privileges, and question binaries to propose the radical potential of living outside of them.
Projects that engage with specific narratives, archives, documents, persons, and/or politics to reshape how we understand our collective past.
Projects using parody and comedic forms to subvert cultural and political norms.
Projects considering the realities of diaspora and forced migration, struggles for assimilation and cultural preservation, and stories of return or rediscovery of one’s history.
Projects addressing digital, informational, and human networks, on and offline, as tools for connectivity and division.
To critique our collective dependency on capitalism and systems of power, these projects address issues ranging from workers rights and globalization to consumerism and waste politics.
Through discourse and processes of collaboration, these projects unpack how meaning is constructed, shared between people, disseminated across media, and translated through time.
Projects that are framed within our media-saturated world and call attention to issues of celebrity, representation, and hyperconnectivity.
Projects wherein artists turn inward to explore narratives that affect them personally, their family, or their community at large.
Projects that think through how broader systems of power affect the daily lives of all people.
Projects calling into question racialized structures of identity, sharing narratives of resilience, empowerment, and collectivity amidst systems of oppression.
Projects considering questions of tradition, ceremony, mythology, folklore, belonging, and ultimately, what is held sacred.
Projects that utilize—and question pressing issues around—science, technology, engineering, and medicine.
Projects that address various forms of harm—both individual and state-sanctioned—inflicted upon persons, communities, and their environments.
Our application questions are designed to help you better articulate your project, your goals, and how you would like to position yourself in the field. Many people have told us that the application itself taught them a lot about their project and their life goals. Additionally, our application evaluation process ensures that your work will receive additional exposure. In the first round, two colleagues from your field will read about your project. If you make it to the second round, two more people will read about it. If you make it to the panel review stage, five to seven more people will know about your work. That means that, just by applying, up to ten professional curators, programmers or editors in your field will have been informed about your project.
Questions Asked in the Application
The Creative Capital Award application is a highly competitive process, but the questions are designed to help artists articulate and think through the ideas and goals behind a project, in order to make the time the artist spends on the application worthwhile. The application questions are designed to provoke meaningful reflection about a project, why it needs to be made, and for whom. Read more about every question we ask, and why we ask it.
The Creative Capital Award application is a several-month process that happens on an annual basis, and occurs on the following timeline.
February 1—March 8 at 4pm ET: Open Application
Project proposals will be accepted in a free and open application starting February 1 to March 8 at 4pm ET. Along with project title, descriptions, and selection of up to two disciplines, applications include questions about the goals of the project, work samples, and provide a total budget number for the project.
July: Second Round Review
Projects selected to advance to the second round will be notified at this time. Project proposals will be reviewed by a new pool of evaluators in this phase. No additional material will need to be submitted.
October: Panel Review
Projects chosen to advance to panel review will be asked for a project update and will be reviewed for a final panel of evaluators. No additional material will need to be submitted.
Panel meetings will be held in New York City in the fall. Projects will be chosen for support and submitted to the board of directors for final approval. Selected artists will be notified of the decision before the end of the year, and will be invited to attend an orientation in the spring, and the Creative Capital Artist Retreat in the summer.
A public announcement of the Creative Capital Awards will be made in the winter.
What we ask application reviewers to look for
What is the artistic strength, vision, originality of the proposed project? This includes demonstrating boundary-pushing, bold, and singular ideas. It’s important for us that artists show that they have a deep engagement with the project and represent it with a clear vision and intended audience. Projects should challenge the status quo and spark new conversations.
Although Creative Capital has funded artists who are working in a discipline that is new to them, we want to make sure that the applicant has the appropriate professional capabilities to execute the project—especially if the impact is ambitious! The Creative Capital Award is not ideal for artists just beginning their creative practices—that’s why we require artists have five years of experience. It’s important that the applicant demonstrates a deep understanding of the professional landscape of their field. They should also have a certain amount of momentum in their career that we can help them build upon.
Beyond looking at the ideas of the artist’s project, we ask evaluators to determine if the applicant is ready to examine their creative and professional approach. Because we offer more than just financial support, we want to know if the applicant could benefit from additional resources of capital and skills building to complete their project.
The resources that Creative Capital offers our Awardees work best over a long period of time. So, if the artist applied with a project that will premiere a year or less after the award announcement, it is not a strong match. Entering the life of a project at a key moment is important to us, and we have found that projects premiering within the first year are less able to take advantage of our resources.
We ask evaluators to determine whether the applicant is ready to utilize all of the resources of the Award including our nonmonetary support. The Creative Capital Award comes with more than just funding; we want to be sure the applicant is at a point in their career where they’re ready to take full advantage of Creative Capital’s funding, counsel, and career development services. This is an integral part of the program and applicants should demonstrate a capacity and interest in being a part of a supportive learning community.
Finally, we are looking for artists who demonstrate a strong sense of mutual generosity and engagement in a community. Artists who receive Creative Capital Awards stay in our community of supporters long after they’ve premiered their projects, and we expect them to pay forward what they gain from us to future artists. We value artists who are generous toward their peers and professional colleagues.
This year, we hosted online info sessions for artists in all disciplines. Watch the videos below to learn more about applying for the Creative Capital Award as an artist in your discipline.
Applying as a Multidisciplinary Artist
For this info session, we are joined by multidisciplinary artist, Creative Capital Awardee Matthew Moore, and Antajuan Scott, a cultural producer who evaluated applications. Moore and Scott speak about how to apply for a Creative Capital Award as a multidisciplinary artist.
Applying as a Visual Artist
Creative Capital Awardee Robin Frohardt joins Ade J. Omotosho, who evaluated applications, share insights about how to apply for a Creative Capital Award as a visual artist.
Applying as a Writer or Literary Artist
Creative Capital Awardees Jeffery Renard Allen and Jessica Anthony join us to share their insights about how to apply for a Creative Capital Award as a writer or literary artist.
Applying as a Socially-Engaged Artist
Creative Capital Awardee Sharon Bridgforth and Ryan Dennis, Chief Curator and Artistic Director of the Center for Art & Public Exchange at the Mississippi Museum of Art, join us to share their insights about how to apply for a Creative Capital Award as socially-engaged artists.
Applying as a Performance-Based Artist
Creative Capital Awardee Erika Chong Shuch and Pia Agrawal, Curator of Performing Arts at the Momentary, join us to share their insights about how to apply for a Creative Capital Award as performance-based artists.
Q&A about the Application
Learn how artists can apply for the Creative Capital Award. Staff answer general questions about the award, and the application process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Creative Capital funds artist projects in all disciplines, and many artists work across genres. The most competitive projects take risks and articulate an original vision. You can learn about previously funded projects on our Artist Projects page. Please note that we are actively interested in many kinds of projects that may or may not be represented there.
The Creative Capital Award is not for everyone, and not for every type of project. This is not an ideal award for artists just beginning their creative practice—that is why we have a relatively loose requirement that artists have five years experience in their 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. Finally, the Creative Capital Award is not suitable for curating exhibitions, rather it is designed for individual artists to produce original work.
An artist must be:
• At least 25 years old upon submission of an application.
• A working artist with at least five years of professional experience.
• A U.S. Citizen, permanent legal resident, or an O-1 Visa holder.
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. Additionally, we are not able to provide funding to LLC or S Corp organizations.
- Enrolled as students in a degree-granting program (BA, BS, MA, MS, MBA, JD, PhD) or its equivalent from Dec 31 2021 – Dec 31 2022. If currently enrolled in a program, you must have completed the full time program by Dec 31, 2021.
- A Creative Capital Awardee.
- Listed as an applicant or collaborator on more than one proposed project this award cycle.
Additionally, writers are NOT eligible to apply for a Creative Capital Award if they are:
- Applying for an Arts Writers Grant for any project within the same year
- Or, applying with the same project for which they have previously received an Arts Writers Grant
Yes, we accept proposals for collaborative projects and work by collectives. We ask that you 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. Each artist collaborator can apply with only one project in any single award year.
Artists either collaborate with each other regularly or only on the proposed project. However, one-time collaborators will need to make a very strong case regarding their commitment to work together for the entire three- to five-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.
NOTE: Only those artists named as collaborators when the application is submitted will be eligible to receive the award. Artists will be unable to add members once the award has been granted.
No, 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. Additionally, we are not able to provide funding to LLC or S Corp organizations.
Due to the time commitments required during the first year of the program, we cannot give awards to anyone who will be enrolled in any kind of degree-granting program (BA, BS, MA, MS, MBA, JD, PhD) from Dec 31 2021 – Dec 31 2022. If currently enrolled, you must have completed the program and received your diploma by Dec 31, 2021.
We have designed a system that serves artists at every step.
- The questions on the application are tailored to be artist-centered.
- At least two arts professionals learn about your work at each stage. Projects that make it to the final panel will have had several arts professionals learn about the work.
- For those artists who advance to the last stage of our process, shortly after the award announcement artists are eligible to opt in to On Our Radar, a website that we send to our general network, including curators, programmers, artists, potential resource providers 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.
If for some reason you notice you are not receiving communications from us, search your spam inbox to double check whether our emails are going to you there. We also ask you to check your email preferences to make sure you aren’t unsubscribed to our emails.
Yes, and there is more information about work samples on the open application itself. We accept up to six work samples of any medium, and three work samples for writers. Images should be submitted as jpgs, three-minute video excerpts should be submitted as YouTube or Vimeo links, and three-minute audio samples should be submitted as a Soundcloud link. Writers can submit up to 25 pages of double-spaced prose or 10 pages of single-spaced poetry. All written samples must be typed in 12-point font size.
If you are only uploading written work, your work samples combined should not exceed 25 pages. If submitting written work in combination with other types of samples (audio, video, and/or visual), each individual written sample should not exceed 5 pages of double-spaced prose or 2 pages of single-spaced poetry.
When we say premiere, we mean the general moment that a work will debut to the public—whether this is the publishing date of a book, the first public screening of a film, the run of a play, or the launch of a website.
When looking at applications, we ask that the reviewers pay close attention to when a project is going to premiere to the public—timing is a key factor in the decision process! Artists who receive the Creative Capital Award will spend the first year as an awardee going through a comprehensive program involving workshops, one-on-one meetings, and gatherings, including the Artist Retreat. This first year is intended to help the artist expand or hone the project within this collaborative process. That means that works that premiere earlier than a year after receiving the award are not a great fit for Creative Capital. More appropriate are artworks that will premiere 2–5 years (or any time beyond that) after receiving the award, and we are explicit about that when instructing evaluators who review applications.
This date is only an estimation—we understand that project timelines are accelerated due to many factors, as they can be delayed, even years, because of unforeseen circumstances.
We ask that you be as specific as possible about the budget describing your project in its entirety, and we understand that it may be an estimation, and is subject to change. This gives us an honest sense of how much it will take to make the project happen, including reasonable fees for the artists involved. It is also a window into the scale of the project and if you have a reasonable understanding of what it will take to execute it. Think of this as another way to tell the story of the proposed project. It’s important to understand that this is just an estimate, and that the budget is subject to change. We also recognize that this budget may well exceed what the Creative Capital Award is worth. Make sure to always pay yourself and active partners!
We only need the contact information for one or more of your references. This reference should be knowledgeable about your artistic practice and they do not necessarily need to be aware of the project that you are applying with. We like to have this information on hand as it helps us better understand your network. We most likely will not reach out to these references, and if we do, only in extremely rare cases in the third round of the application process.
No, we do not make any exceptions to the 4pm ET deadline on Monday, March 8. In fact, we ask you to even submit your application at your earliest convenience!
No, it is free to apply for a Creative Capital Award.
If you still have questions, contact us at [email protected]. We will answer your questions as soon as we can, but do note that during the application period, especially leading up to the deadline, we receive a high volume of communication! Please, do not call us.
Creative Capital takes chances on artists by supporting your bold, challenging, and genre-stretching ideas. Over the past 20 years, we have developed a four-part approach that includes support for you, your project, your community, and your audience. Through funding, professional development, individual meetings with close colleagues, and consistent engagement with our staff, we provide you with the resources you will need at strategic moments in your process. These include: consultations with legal, financial, marketing, public relations, and web consultants; an orientation meeting, Artist Retreats and Regional Gatherings; ten meetings with a strategic planning coach; and much more.
We make a commitment to work with you for the time you need to get your project done. Most of the projects we support have a timeline of at least a few years; even if yours is longer, we will stick with you every step of the way.