The information on this page is for artists from all disciplines. After reviewing, also see our posts for specific fields, which list different resources for each:
Q: Where can I find grants for film or videomakers?
Q: Where can I find grants for musicians?
Q: Where can I find grants for performing artists?
Q: Where can I find grants for visual artists?
Q: Where can I find grants for writers?
If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.
-- John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
Although most foundation grants are given to nonprofit organizations, artists are one exception to that rule.
Census data reveals that there are about 1.4 million working artists in the U.S. -- defined as people whose primary earnings come from their art. (There's no reliable way to track practicing artists who do not make their primary earnings in the arts.) Their median earnings in 2012 were around $30,000 a year, $36,000 with a bachelor's degree.
There are a number of ways for artists to supplement their income and ease the financial burden that comes with being a working artist:
- Grants or fellowships provide funds that can be used to pay the rent and other expenses, allowing the artist to work full-time at being creative. Grants are very competitive and the amount awarded, stipulations, and application procedures for each vary widely. Some are given to allow an artist to complete a specifically proposed project; others are unrestricted. Some are awarded strictly based on need, others as a prize given out as part of a competition. Some are open to application, others only by nomination.
- In addition to private foundations, publicly funded arts agencies can also be a source of funding for artists. According to Americans for the Arts, in 2015, 35% of local arts agencies (LAAs) provided financial support to individual artists, and 30% supported both arts organizations and artists. (Here's a directory of state arts agencies.)
- Then there are artist residencies, which typically require an artist to spend time away from their usual environment and obligations. Residencies will often provide studio space, meals, housing, and travel and living stipends.
- Tax, legal and health care services are sometimes available specifically for cash-strapped artists, either for free or at discounted rates.
- Another way for artists to gain funding is to contact a nonprofit with a related mission that will serve as their fiscal sponsor. This allows artists to apply for grants and solicit tax-deductible charitable contributions under the sponsor's exempt status.
Foundation Center offers the following resources that can help artists find grants:
Foundation Grants to Individuals Online is our searchable database of grantmakers that give to individuals. It is available by subscription, or to use for free at our Funding Information Network locations.
Philanthropy News Digest provides listings of current requests for proposals (RFPs) from foundations and other grantmaking organizations interested in funding arts and culture nonprofits and individuals in the field. Select Arts / Culture in the Subject search box.
Grantseeking Basics for Individuals in the Arts is our free course that will show you how to identify funders supporting individuals working in the arts, as well as touch on grantmaker motivations, and the variety of support options available.
Webinars and in-person classes geared specifically to artists are offered periodically. Also see these free, previously-recorded webinars and programs:
- Fiscal Sponsorship + Crowdfunding = $$ for Creative Projects. Dianne Debicella, program director for fiscal sponsorship at Fractured Atlas, discusses fiscal sponsorship arrangements.
- Crowdfunding in the Arts: How to Add This Essential Tool to Your Fundraising Mix. Dana Ostomel, the founder and Chief Gifting Officer of crowdfunding platform DepositAGift.com, discusses best practices to prepare, create, launch and market a campaign successfully.
- Grantwriting for Artists: Perfecting Your Proposal. Gigi Rosenberg, author of The Artist's Guide to Grant Writing (available for checkout in Foundation Center's eBook collection), discusses how to enlist colleagues and friends to help write a successful proposal, get organized, persuade the right funders, and emulate the attitudes of successful grant recipients.
See also our related Knowledge Base articles:
- What is an artist's statement? Where can I find samples?
- How do I write a grant proposal for my individual project? Where can I find samples?
- What is fiscal sponsorship? How do I find a fiscal sponsor?
- What is crowdfunding?
Subject(s) Arts and Culture