Grant Programs

Emergency Grants

How does FCA define “emergency"? Toggle Answer

The Emergency Grants program does not provide general project funding. Emergency Grants are for artists who:

  • Have unanticipated, sudden opportunities to present their work to the public when there is insufficient time to seek other sources of funding.
  • Incur unexpected or unbudgeted expenses for projects close to completion with committed exhibition or performance dates.
Who does Emergency Grants support? Toggle Answer

Emergency Grants is a multi-disciplinary program that supports visual and performing artists whose work is of a contemporary, experimental nature.

Each month FCA receives an average of 80 Emergency Grant applications and makes approximately 12-15 grants. A large number of applications are rejected each month because they do not meet our eligibility criteria. FCA strongly encourages applicants to read through the program guidelines and consider the following questions:

  • Is your work experimental?
  • Do you have a confirmed performance or exhibition that is 6-8 weeks away?
  • Do you have an unanticipated, sudden opportunity to present work to the public, or unexpected or unbudgeted expenses for projects close to completion?

Emergency Grants does not fund organizations or arts presenters. Please visit FCA's Facebook and Instagram pages to learn about current Emergency Grants projects.

When should I apply? Toggle Answer

Given the last-minute focus of this program, we advise you to apply no sooner than 8 weeks in advance of your confirmed performance or exhibition dates. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and are considered monthly by a panel of established artists.

How do I apply for an Emergency Grant? Toggle Answer

Applicants may submit through an online form here.

FCA requires a project budget as part of the application. You may review example performance and visual arts budgets, and use this blank budget form as a reference for creating your Emergency Grant application budget.

If you have difficulty with internet access, please call or email the Foundation for a hard-copy application. Any technical issues with the online application may be directed to grants@contemporary-arts.org.

What expenses will the Emergency Grant cover? Toggle Answer

The Emergency Grants panel will consider funding last minute expenses that are necessary for a project's completion and public presentation. Applicants are encouraged to demonstrate why each cost is urgent and necessary for a project's completion in the application.

The Emergency Grant program is not intended to support life emergencies (food, rent, medical bills, childcare, and other basic necessities), youth or educational programming, the production of CDs, albums, or music videos, participation in residency programs, professional training, workshops, conferences, or competitions, projects with no scheduled exhibition or performance dates, or reimbursement for expenses already incurred. Framing is generally not considered to be an urgent need unless the framing of the work is clearly demonstrated to be an essential part of the work that will be presented.

Can I apply for a project occurring outside of the United States? Toggle Answer

Yes. Exhibition or performance opportunities occurring outside of the U.S. are eligible for funding, but applicants must be living in the United States or U.S. territories and have a U.S. Tax ID Number (SSN, EIN, ITIN).

Additionally, we have a small fund reserved for travel expenses for projects the include exchange between the U.S. and the following countries: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.

Can artists living outside of the United States apply for a grant? Toggle Answer

No. Emergency Grants are restricted to artists who are currently living in the United States or U.S. territories and have a U.S. Tax ID Number (SSN, EIN, ITIN).

I live in Puerto Rico/Guam/Northern Mariana Islands/U.S. Virgin Islands/American Samoa. Can I apply for a grant? Toggle Answer

Yes, as long as you have a U.S. Tax ID Number (SSN, EIN, ITIN). Please note that you are required to fill out a U.S. tax return for any U.S. sourced income.

I have been awarded an FCA grant in the past. May I reapply? Toggle Answer

There is no lifetime cap on the number of Emergency Grants one may receive. However, Emergency Grants recipients and Grants to Artists awardees must observe a three-year waiting period from the date of their award to re-apply. For the purpose of providing COVID-19 relief, we have suspended the three-year waiting period between grants. If you have received a grant from the Foundation in 2020 or earlier, you may apply for an Emergency Grant. The three-year waiting period will re-start with your next Emergency Grant.

My project already happened or I have already paid for the project's expenses. Can I apply for funding? Toggle Answer

No. Emergency Grants does not provide retroactive funding for expenses incurred before the application is submitted.

Can I re-apply for the same project if my request was denied? Toggle Answer

No. Once the panel has reviewed a proposal, it cannot be re-submitted.

Can I apply on behalf of an artist who is in need of funding? Toggle Answer

In most cases, the artist in need of funding must apply themself, unless they are unable to apply without support. Curators, producers, and other parties should not apply on behalf of an artist's project.

I am part of an artist collective, ensemble, or group. May we apply for Emergency Grant support? Toggle Answer

Yes. An individual may apply on behalf of a non-organizational artist group of which they are a member.

I am a curator or an arts organization employee. May I apply for an Emergency Grant to support an exhibition or performance? Toggle Answer

The Emergency Grants program is solely for individual artists. The artist must submit an application for support of their project.

I have been invited to participate in a residency program. May I request funds toward the residency? Toggle Answer

FCA can only provide support for public performance or exhibition opportunities connected to residency programs. FCA cannot fund residency fees or living expenses while in attendance at a residency. Additionally, residencies for early performance development or with in-progress showings are not eligible for Emergency Grants. You may email FCA for further questions about projects of this nature.

May I request funds to attend, present at, or organize a workshop, professional development, educational training, conference, paid residency, competition, symposium, or lecture? Toggle Answer

No. The Emergency Grants program supports urgent costs for artists' public presentation opportunities. Educational, non-public, or pay-to-attend opportunities are ineligible.

Can students apply for an Emergency Grant? Toggle Answer

No. Emergency Grants does not offer assistance to graduate, undergraduate, or high school students currently enrolled in a degree program, nor Ph.D or doctoral candidates, regardless of whether the field of study is related to artistic work.

Can I apply for a project with a focus on youth or educational programming? Toggle Answer

Emergency Grants does not provide support for programs related to youth or education.

I have a question that was not addressed here. Who can I contact? Toggle Answer

You may contact FCA's Program Assistant, Pooja Seshadri: grants@contemporary-arts.org

Grants to Artists

Can I apply for Grants to Artists? Toggle Answer

Unlike Emergency Grants, Grants to Artists is not an “open application” program. Artists are identified and awarded through a nomination and selection process. Nominators are asked to remain anonymous and to keep their nominations confidential.

Why does FCA use a confidential nomination process? Toggle Answer

A confidential nomination process does not require artists to perform any labor and eliminates the experience of rejection. FCA Grantees have expressed that receiving unrestricted support without having to apply is gratifying, and that knowing they were nominated and selected by a panel of artists gives them a sense of validation and that they have been “seen” by their colleagues and peers.

How do I get nominated for Grants to Artists? Toggle Answer

Nominators are asked to put forward an artist with an experimental practice whose work is innovative, risk-taking, and imaginative, and for whom recognition and support would have a transformative effect. Artists are nominated for a variety of reasons and there is no way to guarantee a nomination for an award. Nominated artists tend to be active members of their artistic community and engaged in discourse with their peers. It is helpful to make sure there is high quality documentation of your work publicly available for people who are unable to see your work in person.

What disciplines does Grants to Artists support? Toggle Answer

Grants to Artists are made to innovative artists working in dance, music/sound, performance art/theater, poetry, and visual arts.

What are the selection criteria? Toggle Answer

Recipients are selected on the basis of the merit and imaginativeness of their work, and the transformative effect that the recognition and financial support that comes with a Grants to Artists award might have at this point in their careers. There is no set age range for recipients. FCA recognizes that artists can be exceptionally creative at any age or stage of artistic development. Artists in their late 20s are as likely to receive a Grants to Artists award as artists in their late 60s.

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to be nominated? Toggle Answer

No. There are no nationality restrictions. Citizens of all countries are eligible for a Grants to Artists award, provided that their country of residence permits them to receive funds from a U.S. institution.

Who is invited to nominate for this program? Toggle Answer

FCA depends on people knowledgeable about current work in the fields of dance, music/sound, performance art/theater, poetry, and the visual arts. Each year, FCA invites dozens of artists, curators, writers, and scholars from across the country (and sometimes abroad) to nominate an exceptional artist whose work they feel is underrecognized by the broader field.

Can I submit a nomination? Toggle Answer

No. FCA does not accept unsolicited nominations.

What do nominators do? Toggle Answer

Nominators submit a recommendation letter to propose their chosen candidate. The letter details the nominator’s relationship to the nominee and his/hers/their work; how the artist fits into the history of the medium or discipline and aligns with FCA’s mission to support work of a contemporary, experimental nature; why the artist qualifies for an FCA grant; and the impact the award might have on the artist’s life and work at this time. Nominators are discouraged from nominating blood relatives, current or former spouses/partners, and studio-mates. FCA asks that nominators disclose any potential conflicts of interest regarding their candidate in their recommendation letter. Nominators are not required to submit supporting materials, but are encouraged to share work samples or press they feel might be helpful to the selection committee. Any materials submitted by nominators are supplemented by a lengthy period of staff research.

How does FCA select its nominators? Toggle Answer

Nominators are identified through ongoing independent research by FCA staff, as well as recommendations from FCA’s Directors, past FCA grantees, and other members of FCA’s community. Individuals are selected based on their knowledge of current work in the fields of dance, music/sound, performance art/theater, poetry, and the visual arts.  Nominators are asked to guide FCA to ground-breaking artists for whom recognition and support of an unrestricted cash grant would have a transformative effect. Approximately half of the nominator pool are practicing artists.

How does FCA consider diversity in the grant-making process? Toggle Answer

FCA asks nominators to consider racial, gender, and geographic diversity when selecting a nominee. The selection panel is dedicated to ensuring that our grant-making includes a diversity of thought and experience, and supports artists of intersecting identities including but not limited to ability, age, gender, geography, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status.

What is the racial identity of FCA’s nominators? Toggle Answer

This may vary somewhat from year to year, but each cycle FCA works to ensure that the racial/ethnic demographics of our nominators reflect annual racial/ethnic statistics of major U.S. cities. For example, the 2021 nominator pool self-identified as: 12% Asian/South Asian/Pacific Islander, 17% Black/African-American, 15% Latinx, 4% Native American/American Indian, 38% white, and 13% multi-racial.

What is the racial identity of FCA’s grantees? Toggle Answer

The racial identity of grantees varies from year to year. The self-identified racial/ethnic make-up of FCA’s twenty 2021 grantees is: 15% Asian/South Asian/Pacific Islander, 45% Black/African-American, 20% Latinx, 15% white, and 5% multi-racial.

Do artists know they have been nominated? Toggle Answer

No. In fact, nominators are asked to keep their nomination confidential forever. FCA’s artist-led Board believes that because many artists experience rejection regularly in their careers, keeping their Grants to Artists nomination confidential spares them from one more.

Can an artist be nominated more than once? Toggle Answer

Yes. There are no restrictions on the number of times an artist can be nominated. Nominations remain confidential forever, so nominators have no knowledge of whether an artist they propose has been previously nominated.

How many times can an artist receive a Grants to Artists Award? Toggle Answer

An artist can only receive one Grants to Artists award in their lifetime.

Once an artist is nominated, do they have to do anything? Toggle Answer

No. Since the nomination process is confidential, nominated artists are never made aware that they have been nominated. Nominees are not asked to apply, submit supporting materials, or do anything else pertaining to their nomination.

Once an artist is nominated, what happens? Toggle Answer

For the artist, nothing, since they are unaware of the nomination. For FCA’s staff, it is a busy and exciting time. During the summer and early fall, staff researches each nominee in depth and gathers supporting materials such as biographies, work samples, and press for each artist. These materials are assembled for the benefit of the Grants to Artists Selection Committee, so that the Committee can learn about each nominee and make more informed decisions in the panel process.

How do nominated artists get selected to receive a Grants to Artists award? Toggle Answer

Each fall, FCA conducts a multi-day panel process to consider the work of each nominee. The Selection Committee reviews all nominated artists by discipline and votes on which artists they believe best meet the criteria for a Grants to Artists award. There are no quotas by discipline; panelists may vote for as many or as few artists in each discipline as they like. Grantees are notified shortly thereafter, and each year the Grants to Artists recipients are announced to the public in January.

Who serves on the Selection Committee? Toggle Answer

The Selection Committee is composed of FCA’s Board of Directors, which includes eight practicing artists; and invited advisors from each artistic discipline who are artists, presenters, and/or curators.

Past panelists have included choreographers Neil Greenberg, Ishmael Houston-Jones, John Jasperse, and Dean Moss; composers Michael Gordon, Annie Gosfield, David Lang, Marina Rosenfeld, and Julia Wolfe; performance and theater artists John Jesurun, Clarinda Mac Low, Richard Maxwell, Kate Valk, and Mac Wellman; visual arts curators Johanna Burton, Thomas Lax, Yasmil Raymond, Scott Rothkopf; and performance curators Judy Hussie-Taylor, Brian Rogers, Debra Singer, and Laurie Uprichard.

How do artists get selected for one of the named Grants to Artists awards? Toggle Answer

The process is one and the same. Within the Grants to Artists program, FCA administers seven awards named for artists associated with FCA’s history: The Merce Cunningham Award, The Helen Frankenthaler Award for Painting, The Roy Lichtenstein Award, The Robert Rauschenberg Award, The Dorothea Tanning Award, The Cy Twombly Award for Poetry, and The C.D. Wright Award for Poetry. These awards have been endowed through the generosity of individuals and artist foundations to honor these namesake artists and support younger generations of artists who continue their legacy of experimentation, innovation, and creativity.

In addition to these seven named awards, FCA also administers The John Cage Award, a biennial award made in recognition of outstanding achievement in the arts for work that reflects the spirit of FCA co-founder John Cage, and the Ellsworth Kelly Award, an annual grant that supports solo museum exhibitions for contemporary artists.

Why are Grants to Artists awards unrestricted? Toggle Answer

As an artist-founded and -led organization, FCA believes that artists themselves know best how to use a grant. 

What do recipients do with their Grants to Artists awards? Toggle Answer

The Grants to Artists awards are completely unrestricted and intended to provide recipients with the financial means to engage in whatever artistic endeavors they wish to pursue.  

Recipients have used their grant for a variety of purposes. Some use their award to directly fund new or in-progress their work by purchasing equipment or materials, traveling, compensating collaborators, or hiring assistants. Others use their award to take a sabbatical from teaching, cover their rent or make a downpayment on a home or studio, or pay for medical expenses, thereby enabling them to focus on making work. Many work to pay off credit card debt or student loans, pay for childcare, and often there is a bit left for a needed vacation or a celebratory meal with friends and family. 

How do you notify artists once they have been selected for a Grants to Artists award? Toggle Answer

Following the Selection Committee meetings, usually around Thanksgiving, members of FCA’s staff and Board share the happy job of calling the new grantees to notify them of their award. Past grantees have referred to this as “The Call.”