When a fellow writer first encouraged me to apply for a grant from our state sponsored arts council to fund a trip to a writer’s conference, I thought she was nuts. But when she told me that she’d used artist grant funds to finance two different trips to out-of-state conferences already, I started paying attention, and asking questions.
Writing is an art form. You may not see it displayed as such in your local art gallery, but it remains an important part of the arts nevertheless. State and local arts councils recognize this, often, more so than writers themselves. The director of our local arts organization was thrilled when I applied for membership. “We have so few writers,” she said. “I wish I knew how to get more of the literary community involved.” When a writer begins to see themselves as an artist, many new opportunities open up to them; one of those being funding through artist grants.
Every state in the U.S. has an agency that supports and encourages the arts. The titles of these agencies may vary from ‘Arts Council’ to ‘Commission on Culture’ or some other variation, but your state has an agency that receives both federal and state funding for the promotion of the arts. How those funds are used and distributed is determined by each of the different state agencies. In Minnesota, where I live, the funds are distributed to regional art councils and each of those councils determines the granting process for their region. Some of the regions only provide grant funds to non-profit art organizations, but most of them also provide grant funds to individual artists as well.
You may be wondering what type of projects writers would fund through an artist grant. I already mentioned the funding of attendance to writer’s conferences at the beginning of the article. Conferences, workshops and mentoring programs are all areas that can fit into the areas of education or artist development. You can apply for grant money to help pay the expenses of registration fees, travel and lodging for opportunities that will help further your writing career.
Writers have also applied for funds to assist in the completion of a specific project, such as their first book. Artist grant money has been used to pay for editing services, cover design or research travel. Grant money has been used for funding publishing of anthologies that focus on local history or other regionally associated writing projects.
Now that I’ve gotten you excited about the possibilities, where and how do you apply for artist grants?
An easy starting place is to visit the National Assembly of State Art Agencies on the web. Their directory lists the contact information for the art agency in each state. From there you can go to your own state’s website to find out what types of funding are available and how to apply. Look for ‘individual’ artist grants that can be used in the ways I mentioned.
In addition to the state art agencies, there are also many privately funded arts organizations that can be a source of grant funding for writers. Here is a list of some of those organizations:
Artist Trust -Funding for Washington State Artists
Arts and Letters.org – See their awards page for details
New Jersey State Historical Commission – Funding projects related to NJ history
Moon and Stars Project – Grants for Turkish-American art projects
In addition to these specific organizations, one of the best sources for finding artist funding for many different types of art and situations is NYFA.org (New York Foundation for the Arts). Their global database includes not only grant opportunities, but jobs, travel opportunities, fellowships and artist-in-residence programs. You can search by type of funding, location, discipline, deadlines and several other criteria.
Regardless of whether you write magazine articles, novels, poetry or non-fiction, you need to remember that you are a literary ARTIST. Your computer screen is your canvas. On it, you paint pictures for your readers that are as vivid as any photograph or painting.
Kathleen Krueger is a freelance writer and poet, that lives in Brainerd, Minnesota with her husband Steve. Her tagline ‘Crafter of Words’ covers her love and use of the language arts in its various forms, both verbally and written. You may visit her website at www.kmkrueger.net to find out more about Kathleen.