JUNE 2020: Update About 2021 Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art
In the upcoming year, in order to maintain the relevancy and insure the efficacy of A Blade of Grass’ Fellowship, it is likely that we will be replacing the open call with a more streamlined process that narrows our scope or relies on nominations. At the moment, it is extremely hard to know about the social, economic, and logistical conditions of 2021, however we want to make sure that we are being transparent about our planning process.
Our commitment to direct funding of socially engaged artists with minimally restricted grants is intact. Directly supporting individual artists or collectives is the core of what we do. Artists need holistic, flexible support when asked to take creative risks and if they are going to collaboratively show up with others. We fully recognize that the kinds of work that builds trust, elicits creativity in others, and shifts and shares power can be hard for other institutions to support. We currently plan for the amount of funding for artists’ Fellowships to remain the same as previous years.
This decision doesn’t come easily to us—we know that the open call is a rare opportunity to apply for funding as an individual artist, and an important learning opportunity for us. It’s a valuable window into the breadth of socially engaged art practice all over the country that we draw from all the time in the rest of our work.
The reasons for this likely temporary shift are about maximizing our strengths at a time when we must be as efficient as possible. Our general, project-based open call takes about 9 months to administer, and we’re all seeing how much can change in even less time. By streamlining our decision-making this year, we hope to be as focused as possible with the resources we have: whether that means a temporarily more local emphasis in response to continued travel restrictions, directing funding toward projects that are engaged in specific mutual aid, coronavirus relief, or racial justice efforts, or some as yet unknown need that will arise.
In short, we know that things will continue to change, and are taking the summer, when we would normally announce our open call, to listen, assess, and develop a 2021 Fellowship that delivers on our mission and is responsive to this era of upheaval and transformation. We are always willing to hear your thoughts and advice, and how you are managing and responding to this time. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and the person best suited to your note will reply.
About the Fellowship
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We believe in the power of socially engaged artists to participate meaningfully in creating a more just, equitable, sustainable, joyful, and compassionate future. We know this means that artists must take time and care to develop relationships built on mutual trust, as well as work with diverse non-arts partners and communities. We understand there are no ready-made roadmaps or guaranteed outcomes for this type of work, and are committed to learning how artists navigate these processes and relationships.
Our fellowship program is meant to support courageous artists in creating exchanges, experiences, and structures that highlight seemingly intractable social problems, inspire audiences, and energize folks to participate in and sustain long-term social change work. This is hard and time-consuming organizational, intellectual, and emotional work.
We are committed to providing relatively unrestricted funding that incorporates a collaborative research component. Additionally, field research replaces grant reporting written by the artist, and is grounded in the goals and areas of inquiry defined by the artist and the perspective of project participants.
Selected Fellows will receive:
- $20,000 in minimally restricted support
- Comprehensive written field research reports that utilize action research methodology
- Expenses paid 2-day orientation retreat in NYC to engage a cohort of peer artists and A Blade of Grass staff and board (a requirement for the fellowship)
- Ongoing invitations to networking events for all A Blade of Grass Fellows and alumni twice annually (attendance voluntary)
- Ongoing promotion of fellow’s projects through A Blade of Grass social media networks and website
In addition to direct artist support, another primary goal of ABOG is to make the “invisible” parts of socially engaged art visible. We do this through documentary films, publications, web content, and public programming. However, these content collaborations are not an obligation of the fellowship, and will be based on mutual interest under a separate contract.
Fellowship Projects may become the focus of A Blade of Grass content and programming including:
- Curriculum and advocacy that advance the field of socially engaged art
- Inclusion in our biannual magazine (available in print and free online)
- Participation in documentary videos focused on curatorial themes of interest to the field
- Other web content (podcasts, interviews, critical essays)
- Participation in ongoing public programs
A Blade of Grass awards 8 Fellowships for Socially Engaged Art each year. Beginning in 2020, two of these eight will be granted to a Los Angeles-based artist (any age) and a New York City-based artist of color under the age of 30.
A Blade of Grass-SPArt Fellowship for Los Angeles
SPArt is a funding initiative that supports Social Practice Art projects that are located in and meaningfully engage with Los Angeles County communities. A Blade of Grass and SPArt are collaborating to offer one Los Angeles-based fellowship for each year from 2019-2021. Applicants who mark LA County as their project location in the online application are automatically considered, there is no separate application required.
A Blade of Grass Fellowship for POC Emerging Artists in NYC
Beginning in 2020, one of the fellowships will be held specifically for a NYC-based artist of color under the age of 30. A large number of our existing Fellowship applicants are established NYC-based artists—the POC Emerging Artist Fellowship will allow younger NYC artists to be competitive in the process. The POC Emerging Artist Fellowship will provide critical, comprehensive support that will make it possible for these artists to develop an ambitious project and the relationships that will help them build a sustainable career.
The POC Emerging Artist Fellowship period will be 18 months instead of 12, and emerging fellows will receive mentoring opportunities, project development assistance, and other professional development opportunities. The application process and timeline are the same, but a few additional questions will need to be answered in the form including: demographic information to ascertain NYC residency; age; race/ethnicity; and a narrative question about financial need and how the Fellowship resources would impact the applicant’s practice.