Arizona Artists Recognized Through Funding in New Grant

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The Arizona Commission on the Arts has relaunched their Artist Opportunity Grant (AOG) for Arizona artists and art educators to aid in advancing their professional careers.

Artists must create a proposal for how they would use the funding, including an estimate budget, and apply through the commission’s website, for select panelists to review and choose from.

Available until June of 2020, funding will be dispersed to artists who’ve applied and been accepted for proposing an opportunity with potential impact and feasibility.

The grant allows independent artists the chance to gain necessary funding, which can be a difficult opportunity to come by for many.

Individual artists are those still emerging in the art world, just gaining exposure to bigger contacts or opportunities to develop themselves professionally.

“Grant opportunities are severely limited for individual artists,” remarked Bryan Griffith, a past grantee specializing in contemporary art and photography. “Most existing grants focus on providing funds for materials and supplies or community engagement projects.”

Prior to the pilot programming of the AOG, the commission’s available grants mainly aided those involved in community projects, agencies or organizations.

The Community Investment Grant, open the spring of 2019, was geared towards those involved in arts organizations or agencies throughout Arizona.

Commission members noticed a need in the individual artist community for a grant to aid in gaining them exposure, leading to the launch of their pilot program.

“We determined we wanted to focus on how our applicants define themselves and the needs each group has for their work,” explained Anna Needham (Red Lake Ojibwe), the Commission’s Artist Programs Coordinator. “Hence, the Opportunity grants that launched on September 18th encompasses grants for artists, teaching artists, and arts administrators.”

As an individual artist, the biggest funding concern was about research and development for projects, as that is where a large portion of their time goes towards.

“When working on a project, we work long hours without earning any income towards paying our living expenses,” outlines Griffith. “It is difficult to find grants that cover artist’s time and living expenses.”

Not only did the commission look towards the needs of artists but reaching a wide demographic of artists across the state.

The 15 grantees from the previous fiscal year varied in gender, ethnicity and geographical location, all of whom had a variety of different projects used with the funding.

Despite reaching out to the previous year’s grantees, many were unable to provide a quote as it was a busy time with projects coming out.

The grant, though funded by the state of Arizona, was available for artists to use in projects featured outside the state with exhibits from Paris to Oregon.

One artist, Kim Lyle, was awarded $1,265 for her International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA) Juried Exhibition but was unable to comment on her experience due to scheduling.

Her exhibition was viewable at the ISEA in Gwangju, Korea this past June for just under a week, gaining her international exposure as an artist.

Claire Warden, awarded $2,000, did a solo exhibition as part of the Contemporary Photography Exhibition Award VIII, which ran from April through May of 2019.

Each cycle varied in funding, but the average amount granted to artists ranged from $1,000 to $2,000, depending on their budget given and proposed project.

Since the commission is a state agency, their funding is renewed in periods with this fiscal year lasting from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.

“We expect to learn a lot after these two pilot cycles and hope to have a version of this grant program in Fiscal Year 2021,” mentioned Needham.

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