The application is now closed. The application process closed, as scheduled, on Wednesday, November 12. Thanks to all applicants for their proposals. We will announce selected projects in April 2015.
The Surdna Foundation is now accepting proposals for one- or two-year support to extraordinary artist-driven projects as part of its Artists Engaging in Social Change funding area. All artistic disciplines will be considered, including cross-disciplinary work. The request for proposal (RFP) is open to both 501(c)(3) organizations and individual artists and culture bearers, but artists and collectives that are not incorporated as 501(c)(3)s must apply under a fiscal sponsor. Through this RFP, Surdna will support compelling projects that artists develop in response to their communities' specific challenges, and will also fund the projects of artists whose long-term, deeply-rooted work has increased social engagement without necessarily being explicitly defined as "activist." Proposals will be accepted between September 15 and November 12, 2014. Surdna staff, with support from outside experts, will present recommendations to the Surdna board and final decisions will be made in early April, 2015. The Foundation believes this process will allow us to make considered investments in artistic practices that focus on engaging and reflecting communities. Application guidelines are provided below and frequently asked questions, including grant amounts and definitions of key terms, are available here.
It's difficult to trace the complex relationship between works of art and social transformation, yet it is clear that artists provoke, expand and even heal the civic imagination in critical ways. During the last few decades, artists working to effect change in particular communities have created a variety of explicitly political and social interventions. Simultaneously, other artists have emphasized less the "what" of social change (i.e. the issue or agenda that drives artistic explorations) and stressed instead the "how" of community embeddedness, working in a way that results in such impacts as increased community capacity for civic expression and leadership, the preservation and transmission of treasured cultural practices, and the amplification of voices that are too often ignored. We consider these different approaches to be equally capable of illuminating the unique role artists play in broader societal change, and we aim to support both through this RFP.
At the Surdna Foundation, we foster the development of just and sustainable communities. For us, art, culture and design are not accessories to that process: they are central. Art is fundamental to our collective understanding of who we are, what we believe, and how we relate to each other and our surroundings. Artists and their coconspirators weave the cultural fabric necessary for a sustainable, vibrant society. The development and sharing of artists' work contributes to the strengthening of communities—culturally, socially, and economically. Our definition of Artists Engaging in Social Change includes both cherished, longstanding ways of working and newer practices. Our focus here is on the commitment, spirit and generosity with which the work is undertaken as well as the form it ultimately takes.
The goal of this RFP process is to identify and support exciting projects that are equally rigorous aesthetically and socially. These projects will demonstrate a clear commitment to a community, manifested by the relationship of that community to the project's development process and to the project's thematic focus. Our goal is to prove that when artists have the opportunity to explore their own questions while working in communities (and not in isolation), they contribute significantly to our shared landscape. We hope to make artists' role in enabling and even accelerating social change more visible and more valued.
Surdna applies a social justice lens to its philanthropic work. We seek to address structural inequalities by focusing our resources on supporting artists coming from low income and historically under-resourced communities that have less access to arts funding. Through this RFP process, we will support artists working in their own communities, where they and their partners are committed to making a difference over the long term, and where they have built meaningful relationships over time. We are interested in learning how a spectrum of ways of working, including conventional disciplines, newer aesthetic practices, and the forms reflecting people's traditions and heritage can foster social change.
This process is open to all artistic disciplines.
Applications will be reviewed by Surdna staff in conjunction with outside readers on the basis of:
The process closes Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. (EST). We will not accept applications after this time. The Surdna Foundation will select and announce grant awardees in early April 2015.
The 2015 Artists Engaging in Social Change program will accept online applications between Monday, September 15, 2014 and Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. (EST). Please note that applications will only be accepted via this online process.
In the online submission form (link at bottom of page) you will be asked to supply the following:
Fostering sustainable communities in the United States — communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures.