Re-Tooled Grant Program Digs Deep into Audience Engagement

The Open Society Documentary Photography Project is soliciting calls for the 2014 Audience Engagement Grant Program. Since the program’s inception in 2004, Open Society Foundations has funded 54 photographers who have gone beyond documenting a human rights or social justice issue to enacting change.

As in the past, project grants are available to documentary photographers, photo-based artists, and socially engaged practitioners who use their work to move target audiences beyond the act of looking, to directly participate in activities or processes that lead to change around an issue. And while past funding has successfully supported a diverse range of projects from photographers highly skilled at developing meaningful partnerships and audience engagement, the Foundation recognized that many artists have less experience in this work but are interested in further developing these skills.

In response, beginning in 2014, artists are also able to apply for Project Development support, with grantees receiving funding to attend an Open Society-organized retreat in December of 2014. This event will be designed in collaboration with Creative Capital’s Professional Development Program, whose nationally recognized workshops provide participants with essential practical tools and strategies to help them move their project and career goals forward. Attendees will become part of a larger Audience Engagement Grant cohort, with opportunities to connect both during the conference and after.

By offering both Project Development and Project Implementation support, Open Society Foundations exemplifies its commitment to social justice by investing in the practitioners of this work and fostering a new group of artists with the tools and skills needed to be change agents in communities around the world. This holistic approach aligns with so many of the conversations in philanthropy today -- and within Grantmakers in the Arts' Individual Artist Support committee in particular -- that asks what support artists need besides just cash. And by utilizing the existing professional development programs of Creative Capital rather than reinventing the wheel, the Foundation is also making an investment in the skills of its peers and building on the collective wisdom of our network of artist supporters.

Please help spread the word for the July 8, 2014 deadline for funding! More information can be found at