State Arts Agency Fact Sheet: Support for Individual Artists
Artists form the foundation of a state’s creative environment. They act as creators and individual entrepreneurs who provide many of the products and designs that drive innovation and shape a state’s cultural character. Many artists also work as educators, providing training in creative skills and passing on cultural traditions from one generation to the next. State arts agencies (SAAs) support artists through a variety of grants and services.
Grant funding: State arts agencies currently invest almost $7 million in grants to individual artists. Total dollar amounts and grants to individual artists declined during the past two recessions. However, in the last two years, states have increased grant dollars going to individual artists. Additionally, as a proportion of all SAA grants, artists’ grants have held steady, making up about 3 percent of all grants and between 11 percent and 13 percent of all grant dollars during the last ten years.
Fellowships (awards that honor the achievements of artists and encourage the development of new creative works) are a common type of grant support. These make up nearly 30 percent of SAAs’ individual artist grants in terms of dollar amounts. SAAs also provide grants for commissions, as well as project support for performances, exhibits, apprenticeships, professional development, instruction, and residencies.
Programs and services: In addition to direct financial support, state arts agencies provide services and information to assist artists. One important SAA goal is to broaden opportunities for artists to showcase their work. To this end, numerous SAAs maintain artist rosters, which promote performing artists and encourage their booking for residencies and touring. Many SAAs offer galleries (both physical and virtual) and statewide art collections that encourage the display of art in public spaces. SAAs also offer training and networking services through conferences, workshops, and web seminars that assist artists with business development and connect them with peers. Information on topics such as health insurance, resource development, and technology constitutes other important SAA services.