In this fast paced tech-driven world, the arts and disciplines related to cultural production are often the first to be overlooked and sliced out of institutional budgets. Now more than ever, it is critical that there are opportunities for artists to develop their talents and have the necessary tools to contribute to the cultural landscape, with the use of traditional arts and new media outlets.
The Cost of Majoring in Arts & Design
Being a student of the arts is often quite consuming, and in many cases there are additional funds required for materials, supplies, and equipment; therefore, scholarships and other funding opportunities like these make it possible for students to dive into their artistic disciplines and excel in their field. Post-secondary arts programs can be expensive with limited funding opportunities before even accounting for additional required costs of supplies. Financial support can make all the difference in developing artists, and making way for new avenues of the arts including design and evolving forms of media.
Be Ready When Opportunity Knocks
The foundations and funding opportunities listed below hold a range of opportunity, in many cases, not just financial. Many of these provide support for artists that include networking occasions, access to mentorship, and chances for exposure and collaboration. They provide a wide scope of offerings, including chances for budding artists to have what they need to focus solely on their artistic practices, and therefore, not have to take time to work outside of their field to support their education and artistic endeavors. Many of these are foundations build on the memorialization of renown artists with humanistic engagement embedded into their vision and work. Their legacies make space for new talent to emerge and flourish with the mix of old techniques and possibilities of today’s technological advancements. Below are windows into the world of artistic collaboration and access to groundbreaking scholarship/ funding opportunities. These are the best in the field, and with them there are so many more portals for beauty and creative development to abound.
Note: While the deadlines for some of these scholarships has passed, we have included only those programs that appear to be long-standing and likely to continue, so if you’ve missed the deadline, look again in a few months.
Art Renewal Center Scholarship Competition
The Art Renewal Center (ARC) recognizes the critical component of supporting budding artists to have the means deepen their practice and ultimately contribute to the production of culture. One of the ways they are true to this mission is by offering a scholarship directed towards student sculptors and painters who are creating work that reflects humanistic values expressed through visual arts.
The Arc Renewal Scholarship is directed towards students whose work reflects traditional and contemporary realism. As part of the scholarship application, they are requesting work samples in the form of paintings and sculptures that can include: still life, portraiture, and representations of nature. The scholarship is based on merit, and need is secondary. There is no application fee. The Arc Renewal Center has $30,000 in scholarship funds to be divided between 10 recipients.
Arts for Life! Scholarships
Arts for Life! is a Florida based organization that supports Florida high school students in their pursuits for collegiate endeavors in the arts. This organization not only supports the visual arts, but also gives awards to students whose disciplines include one of the following: dance, creative writing, drama, and music. This scholarship was initiated by Columba Bush, former first lady of Florida, in 1999. Scholarships have been given to nearly 450 artistically driven high school seniors in the state of Florida.
Students eligible for this scholarship must be graduating as a high school senior in the state of Florida during the current school year. The application includes a brief essay on how the arts has influenced the applicant’s life with a supplementary portfolio for their particular discipline. The Arts of Life! Scholarship is offered to 25 graduating seniors for the amount of $1,000, with a matching in-kind scholarship if they are continuing their education at a Florida based school on the College Matching Program list.
Betty Harlan Memorial Art Scholarship
The Betty Harlan Memorial Art Scholarship was named for beloved community member and artist Betty Harlan, who lived her whole life in Northern Illinois. She had an avid love for the arts and for community service, and spent her lifetime engaging heavily in both. This scholarship is meant to honor her by helping one college student per year pursue an education in the arts (her personal dream) who has been thwarted by a lack of financial resources.
This scholarship is for graduating seniors from public or private schools who live in Boone, Ogle, or Winnebago counties in the state of Illinois. Applicants must show an extensive involvement in the arts, which can include community organizations and local activities. They must have a GPA of 2.75 or above and have plans to attend college to pursue a degree in the Arts.
Cay Drachnik Minorities Scholarship Fund
The American Art Therapy Association offers nearly 30 scholarships and other grants students who are registered member on their website arttherapy.org. The Cay Drachnik scholarship is named for a wonderful watercolorist who lives in Southern California. Her mission is to help ethnic minority student artists who themselves want to give back.
The Cay Drachnik Minorities scholarship is specifically for students from ethnic minority groups who hope to study art and one day become art therapists. The scholarship requires an essay and two letters of recommendation, as well as demonstration of financial need. Students must also be members of the Art Therapy Association.
Charles M. Robertson Memorial Scholarship
The Charles M. Robertson Memorial Scholarship is offered by the National Art Education Association (NAEA). This is a four year supplementary scholarship to Pratt College of Art and Design in Brooklyn, New York. The scholarship is in honor of Charles M. Robertson who contributed a great deal to the NAEA, and the Pratt Institute. The award is given to high school students who exhibit artistic talent, and engagement.
Students eligible for the Charles M. Robertson Memorial Scholarship must be a high school senior, who is active in a National Art Honor Association Chapter, and who will continue on the major in Art Education. Students must maintain a 3.0 in all subjects to remain eligible. To apply, students must submit a complete Pratt Application, a letter of nomination, and digital samples of the student’s work. A list of artistic extracurricular activities is also required.
CINTAS Knight Foundation Fellowship in Visual Art
The Cintas Foundation was founded by Oscar B. Cintas, former Cuban ambassador to the United States. In an effort to fulfill his vision, the foundation is offering artistic scholarships for artists of Cuban descent, who reside in Cuba or elsewhere. The Cintas Foundation began in 1957, offering funds for non-college students engaged in visual arts, architecture, creative writing, design and music composition. Cintas is excited to have the opportunity to recognize artists who have been living in exile, as this is the first year that the foundation is giving awards to Cuban based artists.
This year the Cintas Foundation is offering three awards of $20,000 each. The application includes a narrative component, including an artist statement and a statement of personal history. Applicants must submit work samples on CD’s or DVD’s via express mail, and include a supplementary itemized list of the work that is.Student must also include two letters of recommendation. Note that this award is considered taxable income.
Concordia College - Visual Arts
The Concordia College Visual Arts Scholarships are for incoming freshmen and transfer students at Concordia College in Fargo-Moorhead, Minnesota. For freshmen the award is granted through Sophomore year, and renewable through Junior and Senior years, if the recipient maintains a 3.0. Many students that receive this award will also be eligible for other financial aide on campus. This scholarship is meant to recognize exemplary artists engaged in collegiate efforts.
The Concordia based scholarship requires two letters of recommendation, a digital portfolio, and a statement on the applicant’s history in the arts. Also required is an artistic resume. If chosen as a finalist, the applicant will be brought to campus to meet with faculty to deeper explain their artistic goals and creative practice, tour campus studios, and attend events at local museums. Finalists will also have an opportunity to stay in the dorms with current Concordia students engaged in artistic disciplines.
Daring Young Artists to Dream Scholarships
The Daring Young Artists to Dream scholarships is offered by the Worldstudio, a Foundation of the Professional Association for Design. This scholarship was developed to diversify the arts and communicate a greater consciousness around social and environmental engagement through artistic practice. Daring Young Artists to Dream is also geared toward ethnic minorities and economically disadvantaged college students who are focusing their education on Art and Design. These scholarships were brought about as a result of by AIGA Diversity and Inclusion Initiative; they have awarded over one million dollars to over 650 ethnic minority students since 1995.
To apply for the Daring Young Artists to Dream Scholarship, students are required to write a short statement of purpose (no longer than 600 words). This is a critical component to the application packet, as they are looking for students who can outline how their creative work will demonstrate a drive towards larger social change. Students will be required to show an acceptance letter from the school that they will be attending in order to ultimately receive the scholarship.
David Barrett Memorial Scholarship
The David Barrett Memorial Scholarship was developed to support undergraduate and graduate students who are engaging classical designs and traditional materials in textiles and furniture as their primary artistic discipline. The parent organization of the David Barrett Memorial Scholarship is the American Society of Interior Designers Foundation (ASID), and the scholarship is offered bi-annually.
In application for the David Barrett Memorial Scholarship, students must submit a personal statement–written with no more than one-thousand words, one letter of recommendation from an employer, educator, or mentor, a portfolio with 8-10 images of design components, and an academic transcript. Applicants are also expected to submit a biographical essay and a headshot.
F. Lammot Belin Arts Scholarship
The F. Lammot Belin Arts Scholarship was established in 1964 by Peter Belin, in honor of his late father F. Lammot Belin. Since, the scholarship has been endowed and supported by the Belin estate, and is renown as a prestigious award granted annually to help artists flourish in their arts discipline professionally. This scholarship is specifically for students who have lived in Northeast Pennsylvania at some point in their lives, and can prove that their engagement in the arts is carving a path towards their life’s work.
The scholarship award is for the amount of $12,000, and may be used for formal or informal education, including arts education related travel. It is granted to artists whose foci are sculpture, photography, music, dance, drama, literature or architecture. A selection committee makes the decisions based on merit and artistic ability, as proven by example. The extensive application must include a proposal for how the funds will be used.
Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship
Geoffrey Beene, an iconic fashion designer who had a lot of influence as a mentor in the fashion field, created a foundation to help talented burgeoning designers have the tools to make it in the fashion industry. This scholarship is strictly merit based, with the goal seeking the most innovative talent with promise of being masters of their craft and rising to the top as leaders in their field. The scholarship includes mentorship opportunities, including networking with renown designers.
Applicants for the Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship must be enrolled full time in one of the fifty YMA FSA (Young Musicians & Artists Fashion Scholarship Fund) associated colleges. Seniors who are graduating in the Fall are not eligible to apply for the scholarship. The first step in applying is to make contact with the educator from the member schools page to receive log-in information, and a set of directions for the next steps, one of which will be a case study that the applicant is responsible for completing. The educator the student will be connected to in this process will help to make sure the application is complete, and will be available to answer any questions.
Gold Grant Scholarship Award
The Gold Grant Scholarship Award is granted by the Northeast Watercolor Foundation, a component of the Northwest Watercolor Society (NWWS), which is a nonprofit organization. This award began in the 1990’s as a way to support budding artists who show talent. The Gold Grant Scholarship is granted to one young artist annually, who shows exceptional mastery of their craft.
Eligible applicants must be enrolled as full-time undergraduate students, majoring in Art, in one of these states: Washington, Oregon, or Idaho. Graduating seniors are eligible to apply. Several forms of two-dimensional arts/media qualify as application materials, though not photography nor computer generated work. The submission of five pieces is required. They also require a sealed letter of recommendation on school letterhead from a faculty member, a photograph of the student, as well as a biography and artist statement.
HEEF Arts Scholarship Program
The HEEF Arts Scholarship Program is sponsored by the Orange County Hispanic Educational Endowment Fund (HEEF). This organization is in service to Dream Act/ AB 540 students, both US citizens and Permanent Residents who have lived in Orange County, California for the last six years. Eligible students must be enrolled in a four year college, majoring in one of the following disciplines: Visual Arts, Video, New Media, Performance Art, Dance, or Drama. This scholarship is potentially renewable.
Eligible applicants must be first generation college students (having no parents or grand parents with college degrees) with a family limit of $45,000 annual income. The application process requires proof of the above with included supplemental questions. There are contacts on the site that can help with any additional questions regarding the application requirements and necessary materials.
Honors GradU Multimedia Scholarship
Honors Graduation is a company specializing in graduation apparel including cords, tassels, and stoles, and incidentally blogs. They run a non-profit blog called Honors Grad U, who started their scholarship program in 2013 as an essay based scholarship contest. It has since transformed into one of deeper creativity, after the sponsoring website realized the great need to foster creative voices who are engaged in artistic practice. In 2015 the Honors GradU Multimedia Scholarship became a vehicle for providing funding to students with a focus on art, creative writing, photography, music and videography.
As the scholarship has evolved and there has been an increase in applicants, Honors Grad U has gotten more specific in their process. The applicant must pick a medium to focus on, and follow the prompts associated with that particular discipline. For every medium, applicants must answer a specific prompt; last year the prompt was the following: Represent your views about the concepts of education vs. learning. Eligible students must be in their senior year of high school, and about to begin a four year college program with a major in the arts.
Iowa Scholarship for the Arts
The Iowa Scholarship for the Fine Arts is especially designed for Iowa high school students who exhibit artistic talent and drive. Eligible candidates must be pursuing a college education with a focus on folk & traditional arts, fine arts, theater, music, dance or literature, specifically in the state of Iowa. Dependent children or immediate family members of the Iowa Arts Council staff and board are not eligible to apply for this scholarship.
The Iowa Scholarship for the Arts has set up an online slide portal for the submission of applications and supplementary materials. Two letters of recommendation are required, along with a series of other documents that will be then reviewed by a board of professional artists and educators.
John F. and Anna Lee Stacey Foundation
The John F. and Anna Lee Stacey Foundation was created from a trust as per the request of Anna Lee Stacey’s will. Her intention was to give young people the means towards an education that would enable them prosper in careers in the arts. The scholarship committee, in connection with the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, is looking for devoted and talented artists that work within classical or conservative traditions. This opportunity is for students between the ages of 18 and 35. The recipient is able to use the scholarship towards the arts-based education of their choice.
One of the components for the John F. and Anna Lee Stacey Scholarship will be the submission of work from multiple categories, including but not limited to nude figure painting, drawing from life, landscape, composition, in addition to any work the applicant thinks is relevant. The search committee will be looking at form, color, drawing, painting, design and technique. There will be additional requirements for the application that are not yet available on the website for the coming year.
Krylon Clear Choice Art Scholarship
Krylon has been offering the Clear Choice Art Scholarship award for over 60 years with a goal of making it easier for talented artists to pursue a post-secondary degree in the arts. Krylon awards a $1,000 scholarship to five high school seniors, college freshman or sophomores who are enrolled in a four year degree arts related program program, and ten students will be awarded a gift pack of Krylon art supplies. The scholarship funds will be sent directly to the university or college where the student will study.
The Krylon Clear Choice Art Scholarship applications has several components including a comprehensive artist statement detailing why the applicant wants to deepen their artistic practice and pursue a career in the arts. Also required is a portfolio CD including 3-6 images and a printout with each image and subsequent descriptions. A letter of recommendation and official transcripts are also required. All materials must be sent together in the mail and will not be returned.
M. Josephine O’Neil Arts Award
The M. Josephine O’Neil Arts Award is sponsored by the Lambda State Organization of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International; this entity was designed to honor women educators from around the world. This exclusive organization is by invitation only and is specific to women educators who have demonstrated leadership and excellence in the field. The scholarship award is specifically to support a young woman, who has demonstrated artistic talent, on an artistic collegiate path. Her major can include: dance, visual arts, music, or theater.
To qualify for the M. Josephine O’Neil Arts Award, applicants must reside in the state of Illinois, be a woman, and be in their junior year at a four year college with a major in one of the artistic disciplines listed above. The application packet includes an extensive portfolio, transcripts, confirmation of registration at a four year college or university, and evidence that illustrates an exhibition record in their given discipline.
Marion Barr Stanfield Art Scholarship
The Stanfield scholarships program were created by a trust created by Marion Barr Stanfield, a Unitarian Universalist studying in the fields of arts and law. Committed to both disciplines, her framework incorporated a spiritual ideology that engages humanistic values in both fields. Recipients must be actively engaged with Unitarian Universalism. One award will be given per year, and applications are encouraged to reapply if they did not receive the award the first time.
Criteria for the Marian Barr Stanfield Art Scholarship includes a one to two page personal essay, a statement detailing financial need, tax information for whom the student is dependent (parent/spouse), and a slide portfolio with a detailed accompanying list of works. Also required are letters of recommendation from a faculty member and a member of the Unitarian Universalist church.
National Gallery of Art Conservation Fellowship
The National Gallery of Art Conservation offers conservation fellowships to support graduate students in the arts conservation field to further the galleries mission of learning conservation techniques by caring for the collections. Such fellowships have been granted since 1983. This program gives students the tools to become expert arts conservators. Candidates must have graduated from recognized training programs or be able to prove equivalent training.
This is a three year fellowship for graduate students with no more than five years of work experience. who are interested in the treatment and exploration of works of art and their conservation. This fellowship culminates in an extensive written paper. Applicants are expected to submit transcripts, written work including a statement of interest and intent, letters of recommendation from two conservators and a personal reference. Additional materials are required and can be found on the website.
National YoungArts Foundation
Every year the National YoungArts Foundation hosts a reputable competition to honor hundreds of young artists in an effort to bring together a community of youth who are budding cultural producers. They have infrastructure to give winners lifetime encouragement, support, and a myriad of opportunities. YoungArts brings the work of these accomplished and rising artists to Miami, as well as cultural venues nationally. The aim of the organization is to provide support, exposure, and professional development in every stage of their artistic trajectory.
National YoungArts Foundation’s programs recognize artists in ten categories per year. These programs are competitive, as they annually receive thousands of applications annually. The most talented and up-and-coming young artists receive cash awards of up to $10,000 and are then qualified to engage in National YoungArts week, as well as regional programs in Miami, New York, and Los Angeles. Such opportunities include taking master classes with internationally recognized artists, and exhibiting work in prestigious venues around the world. The applications vary per discipline.
Patricia Van Kirk Scholarship
This scholarship was created by Nikki Coyote in honor of her dear friend Patricia Van Kirk, who died suddenly at the age of 54. This scholarship is specifically for lesbian identified students who are pursuing an education in theater of visual arts and engage in a deep commitment to social justice. This award is meant to honor Patricia’s legacy and dedications her lifetime to beauty and humanity.
Students must apply for this scholarship on the Pride Foundation website. All materials are to be submitted online. Applicants must answer a series of six essay questions, including topics related to their career and education goals, giving back, challenges, and a quote. They will also be required to submit work samples. If applicants make it to the in-person interview, they will be asked to bring a transcript and a more extensive portfolio.
Society of Illustrators (SOI)
Each year the society of illustrators has held a student scholarship competition since 1981. Since its inception, this scholarship has become more and more reputable and has been known to kick-start a career. Many reputable illustrators have become big names after receiving this award. In just over 30 years $1,500,000 talented students have received this scholarship.
Student’s entries for the Society of Illustrators scholarship must be submitted by their college professors from colleges and universities all over the country. Three hundred unique and exceptional works are chosen out of almost nine-thousand entries. Each year a jury is composed of professional illustrators, artists, art directors, and other professionals in the field. Together they determine which pieces are the highest quality based on technique, skill of medium used and concept. An exhibition is held at the Museum of American Illustration, where awards and certificates are granted to contest winners.
The Against the Grain Artistic Scholarship
The Against the Grain Artistic Scholarship was created to support talented Asian American students in their artistic collegiate pursuits. Applicants must be majoring in visual arts, journalism, mass communications, or performing arts. Applicants must be at least 50% Asian or Pacific Islander, a US citizen or permanent resident, and a high school senior or college student enrolled in an accredited school, which includes vocational institutions. Candidates must have a record of extracurricular activities and or community service and have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA.
A jury for the Against the Grain Artistic Scholarship works with a rubric in their selection process where they rate students with a point system for five categories. The candidate that holds the most amount of points is subsequently the winner of the scholarship. The categories include: quality of content submission, which includes the written essay and artistic portfolio, academic achievement, contribution to community service and leadership, and an interview with the committee. The funds are given directly to the institution towards the student’s tuition.
The Antonio Cirino Memorial Fund
The Antonio Cirino Memorial Fund is designed for students who are residents of Rhode Island, and can prove financial need for their academic pursuits in towards a teaching career in the arts. Applicants must be engaged in their own artistic practice and be versed in the arts. Students who qualify may be degree candidates in at least one artistic discipline. Grants have the possibility of extension for up to two years, amounts reaching up to $12,000.
Applicants for the Antonio Cirino Memorial Fund grant may not be affiliated with the Rhode Island School of Design, and must be a graduate student with an intention to have a career as an arts educator. Students will be expected to submit transcripts, a copy of their financial aid award letter, work samples, and complete online application forms.