Vermont Arts Council

In This Year’s Creation Grants, The People Have a Choice

The People’s Choice is a new kind of Creation Grant to be awarded in 2023.

The Vermont Arts Council is excited to offer a new, ahem, creative opportunity to involve the wider community in choosing our most sought after grant award for individual artists, the Creation Grant, which offers the largest award to individual Vermont artists in the creation of new work. Applications for the grant are currently being accepted until April 3.

Let your voice be heard! With the new People’s Choice Award, anyone can vote on which amazing proposal to fund. And likely it will not be easy!

Highly competitive, the Creation Grant program typically receives well over a hundred applicants each year, and each year, the Council typically has funding to support only 12-15% of the requests it receives.

Up to $5000 per grant will be awarded in this year’s program. Grant funds may be used to compensate artists for time spent creating new work, to purchase materials, or to rent equipment or space for the process. Both established and emerging artists are encouraged to apply.

Like many of the Council’s grant programs, funded projects are chosen by an outside panel—the Creation Grant panelists are all practicing artists and art professionals.

Proposals are evaluated on the following three areas:

Artistic Excellence (60%)
While excellence looks different to everybody and the quality of art is not an objective measure, for the Creation Grant program, the following are indicators of artistic excellence and artistic merit:

  • strong technical skill and craft in the execution of the relevant work is demonstrated
  • a combination of aesthetics, technical skill, and delivery is potentially engaging emotionally
  • intellectually, and/or spiritually
  • personal voice, vision, and authenticity shows in the proposed work
  • the creative work demonstrates integrity and ethical use of material with specific cultural origins and content

Project Management (25%)

  • the project, plans, and timeline are well-conceived
  • the budget is comprehensive and reasonable
  • if collaborating, key individuals with the necessary expertise to complete the project are listed

Impact (15%)

  • the proposed work will potentially reveal something about the world by communicating unique perspective(s) or by inviting the viewer, reader, or audience to question, discover, and/or explore new ideas
  • there is strong potential for public presentation

Enter the People’s Choice! Beginning in September, for two weeks, Vermont residents are invited to view participating proposals on the Vermont Arts Council website and to use some of the same grant criteria to cast one vote for their selection of the People’s Choice Award.

“While the People’s Choice vote will not be as rigorous, using only some of the the grant criteria and providing access to a condensed version of each proposal, it will provide insight into how many compelling artistic projects are generated here in our home state and why our limited funding makes the award process such a challenge,” explained Dominique Gustin, who manages the grant program.

“Also, in using the grant criteria, we hope to attenuate the ‘popularity contest’ pitfalls that open voting can produce,” she added.

Once the deadline for voting has passed, votes will be tallied, and the proposal with the most votes will receive the Creation Grant People’s Choice Award for the amount requested in the proposal budget (up to a maximum amount of $5,000).

Creation Grant applicants choose on their application whether they would like their proposal to also be considered for the People’s Choice. But there are some distinct advantages in participating. First, the contest could provide greater exposure for Vermont artists, as the Council will contact curators, galleries, venues, recording studios, publishers, and arts organizations, inviting them to peruse the creative talent represented in the self-nominated proposals. Another advantage is that the contest has the potential to bring awareness to artist fundraising, as participating artists will be able to include their Venmo, PayPal, GoFundMe, and other accounts for direct donations.

In addition to the added benefits for participating artists, the Council hopes that having a People’s Choice Award will invite broader participation in and understanding of the grantmaking process. Voters will be asked to consider all of the proposals, rather than just voting for their friends and family. In addition, the contest will allow the wider community to become familiar with what it’s like to be tasked with the challenges of a reviewer and will afford a better understanding of how the criteria guides recommendations for funding.

“There are always so many incredibly interesting, creative and impactful projects proposed each year, and it’s exciting to be able to share that and ‘open that door’ to our Vermont community,” Gustin said.

Find more information about the Creation Grant program and the People’s Choice on our website. And stay tuned for the People’s Choice voting round in September!