Creative Heights

Providing opportunities for artists and cultural organizations to stretch their creative capacity, share new works and test new ideas.

The initiative aims to increase Oregon’s cultural visibility and vitality while also supporting unique opportunities for Oregonians to experience innovative arts and culture.

Creative Heights grants are for the creation and/or presentation of new and innovative performances, exhibitions, programs, and other works of art and culture. OCF selects up to 12 projects annually with grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 per project.


OCF is interested in reviewing proposals for a range of funding levels and timelines to best serve the needs of the particular project. Funds can support any artistic or cultural discipline, including visual arts, dance, folk and traditional arts, film/video/media, literary arts, museum exhibitions, humanities, music, theater and performance arts, history and heritage, and multidisciplinary or emerging fields. Projects should provide opportunities for the artists, collaborators and curators involved to learn something new.

Any individual artist or cultural organization is eligible to submit a letter of inquiry. Applicants must apply as an Oregon 501(c)3 nonprofit or with a 501(c)3 partner or fiscal sponsor. Grant funding may be used for commissioning fees; pay for artists, curators and scholars; costs associated with research, rehearsals and workshops; promotion; design and production; dissemination and documentation; and other direct costs related to creation, presentation, implementation or exhibition. For more information, please contact OCF staff.

Not all of the following elements are required, but preference will be given to proposals that:

  • Support the development and/or presentation of new and innovative work by Oregon artists, curators and other cultural creatives.
  • Represent an artistic or creative stretch or risk for the organization and artists involved.
  • Offer the applicant an opportunity to learn and advance their discipline or craft.
  • Have the potential to advance artistic and cultural fields in Oregon.
  • Include plans for the preservation of new works, including documentation and dissemination as appropriate.
  • Compensate artists, curators and historians appropriately as professionals.
  • Engage diverse and underserved audiences and artists.

Potential projects include:

  • Research and development for a new project or collaboration.
  • Support for creation of new work by individual artists (e.g., hosted fellowships and commissions).
  • Presentation of a fully realized new work or project in one or more Oregon communities.
  • New delivery systems or approaches to the creation or presentation of art and culture.
  • Bringing in outside experts to work with artists on new skills or approaches to work.
  • Museum-based projects that reveal previously unexamined Oregon history, culture or art.
  • Production or presentation of an innovative work developed by Oregon artists in collaboration with artists from outside Oregon.

Ineligible projects are those that engage artists solely on a volunteer basis; are solely educational in nature; do not engage Oregon artists, collaborators and audiences; or include finished work not available to the public (i.e., art for a private collection or nonpublic space).

Application Guidelines

Letters of inquiry (LOIs) will be accepted online starting January 4, 2019. The due date for LOIs is February 19, 2019.

2019 RFP

Please review our 2019 Request for Proposals and Creative Heights FAQs for information on the scope of proposals sought, application process and review criteria. 

Letter of Inquiry (due February 19)

Interested applicants must submit a brief LOI via our online system, which will open on January 4. You may answer the LOI narrative questions in writing or in a 2-3 minute video (upload). LOIs should describe the proposed project idea, the lead artists/curators/collaborators involved, and how the project idea is distinct or different from previous work. Applicants must also indicate the preliminary grant request ($25,000-$100,000) and include a letter of support from the executive leadership at the nonprofit partner. After review by the OCF Arts Committee, strong proposals that fit with program guidelines will be invited to submit a full application.

Required LOI Project Questions

  1. Contact information for the artistic/creative lead.
  2. Who are you? Tell us about your background as an artist/creative, and/or describe previous notable projects (100 words).
  3. A one-sentence project description (70 words).
  4. What is your idea for a Creative Heights project? (250 words).
  5. How is the proposed project different or distinct from previous work? (150 words).
  6. Who do you want to work with? Tell us about your collaborators and their artistic/creative background (100 words).
  7. Select a preliminary grant request (ranges from $25,000 to $100,000).
  8. Upload a letter of support from the executive leadership of your nonprofit collaborator.

Please note: We are not accepting work samples or project/organization budgets as part of the LOI. OCF reserves the right to request financial information from an organization before inviting a project to apply.

Full Application (By Invitation Only)

Full applications will be invited in early April. Invited applicants will submit a full application in May, including a detailed project budget, project plan, bio from lead collaborators, work samples and timeline. Full applications will be reviewed by a panel of peer experts. Panel recommendations are subject to approval by the OCF board annually in early August. Funding will be disbursed by late August.

Projects will be reviewed and scored using the following criteria:

Excellence. Projects show significant promise of excellence and impact on the artists and/or the field through:

  • The high caliber and achievement of the artists, curators and/or collaborators involved.
  • Evidencing awareness of its relationship to the broader field-wide context.
  • Setting forth a clear curatorial vision (when applicable).

Innovation/Risk. Projects demonstrate bold, innovative and ambitious ideas that stretch individuals and/or organizations beyond their current work in project form and/or content. OCF recognizes that if new creative work is truly stretching an individual or organization, there is a possibility of not achieving the stated goals. Success may be measured in whether those involved in the project are able to reflect, learn and grow from their process, regardless of the outcome. To demonstrate risk, a project should:

  • Display a high level of imagination and creativity in its execution.
  • Have the potential to build on or contribute new concepts or methodologies for the field.
  • Offer the participants opportunity for learning and transformation with the potential for meaningful change.
  • Be distinctive from an organization’s prior work in scope, scale and/or practice.

Project Feasibility and Fit. Lead organizations and fiscal sponsors demonstrate capacity to carry out the project, including an appropriate budget, clarity of project goals and design, demonstrated track record of success, and appropriate qualifications of the project's personnel.

Staff Assistance

Before contacting us, please read our Tips for Nonprofits Communicating with OCF.

  • If you have questions about your online application or work sample, please contact Carlee Smith at (503) 227-6846 or
  • For general questions on Creative Heights or questions regarding your project plans and content, please contact Jerry Tischleder at (503) 227-6846 or