Providing opportunities for artists and culture bearers to stretch their creative capacity, share new works and test new ideas.
APPLICATION WINDOW: JANUARY 4 - FEBRUARY 15, 2023
An informational webinar was held online on Wednesday, January 18th. A recording can be accessed at this link. Please review this webinar for an overview of the program and a live Q&A session. Many of the Q&A answers can be reviewed at this link.
The Creative Heights initiative aims to increase Oregon’s cultural visibility and vitality while supporting unique opportunities for Oregonians to experience innovative arts and culture. Up to $1 million in projects will be funded annually with grants from $10,000 to $100,000 per project.
2023 Application Cycle
The LOI application form will open January 4, 2023. Letters of Inquiry (LOI) must be submitted online by 5:00pm (PST) on February 15, 2023 (Wednesday). You may preview the application without logging in.
Scope of Proposals Sought
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 is interested in reviewing proposals for a range of funding levels and timelines to best serve the specific needs of proposed projects. Project funding may be spent over a period of two years and can support any artistic or cultural expression, including visual, dance, folk & traditional arts, film/video/media, literary arts, museum exhibitions, music, theatre & performance arts, history & heritage, and multidisciplinary or emerging fields.
Individuals, collectives or organizations may submit a Letter of Inquiry for Creative Heights funding. If selected to submit a full application, applicants must identify a potential Oregon-based 501(c)3 nonprofit partner to receive funds.
Creative Heights proposals must:
- Engage Oregon artists or culture bearers as lead collaborators
- Engage Oregonians as audiences, viewers or participants
- Compensate artists appropriately as professionals
Ineligible projects include those that primarily:
- Are educational in nature or whose outcomes are related to the acquisition of experience or skills vs. creating professional artistic or cultural work
- Include work not available to the public (for example, art for a private collection/nonpublic space)
- Are intended to advance capital investments or the administrative capacity of an organization (for example, building/renovating/purchasing structures or spaces; purchase of major equipment; projects to build systems, infrastructure, and skills above creative outcomes)
- Do not originate from an artistic/cultural creative impulse (for example, organizing or presenting existing artistic or cultural work without a clear curatorial vision; creating a festival, residency or other program without major investments in the creation or commission of work)
- Are proposals to complete a studio work (painting/album/film/publication/sculpture/etc.) without specific and robust plans for exhibition, dissemination, community interaction, or engagement in Oregon
- Are a continuation of existing work (for example, projects largely focused on touring/exhibiting/presenting previous work) without clear creative impulses to adapt, build or revisit the work in a meaningful way
- Will be completed within three months of receiving the award in August of 2023
Grant funding may be used for commissioning fees; pay for artists, curators, and scholars; costs associated with research, rehearsals, workshops; promotion; design and production; dissemination and documentation; and other direct costs related to creation, presentation, or exhibition. Preference will be given to projects that are not within three months of completion upon receiving the award in August of 2022.
Letter of Inquiry Process
Interested applicants must submit a brief Letter of Inquiry (LOI) via our online system (this system is unique to Creative Heights). You may answer the LOI narrative questions in writing or in a 2-3 minute video (upload). LOI’s 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 ($10,000-$100,000) and may (optional) upload letters of support from key collaborators.
Please note: We are not requesting or accepting work samples or project/organization budgets as part of the LOI process. OCF reserves the right to request financial information from an applicant before inviting a project to submit a full application.
Only proposals completed on OCF’s online grant system will be accepted. Late or incomplete applications cannot be considered. After review by the Arts Committee of OCF’s Board of Directors in early April, a limited number of strong proposals that align with the program goals will be invited to submit a full application.
Full Application (By Invitation Only)
Selected proposals will be invited to submit a full application in early April. The full application will include a detailed project budget, project plan, bios from lead collaborators, work samples and a tentative timeline. For applicants that are not affiliated with nonprofit organizations, a letter of commitment and a fiscal sponsorship agreement from a sponsor nonprofit is required with the full application.
Full applications (by invitation only) will be due May 12, 2023. 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. Final funding decisions will be announced in August 2023.
For information on past grantees and documented findings on the initiative, please visit the Creative Heights Community Impact page. We encourage applicants to review recent awards to help determine if their project may be competitive for funding.
Before contacting us, please review our FAQ's below and general Tips for Communicating with OCF. Our informational webinar on January 18th will also include a question and answer session and we encourage applicants to attend or review the presentation before contacting us as this program is highly competitive and it is often difficult for us to respond to all inquiries quickly.
- If you have questions about the online application portal or your attachments, please contact Chey Kuzma at (503) 227-6846 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For questions on your proposed project plans, eligibility or general questions on Creative Heights, please contact OCF's program staff at CreativeHeights@oregoncf.org or (503) 227-6846 where your call will be directed as appropriate.
Frequently Asked Questions
The intent of the Creative Heights initiative is to offer risk capital to pursue bold artistic ideas, therefore OCF is open to a range of projects outside the stated guidelines. Highly competitive proposals will likely demonstrate the capacity for high artistic achievement, innovation in execution, and feasibility to realize the project goals.
Strong proposals generally exhibit some of the following elements, not all are required:
- Support the development and/or presentation of new and innovative work by Oregon artists, curators, producers, historians, creatives and culture bearers.
- Represent an artistic or creative stretch or risk for the artists and organizations involved.
- Offer the applicant an opportunity to learn and grow their discipline or craft in scope, scale and/or practice.
- Demonstrate high levels of community engagement and social impact.
- Have the potential to advance artistic and cultural fields in Oregon.
- Engage artists, curators and collaborators of high caliber and achievement in their field.
- Demonstrate concepts and practices that are substantive, clearly articulated, and grounded in a deep knowledge of the artists field.
- Display a high level of imagination and creativity in execution.
- Include plans for the preservation of new works, including documentation and dissemination as appropriate.
- Compensate artists and culture bearers as professionals, including the lead artist.
- Demonstrate the applicant’s expertise, experience and ability to manage the proposed project.
- Engage diverse and historically underserved or under-resourced artists and audiences.
Example project types include:
- Presentation of a fully realized new work or project in one or more Oregon communities.
- Research and development for a new project or collaboration.
- Support for creation of new works by individual artists (e.g., hosted fellowships, residencies and commissions).
- New delivery systems or approaches to the creation or presentation of art and culture.
- Engaging 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 or experts from outside Oregon.
- Examples of projects by past grantees can be found on our Community Impact page.
Please review our eligibility requirements as we have narrowed them for 2023 to help ensure more applications are competitive. We encourage applicants to review the lists of past grantees on our Community Impact page to assess whether their proposal can match the levels of artistic merit, innovation and impact demonstrated by past grantees.
Presenting non-Oregon artists could be competitive if there was significant participation by Oregon artists or other creative collaborators on the project as well. Proposals that do not engage Oregon artists as primary collaborators will not be competitive.
Because we incorporate multiple review panelists who bring varied knowledge and perspectives to our review and selection processes, OCF does not use a fixed definition of risk or innovation. Generally, funded projects include elements of experimentation and evolution that keep an artist's or culture bearer's work vibrant and relevant; or provide an artist/organization with the potential for meaningful learning and/or change. In general, we've seen that solely exploring a topic that may feel risky or taboo is not as competitive as a proposal focused on new methods of creating, collaborating or sharing new work.
In the case of these artists/organizations creating a new work would not in-and-of itself be a risk, so we would be looking for elements of development or creation that are a stretch or new to the artist/organization and project collaborators. The project should be distinctive from the collaborating artists’ prior work in scope, scale and/or practice. That can look like working with new collaborators, creating or sharing at a larger scale, using different research or creation methods, or any other methods to push into new territory.
New work in traditional or cultural art forms could include research and creation of new/innovative exhibits, presentations, teaching methods, or other activities that meet the intentions of Creative Heights.
Not necessarily. You can apply for funding for any phase of creation of a new work including research and development prior to public presentation. Proposals often include one or more public components, but it is not required. However, Creative Heights is a very competitive program and past review panels have typically funded projects that include high levels of community participation or engagement in the creation or exhibition of new work. Projects without any public components or community participation would likely need to demonstrate future plans for engagement in order to be competitive.
Projects can be innovative adaptations of traditional works, however there must be a solid case that this is a stretch or risk for the lead artists.
Yes, if a project is currently in development, a proposal could include further development and presentation, however it would be necessary to articulate how this phase of work would be a stretch or risk for the artists/organizations and not simply a continuation of current practice.
No, organizations of all sizes and locations in Oregon can be competitive. The project funding range ($10,000 - $100,000) for Creative Heights is intentionally broad in order to allow for projects of all sizes. There is no specific formula correlating the size of awards vs. annual organization budget, as long as you demonstrate the capacity to realize the project proposal. In terms of geography, OCF hopes to fund throughout the state, however there are no pre-determined regional allocations for this initiative.
Individuals, collectives or organizations may submit a Letter of Inquiry for Creative Heights funding. If selected to submit a full application, applicants must identify a potential Oregon-based 501(c)3 nonprofit partner to receive funds. This partner does not need to be identified in the LOI process, but must be submitted with the full application if invited.
If your organization is serving as a fiscal sponsor for an individual and/or another organization, you are still eligible to apply for a separate project where your organization is the artistic lead. You may also sponsor multiple applications as long as your organization is not publicly claiming more than one project as your own programming.
Organizations may apply for and receive grants from multiple OCF grant programs, but only one proposal per grant program will be accepted per year. Organizations are welcome to apply to both Creative Heights and another OCF grant program with the same project, however we will not fund a nonprofit for the same project more than once. If your project is competitive for multiple grant programs, we will award only one grant from whichever program offers the highest award amount. Individuals can apply for the Creative Heights program and our Fields Artists Fellowship simultaneously or in different cycles and will be considered separately.
Yes, current or past funding from other OCF programs does not affect eligibility or competitiveness for Creative Heights.
Past Creative Heights grantees (both independent artists and/or nonprofit organizations) are eligible provided the previously funded project and final evaluation activities are completed. If you are unsure if this applies to you, please contact OCF staff before applying. Organizations who are publicly claiming a Creative Heights project as their programming must complete the previous project and evaluation activities before applying again.
If an organization is only sponsoring an individual's application and not claiming the project publicly, they do not need to complete past projects in order to sponsor another application or apply for their own programming. Organizations may sponsor multiple applications in one year and each application will be considered separately.
Yes, you may apply again with the same project. Please submit a new application through our online portal to be considered and include any updates or changes since your last submission.
Letters of Inquiry are due by 5:00pm on February 15, 2023. Full applications will be invited in early April for a May deadline. A letter of commitment and fiscal sponsorship agreement from any sponsor nonprofit is required with the full application. Applicants will be notified of their awards shortly after the OCF board decision in early August. Funding will be disbursed by late August and may be used for two years from the award date. Preference will be given to projects that are not within three months of completion upon receiving the award.
One of the main goals of Creative Heights is to provide substantial resources to take creative risks and test new ideas. Through past grant cycles, we’ve found that projects too close to completion upon receiving the award are often not able to invest the newly secured resources as thoughtfully or impactfully as projects with a longer timeline to completion. Since the funding is distributed in August, this means projects scheduled to be completed before November must strongly demonstrate why these funds would be impactful in the proposed timeline.
There is no set percentage, but we understand that taking a strategic risk requires dedicated risk capital outside operating expenses. Due to this special need, OCF is willing to fund the majority of the project budget.
There is no restriction on where you can spend grant funds as long as you are engaging Oregon artists and if there is a product, that it is accessible to Oregon audiences.
Awarded funds can be used for up to two years from the distribution date.
No, we see these as one-time projects. If you are applying to fund the pilot of a program you intend to continue we do not require any information about sustainability beyond the grant period.
Evaluation requirements for grantees will consist of conversations/interviews with an evaluator at the start of the grant, mid-point, and completion of project. There is no lengthy written report to submit. Grantees may be asked to review and approve short summaries written by OCF staff based on their conversations. A final budget is also required accounting for how all grant funds were used.
OCF generally plans to convene grantees at least once over the course of their award period to build relationships and provide technical assistance in the area of marketing and community engagement. Attendance at these convenings is strongly encouraged and dates will be provided well in advance, along with travel reimbursement to lower barriers for participation.
Technical assistance on using the online application portal can be directed to Chey Kuzma at 503-227-6846 or email@example.com. If you already have an account and are having trouble logging in to our online grant application portal, please reset your password by visiting the following link: https://oregoncf.slideroom.com/#/login/form. Once there, click on “Forgot Password” and follow the prompts. You will need to provide the email address you used to set up the account previously, and watch for an email from SlideRoom containing a link to reset your password. OCF does not have access to your password, nor can they reset your password internally.
Questions on your proposed project plans, eligibility or general inquiries may be directed to OCF’s Arts and Culture staff, at CreativeHeights@oregoncf.org or by phone at 503-227-6846 where your call will be directed as appropriate.
A live informational webinar outlining these program details is held annually and the recording and transcript are made available for review. Details can be found at the top of this page.