Atlanta-based Jennifer Schwartz, creator of Crusade for Art, wants to help fine art photographers build and grow their audience. To that end, Schwartz, whose bicoastal Crusade for Collecting bus tour was profiled in September, has launched the Crusade Engagement Grant. The award is a $10,000 prize aimed at assisting a photographer or photo collective in building and engaging an audience.
The money is being sourced through fundraising, largely through the contributions of individual donors. Guidelines include writing a 500-word pitch and can be viewed here. There is a $20 submission fee that covers the cost of administering the grant for the workshop.
"We tried to make this fee as low as possible (it is below average for an application fee), so that the fee would not deter people from applying, while still covering our administrative costs," said Schwartz.
Photographers tend to view the opportunity as a means of raising capital to execute projects or offset expenses involved with exhibitions or book printing but Schwartz is quick to caution against these proposals. The grant specifically states that the jurors are "looking for the most creative and original ideas to create and foster demand for fine art photography."
The Crusade for Engagement grant seeks to break down the barriers that often keep art from a general audience and make it inaccessible and exclusive. As the call for entries makes clear, a key to success is the development of "an aesthetic experience – one that actively involves the viewer’s senses, emotion, and intellect."
"I have gotten a lot of feedback like this ‑ 'It's just a very different type of application and project focus, which as artists, we don't always think about,'" said Schwartz. "It seems to be stumping people and making them think about creating demand for their work for possibly the first time - which is exactly what we’re trying to do."
Schwartz, who directs the non-profit Crusade for Art, and the assistant director will do the initial screening of applicants. Five to ten finalists will then submit a larger application that will be reviewed by a selection committee of three. These photographic industry leaders will select the grant award recipient based on "the proposed project's creativity, originality, and probability for success as well as the applicant's credibility and references." Committee members are Whitney Johnson, Director of Photography at The New Yorker, Karen Irvine, Curator and Associate Director at Museum of Contemporary Photography, Rupert Jenkins, Executive Director at Colorado Photographic Arts Center.
"It was very important to us that the selection committee be made up of industry people who were forward-thinking, open-minded, and had an interest in photographers at all levels," said Schwartz. "These three are also geographically diverse, which I think is beneficial as well."
You can learn more about Jennifer’s Crusade for Art as well as the grant online here. Applications are due on April 1 with finalists announced on May 15, 2014.